justin bieber, + “how dare you, amanda palmer?” (a poem by danny hillis).

i spent a few minutes on twitter today talking about justin bieber. and wow.
i was in no way defending the dude’s actions…i mean, yeah, he’s doing some pretty stupid, self-destructive (and potentially other-people-destructive) stuff.

that wasn’t what i was addressing: i was looking at the giant pile-on of other people/celebrities: jeering, laughing, joking, and pointing fingers at the kid. i pointed out that this wasn’t actually getting us anywhere and was, in fact, part of the bigger problem in this fucked up culture.

why do so many people enjoy hating this guy so much?
because it’s easy? fun? because it’s standard?

anybody who tried to justify their hate (“i’m allowed to hate him and laugh at him because his music sucks!” “i’m allowed to hate him and laugh at him because he put people in danger and that’s SO NOT COOL”) just sounded silly. trying to justify being mean to anyone always winds up failing.
and…right. it’s absolutely NOT COOL to do stupid shit and drive drunk and be an arrogant dick.

but that’s not what i’m talking about. i’m talking about the backlash, the second layer, in which the world gets to play the arrogant dick right back.
i read an article which compiled the tweets of 20 different celebrities all ripping justin bieber a new one as everybody else guffawed and joined in.
that’s just so fucking sad. i think people are too afraid to imagine what it must be like to BE this kid: a gazillionaire at 19, out of control, with little sense of consequence or reality. “oh poor him and his gazillions”, you say sarcastically. i say: yeah. actually…yeah. poor him and his gazillions. because guess what? the last time i checked, money doesn’t buy FUCK ALL in the happiness and balance department. in fact, it’s likely, at that age, to fuck you the fuck up.

it strikes me as bizarre that nobody is connecting the dots here: in this age where everybody is freaking out about “bully” culture and wondering why the hell kids are so mean to each other in real life and on the internet, causing ripples of causalities, self-hate, and self-harm…can nobody see that if the world’s teenagers are watching their celebrities and role models TEARING THIS KID APART…that this is pretty much a par-for-the-course, acceptable way to act? it’s like a roman forum. it’s gross.

as far as i can see, justin bieber is another human casualty of a crazy, hero-worshipping, alienating star-machine culture that loves to regard people as untouchable, non-human icons to be loved or detested…and alternately loves to watch them fail.

anyone who takes part in either side is feeding something really terrible.

anyway. part two:

i was going to blog this poem on it’s own last night, but bieber serves as connecting tissue.

it’s been long enough, i guess.
i wanted to share this poem with you. i didn’t write it.

danny hillis wrote it, and read it to me when i was in the midst of poemgate…
after i wrote THIS blog/poem and got a sudden, unexpected barrage of hate-media, hate-comments, and a death threat.

danny hillis is a…really smart, kind, amazing dude.
we’d met at TED, and made friends.
he gave a talk – that i watched live from the audience – called “the internet could crash, we need plan B”:

then, about two hours after MY talk, we bumped into each other in the lobby.
i said “i liked your talk about the internet!”
he said “i liked your talk about asking!”
i said “where are you from?”
he said “i’m from LA, but i also sort of spending time in cambridge, MA.”
i said “that’s where i live!!! where in cambridge?”
he said “well, funny enough, given your talk, i’m kind of couch surfing at the moment, staying with different friends.”
and i said “if you ever want to stay at our house you can.”
and he said “really?”
and i was like “totally.”
and he said “do you mean that? because i’m going to cambridge on friday.”
and i gave him the key and two days later i was staying in his house in LA and he was staying at our empty house in cambridge.

he’s a scientist and engineer, he’s invented lots of things (you know that thing you do where you squeeze your fingers apart to expand a screen on your phone? yeah, danny sorta thought that up)…and he’s one of the founders of the Long Now Foundation.
he was staying at our house when the poem thing happened.
and he wrote this, and i filed it away for a time when the flames had died down, and i’d like to share it.
before this start another kerfuffle, bear in mind: nobody here is saying i’m jesus (good lord).

it’s not about that. i think it’s about empathy.
and why we have to have it to stay human.
we have to have empathy…with everyone.
with justin bieber.
with the people we’re angry at.
with the people whose music we don’t like.
with people who hurt themselves.
with people who hurt other people.
with deranged killers
they need it most.
we need to feel empathy with
(you guessed it)

the minute you qualify compassion, you fail.
the minute have compassion for some, but not others, you fail.


here it is, with danny’s permission:

How dare you, Amanda Palmer?
How dare you write a poem
Sympathizing with a kid
that everyone
(Yes, pretty much everyone),
And for good reason.
So how dare you
Because if we ever, ever
what it is like to be him
to feel like Him
Then we might
(not likely, but there is always the danger
we Might)
love our enemies.
How dare you say anything
to lead us
to that

And how dare you
Stand up on a mountaintop
In front of God and everybody
And announce that we can
Just ask
Are you trying to tell us
the we will just, –what?
That doors will open
just because we knock?
Who do you think we are, Amanda?
A bunch of lilies?
A flock of fucking birds?
We toil.
We spin.
We sow.
We reap.
I mean, Jesus H Christ, Amanda,
Do you think we can feed a multitude
with loaves and fishes?

I hear you let some chick
wash your feet.
with perfume!

Time to hide it under a bushel, Amanda
We have ways of dealing with people
With people who sympathize
with the despised
People who dare
to ask,
dare to receive
People who dare
to suggest
that we love our enemies.
We nail them up
and watch them bleed.

If we let you
If we let you write poems
And ask and receive
And have perfume
poured on your feet
poured on your feet without regard
to the rules
against all law and order and propriety
if we let you get away with it
we might have to ask
the unconformable question
of why
we didn’t

Back to Blog
  • Cherry Alive

    I don’t really know much about Beiber, but when I heard he was arrested for drink driving and road racing, I thought of this kid, who killed four people whilst speeding on a rural road – to which his defence argued he was too rich to take responsibility…

    Money fucks you up. Too much of it, too young fucks you up. Lackeys who won’t question you, because they’re on the payroll, fuck you up. Beiber is just another symptom of a wider sickness.

  • davidrodwin

    Wonderful blog and poem. Thanks for the reminder to love your enemies. That’s the key to real transformation around hate. And it’s hard as hell.

  • shonias

    If we don’t take the time and the risks to empathise with the people who do things we think unconscionable, how will we know when we’re becoming them?

  • Michelle

    Empathy is everything.

    We rush to demonize people in the public eye (or just those that we – rationally or not – don’t like) with an “I told you so” the minute they fuck up, while justifying the actions of those we do. For every hater there’s someone tweeting “#wewillalwaysupportyou” no matter what fucked up thing that person has done. I wonder where the line between support and empathy lies? Not in 140 characters, certainly.

