By Jim Goad
Late one Saturday morning in 1990 under the skeleton-bleaching California sun, I motored through a crumbled, hilly, ashen section of East LA looking to see if any of the Hicks Boys Stoners were around to sell me some weed. Named after East LA’s Hicks Avenue, they were a loosely amalgamated gang of longhaired Mexican metalheads who shunned traditional cholo gang culture’s aesthetic trappings in favor of Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez-styled muerteobsessions, Satan worship, and generally aimless nihilism.
A few weeks earlier, I had written a cover story about the Hicks Boys for the Los Angeles Reader, a now-defunct free alt-weekly largely distributed in West LA. The magazine’s publisher was a short, pie-faced man with a voice so high-pitched one would suspect he was mainlining estrogen. He was slick-bald on top with a horseshoe rim of quarter-inch grey stubble around the sides and a Pixy Stix-thin footlong ponytail hanging limply in the back. Merely describing his ponytail tells you all you need to know about his politics.
The publisher didn’t like my article about the Hicks Boys. Surveying the pre-press galleys, he sniffed, “Why are you writing about these losers, anyway? They just come off like scumbags.” I tried explaining that if he’d grown up in East LA housing projects where police-chopper lights were poking into his bedroom every night and shirtless, machete-wielding cholos had terrorized his barrio since infancy, he may have had more empathy. (I still believe that.)
But he wasn’t convinced. He said he’d hired me six months earlier to give the magazine some “edge,” but he hadn’t expected a rusty, blood-covered prison shank. Shortly after my Hicks Boys story appeared, he fired me.
“It occurred to me that the only reason he wasn’t a large-scale oppressor was a simple lack of opportunity.”
After skimming through the Hicks Boys’ turf a few times on that late Saturday morning, I finally spotted one of their members near a graffiti-spackled laundromat where they frequently congregated. He was threading a needle and preparing to tattoo himself.
At the time—I was 28—my political ideas were little more than the accumulated, half-digested buzzing meme-hive of left-leaning pop culture and far-left academic indoctrination. From all the Norman Lear sitcoms of my youth up to all my avowedly communist professors in journalism school, the good guys and bad guys had been clearly delineated for me. I had been encouraged to “question authority,” but never the authority of major media or academic consensus. I perceived them to be objective scientists rather than evangelical ideologues.
Liberal Psych 101 subverted the dominant paradigm until nothing made sense. It taught that cockroaches are equivalent to butterflies. It preached that success was a sign of evil and that failure was an emblem of virtue. It saw something noble in losing rather than winning. It didn’t seem so keen about “leveling the playing field” as it was on perverting natural law until they forced the game to end in a sudden-death two-overtimes tie. It published endless treatises on deconstruction without making a peep about how to reconstruct everything after destroying it.
Then as now, the left preached a Gospel of innate cognitive and physical equality among all social groups. What it did not preach was an equality of character. White people generally, and rich white males in particular, were depicted as morally defective, probably by birth.
Even though a white male, I dutifully absorbed and assented to the liberal blueprint. Journalism degree in tow, I set about to right historical wrongs. I appointed myself an advocacy journalist who would defend the poor against the rich and the weak against the strong.
In many cases, I didn’t realize I’d be defending the stupid against the smart.
Ironically, it was precisely this hands-on advocacy journalism that led me to abandon leftist thought entirely. It was a long and painful process, like an old car where the parts start to go and then one day the engine finally throws a rod. One experience after the other led to more chinks in my ideological armor than there were Chinks in Mao’s Red Army. Against my better wishes, I found I do not have the inexhaustible capacity for cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias that most leftists seem to possess.
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While researching an article about wealth inequality, I came across a chart that showed the average corporate CEO’s IQ was 153, while the average manual laborer’s IQ was below a hundred. Something squirmed inside me. I didn’t want to hear this.
