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 Review: The Spitfire Tour at EWU Nov. 20

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Nov 21, 2001

For weary patriots who despair as we watch the rights United States was founded upon treated with ever-bolder contempt by the unpopularly elected Bush Administration, the Spitfire Tour is an inspirational and rejuvenating reminder that the entire country has not gone over to passively droning that "we must support the President at a time like this" and, with a sigh and a shrug, sliding into the easy pre-fab lifestyle of driving an enormous jeep to a corporate job while slurping from a paper cup and tittering on a cell phone about how we all need to just sit tight and have faith in our leaders. And go shopping.

It's easy to forget that a hell of a lot of real Americans don't think that way at all.


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Julia Butterfly Hill, Adam Werbach, Andy Dick and Jello Biafra drew in a standing-room-only crowd of two or three thousand to Eastern Washington University near Spokane, Washington. "I'm that tree chick" was how Butterfly Hill introduced herself to a crowd that may have largely been drawn in by the celebrity of the MTV/"News Radio" star Andy Dick and Dead Kennedy's singer and founder of the Alternative Tentacles label Jello Biafra. Butterfly spent two years living atop a 1000 year old redwood tree in California to save it from the chainsaws of Maxxam Corporation's Pacific Lumber. She told of the car accident that changed her from a yuppie business consultant to a tree hugger. She described the spiritual awakening that accompanied her first tree-hugging experience, and encouraged everyone to go out that night when no one was looking and try it themselves. Yes, literally hugging a tree. Cynics may go back to reading Slashdot and the Daily Rotten now; you've never made a difference one way or another anyway, have you?

Adam Werbach did a bit of stand-up comedy in telling how, upon being elected as, at age 23, the youngest-ever president of the 700,000 strong Sierria Club, he was invited to the White House, where a robotic Al Gore put him to sleep. Later he was somehow invited to attend Bill Clinton's signing ceremony at the Grand Canyon in Arizona (where the votes are) of an order to protect wilderness in Utah (where the land in question was), and though he didn't fall asleep this time, he was a little discouraged at Clinton's obsession with talking about Newt Gingrich, rather than listening to Adam argue for the environment. Getting inside the halls of power is not the only way to change your world. In fact, you may get inside and find yourself changing things less than the lone activist on the outside with nothing but the integrity to think for herself and to speak up, even when everyone is telling you that in America today, you have to "watch what you say."

Andy Dick was there perhaps to make characters like Jello seem sane, while ironically coming across in some ways as more down-to-earth than any of them. Butterfly's and Adam's call to not heed the President's order for all Americans to get out and go shopping was right on target. But when her list of things you can do went from the simple and practical, like carrying a re-usable coffee cup instead of throwing away dozens of "disposable" ones every week to the compulsive and slightly neurotic: counting the number of paper towels you toss each time you use the rest room and scrimping on them to save the forests. Dick's over-the-top songs of life as a stalker and his pleas to let him keep his "cock and balls" were sick, weird, trolllish and just the thing to restore a little perspective.

Similarly, Jello Biafra sounded a bit cranky in his comparisons to the anthrax panic to the hoax of the Vietnam War's Tonkin Gulf incident, or vague fears about Bush's plan to put nuclear satellites in orbit as part of his Star Wars scheme. Lacking specific evidence, Jello's frightening scenarios aren't of much use us. Interestingly, like George W. Bush, whose grammar goes all to hell whenever he's telling a lie, the masterfully articulate Jello starts speaking in incomplete sentences whenever he is painting an ill-supported conspiracy scenario.

Jello's speech and logic were more sound on topics such as the unreliability of our "allies" Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, among others, and when he was reminding everyone that one may quite justifiably not be for George W. Bush and his reckless policies and still neither be for "the terrorists." We do not live in such an either-or world, and it was nice to see people -- big crowds of quite ordinary people -- who were willing to say so, loudly and in public.

This event was the last in the current schedule of the Spitfire Tour, but you can find future dates added at the site, and can look forward to more challenging personalities such as those at EWU, or previous speakers Woody Harrelson, Ralph Nader, Perry Farrel and Tom Tomorrow.

It felt good to be reminded that there are a lot of weird people in the world, and some of them are weirder than me. A lot weirder. But what really made my day was seeing that while our troops bravely put their lives on the line, perhaps motivated by an idealistic belief in freedom and democracy, there are a happy few left back home who have the courage to stand up to the media and to our regressive government and say what they really think. If we are to defend freedom in these times, it must be by exercising our freedoms, not by casting them aside as petty frills, to be taken up again in easier times. When you realize the implications of the Bush Administration's staunch oppostition to putting any expiration date on their new restrictions on your freedom of speech, freedom of association, on your privacy, and on the civil rights of the accused, you realize that the fanatical fascists of Al Quaeda are winning their battle against the basic values of Western civilization. They are winning by making us afraid of our own civil rights and civil liberties.

