48. how the church has failed us

•February 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The amount of respect I give to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is so immense that I can’t put it into words.  When I think about how the Catholic Church has, for the most part, defended apostolic succession to this day, I become overwhelmed with emotion.  In a way, this might be one of Catholicism’s most powerful claims to legitimacy: the ability to link its current head, the 265th Pope, Benedict XVI, to its first Pope – the Vicar of Christ – Saint Peter.  Any Christian denomination that is able to link itself through history to God’s intervention in human history and, incredibly, do a pretty damn good job at establishing that the link itself is inherently holy because God intervened in human history and left humanity to carry on His work in human history, is a denomination that is at least worthy of consideration.


This is Catholicism’s weapon: it is a tradition that has become so magnificently institutionalized and profoundly intelligent that it no longer requires apologists.  The Catholic Church defends itself merely by the fact it continues to breathe 1.2 billion breaths every second from every corner of the globe, from every ethnic background, from every class, in every language, and in every profession.  The community of believers are not only sustained by the Holy Spirit, they are the Holy Spirit.  It is largely for this reason that I have yet to give up on Catholicism.  The Catholic Church’s proof for Jesus of Nazareth being the Christ is both historical and contemporary: it embraces the historicity of Christ and through the community of believers, contemporizes His message.

Even as a soft-agnostic, I am haunted by how real the Holy Spirit feels when I walk into Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal.  There is no other religion on the planet that does this to me – I truly feel a transcendent force when I attend mass at Mary, Queen of the World.  For me, there is something to Catholicism that is important; I have no idea if this is the sheer awesomeness of its buildings or the presence of the Holy Spirit.  But the fact I don’t know keeps me up at night worrying, “What if it is true?”  This is super fucked up and I don’t really talk about it because the Catholic Church is such a horrifying institution.  I can’t shake Catholicism. lol, of all the things I can’t shake… Catholicism.

So it’s a huge bummer that the Catholic Church is run by a bunch of hacks who are more concerned with defending their own personal integrity, than the salvation of the community of believers.  Oh my God!  I am trying to think of a more repulsive crew of oppressors than the ragtag crew of bros that call the Vatican home… I can’t!  If these d00ds are supposed to be all ‘Vicar-of-Christ’, I’ll take whatever Judas is pushing.  It takes everything I have to differentiate the social policies of the Catholic Church and the theological might that is hidden inside of it.  Sometimes I don’t know if I can do it.  Sometimes I don’t know why I even bother to try.

Why should I bother trying?  If the Catholic Church was any other organization, I would be standing at their head office, throwing Molotov cocktails at those pederast-defending-fucks in their gaudy robes.  And yet, for whatever reason, I give a pass to the institution that only just (March, 2000) apologized for the following (Quoting Christopher Htichens):

“The crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of the Jewish people, injustice towards women, that’s half the human race right there, and the forced conversion of indigenous peoples, especially in South America, the African slave trade… and for silence during Hitler’s Final Solution or Shoah. And it doesn’t end there, there are smaller but significant—equally significant—avowals of a very bad conscience. These have included regret for the rape and torture of orphans and other children in church-run schools in almost every country on Earth, from Ireland to Australia. These are very serious matters, and they’re not to be laughed off by the references to the occasional work of Catholic charities. But I draw you attention not just to the apologies, ladies and gentlemen, but to the evasive and euphemistic form that they take.”  Fuck.  I won’t defend these hacks.  I can’t defend these hacks.

And then, on a good day, when I don’t come across news of a child abuse scandal or how the Catholic Church actively shits over reproductive rights across the globe, I start to think about how Catholicism still clings to the increasingly fragile origin of the Christian claim.  I might dig up the heartbreaking Per Corso Trilogy, written by Monsignor Luigi Giussani and, for a moment, I refuse to let myself believe that the Catholic Church is salvifically vacant.  And then I put his beautiful theology back on the shelf and remind myself that, even if salvation was inside the Church, I wouldn’t want it.  Even if I knew with absolute certainty that I could be saved by joining the community of believers, I would turn my back on the Holy Spirit and refuse His promises.  I believe that God intervened in human history.  I truly believe this (holy fuck, I can’t believe I am admitting to this absurdity)… but I wish He had left us alone.  Not because His love isn’t perfect, it is; but because the people entrusted with His love used it to commit unimaginable evil.