While reading Timothy Leary’s Jail Notes in preparation for interviewing him, I ran across a passage where Leary describes how the Black Panthers held him hostage in Algeria. I resisted what this implied. I didn’t want to know that blacks could act like slave owners, too.
While immersing myself in Orange County’s Vietnamese gang culture for a Playboy article, I was continually impressed with how these war-shattered Asians had come here penniless but owned businesses and mansions within a decade. This didn’t jibe with my belief that blacks and Mexicans were their equals.
While interviewing white nationalist Tom Metzger, I thought I’d pinned him with a real “Gotcha!” question: “You’re not big on equality, are you?” Metzger said he wasn’t, and neither was anyone in power. “When they say ‘All men are created equal,’ I laugh,” he told me, “because nobody in power believes that.” My guts told me that Metzger was probably right on that count. Maybe the idea of equality had substituted for religion as a modern opiate of the masses. Maybe it was a rancid fiction peddled by people who felt superior to everyone.
After I’d interviewed a homeless man on Hollywood’s streets, he kept calling me and asking me for money. Since he was ambulatory and relatively young, I started to think that maybe he was only a victim of his own laziness.
After interviewing one famous rapper after the next, I had to concede that most of them were as dumb as tree stumps. I also had to admit that many aspects of the black culture I’d worshiped from afar were dumber than a box of rocks carved from stone. And though I’d thought they’d been exploited and kept down by capitalism, this didn’t stop rappers from posing on record covers fanning themselves with $100 bills and wearing gold chains down to their balls. And the idea that their plight in America was solely the white man’s fault couldn’t account for the fact that conditions were far worse back in the Motherland than they were anywhere in Compton.
It wasn’t long before my entire ideological edifice came crashing to the ground.
So there I was on an East LA street corner, trying to buy weed from one of the Stoner gang members over whom I’d lost my job trying to defend. Like I said, I was still in my twenties and still green enough to think I was doing him a favor by bringing a little cash into his ’hood. As he threaded his tattoo needle and avoided eye contact, he icily informed me that he and the rest of the Hicks Boys were pissed about my article. He said I’d misquoted him, even though he was wrong—I had everything on tape and I’d quoted him correctly word-for-word.
He said I was lucky the rest of his gang was still asleep, because the minute they all woke up, they would mob me and beat my white ass into the ground.
It occurred to me that the only reason he wasn’t a large-scale oppressor was a simple lack of opportunity. If he’d grown up rich, he’d be every bit as corrupt as the faceless country-clubbers I’d been trained to hate. So instead of manipulating the currency, he stuck to petty robbery and lopsided beatdowns.
Even if I’d fought him one-on-one, this was a public corner in East LA, and within moments I’d be fighting all of La Raza. So I got back in my car and shouted, “The reason you’re stuck here is because you’re too stupid to do anything else!”
To this day, I don’t know whether I’d always felt that about him or whether I suddenly realized it as he threaded the needle and threatened my life.
I was not prejudiced, which implies passing judgment before reviewing the evidence. I was now postjudiced—I had reviewed the evidence and concluded that many people simply weren’t worth saving.
As I peeled away in my 1968 Cougar from that dirty street corner, I left my leftist beliefs at his dirty feet. His Kampf wasn’t Mein. Power may corrupt, but powerlessness can make you a nasty asshole, too. Spend enough time around “the people,” and you realize it’s a fool’s errand trying to defend them. I realized he, and so many like him, had no potential waiting to be realized. For the first time in my life, I also realized there’s a reason the Third World came in third.
In 1972 comedian George Carlin famously delineated the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” All seven words dealt with bodily parts or functions at a time when such things were simply not mentioned in polite company. If anything, Carlin was understating the case—back then, I don’t remember anyone on TV even suggesting that nipples existed, much less coming out and saying “tits.”
