PEDOPHILIA IS NO CHILD'S PLAY!
A Luther Blissett performance in Berlin.
[...]The Berlin reading of the book [Handbuch der Kommunikationsguerilla], which took place in an assembly room of a center of the radical left and in front of an audience of about 100 people, was not exactly "free-minded". The event followed a quite frontal scheme: First, a screening of alleged "guerilla video" (with footage of an parodistic anti-fraternity demonstration, a fake party candidate, Laibach, a speaking Barbie doll with an overdubbed anti-sexist statement, a video by the anti-Olympic committee of Berlin which was sent to the IOC and showed deserted construction sites in the city etc.) of about 20 minutes, then a conventional reading of the theory sections of the "Handbuch" [on the panel were a male and a female speaker who identified themselves as Luther Blissett and Sonja Brünzels] and finally a discussion in the usual question-from-the-audience- and-response-from-the-panel style.
During the whole reading, several people who were strategically located at the edges of the room/the audience obviously took care of the 'security' of the event. I am not sure whether these are the usual precautionary means at 'radical' meetings, or whether they were related to a nonsensical flyposter, which had previously circulated in the neighboring districts.
PEDOPHILIA IS NO CHILD'S PLAY!
Against denigration of rape and pedophilia at Mehringhof
It's nice that the authors want to show how you can have more fun in left-wing resistance & radical life. But there's one thing we don't find funny at all. It's quite disgusting how 'Handbuch der Kommunikationsguerilla' plays down pedophilia - sexual abuse of little boys and girls - as 'subversive'.
YES TO GUERILLA FIGHTING! - NO TO CHILD ABUSE!
We won't stand still and watch how pedo-downgraders pave their way into the left. This is a wrong understanding of sexual liberation! There's only one thing the Communication Guerilla can learn of its role-model Otto Muehl:
Those who mistake exploitation for liberation will only support the system!
TO MEHRINGHOF AND AUTHORS OF THE COMMUNICATION GUERILLA:
We want from you
* A plain statement against pedophiliacs and child pornographers - no buts!
* Get the pedo-stuff out of your book! Otherwise, our anger will turn into resistance - even at Mehringhof!
No tolerance for rapists and sexists!
Our solidarity for the victims of exploitation and pedophilia!
Kreuzberg Antisexists & Autonomous Women
On the next day, a "Luther Blissett", who in this case was myself, declared his multiplied opinion in the following statement:
Let the Children Play!
Against Thought Control and Sexual Defamations
In Berlin, the authors of a flyposter with the title 'Pedophilia Is No Child's Play' accuse Luther Blissett and autonome a.f.r.i.k.a. gruppe of playing down child abuse in their 'Handbuch der Kommunikationsguerilla'. The anonymous pamphletist don't even refrain from threatening the authors and their reading with 'resistance'.
Regarding this, we want to clarify that we have always been willing to discuss any whatsoever critique and objections against us. But we can't seriously engage with people who, in the name of the 'exploited' and the 'raped', preach violence themselves. Such verbal extremism doesn't serve a honest dispute, but rather reinforces our reservations towards people who agitate, in a tone of utter conviction, against so-called 'child molesters'.
We think that the complex of child sexuality, or homo- and heterosexual relations between adults and minors, should be considered without the hysteria the media have recently created. It remains an unresolved question how the right of sexual self-realization and self-determination could also be defined for non-adults, and whether it should include options that are not yet established in the ethical consensus of society. We believe that the artistic and sexual-utopian projects by, among others, Otto Muehl and Hakim Bey, which we present in the context of our communication guerilla, have come up with interesting contributions to this complex.
We strongly resist, however, any attempts to defame homosexuality under the umbrella of 'fighting child abuse'. Such smears only serve the conservative reinforcement of a disciplined, repressive sexuality.
All critics and interested persons are cordially invited to come to the reading at Mehringhof, Gneisenaustrasse and discuss with us. We don't mind controversies, but refuse any attempts to sabotage this event.
