April 21, 2015
April 20, 2015
Edmund Emil Kemper
Well, I’m not an expert. I’m not an authority. I’m someone who has been a murderer for almost twenty years. One victim let me back in the car. I locked myself out. She opened the door for me. My gun was under the seat.
I was raging inside. There were just incredible energies, positive and negative, depending on a mood, that would trigger one or the other. And outside I looked troubled at times, other times I looked moody, other times perfectly serene. Not very sane. But again, people weren’t even aware of what was happening.
My mother was a sick, angry, hungry, and very sad woman. I hated her. But I wanted to love my mother. And I watched the alchohol increase, I watched her social life drop off. I watched her get bizarre.
I don’t quite know when my love, my need of her turned. When her arrival made me cringe. When the smell of her made me want to turn away, almost to puke. When her touch brought the taste of bile to my throat. But when it began to change, so did I. Slowly, steadily. Whatever it was that we had between us didn’t seem bittersweet electric anymore. I became aware that she was waging a battle with me as the unwiliing enemy. An army of one in a war without cause, without provocation, without reason.
One day she was playful, toying. The next day she was cruel and all the days after that until my devotion turned into a grain of anger, a grain that grew and grew until nothing could contain it. Until today.
I had just gone through a horrible experience with her roommate, stabbing her. And I wasn’t shocked because of that I just couldn’t believe that it was that way. And I’m walking back there bewildered, I gotta kill her, I can’t let her go, she’s gonna tell on me. Everybody’s gonna get me.
She sees the blood on my hands. “What are you doing?”. She pulled back and she gasped and I think whoa, I don’t want her to know what happened. I said your friend got smart with me. She’d been getting really smart with me a lot but I never hit her. I killed her but I didn’t hit her. I said “Your friend got smart with me and I hit her, I think I broke her nose, you better come help”. She’s about to die, why does she have to know that? I couldn’t deal with telling her that. And when I attacked her she didn’t at first realize what was happening, it didn’t go through, she had very heavy coveralls on, it didn’t go through , it knocked her right on to the lid of the car but it didn’t pierce the clothing. It wasn’t that swell a knife anyway. I went out and bought a pawnshop, huge knife.
It was getting easier to do, I was getting better at it. I was getting less detectable. I started flaunting that invisibility. Severing a human head, two of them, at night in front of my mother’s residence with her at home my neighbours at home upstairs. Their kitchen window open, the curtains open. Eleven o clock at night, the lights were on, all they have to do is walk by, look out and I’ve had it.
It was springtime, it was april. For two months I hadn’t killed and I said it’s not going to happen to any more girls, it’s gotta stay between me and my mother. I can’t get away from her. We’re still fighting. She’s still belittling me. I’m like a puppet on a string and I entertain her, she knows all my buttons and I dance like a puppet.
It had even got physical to where I had physically grabbed her and thrown her on her bed trying to emphasize a point. I threatened to kill her.
That was one week before I murdered my mother. I said she’s got to die and I’ve got to die or girls like that are going to die, and that’s when I decided I’m going to murder my mother. I knew a week before she died I was going to kill her. And she went out to a party, she got soused, she came home, went to sleep. I was woken up by that, I came out, I walked up to her bed. She’s laying there reading a paperback as many thousands of nights before. And she said “Oh I suppose you’re going to want to sit up all night and talk now”. Shit. I looked at her I said “No”. I said “Good night”. And I knew I was going to kill her. And I was so cold and so hard, and that’s the first time in ten years I’ve looked at it that way, I mean that intensely, that honestly. And it hurts. Because I’m not a lizard, I’m not from under a rock, I came out of her vagina. I came out of my mother. And in a rage I went right back in. For seven years, she said, I haven’t had sex with a man because of you, my murderous son. This was one of her arguments. I cut off her head and I humiliated her corpse.
I knelt next to her, the 12 guage still warm, saliva running down its shaft where she had bitten down. I knelt next to her and smelt her shit and her soul. They were cummingled in a profane shotgun alchemy. I knelt down and put my head where hers would have been and felt closer to her then than I ever had before. I loved her then truly as much as she always demanded. Loved her as if she had entered me, possessed me to the extent that I was continuous with her, blood of her blood, flesh of her flesh.
I’m from juvenile hall. I’m from the line of people nobody wants. I’m from the street. From the alley. Mainly I’m from solitary confinement. You spend twenty years in institutions you forget what the free world is. You don’t know how the free world works.