    I think too often the media falls on the wrong side, leaning more towards gawking at someone’s misfortune rather than simply shining a light on dark sides that need to be put out there. Easier to take a stand for or against Bieber than something more complicated. I wonder how many of his supporters would support someone in their real life who did the same? I wonder how many of his attackers would be okay with someone in their family making the same mistake and being publicly flogged?

    Thank you, Amanda, for once more making people think.

  • http://www.kseniaanske.com/ Ksenia Anske

    LOVE THIS. The kid has no place to be stupid, to grow up, so he just does it the only way he knows, by using money to help him. I have a 19 year old daughter, and she did things, stupid things, to grow up. I did stupid, despicable things, to grow up. Still cringe, remembering.

    Back in the days… We used to call it a rite of passage, getting all high on whatever drugs we took back then, and going on vision quests. I mean, us back in the hunting days. Before we had supermarkets to get our chickens. Now what do we have for our kids? Nothing. We shelter them, not letting them break their own foreheads to find themselves. What do they do? They find ways to do it anyway. Justin is only one example of a bigger problem. Anyway, I will shut up otherwise I will write a whole essay here. xoxo

    • CaptObvious

      J does something that makes the front page, and ok now lets see if we can’t make this about me? – Amanda

      • NerdStoryteller

        Just like youre now trying to make it about yourself…

        • MoonRocketLoveUnits

          I didn’t say anything about J or Amanda. They are both the same to people who know better.

          • GFD

            I think empathy is great, but it certainly doesn’t mean that always must be universally applied to be valid. I don’t bother trying to apply it to people who are fake rockstars who get paid for music hey themselves didn’t not write themselves either.

  • Rebecca Horne

    I remember the moment I stopped following celebrity culture and started thinking of famous people as people. It was when Anna Nicole Smith taped aluminum foil to her windows so she could grieve her son in peace.

    I didn’t like or respect her, but nobody deserves what the modern world does to celebrities.

  • Greek Yogurt

    After reading your blog, I realized my lack of fondness for JB is based on the fact that he is a guy. I have more sympathy for the LIndsey Lohans of the world because I can easily imagine how difficult it is for a female to navigate the pitfalls of fame and way to much money. I would always think of male performers as enjoying what typically follows a sudden influx of wealth. I know, it makes no sense. Thank you for bringing me to that realization. Danny what a fabulous poem! I like to think of myself as a fairly tolerant person but see I have plenty to work on. Lots to ponder tonight!

    • http://amandapalmer.net/ Amanda Palmer

      i <3 to ponder

  • http://twitter.com/indeciSEAN indeciSEAN

    It’s not the smartest thing to get a new computer or car or phone and drive it into the ground as quickly as possible…and I think most of us would agree that someone who adopts a puppy and then tosses it to the side when it’s “not cute anymore” is kind of a crappy person…but we see this happen again and again and again with youth-celebrity culture.

    I shared this link on Twitter last night, but I think it’s worth reiterating…@MaraWritesStuff wrote an excellent piece for Cracked on child stars and what’s happened to so many of them (and unfortunately what we’ll likely see continue to happen if things don’t make a massive shift): http://www.cracked.com/blog/7-reasons-child-stars-go-crazy-an-insiders-perspective/ …and if you know who Mara is, you probably realize that she has every reason to know what it’s like. So…give it a read and some thought.

    • chrissy

      So glad to see this article linked here. Mara is just plain awesome in her own right as an adult. Not to snub how she started out at all, but I admire so much more what she’s done on her own as a writer. Her cracked article is the best I’ve ever read on the topic.

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    I thought it was about time the kid let loose :/ even though it was possibly destructive.

  • Steph

    Thank you. That’s it. Just, thank you.

  • T.Olsson

    Why is disliking someone the wrong thing to do? Why are we no longer allowed to hate? The interwebz has taken away the right of opinion…

    • Félix Marqués

      No. There is a difference between criticising, disliking, etc. (I dislike Justin Bieber as a person and think his music is mostly trash which makes our culture even poorer—and could back my stance up with arguments) and on the other hand hating (I do not irrationally use Bieber a a punching bag for my frustrations, nor do I derive sadistic pleasure from seeing him fuck up and fail).

    • Rebecca Horne

      You may have any opinion you like, so long as you’re capable of having it without torturing somebody because of it. I doubt there are an enormous number of Amanda Palmer/Justin Beiber crossover fans. Nobody’s saying you have to *like* the guy. Just that it’s hurtful use his detachment from society as an excuse to spew hatred at him.

    • Rev. Mike

      When was hate ever the right thing to do?

    • Luci

      You’re kidding, right? The interwebz has opened up the freedom for *everyone* to share their opinions; however misguided, ill-informed or stupid they may be.

      It’s called the Internet Hate Machine for a reason…

  • Setsu U

    At a Chuck Palahniuk reading in SF, I was told by the dude sitting next to me that he believed hierarchy was the root of all evil. When you value someone above you, or devalue someone below you, you are no longer able to see their humanity.

    “the minute you qualify compassion, you fail.
    the minute have compassion for some, but not others, you fail.” Really resonated with me. Thank you for writing this.

    • JenB

      I don’t see where hierarchy implies de-valuing. It implies structure/order. Whether or not portions of that structure are valued or de-valued is something entirely different.

      • CaptObvious

        Here is my observation. I’ve never heard chuck mention anything about Amanda before. It is safe to say that I think he is above her.

        • JenBen

          Have you ever heard Chuck mention anything about me before? If yes/no, what might be the implications?

          • FrenteFanClub

            Nobody cares who YOU are. Everyone knows who Chuck is. Amanda is just someone we used to know. Dig it?

        • ThatEarthenCup

          I…hope this is sarcastic. This is brazen false logic if not.

          • FrenteFanClub

            Sorry, amanda isn’t at the top of everyone elses totem pole. She doesn’t even make most people’s leisurely tree stump graffiti scrawlings… Chuck is a writer. Amanda is just a performer.

          • Anon

            Do you think Chuck empathizes with you? Prolly not.

      • Setsu U

        I’m sorry. I explained that poorly. Hierarchy of identity, as the root of most lifestyles of intolerance.

        • Luci

          I don’t think you’re wrong, there. Hierarchy of power, also.

          • GranolaGrrlsClubEtc

            it sounds like over generalized nonsense to me but yea whatevs

          • Anon

            Anyone that tries to make empathy some kind of end-all be-all solution to everything wrong in this crazy world is a absolute delusional fanatic. Why does everything that is useful need to be universally applied to everyone in order to be valid or correct? I don’t empathize with everyone. I’m OK with that too.

  • Tamara Rodgers

    Love this. What has particularly saddened and angered me is the upsurge of memes which make a joke of his potential rape in jail. As though sexual assault is a punch line. Just sickening. So glad I didn’t have to do my growing up under the lens of public scrutiny.