At the beginning of the reading, the authors of "Handbuch der Kommunikationsguerilla" extensively commented upon both pamphlets - after a representative of the "Women Emergency Telephone" had stood up in the audience, the second letter in her hands, and asked the authors about those pro-pedophilia statements (- I am still wondering which occult techniques the sender might have employed to get his paper mailed to a 'telephone'!)
Let me paraphrase their response. I guess I remember their statements correctly:
- Both pamphlets were fakes, and even bad fakes.
(I was disappointed by that reply because I didn't consider the second pamphlet a fake at all - the Luther Blissetts who signed it never claim to be identical with the authors of the handbook. Except for the Muehl/Bey reference, they even tell 'my' opinion about pedophilia in a quite 'honest' way. In a strict sense, the first pamphlet isn't a fake either, as it only presents a reading of the book - and indeed, why shouldn't an arbitrary reader be able to take one or more arbitrary signifiers out of the book and consider them "child pornography", "a metaphor of the moon", "subliminal Pizza Hut advertising" or whatever else he might find appropriate?)
- In fact, they weren't even "fakes" [quoted in English], but willful and malicious "falsifications" ["Faelschungen"]
(A semantics that eludes me.)
- The only purpose of those falsifications was to denounce the authors and destroy the Kommunikationsguerilla reading.
(The collective who produced the first pamphlet and me who produced the second, didn't intend this at all. It was an irresponsible humor test, but also the best promotion the authors could ever get. A good prankster should at least be able to appreciate this as nonsense, and a sophisticated one should be able to recuperate it for her own needs. If 'destruction' of the reading would have meant a more confused, unpredictable and less frontal, controlled atmosphere at Mehringhof, this would certainly have been a welcome effect, although the collective and I would have considered such an outcome quite the opposite of 'destructive' for any whatsoever 'communication guerilla'. In any way, pranks at best work as catalyzers of unpredictability, but inducing unpredictability was practically impossible at Mehringhof.)
- It was particularly sinister that the first pamphlet was signed "Autonomous Women" because as such it denounces autonomous women. (In fact, the collective who had produced it consisted of 2 - autonomous - women and 2 - anti-sexist - men).
- Both pamphlets were not examples of "communication guerilla", but pure disinformation (True - indeed the pamphletists neither approve of the term 'communication guerilla', nor of the way it is defined in the Handbuch. It was only the authors who tried to categorize and sell some of the pamphletists' activities in various multiple identity contexts under the brandname "communication guerilla").
- The difference between 'communication guerilla' and 'disinformation'
is that the former serves revolutionary/emancipatory purposes
while disinformation is a repressive intelligence tool. (If this
is really the difference between "Communication Guerilla"
and the rest of us, then we have a discrepancy indeed: on the
one hand, a project with humanist, moral objectives and no willingness
to turn its 'subversion' against itself - hence the deep-felt
indignation about being dubbed as child molesters -, on the other
hand, a more or less anti-humanist, amoral project with no objectives
and much willingness to turn its subversion against itself. Of
course, this distinction doesn't work for everyone, like those
who enjoy subverting themselves while still employing their pranking
for emancipatory purposes - I think of Luther Blissett here. But
how do you deal with people who are obviously bound to "good"
and "bad"/"friend" and "enemy" schemes
and have no whatsoever humorous way of dealing with stuff that
pokes fun at their own political conviction and milieu? That the
ridiculous "pedophilia" thing got them so angry and
was interpreted as a personal assault is telling. After all, their
reaction - publicly declaring it a fake and malicious assault
on their personalities - was identical that of any conservative
politician or, as Luther Blissett demonstrated, catholic bishop.