I don’t have any philosophy. My philosophy is don’t think. You know, when you think you’re divided in your mind, like one and one in two parts. I don’t have any thoughts in my mind, it’s all love. When you love everything you don’t have to think about things. Whatever circumstances hand to you. Whatever dealer deals you whatever hand you get handed you, you just love the hand you got, you make it best you can. That’s what I’ve always done. There aint never been any thought. I never had much schooling. No mother, no father. In and out of orphanages and foster homes, then onto boy’s school and reform school and like it’s always been like my head is empty.
I have no opinion. But I know the truth. The truth is in no word form. And everything that is is the way it is because that’s the way that love says so. And when you tune in with love, you tune in with yourself. And you know that’s not really a philosophy, that’s a fact.
No man is truly innocent, I mean we all transgress in some way in our lives and as I say I’ve been impolite and there are things I regret having done in my life.
As young boys do we explored the back roads and sideways and byways of our neighbourhood and oftentimes people would dump pornographic books of a harder nature, a more explicit more graphic nature than you would encounter in your local grocery store. And this is something that I want to emphasize. The most damaging kinds of pornography are those that involve violence, sexual violence. Because the wedding of those two forces brings about behaviour that is too terrible to describe.
Once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction. Like other kinds of addiction I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction you keep craving something which is harder, harder. Something which gives you a greater sense of excitement. Until you reach the point that pornography only goes so far. You reach that jumping off point where you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it will give you that which is beyond just reading about it or looking at it.
I wasn’t some guy hanging out in bars or a bum. I wasn’t a pervert in the sense that people look at somebody and say “I know there’s something wrong with him I can just tell”. I mean I was essentially a normal person I had good friends. I led a normal life except for this one small but very potent and destructive segment of it that I kept very secret and very close to myself and didn’t let anybody know about it.
Those of us who have been so much influenced by violence in the media, in particular pornographic violence, are not some kinds of inherent monsters. We are your sons and we are your husbands.
But I’ll tell you there are lots of other kids playing on the streets around this country today who are going to be dead tomorrow or the next day or the next month because other young people are reading the kind of things, seeing the kind of things that are available in the media today.
April 19, 2015
“The nature of the modern state emerges clearly in the praxis of the police. Here, the distinction between a power/violence that imposes law (rechtsetzende Gewalt) and one that defends it (rechtserhaltende Gewalt) is suppressed: the police imposes law in the act itself in which it preserves it, intervening in precisely those cases ‘where no clear legal situation exists’. Not only in extreme cases, in which domestic order and public security are really threatened, but in every intervention in which the police violates the law in order to preserve it: when, for example, the police exceed the speed limit to stop the driver of an automobile guilty of having exceeded it, or when they intervene violently to break up a demonstration. This suspension and violation of the law is the normal practice of police action: only by its own violation can the law be maintained. There is no stable border between Gewalt and law, and the police illustrates this confusion in a paradigmatic way.
This delineates a situation in which it becomes impossible to decide which is the exception and which the rule, as both are inescapably intertwined in a police net. It was such a net that Walter Benjamin had the opportunity to observe at work in the bloody Social-Democrat repression of Noske against the Spartakist revolt in January 1919 and against the communist rising in the Ruhr in the Spring of 1920. But the criticism of police praxis without the criticism of the political form that makes that spectral praxis possible would leave the job half-done. And the political form in which the greatest imaginable degeneration of Gewalt is possible is democracy. Benjamin comments:
‘And though the police, may, in particulars, appear the same everywhere, it cannot finally be denied that in absolute monarchy, where they represent the power of a ruler in which the legislative and executive supremacy are united, their spirit is less devastating than in democracy, where their existence, elevated by no such relation, bears witness to the greatest conceivable degeneration of violence (die denkbar grosste Entartung der Gewalt).’
The embarrassment of Derrida when commenting on this passage is extremely instructive. Derrida is unable to see the decisive passage, namely, that which carries the critique of violence over into the critique of democracy. To save democracy, he is forced to speak of a degenerative form of democracy, of its distance from some model of democracy which has yet to be built, or revived, while, for Benjamin, it is instead democracy itself which makes possible the greatest degeneration of Gewalt. Overturning Benjamin’s reasoning, Derrida writes that if, in absolute monarchies, police violence appears as what it is and according to its own nature, in democracies their own principle is negated by such violence, which appears as what should not be. The scandal would, in other words, consist of a police violence that, in democracies, should not manifest itself. One must here respond that police violence does not corrupt the democratic principle, as Derrida thinks, but, rahter, expresses its most intimate essence. Police violence appears in its ‘spectral presence’ especially in modern representative democracy, for only there can it truly pervade everything. Its presence is ‘spectral (gespentisch)’, ‘elusive’, ‘diffused into every locale’, because it does not recognise any disitnction between public and private spheres. Inasmuch as it is legitimated by popular sovereignty, in the name of which it acts, it encounters no obstacles, but only a mass of individuals, private because deprived of any Gewalt.”