But I will cry for Ratzinger…

When Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement last week, my heart split in two for the man.  My heart didn’t split in two for Benedict XVI… that would be silly, lol, he’s terrible.  No, my heart split in two for Joseph Ratzinger, the human who was blessed with one of the most beautiful minds of the 20th century.  My heart split for the man who wrote the text (Introduction to Christianity) that changed the way I understood Christianity, the text that changed the way I loved others, the world and myself.  This is perhaps where I can draw the distinction and defend Catholicism: the distinction between Joseph Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI.

If Joseph Ratzinger had been a Christian but had not been bound to the dogma of the Catholic Church, his ceiling would have been unlimited.  One need only read his Habilitation on Saint Bonaventure to know that Ratzinger was an individual who could generate insights in places no one else could.  This is what frustrates me so much, Ratzinger got Christianity in a way that few could – he was on Augustine’s level, he had the chops to reverse the horrors of Catholicism.  Even in the days before his retirement, I clung to this really silly hope: that Ratzinger could save the Catholic Church from itself.  In a way, I am glad that this silly hope is no longer possible.  I can put my faith in Joseph Ratzinger away forever and see him for what he will forever be, Pope Benedict XVI.

Joseph Ratzinger and his faith were this perfect dynamism – a dialectic between the subject and the Absolute.  His insights were a product of his own faith and his own experience.  He had the ability to show us flickers of God’s love, he gave us hope.  But Pope Benedict XVI is not Joseph Ratzinger… Ratzinger, along with his faith, died long ago.


49: manarchists (so me), but also how great friendship is

•January 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment


   This is a rant.  I spewed words.  I have been thinking about how I just really want to be friends and how I can’t deal with being “rad” or “anarchist” because I don’t understand my privilege in the slightest.  So I am super sorry for how this seems disjointed, I hope you find a point.  I have to withdraw from thinking that I can contribute to the solution and start thinking about how I can stop contributing to being the problem.  This is me pulling away from “rad” and me putting myself out there for all of the friendship.

s.p. the bro

My ideal “bro-hang” is beers at a sports bar with a friend, just watching sports.  We watch sports, laugh about sports, talk about who we think is going to take home the title this year, and maybe talk about what each other is up to.  I have probably one friend who I can do this with on the regular and be 100% sure the whole thing will stay safe space.  Just one: let’s call him S. P.

S. P. is not an anarchist.

S. P. also tends to not say oppressive things (I mean he probably does, he’s a white d00d, but he tries).  S. P. recognizes his privilege as well as any white hetero d00d that I know does.  S. P. does not identify as rad but – as far as d00ds in his demographic go – he’s the most rad one I know of.

We have similar situations, S.P. and I: we both are the last vestiges of our friends from the entering class of 2005.  We have pretty reasonable jobs and are so thankful for this privilege that we don’t deserve.  We go to Dan Deacon shows and are the oldest ones there; I leave after “Snookered” because I am tired (it is a little after midnight).  For the last couple of months my girlfriend has been in DC shooting abortion terrorists or something, and while she has been gone, if I want to be friends, he’s my first text.  We are kind of lonely, but we are okay friends.

Sometimes, I find myself having to defend my friendships with white hetero d00ds – rightly so.  There have been times where I have explained away some bullshit misogynistic statement to avoid major confrontation.  And then days later I feel really awful that I defended the patriarchy like that, I was a collaborator in the perpetuation of the patriarchy because I don’t have the courage to call someone out.  Instead, I just explain it away.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that with S.P.  I am not a collaborator with S.P.  I am just friends with S.P.

lol! where am i going with this?

                If I was a better person I think I would be an anarchist.  If I could get over my privilege, if I could really, truly, understand my privilege and how – as a white hetero d00d – my privilege causes me to oppress merely by me breathing, I think I could identify as an anarchist.  At the moment, I am not there.  I probably will never get there.  I mean, I will never get there.  Don’t get me wrong, I dream of an anarcho-syndicalist utopia, where the patriarchy is crushed, and everything feels like it is going to be okay – where the Kingdom of Heaven is not within one man, or a group of men, but within us all.  Where there is no want or misery, where we don’t worry about the nothing that kills, where individuals are not victims of systems… I dream of this shit.  I hate that I am the problem, but to complain about that would be really fucking shitty of me – if me being “bummed out” that I am part of the patriarchy is really the only way that the patriarchy hurts me, I need to bite my tongue.  So yes, the patriarchy is the root of all evil, but I benefit from it every single day, all of the time, in literally every way.  So who the fuck am I to call myself an anarchist when I swim in the privilege I never deserved?  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.

