22 March 2017

Government Cheese [1984]


[From my pre-weblog, 22 March 1984]
I
’m watching satellite news twenty-four hours a day now, god knows why. Sleeping fitfully with that goddamn eye on the world glaring at me, bringing me live coverage of trials, congressional debates, and relentlessly updated news. I woke up the other day in the middle of the Senate vote on school prayer, a bad idea whose time has long since gone.
What extraordinary things people say they believe on TV! I see a woman who claims that it is impossible to force someone to engage in oral sex, a man who claims that no woman in this coun­try is afraid to report a rape, another man who says there is nothing wrong in appointing people to important positions in the government in return for cash. I see millions of people support­ing a president who has brought us defeat and disgrace in the Middle East, increased pollution throughout the nation, increased poverty, hunger, acid rain, unemployment, debt—fucking hell with it.
I stood for three-quarters of an hour the other day in a cheese line and watched prosperous middle-class women claim food intended for the starving (“Hey, our tax-dollars paid for this, right? We have a right to it…”). Nobody cares. It’s all propaganda, that’s all. Newspapers claim that a vast array of goods are going forth—cheese and butter and cornmeal and all kinds of good stuff—but when you get there all there is is pow­dered milk.
Peace talks collapse in Switzerland, Libya bombs Sudan, and a kidnapper is murdered before my eyes. Reagan defends Meese. Soviet and U.S. ships collide at sea, Iraq gasses Iran, and a kidnapper is murdered before my eyes. New Bedford protests (not the rape, but the conviction of the rapists), Jerry Falwell threatens, and a kidnapper is murdered before my eyes. Every fucking hour a kidnapper is murdered in front of me, and I don’t know if I even wanted to see it once.

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