Another kind of Gewalt: Beyond Law. Re-reading Walter Benjamin
in Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory
Volume 17 Issue 1
April 18, 2015
18 April 2015
From the outset, Open Stellenbosch has made it clear that our aim is not an attack on the Afrikaans language per se, but to highlight the problematic ways in which Afrikaans is used at Stellenbosch University to marginalise and exclude students, especially, many black students. Before we address the minutiae of the Language Policy, it will be important to mention form the outset that our primary concern is with the teleological imperative of the policy, the very purpose of it, rather than its technocratic machinations.
The Language Policy of SU functions to position Afrikaans language and culture as subjected to vulnerability. It is therefore the duty of the policy to ‘protect’ this language, not only as a means of communication, but also as a site of cultural production. It is for this reason that we ought to interrogate the rhetoric of the Language Policy in order to trace in it the apartheid nostalgia that undergirds its very existence. It states in its aims and overview that it is, first and foremost, “committed to the use, safeguarding and sustained development of Afrikaans as an academic language in a multilingual context” (pg 2). This function runs in tandem with the aim to “increase teaching offerings in English” (pg 2). In addition, the Policy “acknowledge[s] language diversity and promote[s] accessibility for staff and students” (pg 2). However, the application of this policy is done through a “pragmatic” (pg 2) approach, which takes into account the resources for “support mechanisms”. We are persuaded to think that the intended aim is to develop ‘multilingualism’, or the loaded term, ‘language diversity’. But the giveaway, as we see it, lies in the defensive rhetoric that seeks to preserve a certain sense of power which is predicated on white privilege and cultural hegemony. And so, the term “safeguard” is used throughout the policy to somehow suggest that Afrikaans – as a historical entity, as a communication tool, as a socio-spacial culture – is under attack. The resultant logic is that the Policy will be its defender.
Interestingly, the Policy is framed in patriarchal rhetoric which feminises SU by referring to the institution and “her partners” (5), thereby turning it into a feminine object of protection, a protection to be carried out by the white male university council. What we have, in this instance, is a discursive strategy that attempts to reconfigure whiteness as actually disadvantageous and not beneficial in post-apartheid South Africa. It is no wonder that many white SU students argue, as they are known to have argued on many platforms, that whiteness in South Africa has become a liability and that they sought refuge in Stellenbosch, the last bastion of a form of Afrikaner nationalism. The suggestion conveyed by the Policy is, in the first instance, a flagging of the possibility that white Afrikaners are increasingly becoming an “unprotected” minority in the country. This idea stems from the view that whiteness generally considers the slate as having been wiped cleaned by the new dispensation and political reforms that have come into place in a post-apartheid context. We have also noted that the proposition from these students often involves an argument that states is that even talking about race is itself racist, since we ought to see people for their individuality rather than as members of a collective group.
This is precisely what we are fighting, and it has been noted even by Vice Chancellors at other universities, including the Rhodes VC Dr Sizwe Mabizela, former VC of Rhodes and now Director of the Mellon Foundation Dr Saleem Badat, and even, however inchoate, Dr Max Price. We call for our own VC to face up to this structural racism, by firstly addressing the very foundations of the Language Policy, and not merely the procedural modifications about teaching and translating. It is the very process of translating that presumes Afrikaans as the normative code, to which every other non-speaker, generally ‘non-white’, is expected to adhere. The Rector at the University of the Free State noted in connection with the passing of the former VC, Russel Botman, that:
“Some of the historically white Afrikaans universities have a perfect alibi for not transforming – Afrikaans. When the Potchefstroom campus of North West University or the University of Stellenbosch is pushed to enroll more black students, they take refuge in language rights protected by the constitution. Somebody must tell these campus leaders that in the wake of our horrific racist past, white-dominant campuses in this country are morally unacceptable, demographically unjust and educationally dangerous. Afrikaans as a language is vital to our multilingual democracy, and must expand, but as the handmaiden of social justice, not racial exclusion”  (para. 11).