My voice is not the voice that will crush the patriarchy.  I have no idea what it means to be a victim of the patriarchy.  I want to crush the patriarchy with you.  I want to crush it next to you.  I want to smash the shit out of it.  But I don’t even know where to start.  I don’t know what it means to be oppressed!  Do I start with the face?  Do I use a hammer?  Do I use a gun?  Do I just starve it out?  I really just want to listen!  If you don’t want to tell me, that is totally okay too, whatever is best.  If you want me to just paint myself out of this wonderful picture of a patriarchy-free world, I am cool with that.

I don’t really feel comfortable having a voice at this point.  My voice is the kind of voice that silences voices that haven’t (see: never) had their turn yet.  What business do I have thinking I have a voice in toppling the monster I help build up every single day?

is friendship a form of pure dialectic? 

So back to S.P. just for a whisper… I like the kid because I know I am getting the real S.P. and I don’t feel uncomfortable being his friend.  My girlfriend feels the same way (about my hanging out with him): I leave our hangs being slightly less shitty.  I am able to hang out with a heterosexual white male and do heterosexual white male horseshit and emerge slightly less shitty.  Fuck.  What a kid.

I have been thinking a lot about friendship as a form of pure dialectic.  The dialectic comes second to the friendship itself and likely – probably more often than not – the fruits of the shared experience are left at the bar, but sometimes both parties walk away affected by the friendship itself.  We leave our experiences with one another without even knowing it.  A greater truth emerges out of it – I don’t know what that truth is, but I feel it.  The cool thing, at least for me, is that we are sitting at that table together because we enjoy sitting at that table together.  Of course, the systems which divide us are still there, but they operate in a less sinister way.

can we be all of the friends?

If you know me, you know that one thing I cherish more than anything is the concept of becoming friends with people.  The period of a budding friendship is one of the most magical moments in my life.  I get this overwhelming, fantastically excited feeling – it is sort of like the feeling you get when you get on a rollercoaster that you are a little scared to be on – where right at the top of the climb you just scream “FRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENDS!”  It’s great.  It’s all of the fun.  It’s all of the exciting.  I love it.  I love being friends with people who are good people because good people deserve friends who want to become good friends with them because they are good people.

I am not ready to have a voice as an anarchist.  Oh my God, I am so not ready for that.  How can I be ready for something like that when I so obviously am not an anarchist?  But I am ready to become your friend and do friendship things and dance and listen and laugh and shit.  I am ready for that.  I love friendships more than anything!  I care about my friends.  I care about their opinions.

i don’t get it, at all

Last week, Quentin Tarantino said the n-word at the Golden Globes while being interviewed about the liberal usage of said word in his film Django Unchained.  The next day, the white folks at CNN were tearing him to bits over saying it and I really didn’t understand why that was problematic – I mean white people saying the n-word is always problematic, but I just didn’t know if the white folks at CNN were in a position to call him out on that particular usage of the n-word.  I mean come on, white folks should be worrying about the fact that segregation still exists in many ways in 2013, not the usage of the n-word by some idiot who only said the word in reference to the word itself, right?  I was ready to make a status about it, seriously.  One of those, “white people are so dumb, they are missing the whole point on this one,” type of statuses.  I was so certain I was being progressive and rad.  Then I asked a friend who I have always enjoyed listening to on issues surrounding race.  And within maybe two minutes, I realized how wrong I was.  Like, really, very, very wrong.  I was so embarrassed that I thought I understood this issue.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.  All I had to do was ask someone I trust.  All I had to do was listen.  What right did I have to weigh in on this? Once I listened, I bit my tongue.  I didn’t weigh in and that made me a better person for it.    

I had to trust this person enough to ask though.  I had to believe that this person was going to be totally okay with the question itself, and totally okay with the fact that it might be a brutally ignorant and racist question.  This person answered the question in a way that didn’t paint me as a huge racist (even though I was being stupid and racist).  This person answered this question as a friend would.

I still don’t get it.  I don’t get racism.  I am a racist.  I am a little less racist because of this friend.  I bit my tongue and asked someone who knows what it is like to be oppressed.

so what about manarchists?

I love the term anarcha-feminism, it is the best.  It is just the perfect combo.  Those are the two things I wish I could be with all my heart: an anarchist and a feminist.  I try.  I am not.  I am not even an anarchist, because to be an anarchist is to be an anarcha-feminist (the state is the patriarchy) and I still profit off my privilege and really do not reject my privilege in any meaningful way.

