Last night, the man I’ve been calling Mr. Charles appeared in my dream. I was at some sort of social gathering, discussing a TENS unit I had somehow acquired. It is a device I actually have, and which I use occasionally to treat debilitating muscle tension. Only in the dream, it was a different one, and I was describing my plans to use it for perverted purposes while cloaked in my black-and-white spandex. There was a technical problem with this plan: a TENS uses wires, and lots of them. It also uses electrode gel to transmit a repeated arc of electric shock between pads, and because human skin houses a great deal of water, this gel gets absorbed into the skin over time — especially in the beginning of an application of electric shock, or so I’ve found.
Enter Mr. Charles, who approaches the group of people with whom I’m entertaining this discussion, and who engages directly with me about my plans for the TENS unit. Keep in mind that I don’t know who actually has figured out that this man is the man I’ve been writing about (see: when he phoned me; when it hit me that so many people knew who this man is and continue to tolerate his presence; when I finally provided a 2-hour audio- and video-recorded statement about what he had done; and where details are publicly vetted of the answers he finally provided to police, along with details of information I and a dozen other people provided during the same investigation). I feel, in my dream, obligated to maintain a certain sense of decorum. I feel, in my dream, obligated to respond to him as I would respond to anyone else, even knowing what horrific things he’s done — even knowing what disgusting things he’s done to me. So I indulged him as he talked to me as though I don’t have any idea what I’m doing with this device, and I gently asserted my legitimate knowledge of and experience with it, until I woke up and realized what was going through my own head.
It occurs to me upon thinking about this for the majority of my day today that this is a multi-layered metaphor for things I have been directly observing and actively fighting against. But it’s more than that, because the point is that while I am in a position of being directly impacted by the outcome, no matter which way it plays out; it’s always people who are in a position that remains fundamentally unchanged, no matter which outcome rolls out, who try to divert and derail my attention, my energy, my resources, my arguments, my actions, and my time. No matter what results from my phone calls and interviews with RCMP in regards to what Mr. Charles did, he was never threatened by what he was doing. He never had to live in fear, and he had nothing to lose. And I’ve been observing him since I phoned RCMP and provided my statement at the detachment. He is behaving in the community through which I met him — the community that harbours him and provides him with a dangerous atmosphere of blind tolerance — like a small dog that thinks and acts like it’s a large breed. I’ve been watching him mark his territory and I’ve been watching people who are disgusted with him outright ignoring him while he tries harder and harder to get their attention.
Well, it’s time for people to start working together to clean up the fucking mess. Something else has been going on in my life that will serve as a metaphor for what I mean. Anyone who has been following this blog for long enough will have observed a series of posts called Anti-Misogynist Action, and had I attended this weekend, that would have been Days 141 & 142. However, it has been very long and difficult work, and I’m presently still homeless, so I took a week off (again) for some self-care time. No matter — I have plans for this upcoming weekend, the Sunday of which will be Day 150. My counter-picketing activities have been focused on reproductive rights, and I have been demonstrating primarily against people who believe that women shouldn’t have reproductive rights (so that children who would hypothetically be at risk, but haven’t even been conceived yet, do have rights). Many of these individuals, as I have been detailing week after week, have responded to my presence, as well as that of my supporters, with aggression, hostility, and even direct threats of violence. In fact, that’s the very sort of behaviour that brought me there in the first place — the sort of behaviour I wanted to see them held accountable for by the public (not just me and whoever I could get support from).
One thing I did not anticipate was any form of support for holding these individuals publicly accountable for the heinous things they’ve been saying and doing, from people within their own movement. People who agree that telling me and women who are with me that we deserve to be raped and are asking for it, telling me that I’m disgusting and should be ashamed of myself, declaring that women who are raped have provoked it themselves or wanted it to happen at least 50% of the time, grabbing and punching women, or blocking the path of an oncoming ambulance and phoning emergency dispatch on an isolated woman who was doing nothing wrong, are all horrible things (of varying magnitudes) that need to stop. However, that’s the full extent of the support I receive from the “pro-life” camp on this matter, who want to distinguish themselves by sheer force of will alone, not only from the people responsible for the above acts, but from people like Gordon Watson as well. They don’t seem to want to deal with eradicating their own movement of people who espouse and embody beliefs against which they claim to have a zero-tolerance policy, and yet, don’t want to be seen as tolerating that kind of behaviour at the same time. I guess I’ve learned to expect this from people who literally want to exchange the rights of one group for the rights of another group that has yet to even exist.
At perhaps the height of irony, the North American atheist/anti-theist community is facing this very same problem, and they are rapidly finding (or should be, by now) that the solution to their problem is not located somewhere between their keyboard and another end-user’s computer monitor on the other side of the country. It’s time to pitch in and clean up the house or admit at last that you’re no longer entitled to share that space with everyone else while they continue working to keep it clean and respectable.