It should by now be clear, or shall become clearer as we proceed, that the language question at Stellenbosch is indeed the mechanism through which systemic segregation functions at SU. Having dealt with some of the problematic foundations of this Policy and SU, we can endeavour to explore the intricacies and how they operate in the classroom. The foremost way in which the current language policy marginalises students is by negatively affecting the academic performance of non-Afrikaans speaking students. Many students struggle to understand the content of lessons because they are excluded through the use of Afrikaans in lectures. The interpretation devices given to non-Afrikaans speaking students are inefficient, inaudible and often do not work. They also make students feel uncomfortable, highlighting their status as “those who do not belong” at this university. There are lecturers at this university who refuse to teach or answer questions in English. Non-Afrikaans speaking students are excluded by having to constantly ask their peers for help in understanding the language used in class, distracting them from the underlying academic content. The result is that many non-Afrikaans speaking students come out of lectures feeling as though they have only understood half of the lesson. Secondly, we highlight the obvious impracticality for lecturers of having to teach in two languages at once. One sentence Afrikaans, one sentence English. We ask, how can this possibly translate into a fluent transferal of ideas to students? Lecturers in the movement have emphasized the pedagogical short sightedness in terms of the language policy, and how it translates into the teaching experience.
In residences the marginalisation of especially black students is most evident. Many residence meetings are conducted exclusively in Afrikaans and this feeds into some of the racist traditions which permeate many of the more traditionally Afrikaner residences. Many black students feel they cannot contribute to the Residence experience because they cannot speak Afrikaans. The same can be said about student departmental leadership positions. Following on from this, the language policy directly discriminates against non-Afrikaans speaking students and lecturers by denying them access to other opportunities on campus, such as having Afrikaans as a condition for employment.
We call attention to the clear links between language and white supremacy on this campus. Leadership positions and teaching positions disproportionately favour white, Afrikaans speaking males and we find this highly problematic. Secondly, the unchanged labelling of the department “Afrikaans-Nederlands” denies other important roots of the language, and perpetuates the Afrikaner- nationalist portrayal of the language as of exclusively European origin. Finally we ask, why, at a public institution of higher learning, should paying students be discriminated against on the basis of language? Surely, no student should have to learn Afrikaans – as well as the cultural conscription it demands – simply in order to be visible in the institution. It is for this reason that we insist that at this campus, language is used to divide, exclude and marginalise and therefore we are calling for the discontinuation of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at Stellenbosch University.
 Jansen’s article is clear. Racism at SU is incubated in the language policy. The suggestion in his critical piece, Who killed Russel Botman?, is that the language policy as well as the role play by Afrikaans print media was central to the stress and resultant death of the late VC. It is true, also, as evidenced by the report in Die Burger, which sought to quell any Afrikaaner fears about an ‘uprising’ by referring to our mass gathering as ‘orderly’.
email@example.com | Facebook: Open Stellenbosch | Twitter: @openstellies
April 17, 2015
It should have come as no surprise yesterday when the grand jury in St. Louis refused to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who murdered Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri. Various politicians and media outlets had labored to prepare the public for this for months in advance. They knew what earnest liberals and community leaders have yet to acknowledge: that it is only possible to preserve the prevailing social order by giving police officers carte blanche to kill black men at will. Otherwise, it would be impossible to maintain the racial and economic inequalities that are fundamental to this society. In defiance of widespread outrage, even at the cost of looting and arson, the legal system will always protect officers from the consequences of their actions—for without them, it could not exist.
The verdict of the grand jury is not a failure of the justice system, but a lesson in what it is there to do in the first place. Likewise, the unrest radiating from Ferguson is not a tragic failure to channel protest into productive venues, but an indication of the form all future social movements will have to take to stand any chance of addressing the problems that give rise to them.
A profit-driven economy creates ever-widening gulfs between the rich and the poor. Ever since slavery, this situation has been stabilized by the invention of white privilege—a bribe to discourage poor white people from establishing common interests with poor people of color. But the more imbalances there are in a society—racial, economic, and otherwise—the more force it takes to impose them.
This explains the militarization of the police. It’s not just a way to sustain the profitability of the military-industrial complex beyond the end of the Cold War. Just as it has been necessary to deploy troops around the world to secure the raw materials that keep the economy afloat, it is becoming necessary to deploy troops in the US to preserve the unequal distribution of resources at home. Just as the austerity measures pioneered by the IMF in Africa, Asia, and South America are appearing in the wealthiest nations of the first world, the techniques of threat management and counter-insurgency that were debuted against Palestinians, Afghanis, and Iraqis are now being turned against the populations of the countries that invaded them. Private military contactors who operated in Peshawar are now working in Ferguson, alongside tanks that rolled through Baghdad. For the time being, this is limited to the poorest, blackest neighborhoods; but what seems exceptional in Ferguson today will be commonplace around the country tomorrow.
