In case of emergency, break glass and read this, Vene

Emma Thompson on her failure at funny, Vogue

I didn’t feel funny in class. Again. I drank seven cups of coffee today by accident. I usually have -1 cups of coffee a day. So this is more than that.

What if I focus on what I am good at: writing and history? Maybe I could write for Drunk History. I’m smart enough.

I’ve written five papers in my life that had legs. Not just like good school work. Stuff that was good enough to get the attention of people it should never have gotten to.

1) The Unlikely Conversion of Che Guevarra: From Doctor To Revolutionary, Spring 1996. After reading My Friend Che, the book by Ricardo Rojo that would later be adapted into The Motorcycle Diaries, I wrote my IB History paper on young, middle class Che. He came from Argentina, which was relatively stable and European, and traveled up through Central America, witnessing the unimaginable injustices suffered by indigenous people.

As a doctor, a healer, he felt compelled to help. The pivotal moment in his life came, if we are to believe histrionics, when in the throes of an asthmatic attack in the Cuban selva, he had to choose between his medical bag and his gun. He chose his gun and the rest was history.

2) Signed, Sealed and Delivered: The Comstock Act, Sexual Repression and Class Warfare, Spring 1997. So get this, in 1995, a bunch of senators got their panties in a bunch because 83.5% of the images on the Internet were porn. There was no video back then. The technology didn’t support it. But there were GIFs. And the same white men who were going after Clinton for a blow job while not-so-secretly having affairs left and right themselves didn’t like it. Think of the children!! Only their facts were based on a undergraduate paper cited in Time Magazine. And they were wrong.

We know what happened since then. Porn exploded as bandwidth capability grew. Some people will have you believe it’s beyond epidemic and has been the singular downfall of society. The BBC, on the other hand, estimates that porn only accounts for 4% of the Internet and falling. The rest, as we well know, is memes of sloths and videos of otters holding hands while sleeping. Just kidding. It’s incel chat rooms and Russian bots.

Anyhoo, 1996 was a pivotal moment in the history of the First Amendment. If Conservatives got their way, the government would be able to censor the Internet (insert ironic face slap 🤦🏻‍♀️ here since the First Amendment is now the weapon of choice Conservatives have been abusing to the detriment of, well, the future of all humanity). But this was not the first time sex was used to silence Americans.

Anthony Comstock was a prude with a ‘tude back in Victorian times. He didn’t like sex. And he didn’t want anyone having it. He appealed to the well to do of Philadelphia society by telling them that their sons would be impregnating lower class women or worse, not impregnating them by using all sorts of apparati and techniques derived from, dare I say it, pamphlets.

After he’d alarmed those WASPy robber barons all proper-like, they thanked him by putting him in charge of the entire United States mail system. In one giant power grab, Comstock now had the authority of law and the brut strength of the criminal justice system to systematically censor anything that came through the mail. Anything, but specifically birth control materials and information. He could open any piece of mail and read it, destroy it, and share the contents publicly. He was the most powerful political appointee in the country. He had a chilling effect on free speech and women’s health and reproductive choices. The Comstock laws that were implemented in his favor didn’t get completely repealed until the 1990’s. And nobody talks about this dude. 

3) The People of Chile v. The United States: An Indictment of American Intervention in The 1973 Chilean Military Coup, Spring 2000. On September 11, 1973, rogue military personnel entered the the presidential palace in Santiago and effected a coup d’etat in a single day. President Salvador Allende, a leftist who ran on promises of kicking out foreign business entities that exploited the country, would end up dead that day from a self-inflicted shot gun wound. The gun had been given to him by Fidel Castro.

The coup was a surprise to no one, especially not the U.S. After intelligence had been blind sided by Cuba’s socialist and then communist turns in the early 1960’s, the industrial military complex became hyper vigilant in looking for other countries with leftist leanings in the Americas (basically every country at the time due to events put into motion stemming from the Great Depression and WWII). The domino theory. You know the one…it was used later to justify the war in Vietnam (Btw, read Drift by Rachel Maddow to see how she brilliantly traces the rise of the private American military and the constant war state).

The U.S. had their fingerprints all over this (and every other) military coup. First, they had the military connections through the School of The Americas. Networking with and educating Chilean officers got the U.S. tactile control over foot soldiers. Second, the U.S. business leaders with vested interests in Chile had front row, first class access to Nixon. Third, and this one is the creepiest one, the U.S. needed a testing ground to see if they could manipulate public sentiment. Project Camelot was a study conducted by American University in 1964 to predict people’s actions and to see how they could be manipulated. In the lead up to the 1970 Chilean presidential election, the U.S. flew Juanita Castro, estranged sister to Fidel and Raul, into Santiago to do radio interviews describing how communists in Cuba were so deprived and Godless that they ate human babies.

Nixon, who had to a large extent been the reason Cuba was lost to Khrushchev, was intent on getting rid of Allende. But here’s the thing…the coup the U.S. planned failed. The Chileans, spurred on by what were admittedly bad socialist policies, jumped the gun before the U.S. could try for round two and started a coup on their own accord. They lapped the U.S.

The result was a reign of terror for Chile and a destabilization of every major Latin American country for the next fifty years. If you look at what’s going on in Brazil or Mexico right now it is 100% due to U.S. government and multinational corporate intervention. It’s more complicated than that, but fuck the U.S. Chickens come home to roost. Just hope I don’t end up like Victor Jara.

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Two more papers to go: one on privatization of telecom industries in Mexico and Brazil and another on the failure of NAFTA to require judicial reform.

Anyway, I’m going to sleep. My heart doesn’t feel like it’s going to explode anymore from all that caffeine.

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