How do you define an activist? I have always said in the smallest way anyone who bothers to take the time to vote is an activist. Beyond that most people define an activist as a person who speaks out publicly about the issues that concern him or her, in the smallest way, one of those people who writes letters to the editor. On the other end of the spectrum, are those famous and semi- famous folks who speaker to the gathered masses, who already support the issue. The show of solidarity among the gathered masses, at best serves to perhaps get some people to vote, whom wouldn't had otherwise.
In the middle are the real activists, the ones who knock on doors and set up in public places to explain the issues, to those who don't know or didn't care about an issue. The real activist is the one who opens or changes minds.
Some 20 years ago, I saw things happening in our country, that I felt were just wrong. Mainly that people were going to jail for doing things, that harmed no others. I wondered what happened to the pursuit of happiness. What happened to the right to be an individual? So I went from the guy, who quietly did, the things I do and began to speak out against those things that I disagreed with. Many people told me that I was risking my freedom to do what I wanted to do to save others from going to jail. I said so be it. In 1995 I began a web crusade and in 1998, I join up with Julian Heicklen, a 65 year-old retired chemistry professor at Pennsylvania State University, to stage a weekly protest against marijuana prohibition. I also wrote to activists groups around the country, offering up my services as an activist speaker. Oddly enough everyone but NORML embraced my zeal and soon I was touring the country as John Galt jr, the most protesting man in America.
In 1999 I began the SShh Festivals and there were suggestions that I was not or no longer an activist "because I sold out to capitalism by doing the SShh Festivals. For six long years I did, the SShh Festivals while continuing my activism where ever I was welcome. My answer to the nay sayers was that you need to make money to sell out, no SShh festival ever showed a profit. They did however provide a continuing outlet for my activist views, while other promoters, when faced with the Rave and Patriot acts ran scared and stayed away from political issues.
In 2000 I was asked how long I planned on being an activist, I answered ten years. Asked the same question today I would have to say I will be an activist as long as Tom remains dead, I will continue the fight for our rights.
There were a few years, that some that said I was no longer an activist because I haven't traveled outside of New York and Pennsylvania. So in 2008 I went back out on the road, literally. Tired of "preaching to the choir" my activism moved to libraries, parking lots and rest areas
All the while, the wars continued and more and more Americans were being locked up, even as several states legalized medical marijuana. So in 2012 I contacted all those groups, once again to offer my services as a speaker. I sent about a hundred or so emails, only two groups even bothered to acknowledge they had received my letter. One invite to speak at the 4th of July protest in Washington D.C. One note that they had enough speakers, maybe next year...
Meanwhile, person who identified herself as an activist, contacted me for information, contacts and such as a budding activist. I helped her every way I could and finally met her in D.C., where I discovered she was using me as a reference to speak at events. When I met her, my first impression was ghetto meets southern belle. Her mastering of the English language was poor, and on stage in a bright red dress, she was much easier to see than hear. She spoke not about the movements, but about a man, she talked about his books but not the content of those books. Her main goal it seemed was to sell t-shirts. (which she had gotten the dead authors mother to pay for) For twenty dollars you could get a t-shirt and your picture wearing it on her web page. In the days that followed, I noticed that she was booked as a speaker in all those places, that had chosen to ignore me and seemed to be having no problem jumping back and forth from coast to coast to make appearances. Suddenly she also became a singer,(links to her music references were all dead.) Her singing was almost as bad as her speeches When we actually met, She complained about how the hotel she stayed in had no air conditioning, meanwhile I was sleeping in my van. Shortly after I saw she was peddling the authors books (which she apparently also got from the authors mother). So when my personal campaign ran out of money, I returned to NY where three four times a a day pleas for money appeared on my facebook page to help finance her activism. So I removed her from my contact list and the same day, I got a message from her, that said Y did U dilite me? How classless could this so called activist be?
I used to say anyone who cared enough to vote was an activist... But in this new world, where activists don't need a message just big tits and a red dress, I am withdrawing...
It's sad that most of the activists of my days are dead or in jail. I guess since I never crossed the line, and didn't get arrested, I'll never be as famous as those who made the newspapers. I will continue to publish Web station #19, as long as I can afford it and drive the activist van as long as it runs. I may make some appearances if asked, but the days of spending half my income to inform people of what they don't want to know or already know are over. I had a great time and made many friends, wish that some of you will, continue those friendships, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I miss you all.
Today my web site still gets at least 50 hits everyday, far below the thousands of the past, but my words are still there for those who care enough to read them. The letters I receive now days are seldom complimentary and more often rude and uninformed hate mail. But i don't regret the life I have lived. My answer to them is As long as I maintain this site and drive the activist van, I will be an activist every minute, everyday and to those who disagree, perhaps someday, you will understand and thank me.
What can you do?
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