  • fairbetty

    It’s kind of terrifying to put yourself in the shoes of someone you despise… it’s uncomfortable… it feels… wrong. And people will vehemently oppose you for doing it because they feel wronged, because they feel the pain of injustice for the victims of a crime, of abuse, of senseless violence.


    The less willing you are to put yourself in the shoes of those who have done wrong, the less room you have for grace with others, the less grace you will find for yourself. The less grace I will find for myself. And I need grace for fucking up every day, even if it’s with no money and puts less people in danger.

    But it’s scary/hard/painful to live outside of the box… it feels lonely… unless we all do it together.

  • Missy Bell

    YES. YES a billion times. The kid is NINETEEN years old. Thank God the whole world wasn’t watching me when I was nineteen because on the scale of 1 – Stupid I was about a 13 at that age.

  • SteveP

    I just wonder why anyone is talking about any of this. He drives too fast, does a little underage drinking, a little felonious skunk, throws eggs at houses, and thinks he’s a badass when he’s totally not. That sounds exactly like me at 19 and I was pretty much broke. He’s got a gazillion dollars so I’m a little disappointed he’s not in the news for some seriously amazing depravity instead of all of this nonsense. I’m just glad the microscope wasn’t on me when I was going through it (and that I grew up before everyone had a camera phone).

    • Félix Marqués

      “I’m a little disappointed he’s not in the news for some seriously amazing depravity”. I laughed. But, as happens with the Boston bomber case, if he had comitted an amazing depravity it’d be the same thing but even worse.

      We don’t like mirrors. We don’t like recognizing that we also did (or could have done) the kind of dumb things that Bieber does, or that (under certain circumstances) we could have been the Boston killer. It’s important, as human beings, to understand what makes people do fucked-up things, it’s important if we want to prevent them. But we prefer saying “no, he’s just a monster, he’s an Other and I could never possibly understand him, how dare you suggest I may be like him in some way”. But we need to understand.

      • SteveP

        You are 100% right. We’re not taught to question the crazy shit that’s going on in our heads that can lead from anything from the Bieber teen angst issues to the Boston douchebags pressure cooker campaign. And, I absolutely love mirrors to remind me of what was and could be and it sounds like you do to. As you said we do need to understand.

    • eden

      SteveP – thank you for the felonious skunk punnery :)

      • Anon

        Well, obviously someone had to call the cops. Someone had to tell the girl who was impregnated with his child. Someone had to give him a paycheck. Someone… someone sonebody. I doubt he could do it all by his lonesome.

        Still, he was used and enjoyed every moment.

  • Alicia Luma

    Aw. I LOVE you. So much. Poor Justin. Poor my own 11 year old baby boy that I just had to explain the very idea of ‘rape culture’ to, because he is beginning to get to be a bit of a sporting star and I am horrified, HORRIFIED, of what he is potentially subjected to. Poor my baby girls, who know every word to ‘Theatre is Evil’, who asked me uncomfortable questions due to the song “Map of Tasmania”, who I make sing “Oh, my, gosh… forget it!” because I cant psychically deal with “fuck” issuing from their precious 6 and 7 year old mouths, but who are excited about growing their own body hair. Its a trade off. Ill fucking take it.
    Oh Amanda, little darling, all heart and barely enough sleeve to wear it on. You are the St Sebastian of my own small altar. I wish I was so brave. I have three small people who I have to fit the whole world into, somehow, smarter and better than I was able to fit it into myself or I have somehow failed. I dont want to fail. I dont know how I could live with myself if I did.
    I love you so dearly and I dont even know you. Thank you for giving me the words I dont have and being a bolster and a goad when I have needed one. You’ve hugged me, but I tried to let you rest in that space, you give us all so much, I only wanted to give you a little bit back, because I can, I am a mother, i’ve got the whole world in my hands… sure, that’s not PRECISELY how I remember it from Sunday School but it’s no less true for being misremembered.
    I’ve got the whole world in my hands… true? The Biebers and the Mileys… oh give them to me for just a few minutes… babies, the lot of them.

    • chrissy

      Yes,Amanda, yes to all of it!
      And can I just say that this comment here, Alicia, is the best gosh darned comment on the internet, in the world, EVER!? Holy sweet amazeballs, that was beautifully written!
      Can’t ever say I’ve fangirled over a comment until now. Thank you from a mom of 5 little Amandaphiles.
      Thank Christ for this whole blog and community!

    • Jann McKenzie

      Just beautiful!!!

    • M!

      This post made my entire week.
      Alicia, you sound like a phenomenal person (and I’m so glad you have little ones with whom to share your wonderful ways).

  • Janelle

    The poem (and your original poem) reminds me of something my therapist said to me pretty early on–no one is 100% bad. People do bad things, people do things we don’t like, but they do good things, too, and they have people that love them either way.

    We want people who do bad things and make mistakes to be villains–simplistic, black-or-white villains–when really they’re complicated people who are just as fucked up as the rest of us.

  • Joonas

    We did this to him. It’s the classical village to the dog, dog to the world scenario. He became what we wanted him to be. Add the fucked up feeling of being just out of your teenage years and you get this. Of course the whole Hollywood’s Bell curve is just doing it’s job, as it has for years. Stephen king put it best in his tweet to Bieber – Memo to Justin Bieber: For the young celeb, life is a banquet of free food. What they don’t tell you is that you are often the last course.

    • YouAreFullOfShitAmanda

      Society made him. Only a lad. You really can’t blame him. Only a lad. Is he our responsibility?

  • Rhiannon White

    This is perfect! <3

  • Loupin

    “the minute you qualify compassion, you fail.
    the minute have compassion for some, but not others, you fail.”
    i love it. i just spent like two years with something a little like this, writing a novel from the perspective of a ‘bad guy’, a convict, a sex offender. a guilty person. he had a hard time accepting he was someone else’s victim. and despite everything i got to love him quite a bit. i remember back when you wrote the poem, the reactions and the discussion on here were very intriguing and inspiring.

  • Zoot Suit Ryan

    I don’t (and by all rights, can’t) hate Justin Bieber. I don’t know him personally, and I’ve never heard any of his music. It is true that his recent actions were stupid, and dangerous, and could have hurt or killed any number of people, and I certainly don’t condone these actions…but I understand them. When I was 19, I also made stupid and dangerous decisions — I just didn’t have the money to make those decisions while driving a Lamborghini.

    I also don’t hate him, because that takes way too much energy, and I’m not going to spend energy on a Canadian kid that I have no attachment to in any way.

    Let’s hope he is put in contact with some people who can help him understand that his actions were dangerous and irresponsible, and maybe give him some tools to avoid taking those same actions in the future.

    God, I sound like my father. Can I get an AARP membership at age 33?