I think about the white hetero d00ds who I know that oppress the least, not one of them is an anarchist (there totally are rad white male anarchists, I don’t want to generalize).  They tend to be pretty left-wing and will always call out bullshit, but none of them even thinks that they are rad in the slightest.  These are the d00ds I want to hang out with.  The d00ds I feel safe and okay hanging out with.  I don’t really feel this way when I hang out with manarchists; in fact, I feel about the same way when I hang out with manarchists as I do when I am with just about every other shitty bro on the planet.  Fuck, maybe it is even worse, because manarchists take up space in communities where rad folks are actually trying to take down the patriarchy.

I am not ready for this.  I am not ready to fight the state in the street, I am the state.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.  I have no idea what it means to be oppressed.   I am retreating deep within myself, to a place where the only space I take up is the body I have (I am a pretty small d00d, so that’s good).  My fight against the patriarchy is a horrifying fight against myself.  It is what I am versus who I want to be.  That’s the only enemy I know well enough to have the courage to fight against.  I need to first not be an oppressor before I can fight oppression.  I need to ask questions and listen with an open heart.  If I am a white heterosexual male who actually wants to take down the patriarchy, I need to let go of thinking I know what is best for the anarchist movement.  So I am letting go.

we can be friends though, right?

I love friendships.  I love being friends with good people who are doing great things.  I want to hear all about it!  I want to dance and drink and talk and have fun with you.  If our friendship takes us to a protest or to bar or to watching a Storage Wars marathon, it really doesn’t matter.  I just want to be your friend.  And every time I get to hear a funny story or learn something new about you, a little bit of the patriarchy cracks inside of me.  You leave your experience with me, you share it with me, and those experiences fill those cracks.  Same goes for you, S.P.

Friendship is where I get solidarity.

in  solidarity (but mostly friendship),



50: entitlement and the white hetero d00d: an evening with lance armstrong and the privilege he refuses to recognize (but uses to do patriarchal horseshit on the regular).

•January 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Any of you who have me on Facebook probably know how excited I was to be alive this week.  Any of you who actually saw me this week probably noticed that I danced a little harder, spoke a little quicker, and smiled a little brighter.  There were a couple of times this week where I almost threw up pure sunshine.  I spent entire evenings finding doors to hold for non-existent people.  I hugged strangers.  I painted pictures of hearts, puppies, and cherry colas.  I spliced my copy of Donnie Darko where Roberta Sparrow says to Donnie “Every living creature on this Earth dies alone,” and replaced it with Drew Barrymore repeating the words “cellar door” over and over and over.

I don’t get weeks like this.  I’ve never had a week like this.  A week where Lance Armstrong gets destroyed by Oprah Winfrey and the world finds out that Manti Te’o’s girlfriend is as real as Kolob, the planet he thinks his God lives on.  No, I shouldn’t get weeks like this.  I am not a good enough person to deserve something this wonderful… so I will cherish it in my heart until the day I die and I ride its beauty to heaven.


The Lance Armstrong interview was always going to happen.  We all knew that one day he would be sitting across from Oprah, admitting that he cheated in every one of his seven Tour de France victories.  We all knew that the Livestrong money was as dirty as his urine tests.  We might not have wanted to believe it – the story of Lance Armstrong is so unbelievably inspiring that it felt better to just lie to ourselves – but we all knew.  Every single person knew that he was cheating and lying and making millions off of cancer.  Cancer.  Lance Armstrong profited off of his cancer by cheating and then being mean to people who accused him of cheating.  That is a really fucking bad person.

Anyway, I loved the interview.  I’ve wanted this showdown more than the biggest boxing fan has wanted Manny v. Mayweather.  I stood up the whole time.  I shouted, “Kill him Oprah!  Kill that fucking oppressor!”  There is something so precious about watching a white man getting disemboweled for doing the things that white men do all the time.  It was just this whisper of perfect, a rare glimpse into the blackened – and super homophobic – heart of the patriarchy: a brutally sad little man with no way of explaining away his horrifically evil actions.  About twenty minutes in, I thought I saw the true sun goddess, Judith Butler, fly through the window on a dragon and spit in the eyes of Armstrong.

