They did it in broad daylight. “Money … speech—what’s the diff?” they cackled, sucking a corporate tit. Then they wrung Liberty’s neck—cracked it like a chicken’s.
That same day the bank foreclosed on my home. I offered a speech to the broad-brim hatted sheriff. “Money … speech—what’s the diff?” I asked.
His deputies kicked my kids right down the road.
“If money is the same as speech, surely speech is the same as money!” I averred, but … he failed to acknowledge my logic.
I went to my cousin, Vincenzo. “Whadda we gonna do? What the hell can we do?”
“I’m gonna make them an offer they can’t refuse,” he said, chomping a Cuban stogie.
“Whaddaya saying? What the hell are you saying? It’s the goddamn government! They’ll send a predator drone up your ass, they’ll bury you like Jimmy Hoffa! They’ll make you a non-person. They’ll delete you.”
“So … whaddaya gonna do?” he shrugged.
I went to see my union boss. “Solly, whadda we gonna do? What the hell can we do?”
“Kavetch, kavetch,” he said. “Don’t worry! … Says right here: we got the same rights. They can’t, ya know, limit our speech either.”
I said they’d spend unions under the table. Corporations had war chests. Reagan had killed the unions and Dems had buried’em. I said it was freedom’s finale. I said it was over; King’s dream was over. Corporations were one thing; unions another; individuals another. How could they put’em all together like that? It was meaningless. Speech was one thing, money another. No one wanted to be paid in speeches, right? You wanna put the Gettysburg Address in your next pay envelope? You wanna pay your bills with a speech, buy your food with a speech? It’s not what the “Framers” intended. Corporations weren’t “persons” back in 1789. How did we become a Republic protecting their rights?”
“So … whaddaya gonna do?” he shrugged. “Whaddaya gonna do?”
I knocked on the door of John McCain. “Campaign Finance Reform!” I said. “Is this what you were talking about? You’re the guy who ran on that, aren’t you? Were you just bullsh*tting? Are all you guys just bullsh*tting? Don’t you care?”
“My friend,” he confided with a Reaganesque smile, “a lot of things are parlayed in election campaigns. A lot of things are kind of like cannon fodder—they’re stood up to be shot down, just to kind of distract your enemy—and give the people a really good show. You know … when I was shot down over Vietnam, I saw the very face of God.”
I hacked the computer of Barack Obama. “Mr. President,” I wrote, “this can’t be happening. This can’t be right. Didn’t you say something about ‘hope’ and ‘change’; no more politics as usual? Wasn’t that you?”
He wrote back that he was always glad to hear from “the People.” And that the FBI would soon be knocking on my door. Which is what happened. And it was true: They wear bad shoes!
“You d’d’don’t understand,” I stammered, “they’ve made a mockery of Freedom of Speech–those guys and those gals with their black cloaks and daggers: they cut her to pieces; they tore out her heart.”
“We’re just doing our job,” they said all together, sounding like a chorus of grim Stephen Hawkings. “You’re free to believe whatever you want. That’s the beauty, that’s the beauty … of America. ”
They locked me in a padded cell. I couldn’t hear the dark door closing.
Gary Corseri has posted and published his articles, fiction, poems and dramas at The New York Times, Village Voice, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, Dissident Voice, Countercurrents and hundreds of other websites and publications around the world. His books include: A Fine Excess; Holy Grail, Holy Grail; and Manifestations (edited). He has performed his poems at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum and his dramas have been performed on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. He can be contacted at Gary_Corseri@comcast.net.