  • Carrie James

    All that negativity pointed at one human being isn’t harmless. We are more powerful than we think and contribute to other people’s downward spirals. Everyone is connected to everyone.

  • Lara

    I’d feel more comfortable embracing this if the douche things he does didn’t have the very real potential to harm someone else. Also, the moment he abandoned his monkey to German authorities instead of paying the $8000 to get him back said *all* I needed to know about this kid. Then again, that may just be my total jealousy over the fact he actually HAD a monkey.

  • Caz Abbott

    I think your blog is the safest place on the internet. Inevitably, once a week or so, someone will post a link to some article on social media with the warning, “Don’t read the comments!” And I respond every time, “I never read the comments on the internet, except Amanda Palmer’s blog.”

    You’re right, of course, you can’t qualify and restrict compassion, or it ceases to be compassion at all.

    • eden

      That parting shot of Amanda’s resonated with me as well, as does what you’re saying about this blog. Right now I’m finding it too hard to converse with/explain myself to all but a small handful of friends, yet this feels like a somewhat safe haven. People who appreciate Amanda’s way of looking at the world seem in the main a kind, nurturing bunch :)

      • Anon

        The emptiness in the loneliness of the users here.. Their needfulness is almost a warning for veterns of pain. There is nothing here but empty promises and confusion/chaos.

  • Hunchie

    must say, was jeered for saying “I feel sorry for him” – *gasp*, *shock*, *horror* I said “he’s NINETEEN, and making some really poor choices! You don’t even want to know what I did at 19″…”20″…”21″..”22″…

    I can only imagine he caught a similar wave, albeit – different ocean, but somewhat similar.

    I cannot imagine every single (almost) action being caught on film, camera, followed etc. I seriously cannot imagine the stalk.

    I had empathy for him 2 years ago…
    Not that I expected this, but was not surprised by this behavior.
    Actually sad for the lack of role models – but damn, I told my role models to fuck themselves when I was 19. *nod* I did.

    I am so fucking grateful that my life exists without his microscope that he exists in.
    I do not agree with his choices. But, I’ve been there.
    His learning experiences are not equal to what mine were, but that doesn’t make him a terrible person. Doesn’t make him a better person either – he’s 19.

    I saved a cardinal that flew into my window and can no longer fly yesterday.
    The bird is now with a person that will take care of it and heal it.
    Does that make me a better person?
    Not by a short shot.

    Not even by a short shot.
    different choices.

    If I was 19, I never would even have seen the cardinal at all.

    No, I don’t think he should be excused because he is 19.
    I hope that this post is coming across that way.
    I think he should be held accountable for his actions.

    I just can’t imagine the isolation one must feel being surrounded by fake.

    This is why I feel sad. There are no life preservers being thrown…just different anvils…what choice does one have, but to sink and then hopefully by the power of their own, rise up. learn. realize. share and move forward.

    I try not to be all judgey – but I admit, I’m guilty.
    Nice post Amanda. as per usual.

    • Félix Marqués

      This is the thing—often, criticising and shaming someone who’s fucked up and who we don’t like is something we do solely because we derive satisfaction from it. But does it help? Or would it be better for the greater good to help that person out and try to understand why they did it, and then try to make them understand why it was wrong? Surely helping is better for everyone in the end.

      • Hunchie

        and then there is that thing – maybe there are people there to help – but being that young and invincible it was shoo’d away. We don’t know. I sure don’t. But I agree, helping is better for everyone in the end…but sometimes, the person you are trying to help has to make the choice to accept it.

        • Félix Marqués

          Of course… and this whole thing is where the Art of Asking comes in. :D

          • Hunchie

            you are fanstastically right :) and I agree….

  • Félix Marqués

    It’s very easy to be envious and to feel particularly aggressive towards people who have a shit ton of money, because we all want to believe that we’d do noble, generous, beautiful things if we were wealthy. And perhaps it’s true, but greed has a powerful effect on the human mind. How many people who have won enormous sums of money in the lottery are happy about it? Many ended up losing their friends or family. We are being somewhat delusional and self-righteous when we believe that hating on someone is more excusable when that person’s rich.

  • Jinjirrie

    Nauseating, self-obsessed celebrities
    defending each others’ propinquities
    to exploit their fame and whine and shame
    when brought to account for legal blame
    between oppressor and oppressed
    loving neutrality serves oppressor best.

    • Jodi

      agree and disagree. empathy and forgiveness are complex and don’t equate to neutrality.

  • Clare Elliott

    How come you get the guy who thought up the long now-and I get the creep who pretends to be amazing and steals all my stuff……

  • RiverVox

    First, thank you for daring. I always wonder if some of the hate directed at Bieber is fueled by contempt for his fan base, primarily made up of girls and young women, as well as his appearance, which some deem effeminate. When pro athletes commit crimes – drunk driving, domestic abuse, even murder – it’s news, but one doesn’t see the vicious, personal attacks. We accept some measure of violence in our gladiators and their masculinity earns respect. But this guy? Girls like him and he’s not “macho” so it’s open season.

    • Félix Marqués

      Back when people just loooved to hate Justin Bieber and the main joke directed at him was that he was actually a girl, I just thought of all the bullying I endured as a little kid simply because I was a boy who insisted on having long hair. I was made fun of for being “a girl” as if it was the most dishonorable thing I could be.
      People who laughed at Bieber for looking girlish are sexist and homophobic, it’s simple as that. They are no different from the people who called me a faggot when I was seven.

      • RiverVox

        Felix, it makes me ill to think of someone treating you this way. As my kids can tell you, it’s not just the bullies who are at fault, it’s the bystanders who allow bullying to happen without comment.
        Social media can be a school yard, or it can be a symposium. Lately, it seems like a public execution festival.

  • Desi Achilleos

    Some African Tribes recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment, it is the love and reminding the person of their true identity.

    When someone does something hurtful and wrong, they take the person to the center of town, and the entire tribe comes and surrounds them. For two days they’ll tell them every good thing they have ever done. In some tribes, they sing them their song, which was sung when the mother thought of their inception, sung at their birth, at every life event.

    The tribes believe that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness.

    But sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help.

    So everyone bands together to hold them up, to reconnect them with their true Nature, to remind them who they really are, until they fully remember the truth from which they’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”.


  • ephena

    People think that love is something easy, something you fall into, or something uncontrollable.
    It’s not.
    It’s complicated, and hard, and requires us to make choices, and be open, and honest, and we are not good at that, collectively.

    Loving a person is sometimes fun, and sometimes work, and rewarding, and we figure it out, for the most part, if we had a good model, or we run into a spectacularly wonderful example of it, and they are willing to teach.

    Loving people is harder, and is harder work, and requires suspending judgment, and being forgiving, and learning empathy for people we don’t like, and is not something we are good at. It takes bravery, and risk, and a lot of shit.