Then, in a moment, my perfect joy turned into all-encompassing anger when Oprah asked if Lance thought he deserved the death penalty (the punishment which effectively bans him from all sanctioned sporting events for the rest of his life).  His response was, in essence, no: “Frankly, this may not be the most popular answer but I deserve it (to be allowed to compete again)… I deserve to be punished… I’m not sure that I deserve a death penalty.”  Let me make sure that I understand this right: Lance Armstrong cheated in every single Tour de France, he lied about cheating, pressured his teammates into cheating, was super mean and angry to any person who ever dared to suggest that he cheated, and then coupled his cancer with it all to get people to like him and give him money.  What does he deserve?  What facet of his existence warrants any human being having to give him something that he, AND I QUOTE, “deserves”?  Everything, every dollar he has, every triumphant victory, every perfect memory he owns, he never deserved.  Not only does he not deserve it, he had to cheat, lie, and steal from people who actually deserved it to get what he never deserved.

why am i obligated to forgive?

                One of the most obscene by-products of American-Evangelical-Literalist-Hate-Gay-People-Because-Of-The-Old-Testament-Christianity is that it is incredibly lazy.  The individual never needs to try to be good, because you always have that out, you can always repent.  You can always be saved if you turn to Christ and accept him as your personal saviour.  Even if you are the worst, you are always salvageable and get heaven… this is the most fucking awesome deal ever.  Jesus will never be more awesome than the Americanized Jesus: you can be the worst person your entire life, but that’s okay, American Jesus doesn’t give a fuck.

That’s because American Jesus is the patriarchy’s wild card, he’s the fifth ace, he’s the joker even after you checked to make sure the jokers were taken out.  American Jesus is the balk that never happened, the rock to the scissors, the white flag drenched in ether.  When all the mistresses have been discovered, when all the arms have been sold to terrorists, when every conceivable evil has been committed… they… ask… baby… Jesus… for… forgiveness.  I have nightmares within nightmares when I think about how disgusting this is.

But that’s the dark genius of the patriarchy: not only do they get to stack the rules overwhelmingly in their favour, but also, when they break them, they make the rules on how the public forgives them.  Lance Armstrong “deserves” to compete again?  We should give him a second chance after he knowingly did everything he could to be the worst human being possible?  We should just forgive him when, after the jig was up and it was clear that he had cheated the whole time, he had the audacity to tweet this?:


There are handfuls murderers – like, pretty bad ones – which I would be more likely to forgive than this worthless concoction of poison.  If Lance Armstrong heroically saved my own mother from certain death and ended up dying a horrible, painful, agonizing death because of it, I wouldn’t attend his funeral.  He had all of the chances to come clean.  He could have turned in the jerseys, he could have never decided to dope in the first place, he could have simply said “yes” after being asked thousands of times the same question: “Did you ever dope?”  But he didn’t come clean until the United States Anti-Doping Agency caught him.

You think you deserve to run the Austin, Texas 10k fun-run when you’re sixty-years-old, Lance?  Horseshit.  You deserve nothing but to rot in your shame until you die cold, alone, and hated by the whole of humanity.

Lance Armstrong’s usage of the word deserve underlines just how fucked up white male privilege is.  It is horrifying that he would even utter that after what he did.  But that’s how it works.  Ford always pardons Nixon.  Always.  White men get to ask for second chances because they’ve stolen everyone else’s first chance.

51 (Trigger Warning): the fact that sport is ruined by the patriarchy

•January 14, 2013 • 1 Comment

Sport makes me cry all the time.  Sometimes I don’t even need to be watching a sporting event and I will cry… I am not even fucking kidding.  The number of times I have thought about David Duval – a golfer who essentially went from being the best in the world to a complete hack overnight – and have just flat-out cried is embarrassingly high.  I cried when the Canadian women’s soccer team lost to the United States in the semi-finals of the Olympics.  I cried when Barry Zito, after a decade of futility, turned back the hands of time and threw absolute fiyah in game one of the 2012 World Series.  I cried when Kevin Stevens shattered every bone in his face and was knocked unconscious in the 1993 NHL playoffs against the Islanders, I was six years old.  Twenty years later, I still cry when I think about that (update: I am watching the hit right now and I am crying).  For me, sport is ineffable, it is transcendent, it runs deep, it allows me to forget about things, it is a distraction – even if it is just for four quarters or nine innings.

The important thing, which I think a lot of sports fans do not recognize, is that sports are 100% meaningless compared to our duty to care for each other.  Sports are trivial distractions meant for evenings and weekends.  The moment we start treating sports as something that matter, they become an oppressive, patriarchal juggernaut that is brutally sexist, obscenely racist, and incredibly homophobic.

