SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Around the Lastarria neighborhood, downtown Santiago, Chile, you get a glimpse every once in a while of a tall, fat man in a skirt, pushing a shopping cart, a handkerchief tied round his head like its keeping his jaw from falling off. The shopping cart could have come from anywhere, or it's one of a series of shopping carts, probably from the Lider down the block.

He calls himself the Divino Anticristo (Divine Antichrist). Only a few people, some bookstore owners and waiters who work in the area, know his real name. They say he was a podiatrist before a vagabond. They say he was forced to check himself into an old, discontinued psych hospital around the age of 30 or so, and came out crazier then he went in. He writes poetry from time to time, and he'll sell you some of his verse, along with a pair of old tennis shoes, or a scratched up brass doorknob, or a small duster made of duck feathers. Whatever he's found in the dumpsters lining Merced Avenue or back alleyways.

In his book Civilization and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud touches on the two conflicting drives that exist within us all. The life drive and the death drive. According to Freud, the life drive pursues positive experiences of pleasure and happiness, while the death drive protects happiness by avoiding pain. Rather than aspire for what it wants, the death drive avoids that which it does not. Both seek happiness, though their approaches conflict. Traumas like the Boston bombing force this tension into the limelight, and offer an opportunity to reassess what we are willing to risk for the life we want, and conversely, how far we will go to avoid pain.

Words can have various meanings, depending on who is doing the defining and for what purpose. Word definitions can strongly influence how we think and act. The author George Orwell made this point devastatingly clear in his classic dystopia 1984, in which the English language was turned on its head in order to protect the interests of "Big Brother." Employing the methods of doublespeak and doublethink, the language created by this fictional totalitarian government was called "Newspeak."

Today's governments and news sources and their ready usage of doublespeak and doublethink is revealed in such otherwise whimsical turns of phrase as Department of Defense, War on Terror, the peace process, progressive Democrat, fair and balanced reporting, and job creators, to name a few.

Reversing its prior decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled today that Burbank, Calif., police officer Angelo Dahlia was engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment when he disclosed the abuse of suspects by his fellow officers. Therefore, the court held, Dahlia may sue the city of Burbank for retaliating against him for the disclosures.

"We are pleased that the court has reinstated this important case to allow Mr. Dahlia to vindicate his free speech rights and the rights of police officers throughout California," said attorney Michael A. Morguess of Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir of Upland, Calif., who argued the case.

Today, for the first time since August 21, 2003, the National Labor Relations Board has a full complement of five Senate confirmed members. Four new members, all nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed last month by the U.S. Senate have been sworn into office. NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce was also confirmed last month to an additional five year term on the Board.

"The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies — like stop-and-frisk, and . . . neighborhood watch -- regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents. It's like burning down a house to rid it of mice."

Aug 24

Audacity of Dope? Yes We Scan?

By Steven Hill, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

This president has become a tragic figure, more so every day with each new revelation of how far the surveillance state has been developed and implemented under his watch. And how far they will go -- detaining the partner of reporter Glen Greenwald, investigating other reporters, smashing the hard drives of a leading newspaper -- to intimidate journalists and editors trying to report on it. Big Brother is watching, and cracking down on those who want to reveal the King's secrets. The U.S. even has bugged European Union offices -- supposedly our allies -- and world leaders at international conferences of the G-20.

Aug 24

Bad Precedent and Bad Faith

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

Back in January of 2012 a lawsuit, organized by activist Tangerine Bolen (who also did the fundraising that made the legal effort possible) involving multiple plaintiffs including former war correspondent Christopher Hedges was filed in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Specifically, the suit called into question the Act's Section 1021(b)(2), which allows for indefinite detention by the U.S. military of people "who are part of or substantially support Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces engaged in hostilities against the United States." This detention denies those held of the ability to "contest the allegations against them because they have no right to be notified of the specific charges against them." In this suit filed by Hedges et al., the issue in question was the vagueness of the terms "substantially support" and "associated forces." For instance, could this vagueness lead to apprehension and detention of journalists who publish interviews with members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban? Could it lead to the same treatment against political activists protesting U.S. policies against these or "associated" groups?

Over the past months, I have been shocked and dismayed to hear the revelations by the courageous women who continue to tell their stories of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of San Diego's Mayor Bob Filner. When I saw the four brave women speak out in a joint interview, I made a decision that I could no longer remain silent.. It is high time for men to step up and join the courageous woman on the front lines, who have been victims and survivors of Bob Filner's utter personal disregard, disrespect and degradation of women, as expressed through his unwanted sexual advances, which are at the lower end of a continuum of sexual abuse and assault.

Aug 22

Obama Vs. Snowden: Parsing the Presser

By Rob Hager, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Obama's recent media counteroffensive against Edward Snowden is unquestionably a tribute to Edward Snowden's ability to poke the empire's all-seeing eye while managing to secure an offshore sanctuary where he might continue his premeditated acts of citizenship. Snowden's success and worldwide popularity for his David and Goliath struggle on behalf of his, and apparently the ACLU's, version of the Constitution has required the propagandist-in-chief to publicly enter the fray. Obama knows if Snowden ever does face a criminal jury, the trial will be very much a popularity contest between Obama and Snowden, with high-stakes for both.