*Originally posted by Frog Jones.
Why is it that every time I start to enjoy something, the media tells me that it is evil?
I’m going off-topic from writing here, but not really. More on that later. I’m also not going to break down and analyze the one hour Katie Couric fear-o-thon that’s got me so riled; that has been done elsewhere. I’m not even going to give the response to it, as my response mirrors the responses of justabout every other nerd out there.
What I really want to do is address the overarching issue here. The fact of the matter is, we’ve seen this moral panic before. And the people panicking? They caused their own moral panics. We nerds write about how there’s no need for the panic, but as we have obviously been corrupted by our pastimes what we have to say doesn’t count. To those who believe that we are evil, we cannot act as our own spokesperson. What we need is a Jewish dairy farmer.
In the town of Bethel, New York, in 1969, a town hall meeting was held. You see, there was this middle-aged Jewish dairy farmer by the name of Max Yasgur who had agreed to rent out some of his property to some hippies who wanted to throw a party there. The rest of the town fervently opposed this, because he was renting it out to kids who were members of an “inappropriate” movement. Yasgur was a quiet, private man, who didn’t really like talking in front of crowds, but underneath the quiet Jewish-dairy-farmer facade was a man with some pretty strongly held beliefs. His speech to the town council is one of the most poignant paragraphs I’ve read. I’m putting it here, in its entirety.
“I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don’t like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don’t like their lifestyle. I hear you don’t like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly. . . I don’t particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don’t particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don’t like what some of them are saying about our government. However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That’s what this Country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our Town just because you don’t like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival.”
Read that bad boy from a modern perspective. Max wasn’t a hippy, and he didn’t particularly like hippies. He didn’t like their music, he didn’t like their attitudes, and he just wasn’t one of their fans. But Max Yasgur loved freedom. He loved it much, much more than he hated the hippies, and he got his way. The zoning laws remained unchanged, and the party happened.
At said party, Max was invited to give a speech. Here’s what he had to say:
That’s right folks; the biggest counterculture gathering on record happened on the farm of one of the most straight-laced men on earth.
Since then, though, those of us who dwell beneath the surface of society have had a hard time being heard. I’m a scifi/fantasy fan who works as an attorney. I write under a pseudonym (What? Frog isn’t really your name?!?) because I don’t want my rural clients thinking I’m less than one hundred percent devoted to their case, and if word got out that I write fantasy novels and play D&D, the stigma that would attach could hurt me professionally.
Now video games are once again in the crossfire, added to the list of things that people want to blame for their own shortcomings as parents. It should not come as a shock that I’m a gamer, and yet another piece of what I am and what I enjoy is being added to the pile of things that society considers disgraceful.
So where is my Max Yasgur? Where’s the guy who, even though he’s not really one of us, is going to stand up and tell the world that I have the right to be the way I am? If I say it, my voice joins those of every other nerd I’ve linked to. No, it needs to be someone from the same group of people, someone who disagrees with what I do and who I am. But someone who loves freedom more than they hate me. Not until we get our Max Yasgur will we start to see the things we love being accepted by the greater society out there.