The Bill of Righs has lost one battle after another in recent weeks, and as long as Americans cower in the face of the enemies of our freedoms, more losses will follow. How bad it gets before it starts to get better, if it ever gets better, is in entirely in your power to decide. It is strictly a question of courage, nothing else.


Not gay enough (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 12:25:46 AM PST
I'm sorry, but this Spitfire Tour simply isn't gay enough for me. I strongly believe that rockstars, media celebrities, and spoiled trustafarians are better than you and I and thus supremely qualified to preach right and wrong to us benighted souls, but I don't think I'm going to be able to go along with the ideals expressed by the Spitfire Tour until they get an even soggier bunch of lamers to sling their bullshit. Now, if they could get Rick Astley, Dave Coulier, Rod McKuen, and Corey Haim to do a tour, I'd definitely be willing to burn a flag or something.

Corey Haim... (none / 0) (#18)
by nutate on Tue Nov 27th, 2001 at 01:53:19 PM PST
Yeah, I went to like... maybe the first Spitfire tour down at the wetlands in nyc. Michael Franti was there, he rocked. Perry Farrel was just strange. Julia 'Butterfly' Hill spoke over the phone. And Todd McCormick spoke too about medical marijuana. All in all Franti was the best. He and I sort of embraced (perhaps increasing the gay quotient in your eyes) because I was there for NORML. Anyway, that seems like ages ago now, even though it wasn't even 2 years. It's cool that they're still doing it. It would've been funny to see Andy Dick.

Maybe it's for the best (5.00 / 2) (#3)
by T Reginald Gibbons on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 02:40:31 AM PST
After all, a government cannot govern democratically until it's people are properly civilised. Civilisation requires obedience to the law. From high school murderers to libertarian anarchists, it is clear from the extremity of these well-chosen examples that the USA is simply not ready for, or no longer capable of, sensible democratic government. This is not exclusively the fault of those in power. Blame rests with the anti-intellectual masses who chose to be hypnotised by media fantasies, rather than take an active part in the progress of their nation. Perhaps, in time, the US can be made mature enough for representative government. Until then, a despotic leader will be needed to re-educate the nation.

I am not opposed to reoccupation by the crown (none / 0) (#9)
by Inden on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 07:59:49 PM PST
Shall we invite the English back to govern us until we are properly civilized? Or should we blockade their island until they apologise for spelling words funny and acting superior?

In fact I rather agree with you sir.

I think that's a brilliant idea (none / 0) (#10)
by Anonymous Reader on Fri Nov 23rd, 2001 at 04:07:06 AM PST
Just admit it, all this 'declaration of independence' crap was one big mistake. Well us English people are willing to forgive and forget and welcome back our misguided colonial subjects. Let's face it who would you rather have ruling over you, Tony Blair or George W Bush...

May I suggest an amendment? (none / 0) (#11)
by T Reginald Gibbons on Fri Nov 23rd, 2001 at 07:19:40 AM PST
British rule would certainly appear to be the way forward for the USA, but it must be said that the best form of British rule would come from Her Majesty's Navy. There's no faster education than the lash, I should think.

Youth against whatever's next! (none / 0) (#4)
by lowapproach on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 04:43:53 AM PST
Your freedom of speech has not been abridged by any law, bill or presidential directive known to the public.

Your freedom of association has not been abridged by any law, bill or presidential directive known to the public.

No one has a constitutional right to privacy, but to due process. If you are suspected of terrorist activities and under arrest, you will receive notification in advance that the U.S. will monitor conversations between you and your attorney for a year and make use only of any information which may lead to the thwarting of future terrorist acts. This information cannot be made available to federal prosecutors or a grand jury, without the written consent of a federal judge. The balance between public safety and due process is struck.

No American will ever be tried in a military court. Foreign belligerents may be tried and convicted without unanimous verdict, without disclosure of intelligence sources which we may need in the future, and without the Fourth Amendment's centuries of judicial interpretation on the correct way in which evidence may be gathered to convict a defendant.

All of these procedures under the anti-terrorism law have a sunset clause of one three-year term, followed by a two-year extension if the President deems it necessary. There are many definite limits to the authority of this anti-terrorism omnibus package, and its makers have had to fight every abridgement of due process, however limited, through the Senate Judiciary Committee and its most vehemently libertarian chairman, Senator Patrick D. Leahy.

I wonder: if the Constitution specifically enumerated the right of Americans everywhere to make opinions based on facts alone, would they use it?

typical usian gibberish equating society with govt (5.00 / 1) (#5)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 04:56:51 AM PST
Your freedom of speech has not been abridged by any law, bill or presidential directive known to the public.

Your freedom of association has not been abridged by any law, bill or presidential directive known to the public.

Law means very little without community consent and when the community echos to a totalitarian beat, when the will of the land is to volunteer its own censorship, when everyone elaborates the same set of ideological biases in order justify the same conclusion, when post hoc rationalization begins to sound "correct", when CNN sounds like an organ of the ruling regime, then the Law is not very far behind. The law is just one element in social relations, not a definition of society.