In the intervening decades, society has not only shed such taboos, it has actively embraced vulgarity. At least on cable TV, one is now allowed—in some cases encouraged—to not only say all seven of those words, but to use them in a single sentence while demonstrating them for the camera. These days we have reality shows about crippled midget meth-smoking stripper Satanist hermaphrodites with AIDS competing against similarly afflicted freaks for cash prizes, and it’s “all good”—even something worth celebrating.
Modern culture has disabused itself of the false notion that the human body and its various functions are unnatural or unspeakable. It has rid itself of most sexual hang-ups, but—since all societies define themselves primarily via taboos—in its stead it has erected a new and equally fraudulent idealized vision of humanity entirely unsupported by science, logic, or evidence. There’s a whole new set of dirty words that didn’t used to be dirty—all of them derogatory terms for people who aren’t white males—and a forbidden set of ideas which one must not permit to seep inside one’s head without risking censure, shunning, verbal abuse, career death, and possible assault.
“The new sacred cows come in new shapes and colors, but they’re still sacred and they’re still fat fucking cows.”
The new sacred cows come in new shapes and colors, but they’re still sacred and they’re still fat fucking cows. The taboos have switched from the sexual to the cultural, but shiver me timbers if they aren’t enforced with the same blind, vengeful, true-believer tenacity as the old taboos. Ironically, these taboos find their deepest roots among a presumably “edgy” demographic—but the detached, ironic smarm so endemic along the Left Bank is only a thin crust atop a molten core of inviolably sacred assumptions and risk-free sanctimony. There is a new prudery afoot, and it’s based entirely on a faulty, illogical, and unsustainable myth of universal human equality.
What follows are not seven dirty words, but seven dirty ideas one cannot espouse or even ponder on television without being kicked in the face by a velvet-covered steel-toed boot. Although others treat these ideas as if they were radioactive, carcinogenic, and poisonous, none of them seems remotely radical or extreme or offensive or controversial to me. Instead, they all seem supremely reasonable. But in a world where what’s deemed “politically incorrect” is so often factually correct, these seven big fat elephants are stinking up the whole room.
1. ALL MEN ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.
Equality is a concept which nearly everyone believes but no one has bothered to prove. The unassailable notion of blank-slate cognitive and physical equality, despite all contrary evidence, is the fat stump rooted deep in the soil from which all the other modern taboo branches sprout. The sweetest fairy tale ever told is the one where God made everyone equal. It’s such a wholesomely peaceful notion, people will rip your head off your neck if you don’t submit completely to it. But if no two blades of grass are alike, how can any two humans be alike? If anyone thinks all men are created equal, they’ve obviously never been in a locker room or attended an interracial calculus class. All things being equal, there is no such thing as equality.
2. AT BEST, HUMANS SHARE AN EQUAL POTENTIAL TO BE ASSHOLES.
The main problem with “humanism” is that it fails to account for human nature. I look at the world and see a rainbow of people who all suck in different ways. I’ve met noble souls of all colors and screaming assholes of every hue. All tribes, nations, and individuals across this great planet share an equal ability to annoy and disappoint. Every culture, subculture, and counterculture is blindly self-justifying, and, when it achieves sufficient strength, it becomes rapaciously predatory. The best possible world religion, the only one with an outside chance of ensuring global harmony, would consist of a basic agreement that we can all be assholes.
3. IF YOU INSIST ALL HUMANS ARE EQUAL, THEN COUNT THEIR CORPSES EQUALLY.
We need to hear a little less about the fewer than 4,000 black American lynching victims and a little more about the 600,000 or so white peasants who died ostensibly to free them from slavery. A little less about black American slavery and a little more about colonial white indentured servitude and convict labor. A little less about the six million (give or take a few) Jews who perished in WWII and a little more about the 50-65 million other people killed in that war. A little less about white colonialism and a little more about the Mongols, the Moors, and Hannibal. For the sake of balance, let’s see some TV movies about communism’s 100-million-plus pile of cadavers. Let’s see some documentaries about slavery’s historical ubiquity and its persistence in Africa today. Let’s entirely ditch the concept that some dead bodies are more equal than others.
