Review: Who’s To Say What’s Obscene – Politics, Culture, and Comedy in America Today

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Paul Krassner

5.0 out of 5 stars Less Funny, More Provocative–Price is a WOW,November 20, 2011

First, a confession. I am 59 years old and had no idea who Paul Krassner was/is. The more I read through the book the more I marveled at his pioneering endeavors and their continuing relevance as Occupy struggles to find its voice and focus. So for all the folks that don't know who Paul Krassner is, at under $3.00 this book is a WOW value, and I recommend it for that alone.

This is NOT a funny book. There are a few places here and there where one can see the deep tragic comedy possibility, but more than anything this is a very provocative book that beats a single theme: the obscenity of all that we allow to be done in our name, to our bodies and our environment, to our families, schools, economy, and the Republic itself. Obscene, they name is a two-party tyranny and a Congress so corrupt they shame every dictator (all 40+ of them, all but two “best pals” of the US Government) in their craven greed and lack of democratic integrity.

]Ariana Huffington's foreword is useful (disclosure: I stopped blogging for Huffington Post because their child reviewers kept deleting my graphics–HuffPo is culturally out of synch with multi-media communications). She praises Paul Krassner for his “incendiary journalism” and for the role that his sharp humor has played in calling attention to contradictions and hypocrisy. I take this with a grain of salt since Huffington, while calling Congress corrupt, has completely avoided the deeper corruption, the two-party tyranny that excludes all other parties and marginalizes roughly 40% of the citizen-voters. In my view, anyone unwilling to confront the two-party tyranny with the Electoral Reform Act of 2012 that is circulating within Occupy, is hypocritical at root–superficially pompous, pedantic, and posturing on everything except the ONE THING that is the “root obscenity.”

This is a book worth reading more than once. There are gifted turns of phrase on every page.

QUOTE (9): “Reality is out-running satire.”

Depressing: Obscenity laws used to punish truth-tellers. The author–whom I have never heard of before–comes across as hugely authentic, thoughtful, and a truly extraordinary experienced mind on this and other abuses of government.

Self-censorship is more obscene than direct censorship. This in the context of a very long depressing list of cancelled events, I have the word “shocking” in my notes.

Long piece on how repression of specific words (e.g. N-Word–Amazon won't let me spell it out) gives them more power to hurt.

Fascinating look at missing scenes from Borat–possibly a unique aspect of this book.

QUOTE (72): “Terrorism begins at home.” See all my other reviews (over 1700 of them, in 98 categories better accessed at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog) for why I salute this author and this statement. Pogo got it right long ago: what we allow to be done in our name is the enemy, is obscene, is a disgrace to the Republic.

Long sections on marijuana, magic mushrooms, and I totally agree on the urgency of decriminalizing marijuana (and then legalizing it, I learn this is two different things).

Midway through the book I note how deeply I am appreciating the author in relation to:
01 Reflections on resistance
02 Price one pays for insanity (or deep corruption) in government.

As I write this I am sitting in a hotel room in Madrid with a truly excellent BBC World News panel on corruption in India. Knowing what I know about the USA, I would say that we can learn from the recent Indian focus on corruption as well as the Pope's recent pronouncement on corruption (my letter to the Pope in January 2011 on secular corruption as the root problem can be seen by searching for < Assisi intelligence >.

Below bears on Occupy today:

QUOTE (132): “During the panel, Ginsberg said, “I think there was one slide shade of error is describing the Beat movement as primarily a protest movement. That was the thing that Kerouac was always complaining about. He felt the literary aspect or the spiritual aspects or the emotional aspects was not so much protests at all, but a declaration of unconditioned mind beyond protests, beyond resentment, beyond loser, beyond *winner*–*way* beyond winner–beyond winner or loser.”

It could be said that Occupy is a state of mind emergent, as well as my favorite topic these days, a manifesto for Open Source Everything (transparency, truth, and trust). In this section of the book the author quotes Coyote as saying that Ginsberg represented an enlarged notion of sanity.

All this ties in with the core theme of the book, i.e. the hippies had it right in their focus on the earth, love, anti-war, anti-greed. They were the 99% then, but not respected because there was a much larger middle class and blue collar class that had not yet had its multiple bubbles burst.

TODAY I LEARNED (side post to Reddit) that Lipitor kills memory and that Ambien does also. Holy cow–this is LOTS worse than hurting the liver to save the heart.

I want to draw all potential buyers of this book to a paragraph on page 193 that begins “China is a Big-Brother, slave-labor-driven, human-rights-violating, Maoist dictatorship from which the United States government borrows trillions…. ” The rest of this paragraph is a near perfect summation of the obscenity of what America has become–divorced from ethics, reality, or even a common purpose remotely connected to a public interest. We've been hijacked, sunk, murdered a million times by our own corrupt government that enables corrupt banks, and we still have no intelligent discussion on television or in the Republican debates or in the Democratic theater of governance that is itself obscene.

Fascinating review of books that prisons ban, and what this section really illuminates for me is the insanity as well as the out of control nature of the US federal, state, and local governments in all those instances where they are dealing with those whom “the authorities” have chosen to marginalize.

On page 206 I find a brilliant authentic highly credible discussion of how the common threat of government crack-downs using the obscenity cover was that they all questioned the wisdom of government policy. As I myself am perhaps the most qualified as well as the most vocal critic of the US Government in terms of its lack of intelligence (decision-support) and integrity, I can testify that before you become important enough to be censored, you spend a very long time being ignored. So anyone the US Government censors, I want to pay attention to.

The author depresses me completely with a long list of truly frightening prison sentences as well as arrests and intimidations. And this was BEFORE the Patriot Act and the flood of borrowed money channelled by the Department of Homeland Security (an idiotic oxymoron if ever there was one) to militarize the police, fund Haliburton-built “civil unrest prisons” and so on.

Course Mort Sahl is teaching now:
“Critical Thinking”
“Teh Revolutionary's Handbook”

Worth looking up: “Counterculture Hall of Fame”

Books brought to my attention by this book:
Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in Counter-Culture
A Man Without a Country
The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan

Books I have reviewed that I recommend in tandem with this book:
Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House
Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy

DVDs I have reviewed and recommend:
The U.S. vs. John Lennon
American Drug War: The Last White Hope
Inside Job

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