    If you love humanity, but don’t love humans, if you can’t love people for being human, then you need to go back and try again, which is ok. No one ever gets it right on the first try.

    Loving people does not imply that you approve of everything they do. It just implies that you are not willing to remove someone from the list because they did something that makes you sick. Loving people is hard, but it is worth the effort.

    In the same way, I say I’m a feminist, and if I am going to call myself that, then my feminism has to include Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee, and the women of the Tea Party, because if your feminism is exclusionary, then it isn’t really working.

    I love people. I think people are worthy of love, but that takes a lot of work, and a lot of thinking, and, apparently, a lot of reading of Amanda’s blog posts.

    • Félix Marqués

      “If you love humanity, but don’t love humans, if you can’t love people
      for being human, then you need to go back and try again, which is ok.”

      this this this this this

      • AmandasLemmingFactory

        Too bad they can’t bottle this kool-aid and sell it for donations on amanda palmers myspace page.

    • Luci

      I think I’m the other way around, actually. I love humans (certain specific humans) but don’t love humanity (en masse).

      I think we’re awful as a species.

      Which I can recognise as somewhat silly, as humanity isn’t essentially en masse – it’s made up of certain specific humans; some of whom, if I met, I would probably love. (and obviously I’m a specific human, too).

      But it’s to do with confirmation bias, pessimism and an unhealthy diet of dire news stories. It’s the corruption of our politicians and abuses from power bases. The destruction of the natural world and the other inhabitants of our planet – as well as eachother. The churning greed, the haves and the have nots, the gross disparity of global wealth.

      Imph. Not sure I managed to make a point there, other than to depress myself -.-;

      • http://gabrielgrub.blogspot.com/ June_Miller

        Both comments make me think of the last line from Se7en:

        “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, ‘The world is a decent place, and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.”

      • Beatrice

        I’m right there with ya ;)

  • Maddriel

    Guess what you get when you mix a teenager with a gazillion dollars? A teenager! (Not so trick question) I teach High School Art, and I have two teenagers at home. I am surrounded by teenagers, day and night. They are creative and zany, inventing their lives and themselves with a type of manic ferocity that will probably remain unmatched at any other time in their lives. With this kind of mad genius disregard towards the consequence of their explorations, there are bound to be, .. happenings… events… that are deemed unacceptable when seen from a societal view. Sometimes these young people, with their blatant disregard for the conventionalities of their culture, deny common expectations and become or do something incredible…. sometimes they just get drunk and cause a ruckus. If only we could all tap into some of that audacity and drive, albeit with a little more wisdom in the DUI arena… What an incredible world we could create. But I digress… yes, have empathy. Everyone has their own battles, even if you can’t understand what they are. Even if you can’t see them. If you cultivate empathy towards others, you come to appreciate their worth. If you appreciate their worth, you develop gratitude for their place in your existence. With gratitude, comes the realization that you are so very lucky to be here, loving and breathing and fighting your own fights with as much grace and honor as you can muster. And maybe if we have a little understanding and forgiveness towards others who goof up every now and then, then maybe we can give ourselves the same grace. (This very first blog rant has been brought to you by inspiration and a fine glass of Chardonnay) Carry on…

    • http://amandapalmer.net/ Amanda Palmer


      • GrowUp

        Empathy for Justin Beiber? I don’t sympathize with some little twerp about getting wasted and blowing all his money on Brazilian prostitutes and drugs. Randomly throwing eggs for jokes at his neighbors houses, and getting some underage girl preggo backstage, denying that the baby is really his. I think you just lost some empathy for the kind of sense you do not make sometimes amanda.

        • ThatEarthenCup

          “The minute you qualify compassion, you fail.”

          Please do not miss what is arguably the most important part of this blog post. Her reply comment is not a soapbox for you; it is not a ‘front of the line’ for trolls.

    • eden

      Yes :D

  • T. Leaf

    : D

  • Mark Bellis

    Yes, before Justin Bieber, no teenager ever took drugs, street raced, egged a house, got into a fight, or peed in public.

    • Mychyl

      Ah, but therein lies the rub, because every teen-in-the-spotlight gets the same scrutiny and the same amused/ashamed (both at the same time!) clucking. We treat it like a scandal (should it be?), like we’re scandalized (yes, let’s all clutch our pearls!), like no one has ever been so vile or naughty before. Every time, we act this way.

      And then forget until it happens again.

      The point of the article wasn’t so much that Bieber is unique in flaunting the law and the code of morality/public decency we’ve forced onto one another; it’s that he, like many other celebrities, is following the well-worn path of “teen idol with too much money when it’s time to rebel and test the bonds of societal mores”.

      It’s also that we shouldn’t treat it like a scandal, we shouldn’t belittle him and the others walking that path, and we shouldn’t instinctively egg him and the others onto taking the next step or treat them as either godlets or pariahs. They are neither; they are young humans in that awkward stage between child and mature, that stage of adolescence.

  • Animator606432

    I understand someone have an “empty life” and becoming reckless. But he put people’s lives in danger. He is no different then that kid who drunk drove and ended up KILLING four innocent bystanders. I don’t have sympathy, empathy or feelings of sorrow for him. I just can’t. On top of that, he could have hurt himself. What about his family? Did he think how they might of felt he would up dead at the age of 20 because of driving drunk? I grew up with an alcoholic, so I understand how people go to the bottle of support. But regardless, that’s no excuse for his actions. Because if he would have killed somebody..I don’t think they or their family for that matter would care about how “empty” his life was.

    • Rebecca Horne

      The thing about “He’s no different than people who…” is that those other people are human, too. Yeah, he could have hurt people. That other kid *did* hurt people.
      To a close approximation, *all* of the evil in the world is caused by people who are doing the best they know how to do, in the situation they are in, with the information they have. It is overwhelmingly mind-blowing to realize what the implications of that really are.

      • Animator606432

        So doing the “best he knows how to” is getting drunk and drag racing? Are you fucking kidding me?

        • Rebecca Horne

          Evidently. I’m not talking about whether somebody *should* know better, or whether they’ve been taught better, or whether they have the right priorities.

          I’m talking about everybody, at every moment, thinking, “Yeah, this seems like a good idea,” and almost never, ever, thinking, “my goal is to cause harm.”

          If you grow up with everybody around you either being dirt poor or getting by by committing crimes, then you learn to commit crime as an act of survival, and it will still be what you think is best, even if you know the negative consequences, because the world around you is so fucked up that it still looks like a good idea.

          If you grow up being manipulated, and now can’t have a real relationship because you’ve become an icon, and everything you love has been taken from you (he used to like music–now he sings things handed to him by people who are trying to use him to make a profit), and you face the possibility that you will never be able to show your face in public or say your name out loud without being pounced by people who would be as glad to watch you die as to succeed, then what have you got to lose? You’ll never have a life again, so why not have some fun, instead?