[And the authors write a whole chapter about subverting Conservative
Party congresses without being aware that their "Communication
Guerilla" readings were not a bit different.] It was really
in the hands of the authors to turn the whole prank into more
than an unpleasant, didactic and after all depressing demonstration
of their own uptightness. [So my personal objection against the
first pamphlet was that it might have been too confrontational,
but on the other hand, it's so obviously ridiculous that I am
still wondering how it could seduce the authors to such a stupid,
Apart from that, I think the "Handbuch" contains countless examples where the distinction between 'good' "communication guerilla" and 'bad' "disinformation" doesn't work. The authors actually came up with a baffling circular conclusion here:)
- 'Communication Guerilla' methods are 'right' as long as they serve the 'right' purposes, and they are 'wrong' - and no longer 'Communication Guerilla' - as soon as the serve 'wrong' purposes. (Really, they put that primitive, and a couple of people in the audience laughed. The whole question of 'right' and 'wrong' rather eludes me, so I might quote a similarly baffling example of epistemological fundamentalism in the preface of the "Handbuch": "There is no right consciousness in the wrong".)
After that statement, the video screening began, and so I walked up to the authors who now stood at the rear side of the room. I humbly introduced myself as Florian Cramer, and the two immediately backed up from me without saying anything. It was clear that I was the top suspect for both pamphlets, and that they were, to put it mildly, pissed as hell. I told them, albeit with a lowered voice because of the ongoing video screening, that I was disappointed by their frontal presentation, to which the male author replied something like "shut up please". My initial idea was to bring a card set of Luther Blissett definitions derived from a medieval Hermetic text and spread the cards in the audience so that the reading would be more collaborative. Also, my friends and I had brought wind instruments (a saxophone and trumpets) to the event because we thought the authors would read their Luther Blissett manifesto with trombone interludes, and we actually planned to support them in a non-disruptive way in order to make the event a more collaborative, Luther Blissett-style experience. As a further measure, we had sent faxes to several radio stations announcing a "Luther Blissett Look-Alike Party" at Mehringhof. (I wasn't sure whether this was actually broadcasted.) Of course, we could cancel our plans as soon as we saw the huge room and the one hundred people in the audience with their heads directed towards the stage - we thought the event would be more intimate. Since there was no trombone reading anyway, we could forget everything straight away.
I gave the female author the Hermetic Luther Blissett definitions, which she took with demonstrative disinterest. After another, tentative statement that I didn't consider very good what they doing and that people were exposed to the "guerilla" tape like cable TV watchers to a soccer show (I admit my preference for the latter), the male author told me that I should go home if I didn't like the event.
After the video screening, the authors walked back to the podium and read from the preface of the Handbuch, which says that the book "presents in a highly serious way the dry theory of a practice that is not only supposed to be subversive, but even to be fun". The male author added that any attempt to deliver a reading about 'communication guerilla' in 'communication guerilla' (prankish) style would be "stupid". Standing besides in the audience, I loudly asked "Why?" Immediately, a guy who had been hanging around with the two authors before (I think it was their publisher who also runs the anarchist bookstore at Mehringhof), stood up in front of me, hissing that if I would say one more word he would throw me out on the spot. The several 'security' people in the room were visibly alarmed and in eye contact with him. After a few minutes, I had found a 'solution' to the situation: I handed the guy a paper which said "Please, throw me out", sat down right in front before him and stared right into his eyes for the following 40 minutes. He became visibly nervous and tried to force himself not to look at me, which made him even more nervous. He was helped by a friend who took his neighboring seat and started a conversation, but I didn't stop fixating him the whole time and could observe that he didn't stop to feel uncomfortable. After 30 minutes, his resistance was broken; when I started grinning at him, he grinned back, obviously finding the situation as absurd as I did. When the discussion had begun - most of the disputants verified the thesis that sometimes, reality is worse than its most worn-out parody - and one elder woman criticized the historifying gesture of the book, I decided to change my strategy and throw in my lot. So I asked my guardian whether he still intended to throw me out with the first word I would say, whereupon he replied that he and the authors had thought that I had "come to disrupt the event", but now, as my intentions were seemingly different, he wouldn't mind me participating in the discussion.