Take what happened in Steubenville, Ohio last August: several high school athletes brutally gang rape a sixteen girl who was unconscious (the rapists themselves laughed about how she seemed dead), urinate on her, and then post the whole thing on various social media sites.  The coach for the football team, upon hearing about this, decides not to bench those suspected of the rape, because he didn’t see the evidence before it was taken off the internet.  A local journalist who took screen shots of the tweets and photos which clearly implicated the athletes was sued for defamation by the family of one of the students.  Many Steubenville residents have claimed that the media is trying to destroy the cherished high school football program.  Let’s recap: girl is gang-raped, urinated on, overwhelming evidence – including photos of the rape itself, and videos of the rapists admitting to and bragging about the rape – is posted online for the whole world to see, and people in the town are still defending a fucking high school sports team.  The entire history of sports, every wonderful thing, every dollar made, every cheer and smile, is infinitely trivial compared to the right this one sixteen-year-old survivor has to justice.

The problem with sports can perhaps be framed with a proposal… for a moment let’s imagine this hypothetical: The Steubenville Ohio survivor doesn’t get sexually assaulted, raped, urinated on, and victim-blamed, but in exchange for that, sports cease to exist forever.  Do you take that deal?  Any good person takes that deal, of course.  Who the fuck cares about sports when someone is violated in such a violent and obscene manner?  Okay, one more question: If their answer remained a secret, how many sports fans take the above proposal?  Not many.   

I wish the Steubenville case, along with how it appears it is being handled, was an exception.  It isn’t.  We could talk about Lizzy Seeberg, who accused a Notre Dame Football player of raping her and then ended up killing herself a week later after being inundated with threats and victim-blaming.  We could talk about the student last week who was drugged and raped in the hotel room of NBA star Andray Blatche (Blatche wants us to know that he didn’t do the raping, he just provided the room for the raping. WHAT THE FUCK?!).  We could talk about how this isn’t a new trend in sports and that between 1989 and 1990 there were fifteen reported gang-rapes involving fifty athletes.  (Neimark, Out of Bounds: The Truth about Athletes and Rape) We could talk about how four high school athletes in New Jersey gang-raped a developmentally delayed girl.  We could talk about how Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky, raped children (some as young as ten years old) in the showers of the university football stadium.  Sports make me cry all the time.

So why does fucking bullshit happen on the regular?  I guess a better question should be: how can it not?  You have young men being adored for their athleticism, their strength, and their ability to shoot a basketball or catch a pass.  They are praised when they go out onto the field or the rink and get what they want through violence and force.  So why should we be surprised when they take what they believe is theirs in other facets of their lives?

Who I Ain’t

Sports make me cry all the fucking time.  I cry when I think about retired NFL star Dave Duerson, who committed suicide by putting a bullet in his chest, leaving a note that asked that his brain be studied for the effects of head trauma.  I cry when a year later, Junior Seau, one of the greatest linebackers in the history of football, did the same thing.  I cry when NHL enforcers including Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien committed suicide, each one of them with a history of head trauma.

We now have athletes who are so depressed after taking so many hits to the head, that they are killing themselves so their brains can be studied to prevent their fellow athletes to go through what they went through.  Think about that.  But why should any of this surprise us?  The institution of sports treats athletes as products, paying them enormous amounts of money, injecting pain killers into their knees so they can play one more down and then, when they no longer serve a purpose, they are let go.  Often, if they played a contact sport, their brains are scrambled and their bodies are broken.  Often, they go from making millions of dollars to none and within years they are bankrupt.

Some interesting statistics from the ESPN documentary “Broke”, shed light on how terrible retirement is for these players: “By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness,” and “Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke.”  Many retired athletes are hooked on drugs, administered by the teams they once played for, and have no means of fueling the addiction.  In most leagues there are very little resources, if any, to help athletes navigate retirement – they are largely on their own.  Keep in mind that most athletes have retired well before the age of forty.

What About in Canada?

I will concede that relative to many countries, Canada does a better job at providing opportunities for female athletes; still, Canada does an awful job at providing opportunities for female athletes.  Take 2012 Lou Marsh Award (given to the best Canadian athlete of the year) winner, Christine Sinclair; Sinclair is one of the top five female soccer players on the planet and scored a hat-trick against the United States in the semi-finals of the Olympics. She carried our fucking flag at the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics.  Sinclair’s salary is lower than every hockey player in the NHL.  Every.  Single.  One.  The best athlete in Canada, who has showed thousands of little girls across this country that you can be a woman and do sports better than every other man in said country, worries about where her next job will be and, amazingly, whether or not the league she plays in will fold.  Sports make me cry all the time.