This also explains why struggles against the police have taken center stage in the popular imagination over the past decade. The police are the front line of capitalism and racism in every fight. You might never see the CEO who profits on fracking your water supply, but you’ll see the police who break up your protest against him. You might not meet the bank director or landlord who forces you out, but you will see the sheriff who comes to repossess your home or evict you. As a black person, you might never enter the gated communities of the ones who benefit most from white privilege, but you will encounter the overtly racist officers who profile, bully, and arrest you.
The civil rights struggles of two generations ago have become struggles against the police: today, a black man can become president, but he’s exponentially more likely to be murdered by an officer of the law. The workers’ struggles of a generation ago have become struggles against the police: in place of steady employment, a population rendered expendable by globalization and automation can only be integrated into the functioning of the economy at gunpoint. What bosses once were to workers, police are to the precarious and unemployed.
In view of all this, it is not surprising that police violence has been the catalyst for most of the major movements, uprisings, and revolutions of the past several years:
The riots that shook Greece in December 2008, ushering in an era of worldwide anti-austerity resistance, were sparked by the police murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.
In Oakland, the riots in response to the police murder of Oscar Grant at the opening of 2009 set the stage for the Bay Area to host the high-water mark of Occupy and several other movements.
The day of protest that sparked the Egyptian revolution of 2011 was scheduled for National Police Day, January 25, by the Facebook page We Are All Khaled Said, which memorialized another young man killed by police.
Occupy Wall Street didn’t gain traction until footage of police attacks circulated in late September 2011.
The police eviction of Occupy Oakland, in which officers fractured the skull of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, brought the Occupy movement to its peak, provoking the blockade of the Port of Oakland.
In 2013, the fare hike protests in Brazil and the Gezi Resistance in Turkey both metastasized from small single-issue protests to massive uprisings as a result of clumsy police repression.
The same thing happened in Eastern Europe, setting off the Ukrainian revolution at the end of 2013 and sparking the Bosnian uprising of February 2014.
Other cities around the US have witnessed a series of intensifying rebellions against police murders, peaking with the revolt in Ferguson following the murder of Michael Brown.
It isn’t just that the police are called in to repress every movement as soon as it poses any threat to the prevailing distribution of power (although that remains as true as ever). Rather, repression itself has been producing the flashpoints of revolt.
The police cannot rule by brute force alone. They can’t be everywhere at once—and they are drawn from the same social body they repress, so their conflicts with that body cannot be concluded by purely military means. Even more than force, they need public legitimacy and the appearance of invincibility. Wherever it’s hard for them to count on one of these, they’re careful to exaggerate the other. When they lose both, as they have in all of the previously described movements, a window of possibility opens—a Tahrir or Taksim Square, an Occupy encampment or building occupation, the occupied QT in Ferguson last August—in which it becomes possible to imagine a world without the boundaries and power imbalances they enforce. This window remains open until the police are able to reestablish their facade of invulnerability and either delegitimize the kind of force it takes to confront them, à la Chris Hedges, or else relegitimize policing itself.
Such relegitimization can take many forms. In Occupy, it took the form of rhetoric about the police being part of the 99% (which could just as easily have been said of the Ku Klux Klan). In Egypt, people overthrew several governments in a row only to see the police and military resume the same function again and again, each time relegitimized by the regime change; it turned out the problem was the infrastructure of policing itself, not a particular administration. In the Ukrainian revolution, when the police were successfully defeated, the same self-defense forces that had just routed them took over their role, performing it identically. Calls for “community self-policing” may sound innocuous, but we should recall the white vigilante groups that roamed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Policing, in practically every form we can imagine it, is bound to perpetuate racism and inequality. It would be better to talk about how to do away with the factors that give rise to our supposed need for it in the first place.
In protests against the killing of Michael Brown, relegitimizing the police has taken the form of demands for police accountability, for citizens’ review boards, for police to wear cameras—as if more surveillance could possibly be a good thing for those too poor to survive within the law in the first place. It is naïve to present demands to authorities that regard the police as essential and see us as expendable. This can only reinforce their legitimacy and our passivity, fostering a class of go-betweens who build up personal power in return for defusing opposition. We should be grateful to the demonstrators in Ferguson who refused to be passive last night, rejecting representation and false dialogue at great personal risk, refusing to water down their rage.
For the only possible way out of this mess is to develop the ability to wield power on our own terms, horizontally and autonomously, stripping the police of legitimacy and shattering the illusion that they are invincible. This has been the common thread between practically all the significant movements of the past several years. If we learn how to do this, we can set our own agenda, discouraging the authorities from taking the lives of young men like Michael Brown and opening up a space in which they cannot enforce the structural inequalities of a racist society. Until we do, we can be sure that the police will go on killing—and no prosecutor or grand jury will stop them.
first published here: http://crimethinc.com/texts/r/bluefuse/