Why I visit this site (none / 0) (#6)
by lowapproach on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 11:38:22 AM PST
Where would I be without Europeans telling me which thoughts were appropriate to have?

The law is ultimately what matters, if the individual's right of self-expression without reprisal conflicts with the prejudices of his society. Nothing guarantees the individual a receptive audience to their opinion among the members of his or her community; the price one pays for individuality. What concerns me is statement of opinion, without retribution or withholding of constitutional protections by the state.

Zzzzzzzz (none / 0) (#8)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 12:31:55 PM PST
[law is] the individual's right of self-expression without reprisal conflicts

You are being very selective of US history. Laws are written to preserve the status quo, not to protect dissent. The only threatening examples of dissent in your history are the black civil rights movement (had to wait till the mid 60's for your law to catch up there) and anti-liberalism which was mercilessly *wiped out*. It's very easy to be pious -- you -- when you live in a totalitarian society under no threats -- the USA. But look what happens when a single act of terrorism visits your shore; you cannot wait to relax your civil rights and institute a popular state of siege, and to marginalize your opposition with intolerant and absolute moral denouncements of evil. Who can be against evil, right?

What concerns me is statement of opinion, without retribution or withholding of constitutional protections by the state.

Again, the state is least totalitarian aspect of US society because it doesnt have any hard work to do. It doesnt matter who governs you as long as you are a stable and wealthy society. But that stability comes at a price -- a totalitarian society. Look how eager even educated elite Americans who should know better are to become censorious liberalist scum.

Thanks (none / 0) (#7)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 11:54:34 AM PST
Thank you for perfectly illustrating the title of the parent post.

You, my good sir, are 100% incorrect (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by Sylvester Q McNamera on Fri Nov 23rd, 2001 at 10:07:50 AM PST
Lets have a look at the facts, shall we. First, lets have a look at some big countries who have ruled the world in tha past, namely the UK. They, at one time, ruled about 80% of the world, and now they're in charge of a drafty little island with bland food. Why? What does this truism have to do with GWB and the Amerian Way? I'll tell you...

The thing that makes the US the great country that it is is the thing that you seem to detest. It's commercialism, it's apathy, it's self centered selfish ego centered people who only care about owning large holmes and putting the bone to large breasted women. We love trite trivial things like Wal Mart and KMart and MTV and Fords. Yes, we have no taste and we revel in that fact. And you, elencholos, are just like the rest of us.

We could give a crap about politics. Oh sure, we pretend that we care, but it's only to give the apperance that we are regular American citizans. Inside we only care about that new Oak Dinette set that we have on order for $8,999. Yes, we moan about the percieved violation of our rights but we are really thinking about that hot blond who works three cubes down. This, my dear friend, is what makes America great, this is what empowers us the most.

What drives the masses more:

A) The percieved vilation of their rights
B) Getting laid by some hot chick/dude.

I think you know the answer. So, as long as we don't fall into the trap that the Brits fell into and get all wrapped up into this stand up and then sit down parlimetary crap and we let our base needs and trivial desires drive us, we will be just fine.

Best wishes,
--S.Q. McNamera

Jello (none / 0) (#13)
by egg troll on Sat Nov 24th, 2001 at 09:30:38 PM PST
Jello lost me several years ago. That man loves to hear himself talk. Has he met a conspiracy he doesn't like?

Posting for the love of the baby Jesus....

Wood (none / 0) (#14)
by egg troll on Sun Nov 25th, 2001 at 01:55:13 PM PST
Is anyone else aroused by the icon for the censorship stories? Must be my German blood....

Posting for the love of the baby Jesus....

I'm not aroused, but... (none / 0) (#15)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 25th, 2001 at 03:51:54 PM PST
...I'll admit the thought of a woman incapable of speech gives me a happy tingly feeling in my toes.

How about some... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by poltroon on Sun Nov 25th, 2001 at 04:16:03 PM PST
missing digits to boot? In the unlikely event that you missed it, "The Piano" packages all this and more (like best supporting child star, Natalie Portman) into a "deeply compelling love story".

Thanks for the suggestion... (none / 0) (#17)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 25th, 2001 at 05:15:13 PM PST
...but like most people, I'm terrified of Harvey Keitel's penis.

Hmm... (none / 0) (#19)
by nutate on Tue Nov 27th, 2001 at 02:02:33 PM PST
I thought that pic was from a cut scene in Kingpin where Randy Quaid...

interesting... (none / 0) (#20)
by Anonymous Reader on Sat Dec 8th, 2001 at 06:42:28 PM PST
you are an idiot. Enviromentalists are idiots. use your head, capitolizm, logging, and bushe's election are legitimat and ok. please, I hope these are jokes.

If you are capable... (none / 0) (#21)
by elenchos on Mon Dec 10th, 2001 at 02:17:14 PM PST
...of writing an intelligent argument, your presence is welcome here at Adequacy. But if you are just going to post sloppy flames with the intent of making the Republican Party look stupid, we'd rather you remained at slashdot.

And please do not launch a Denial of Service Attack against the Adequacy. Thank you.

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill


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