4. THE ENTIRE “JEW” THING HAS BECOME RIDICULOUS.
“Anti-Semitism” is a term used to describe some inexplicable mystery virus that, against all odds, has infected the hearts of nearly every ethnic group that has ever encountered Jews everywhere on Earth throughout history. Although many modern Jews aren’t technically Semites, you can be labeled anti-Semitic merely for stating this fact. I suppose it’s also anti-Semitic to point out that ancient Hebrews were pioneers in the art of genocide. Experts on “racism,” who tend to be disproportionately Jewish, blabber freely about “white privilege” and white over-representation in the corridors of power and finance, but to suggest that something such as “Jewish privilege” exists in even more absurdly disproportionate numbers is to risk permanent banishment from the discussion table. People routinely get fired by powerful Jews for suggesting that Jews have too much power, whereas you get a promotion for suggesting that WASPs are over-privileged. And do we dare mention the innate cosmic racism underlying the whole “God’s chosen people” thing?
5. ISLAM IS STUPID TO THE CORE.
For a moment, blot from your mind all the prehistoric fatwas, inbreeding, beheading, clit-slicing, stoning, and fag-bashing. Forget that Muhammad was a pedophile. Dismiss the idea that Islam is far more guilty of every fascistically intolerant cultural iniquity for which the “Christian right” usually gets hammered. Don’t think about the fact that the Arab slave trade in Africa predated and dwarfed Europe’s slave trade. I hope you never learn that Muslims captured and enslaved at least a million white Europeans, because it might subvert your internal narrative. Don’t think for a minute about the fact that the literal translation of the word Islam—“submission”—runs counter to every Western notion of freedom and individuality. Don’t even think about all thecontradictions in a book deemed so holy, you can get killed for sneezing near it. No, flush all that from your consciousness and ponder for a moment that a quarter or more of the Earth’s population actually believes in a supreme being who’s so insecure and dependent upon your approval, he throws baby tantrums if you don’t submit. There is no conceivable intellectual defense of a religion founded on such a stupid premise. Quit making false distinctions between “extreme” and “moderate” Islam—it’s all retarded.
6. WOMEN AREN’T TOTALLY INNOCENT AND HELPLESS.
Although there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t met a despicable woman, it remains heretical to imply that women may possibly be human beings, and as such, they may be capable of acting with willful malice toward others. Despite the fact that nearly every sociological study of family violence ever conducted has concluded that women hit men at least as frequently as the inverse, “domestic violence” is still viewed as an exclusively male-on-female phenomenon. But who needs muscles when you have WMDs such as societal prejudice and the law squarely on your side? In her book When She Was Bad, author Patricia Pearson argued that until puberty, boys and girls both express aggression physically. Around age 12 women turn to more sophisticated tactics for intentionally inflicting harm: gossip, shaming, and false accusations. It’s like on Seinfeld where Elaine explains that instead of giving one another wedgies, girls tease each other until they develop eating disorders. False rape charges, as well as phony claims of domestic abuse and sexual harassment, have become commonplace. The double standard is so lopsided, female spousal abusers are even permitted to become Secretary of State without it ever becoming an issue in their vetting process.
7. THINGS MAY NEVER GET BETTER.
Egalitarianism is merely another shortsighted and unworkable utopian scheme—not the first, but it may be the last. Advertisers aren’t banking on the idea that the world may fall apart soon, so you don’t get much doomsday prophesying on television. Despite overpopulation, peak oil, collapsing financial systems, environmental catastrophes, and deeply frayed cultural moorings, most people still operate under the dimwitted assumption that untold billions of collectivized humans is a sustainable project and that humanity will one day come galloping in on a white pony to rescue itself from itself. Both the “left” and the “right” pretend they have the answer, but they are mere flippers on the same thalidomide baby, and the truth is that neither side has a clue. But you won’t hear that on television, because it might lead you to turn off the boob tube and start living while you still have time.