What About Women and Hockey in Canada?  We Love our Women’s Team!

Over the first weekend in 2013, our Canadian junior hockey team won a gold medal, defeating the United States in one of the most absurdly exciting events I have ever witnessed.  After an early goal by the Americans, Canada spent the rest of the game trailing until with thirteen seconds left and almost all hope gone, an equalizer snuck past the American goaltender.  It only took fifty-eight seconds of overtime for Canada to score again and win the 2013 IIHF world junior hockey championships.  It was a game that Canada had absolutely no business winning – the Americans skated circles around their opponent in the first period, outshooting the Canadians 20-1 – but after some of the gutsiest hockey I have ever seen, Canada found a way to take home gold.  It was incredible.

If you are Canadian and follow hockey even a little bit, you know I am lying.  You know that the Canadian team was embarrassed this year.  You know that the United States beat Canada 5-1 in the semi-finals.  You know Canada then lost to Russia for the bronze medal and went home empty handed.

The thing is, I am not lying.  I have photographic evidence that shows our Canadian juniors holding up their gold medals on January 5, 2013.  Want to see?


There they are folks: the Canadian junior team that traveled to Eastern Europe over the Christmas break and came home with gold.  I don’t blame you for not hearing about this – TSN did not broadcast any of the games, there was no detailed commentary and no highlights.  SOMETIMES SPORTS MAKES ME CRY!  This picture breaks my heart and makes me want to slit the throat of anyone who has ever trashed women’s sports.  If these girls are boys, there are NHL scouts at their games, they are dreaming of playing professional hockey and making millions.  IT IS SO FUCKING SAD!

So Why Do You Like Sports?

I like sports in the same way recreational drug-users like dr00gz: they are a liminal escape from normal life.  I may get a high from seeing my favourite team win a game (or a harsh comedown from watching that team lose), but ultimately my life doesn’t change once sports is over (or dr00gz are over).  If I were to apply meaning to sports outside of the time that I am watching the sporting event itself, I would be giving meaning to something that is absolutely meaningless – and that is an irresponsible thing to do.  Once we start caring about sports outside of the sporting event itself, we stop caring about things that actually matter, like that brave survivor in Steubenville and her right to justice, or the mental and physical health of athletes, or providing equal opportunities to female athletes.  At present, the institution of sport is a violent patriarchal stomp-fest that ignores the humanity of non-athletes and commodifies the bodies of athletes to a point that, by the time their career is over, they are left broken beyond repair.

It has taken me a long time to realize how horrifying the institution of sport is, and there are days that I want to turn my back on sports and choose not to follow something which so blatantly oppresses so many people.  And maybe, the fact that I haven’t stopped caring about sports makes me part of the problem… I don’t know.  Sometimes sport makes me cry.

52: those who cut in line

•January 1, 2013 • 4 Comments

“Anyone who budges in line is a sociopath and stands no chance of making it into heaven.”  Dante Alighieri

I am pretty sure Dante said this when being interviewed about the enigmatic Purgatorio, the second installment of his Christian snuff classic: The Divine Comedy.  Anyway, remember What Dreams May Come?, that sort-of-good-but-hilariously-racist Robin Williams movie where he goes to hell to rescue his wife who committed suicide (God HATES depressed people who kill themselves because they can’t overcome the grief of having to bury their children) and is accompanied by a friendly black man who teaches him about life but that black man ends up being his son and then they find his wife in the layer of hell reserved for suicides but it just looks like a From First to Last music video directed by a guy who is coming down hard from an ecstasy binge and then Williams tricks God (or is it the Devil?) and takes his wife back to heaven and everything is okay?  That’s supposed to be a modern interpretation of The Divine Comedy. 

The major difference between What Dreams May Come and The Divine Comedy is that the former largely avoids the Purgatorio, the millennia-long penance  – actually, penance is a weak descriptor, there is so much fire and work and pain and hunger and loneliness in purgatory –  the individual must complete before he/she  joins God in His opium dungeon (you get to smoke so much opium and hi-five St. Augustine as you look down towards hell and laugh at all the suicides who are trapped in the darkness of cloistered sadness for all eternity (a Church father, Tertullian, basically said this).

