Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Religion Of Irresponsibility

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
'Debord sees technology as a man-made force that became an independent reality in control of human’s reality. It has pervaded every aspect of the individual’s life and society. It has created a society of appearances where reality has been substituted by images. As he said: ‘The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.’ The spectacle for him is the ‘complete inversion of life…the autonomous movement of the nonliving.’ The mark of the technological society of late capitalism is the total commodification and alienation of life, including space, time and human relationships. The media and communication promote the aims of the spectacle. The individual and society go to sleep in this falsely constructed life and consciousness.'*
- I saw a fantastic movie last night.
- Where'd you see it?
- Up on the UCLA campus. I don't know the building.
- The film school?
- The entrance had a lot of movie posters all over the walls. Is that the film school?
- Yes. You didn't see me?
- Were you there?
- Until they threw me out a couple minutes before starting.
- Threw you out! Why?
- I got bored at a screening last month** and left the auditorium. Standing alone in the lobby was the student organizer of these shows I'd passed the time with on a number previous occasions. I struck up a conversation with him on the subject of this night's movie. Suddenly out pops a young woman from the box office and demands of us: 'Take the conversation outside; you're creating a disturbance.' Who is she, I ask? She says she's the manager of the venue, whatever that means. 'This guy's the manager of the screenings,' I piece out, 'and you're the manager of the venue?' Why, I ask her, does she think she should try to stop a conversation in the lobby of the film school of a public university? The student organizer of the movie series has backed away, mumbling: 'Ok, Ok, Ok.' I say: No, not Ok! Not Ok at all! 'Then,' the young woman threatens, 'I'm calling the police.' Go ahead, I say, do that, express yourself, show us yourself literally calling upon threat of force to repress freedom of speech.
- What happened?
- She went into the box office to make the call. I went on my way, not without expressing my contempt for the student organizer's immediate capitulation.
- So, what, they've blacklisted you?
- Yes, according to the three hundred pound middle-aged Mexican man who'd tapped me on the shoulder from the seat in row behind mine and told me I had to leave or he'd call the police.
- What was his job?
- 'Building manager'. I asked him what exactly that involved as I followed him out of the theater. He motioned me to a bench outside where, with me standing and he seated, we had ourselves a little free speech. He said - indicating the man working on the lobby door's hardware - he took care of things such as call a locksmith. He also helped elderly professors with audio visual equipment they were unable to figure out. I said:
- You're a kind of handy man. What business does a handyman have performing police actions, threatening audience members at a theater in a public university?
- It's a private function.
- How's that?
- The student organization rents the space from the building management. The theater becomes private property during the term of the rental.
- A kind of magic, where a public university takes money from a student organization in that same public university and suddenly only the rules of private property apply where before there were rules of civility. Where previously there was movement toward acquisition of knowledge, now there was only management of property. The UCLA administrators, I recalled, had recently used that argument - privatization as excuse for immorality - to explain why they allowed an inflammatory radical conservative to speak who'd been invited by a student organization that also had rented a room from the university. But what about you personally? You're not ashamed to be doing the job of repressing free speech at a public university? He answers:
- I'm doing my job.
- Just obeying orders. What will you think when the shoe is on the other foot and the police, just following orders, come around and harass you?
- Happens all the time. They see a big Mexican and immediately out comes the guns.
- Here at the film school?
- Yes. And at my home last year. If you look like me you get used to it.
- And yet here you are, not giving a thought to participating in a police action performed for the sole purpose of repressing discussion. Well?
- I've got to go.
- Nothing further to say?
- You're not a bad guy.

Further Reading:
Free Speech Against Free Speech 
Issue #78, The Wednesday