          And–keep this in mind– I say this coldly. I don’t like the guy. I’m not saying, “poor beibs.” I’m saying, “Huh…that makes a kind of sense. I can understand how somebody could reach a point where they think that’s a good idea.”
          Understanding something is emotionally neutral and always useful. It gives you a better foundation to decide what you want to do about it.

          • Animator606432

            But Bieber didn’t grow up rich. It wasn’t until he hit like 16 I think that he even go any type of real fame.

            Sure you can grow-up in an environment that makes you prone to certain things, but that’s still no excuse. I grew up in Harlem surrounded by crime. By father was a drug dealer, yet I’m in college and have never gotten into any real trouble.

            On top of that, Yes sometimes thing seem like a good idea and it turns out later they weren’t. But in this case, there was nothing about this that seemed like a good idea, ever. It takes effort to get drunk and high, it’s not a split second decision.

            Again, let’s imagine Justin had killed several people. Try explaining that to the families who have lost there loved one. There such a thing as common sense. It’s like not touching a stove when it’s on because it’s hot. Or not walking around with your eyes closed so you can where you’re going.

          • Rebecca Horne

            I’m not saying it’s an excuse. I’m saying it’s a recognizable and understandable part of the human experience. Getting drunk and high does seem like a good idea when it’s the only thing that makes your life feel ok.

            How you approach his family is a good point. I talked about it in the facebook comments (using a much more extreme example) here: https://www.facebook.com/amandapalmer/posts/10152164034789461?comment_id=29344236&offset=0&total_comments=182

            The tl:dr version is that, when you meet a victim of a crime with the attitude that all humans carry pain–you do, they do, the person who hurt them did– and that this is an experience that unites us all, then it’s possible to connect with the crime victims or their families as people, and develop real relationships with them. But if you treat the criminal as if they are outside the human experience–if you cut off your ability to empathize with them– that damages your relationship with the victims as well. They’re no longer people who are hurting. They’re people who have met the devil, and that will drive a wedge between you and them because who can really connect with that?

            This isn’t about making excuses or saying, “well, he didn’t know what he was doing.” It’s about recognizing the banality of evil: we are all capable of it; we all carry it out to some degree or another. Attempting to cut some people out of the human race–to say “this one is too bad to be considered a person anymore”–is superficially comforting, because it helps us convince ourselves, “I could never do harm like that because I’m not bad the way he is” But in doing so, we ignore the harm we *do* do, which means we keep doing it, and leaving other people hurt, who end up hurting others and so on.

            Hmmm…TL:DR of the tl:dr: empathizing with people isn’t about saying that what they did isn’t so bad or should be excused. It’s about saying, “Yes, he did bad things. It’s a flaw that people are prone to, including the people I love and including myself. People do bad things, sometimes, usually because we’re hurting. How do we stop hurting each other, so that, hopefully, we’ll all stop doing bad things?”

          • Rebecca Horne

            I found an even shorter tl:dr! (Brevity is not a skill that comes naturally to me): How you treat other people is a reflection of you, not of them. Be a
            decent person. Don’t use other people’s failings as an excuse to be

          • Animator606432

            So Justin spits on his fans…..what does that say about him?

            And I’m not being cruel, i’m being honest.

          • Rebecca Horne

            Amanda’s OP was talking about cruelty–about, not just disapproval but outright hatred being lobbed at him. Somewhere in these comments, there’s a tip jar with a sign that says, “Every time you tip, a Bieber fan dies.” That’s what I was getting at.

            “He spits on his fans…” That says that he doesn’t connect with them, doesn’t love them, doesn’t care about them, or doesn’t think of them as people, probably.

          • Animator606432

            Look, if Justin had shown any traits that would make me want to empathize with him, then I would. But he hasn’t. I originally felt genuinely sorry for him. The industry had taken him and used him until they had their fix. The kid hasn’t even had a hit song in almost two years……………………….HOWEVER. Then he started spitting on his fans and peeing in buckets. Saying inappropriate things in the Anne Frank museum. But whatever, those are small things that don’t really matter. The drunk driving thing however, after we’ve just weeks ago had a story about a kid getting ten years probation for killing for people because he was rich, is what set me off. To drink (and take numerous amounts of drugs) and then drive is the ultimate “fuck you” to human life. Has behavior has given me NO reason to belief that he is a decent person. He just comes off as an asshole.

            It’s not the fact that he took drugs and drunk underage that bothers me. In that way, I understand people around him telling him that it’s okay or whatever. But an adult, no matter how you grew up, knows how dangerous drunk driving is. He just didn’t give a fuck about who he hurt, is the difference. Justin doesn’t have any empathy because if he did he wouldn’t have driven while he was drunk.

            Let’s say my brother went and did the same thing Justin did, I can assure you there would be no “empathy” for him. He would be in jail and treated as a moron who drunk drove.

            I can’t have empathy for a person who values human life so little that he’d drive drunk and doesn’t even seem to feel bad about it. I’m sure he’s sorry he got caught but I don’t think he understands the wait of his actions.

          • Jen

            Sorry for randomly jumping into the discussion, but don’t you see that what you’re writing validates that amanda’s blog post needs to be written?

            “Look, if Justin had shown any traits that would make me want to empathize with him, then I would. But he hasn’t.”

            The entire point of the blog is that you need to empathize with *everyone*, especially with people you don’t ‘like’ in one way or another.

            “the minute you qualify compassion, you fail.the minute have compassion for some, but not others, you fail.”

            I just wanted to put that out there.

          • Animator606432

            So let’s say I do have empathy for Justin. Then what happens? He doesn’t intimately know me and doesn’t really care what my opinions are. So it’s not likely to change his mind.

            In order me to empathize with someone I have to put myself in their place. Whenever I do that in Justin case, it just makes me angrier. Angrier that people still downplay his crime. Anger that he still has a sea of supporters and will probably never learn. Mostly angry that he doesn’t understand the awfulness of his actions.

            Honestly, Justin just comes across as a horrible fucking person. It’s more than me just not liking him, I don’t like Miley Cyrus either but I don’t really feel a need to bash her, but that Justin comes across as having ZERO concern for human life. At all and no one seems to care about that. That is unbelievably crazy to me.

            Also like to put out that i’m not naturally a compassionate person anyway. I wasn’t raised as such. I’m guessing your assuming that I am but I’m not. Sure I love and care about people. But when a person themselves is horrible to everyone around them. EVEN people who care about them? Seriously… he spit on his fans. The very people that have the most compassion for him. How am I supposed to feel anything but disgust?

            Do I hope he get’s help? Of course. Do I wish bad things to happen to him? No, I really don’t.

