The Scapegoat: Updating Camus

The song was over, the stickered pawn shop amps fed back ear crushing fuzz into the air, the crowd of about 20 unwashed anarchists cheered. Clad in tattered Crass T-shirts, second hand hooded sweatshirts, jeans and boots lifted out of dumpsters and tin trash cans, they clapped their hands and slapped each other’s shoulders in a show of anti-establishment solidarity. It was a dank and sweaty atmosphere, a choking, eye stinging melange of rank armpit and belched vegan curry. Amerikkka, Inc. had nearly finished its blistering, uncompromising 9 minute set of anarchist anthems. Each song was a barbed wire rumble with the most destructive forces still dominating the modern world. Racism, sexism,ableism, transphobia, xenophobia, homophobia, capitalist greed, the prison industrial complex, meat eating, bigotry, fat shaming, skinny shaming, beauty standards, puritans, victorians, religions except for buddhism; each pillar of hate was demolished by the throat shredding vocals, the sharp, stabbing rhythms, and the bulldozer guitar riffs. A supercharged performance born of vital resistance, of pure love of marginalized life subverting the hegemonic hate machine, it was just another Tuesday night in a small, remote college town.

Addisonville was a haven for outcasts, fringe activists, weirdos, and 50,000 affluent business and sports medicine majors during the two semester school year. The small town combined radical culture and quaint midwestern comfort. There was nothing else like it in about a 500 mile radius. If you were gay, homeless, godless, anti hierarchical, or the scion of a banker or successful businessman, you found your way to Addisonville. Clayton was born there, he was what the matriculaters called, with some mixture of affection and disdain, a “townie”. His sympathies were always with the vibrant minority culture, the artistic subclass of students, the barista bass players and the lesbian photographers. He went to the Tuesday night crust punk show on a whim, driven by an unusual need for boisterous socializing. He usually preferred to spend his evenings in more quiet company, or alone with a good Chomsky and densely packed bowl. Daniel was right down the middle in character, not withdrawn or anxious, but also not uninhibited or garrulous. He could fit in without losing himself, and even when he stood out, he never caused a controversy.

“We’re Amerikkka Inc, and we’re not down with racists, sexists, and homophobes! If you have a problem with that, let us know!”

The lead singer, half illuminated by the dingy blue tinged lightbulb hanging from the decapitation level ceiling of the basement, roared in proud defiance of a nonexistent power. The crowd hooted in unanimous approval. And then an inexplicable impulse took hold of Clayton, and he felt his modest, pacific soul leaving his body, prime witness of a strange spectacle no one could have predicted even moments before.

“I’m a racist, and I hate gays.” He shouted.

“I’ll kick your fucking teeth in for thinking you can get away with that shit here in my town.”

Clayton had become the intersection between pure activity and passivity, an alien to himself, a puppet pulled by strings of his own making. The singer of the crust punk band stood millimeters away, glaring, staring, breathing hot wrath upon him. “Oh yeah, bigot?” And in the next instant, Clayton saw his own fist crashing into the singer’s rotting, chipped front teeth. Clayton felt the teeth shifting in extra space of the singer’s gangrenous gums, and he watched his target’s head bobbling backwards. The crowd closed in on him swiftly, tightly encircling him to be shoved and punched with justice. He felt the spittle misting his face, he looked into eyes gleaming with rage, he heard the barking condemnations.

It was a case of absurd martyrdom. Clayton had provided a service to these egalitarian warriors of the underground; he had given them an enemy on an occasion that would have been otherwise lacking. Convictions need to be tested to remain vital and firm, and these politically determined artists were in danger of losing their resolve. It had turned out that they were indeed capable of closing rank when met with opposition. Clayton became an effigy, a symbol of hate and privilege that the crusaders against bigotry could finally smash. As he fell to the ground under a barrage of fists and feet, Clayton felt the warm glaze of redemption spread over him. The progressive army marched on.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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