Oh my God, why am I talking about this?  Okay, so in The Divine Comedy, Dante is looking for his boo, Beatrice, and gets sort of a guided tour of hell by his hype man, Virgil.  Hell is pretty bad and is divided into layers based on the quality of your sin.  For example, if you committed treason or crimes against God, you are deep in hell, close to Lucifer, and are sort of frozen in sadness for eternity.  On the other hand, if you smooched too many people, you are in the layer of hell reserved for people who like rad sex – your punishment is sort of just floating around in a giant Eyes Wide Shut fuck fest hosted by the good folks at the Church of Scientology.  Depending on how much you like Nicole Kidman or the omnipresent despot of all universes, Lord Xenu, this might not be all that bad.  However, no matter what layer you spend your free time at in Dante’s hell, there is absolutely no order.  People are screaming, fighting, raping, crawling on top of each other etc., think the frat party you went to in first year… that is close to the type of chaos in hell all the time… except there is more Dave Matthew’s Band at frat parties, waaaaaay more.

 Purgatorio doesn’t have that chaos.  Don’t get me wrong, Dante’s purgatory is a pretty terrible place (I know many people who would take their chances in the molested-to-death orgy that Lucifer is serving up in his dungeon-sex-layer of hell), but there is a profound solidarity that is evident in purgatory, one that is rooted in a shared suffering but a tangible end point (smoking opium in heaven with Tupac and Tertullian).  The suffering is unimaginable.  It is ineffably horrific.  But it is perfectly harmonious.

Before talking about how perfect harmony can exist in such circumstances, it is important to briefly discuss the geography of purgatory (yes, it is a physical place, with geographical features that are fascinating).  Purgatory is an island comprised of a single, solitary, mountain.  I suppose it would be comparable to a volcanic island you might find in the South Pacific.  The image below is a pretty cool interpretation of what it might look like:


You’ll notice a road that winds around the mountain; basically the individual starts at the bottom and, taking the only road on the mountain, works their way to the top where paradise awaits.  There’s a huge catch though: along the trek up, you have to cleanse yourself of your sin.  Dante uses the seven deadly sins as the type of sin you must cleanse yourself of before getting to that sweet, soothing, opium.  Each sin must be cleansed individually along the way.  If you were a particularly big luster, you burn in the fires longer than others.  If eating that extra twinkie was your thing, you starve with the gluttons a little longer etc.  Depending upon the extent of your sin, it might take a week to get to paradise or it might take billions of years – the important part of it all is that you will, one day, get to the top.  Below are some really great artistic interpretations of the cleansing process:











Okay, other than the abject desolation evident in each of the above images, what do they all have in common?  THEY ARE ALL IN LINE!  Each patiently waits their turn to carry their boulder, slither up the mountain, or roast in an inferno.  Why do they not cheat?

Dante’s attention to this detail is not an accident; he is pointing to something of great significance both theologically and practically: those who truly care for their neighbour, will always empathize with said neighbour.  This empathy is expressed through an understanding that each individual suffers on an ontological level and to place oneself ahead of that individual by, for example, cutting in line at Starbucks, is the most egregious sin imaginable.

Of course, this ‘placing oneself ahead of another’ analogy can be extended in many directions, but it boils down to the issue of valuing your humanity over that of another.  When you cut in line, you are not only stealing the time of the people who have waited patiently in line, you are telling them: “I don’t care who you are, I am more important than you.”  That is some fucked up shit.

Everyone in purgatory completes their trials harmoniously because they truly understand and can empathize with the suffering of the individual directly in front of them.  To jump the line would be an unthinkable crime against everyone else.  What’s more is that each individual in purgatory is brutally equal for the first time in their existence.  The markers that create oppressive power systems have been stripped away: there is no wealth, no class, no privilege – there is literally nothing that can lead one person to believe that they have a right to preferential treatment.  It is an anarcho-syndicalist’s paradise.  No want.  No misery.

Anyway, I probably am reading too much into the intentions of the person who jumps the line at Starbucks or the complete butt-dump in the row in front of me who has decided to recline fully while I write this.  But I truly believe that if you jump a line, you are complete trash.  Not even trash; you are the garbage juice that accumulates and then hardens at the bottom of those enormous trash cans behind bars.  You may not realize it, but you are

Obviously, we don’t live in purgatory.  That would be really shitty.  But if there is a lesson to learn from Dante’s trip through purgatorio it would be, “We are in this together, all of us.  We have a shared humanity and want to live in a better world. If we want to realize this better world, one has to let go of the worldly qualities that cause us to believe that our time is somehow more valuable than the time of anyone else.” The one way you can shit and piss and barf all over this idea is cutting in line. It is an everyday thing that people do that is not only offensive and obscene, but also, guarantees you a first class trip to hell. If you want to go to hell, cut in line you fucking monster.