            But do I feel sorry for him? Fuck no.

          • Jen

            It’s not about changing his mind, it’s about changing *your* mind from a place of hate to a place of understanding. You don’t have to feel sorry for anyone but trust me, being able to empathize with your enemies instead of blindly hating them takes a lot of negative energy away from your mind, and you are able to look at the world from a more objective point of view and feel more at peace with yourself. (yes, I speak from experience.)

            I even agree that he seems like a bad person, but that’s irrelevant. If anything, that makes it ever *more* important that you empathize with him. If you dismiss everyone who commits a crime of any sort as a ‘monster, not even human’ you stay blind to the possibility that you could commit that same crime some time in the future (because only a *monster* could do that!1!). Also, as science shows dehumanization is the first step to committing violence towards somebody.

            It’s good that you don’t wish anything bad to happen to him, by saying that you’ve proven that you’re not one of the haters that Amanda is talking about. But maybe you should be asking yourself, “What bad can come out of being more compassionate?”


          • Linda

            and what you’re saying is that you’d want a trade off; I’m only going to like this person if…

          • Animator606432

            Naw, I’ve gotten through life pretty good being the way I am and I’m not going to change myself for Justin Beiber or because some random person on the internet thanks i’m not “compassionate” enough. I feel pretty much at peace with myself fine.

            Honestly, if you think i’m “blindly hating” anyone, you have no idea what blind hate really is. The only people I “blindly hate” are individuals who have done horrible things to me personally. I just think Justin is a cunt and I don’t like him.

            Him being an asshole is very much relevant. It’s the reason most don’t have sympathy for him. Some people are just asshole, and that’s it. He doesn’t seem like a person who values human life so i’m not going to value his.

            Honey, if you think I hate everybody who committed a crime or ever went to jail because I think Justin is a twat then I don’t know what to tell you. I grew up surrounded by criminals, If I hated everybody that committed a crime, I would be able to function where I live.I don’t drink nor do drugs, so If I ever did what Justin has done, it would be because I my own will. Plus, when the fuck would I ever go out racing in my highly expensive care? That doesn’t even sound like something I would enjoy.

            I never called him a “monster” so i’m not sure where you got that from. I just said he was a person who doesn’t care about human life other than his own..and he is.

            Please don’t even use the word “hater” when trying to when an argument. It’s such an overused word that doesn’t even mine what it’s supposed to me.

            Nothing wrong with being compassionate but everybody has there breaking point, and mine is when he decided to put the lives of others in danger.

          • Linda

            and what you’re saying is that you’d want a trade off; I’m only going to like this person if…

            So you’re giving an ultimatum

          • Animator606432

            So now I have to like Beiber? I thought was about having “empathy”?

          • Moirla

            empathy isn’t actually about sympathy or even liking anyone. It’s not about turning a blind eye to or condoning someone’s mistakes. Empathy is acknowledging things within another person that you also see in yourself, and treating that commonality with respect.

            For me, It is the ability to say “wow, Bieber is a real douchenozzle sometimes. But, I’ve done some pretty shitty things, too. I wonder if he knows how lucky he is that he didn’t kill anyone? Hopefully he will learn from some of his mistakes before he hurts someone else as much as he is hurting himself.”

          • Rebecca Horne

            “So let’s say I do have empathy for Justin. Then what happens? He doesn’t
            intimately know me and doesn’t really care what my opinions are. So
            it’s not likely to change his mind.”

            Second part first “not likely to change his mind.” Who cares? That’s not the point. Your brain is a muscle. You can exercise it, and it develops according to the way you exercise it. If you learn how to have empathy for him, then, if you meet somebody later in life who does something similar you’ll have practice thinking about them as a person.

            You brought up your brother earlier–what would happen if he did something similar, and how badly he would be treated. Let’s say he did (if he’s not inclined to such things, then imagine how bad his life would have to get for him to start). If you decide now, that nobody who drinks and drives deserves empathy, and later, that person is your brother–how do you think you’ll react to that? How much will that damage your relationship?

            If you start thinking now, that people who do reckless, horrible, dangerous things do them, *not* because they are evil, but because they are *damaged,* because they are *hurt,* then it’ll be much easier to maintain a relationship with your brother or anybody else you actually do love who ends up in this sort of trouble.

            “but that Justin comes across as having ZERO concern for human life. At all and no one seems to care about that. That is unbelievably crazy to me.” It’s not that nobody cares. It’s that, in this space, right now, the conversation we’re having is that, when somebody hits the point where they have no concern for human life, it’s probably because they’ve been broken down by people having no concern for them, and we’re trying to talk about ways to break that cycle.

            “How am I supposed to feel anything but disgust?” Disgust is a fine reaction. People get disgusted with each other. It happens.

            “Do I hope he get’s help? Of course. Do I wish bad things to happen to him? No, I really don’t.” It sounds like you actually do have some amount of empathy for him, then.

          • Rebecca Horne

            “If just had shown any traits that would make me want to empathize with him, then I would.” Who you choose to empathize with is 100% your choice. Nobody can make you do it or not. The trick is to learn how to do it with people who you don’t originally want to.

            “His behavior has given me no reason to believe he’s a decent person.” I’ve never claimed he’s a decent person. I’ve said he’s a person.

            “Justin doesn’t have any empathy” Probably true. And that’s why he hurts people. People who lose their ability or willingness to empathize end up hurting people.

            “Let’s say my brother went and did the same thing Justin did, I can assure you there would be no “empathy” for him. ” Exactly. Again–not having empathy for people allows you to do incredible amounts of harm without feeling guilt. That’s the problem.

            “I can’t have empathy for a person who…” Like I was talking about above, once you decide that you’re not going to have empathy for a certain person, or a certain type of person, it damages your ability to have empathy for other people as well. Both because it turns the people you’re rejecting into monsters, which makes it harder to connect with their victims and the other people around them, and also because it just gives your brain practice at ejecting people from the human race, and that never leads anywhere good.

            You still don’t seem to really get this. Nothing about this is about excusing anything harmful that a person does. It’s about making sure that our definition of “human,” includes all the people who do harmful things, and remember that causing pain is a part of the human experience, and that justice can be served without turning to a mindset that says, “just forget about these people, they’re not worth considering.” …I have a personal backstory to tell that’s not 100% relevant, but might help you make sense of where I’m coming from, but this is getting long, so I’ll put in another post. Just a sec…

          • Rebecca Horne

            So, I used to be Christian. Pretty seriously, though a lot more liberal than a lot people who take it as seriously as I did. It was a huge part of my life, and I ended up going to a Christian college, studying Hebrew so I could read the Bible in the original language, with plans of learning Greek later on.

            I’m also gay, and I knew that when I chose my school.

            At first, it seemed like something I could just ride out. Tell a few friends, not bring it up much, not date, and I’d be fine. Then Bush started pushing “marriage defense,” and my friends still in high school started getting bullied more, and a friend of mine was raped in a hate crime–which is such a misnomer, because the guy didn’t hate her at all. He was her friend. He just thought that, since she was queer, it didn’t matter what he did to her. He thought she was somebody he didn’t have to really care about.

            I was the first person to ever willingly and publicly come out of the closet in that school. In fucking 200…3? I think it was.

            I ran a campaign or two, started a “Day of Silence,” movement, got some people involved, wrote papers about sexuality from a bunch of different angles, became “that guy” who has a message to push.

            But there was one argument I was very careful to NEVER use.

            I NEVER once said, “Queer people deserve to be treated with respect, because the Bible doesn’t actually say that homosexuality is wrong.”

            Now, I believe both parts of that individually. After studying Hebrew and a bit of Greek, and reading up on the cultures surrounding the handful of “anti-gay” verses in the Bible, I don’t actually believe that there’s Biblical support for the Christian hatred of homosexuality.

            But that’s beside the point, because, through all of Christian history, there have always been people who are the designated “targets.” Old women, red-haired and left-handed people, people of other religions, Christian heretics, non-straight people…Christianity likes to rally against a clear-cut enemy.

            So I knew, if my message was “I’m not an appropriate target for this kind of abuse,” and I actually succeeded, then the target would just shift.

            So, my message was, “It’s not ok to treat people like this, regardless of who they are or what you think of them. This is not an appropriate way to act–it’s not about them, it’s about you.”

            Because, to claim “I’m not an appropriate target” is tantamount to saying, “Go rape them, instead.” And that’s not an argument I want any part in.

            What you’re talking about here is kind of the inverse of that. You’re talking about pointing at a person and saying, “He’s somebody we don’t have to care about.” But if you support and encourage the idea that “people we don’t have to care about,” EXIST AT ALL, you run the risk that someday, YOU will be the target. You or somebody you love or support will be the people being X’ed off the roster and told, “You don’t deserve to be a human anymore” and you will have supported that mindset up until that point, and will have to make a sudden turnaround and completely rethink your worldview in the middle of a crisis in order to deal with that.

            It’s easier to do that turnaround when it’s less personal. To practice thinking “He’s still a person and I can still care about him, even though he’s done this horrible thing” when it’s a situation you’re not personally invested in. That way, if it happens in “real life,” you’ll already be prepared.

          • Rebecca Horne

            Holy shit. This is what I get for writing on a computer instead of my phone. Didn’t realize how long that got. Whoops.

          • SitsUnderWaterfalls

            That’s amazing.

          • Luci

            ‘So, my message was, “It’s not ok to treat people like this, regardless of who they are or what you think of them. This is not an appropriate way to act–it’s not about them, it’s about you.”

            Because, to claim “I’m not an appropriate target” is tantamount to saying, “Go rape them, instead.” And that’s not an argument I want any part in.’

            Really excellent point.

            And I think why intent as well as actions are so important.

            As an aside, I think it also highlights the importance of individual ethics rather than group-think morality, as if people don’t hurt others due to fear of punishment/condemnation, it just means they’re likely to hurt others if they feel they won’t get caught/judged.

  • Yana Allum

    23/01/2014-Melbourne Pub
    Need I say more?

    • http://amandapalmer.net/ Amanda Palmer


  • Leanne Bridges

    I would be so, so, so surprised if a human exists who has genuinely and truthfully never, at any point in their lives, done anything that has, or that had the potential to, harm themselves, the people they love, member of the public, or members of the planet. Never. Ever. Never ever.

    Could there be an epidemic of I-did-dumb-stuff-once-as-well amnesia?

    Justin Bieber is an imperfect human being. So am I. Aren’t we all? He’s at an age where I think it is more common than not for the enacting of dangerous/ill-considered/damaging behaviours, and attitudes. And I think that’s okay. I think everyone has the right to grow up with very little grace or poise. I don’t think it’s right to expect from a young person what you expect from yourself as an adult.

    Coming to a situation like this from a place of hatred, and intolerance, without empathy, changes the world we live in. Coming from a space of love changes the world we live in too. Love is not wishy-washy, it is not weak, or passive, or pointless. It improves the world that we live in. It is the hand that pulls people up to their best selves, when occasionally they slip. All of us slip. A lot of the time.

    I wonder are these people who are so infuriated by this young man intolerant of elderly people because they walk too slowly? Or babies, because they speak gobbledygook? At every point in our lives, we have strengths and we have weakness. Teenage years are always awkward. Sometimes dangerous, often cringe-worthy and despicable. And if all of this was met with love? Compassion? Understanding and acceptance?

    How would our world look than?

  • Sean Hamilton

    Money is a drug. It’s addictive and destructive in large doses.

    You don’t give drugs to kids.

  • Ryan Lindstrom

    I show empathy towards everyone, though I only sympathize with those who deserve it..

    As a 20 year old male, I can respect what Bieber does with his music. I don’t like it, but I respect it. However, if you’re at the age of 19 and you haven’t developed any form of critical thinking skills or morality, there’s a problem (Don’t blame his money). I love the article and I love the point it is trying to get across. There is so much hate in this world for people who don’t deserve it. I don’t sympathize with the likes of Bieber because he is still responsible for all his actions, yet places the blame elsewhere and avoids responsibility entirely. With that being said, we live in an age where you can drive drunk at the age of 16, kill 3 people, get away with it, and be back in class the next week. Sooner or later he, too, will claim an innocent life due to his stupidity.

    Does he deserve the ridicule? Probably not. But maybe that’ll be the only thing that gets through his thick skull before it’s too late.

    Remember this is my opinion. Have a nice evening.

  • Jessica

    Amanda you always remind me of the thing I keep forgetting: that the most important thing in this world is to just be kind. Thank you for always reminding me. I love you. -Jessica

  • http://www.carolepivarnik.com/ Carole Pivarnik

    This has given me a different, wiser perspective on the matter…you are an extremely decent human being, AFP. Thank you.

  • Johnda

    I’ve never felt for Justin what I would define as “hate”. I do see him as a role model, and unfortunately he is looked to as a source for morality and justifiable behavior by millions of young people. I think what he did is completely fucked up and wrong, do I think he should be on the receiving end of demonizing comments and horrible rape jokes…no, never. But, I do not think that we should be like, “He’s 19 so it’s okay, boys will be boys. I was a little crazy at that age too.” Yes, we were a little crazy at that age, but I also didn’t have millions of kids looking up to me and copying my every move.

  • Stefan

    Just this morning I saw this article of a Snowboard magazine newsletter I receive. It was called: “Oh Dear. We just found out Justin Beiber Snowboards.” Later in the article there is this sentence: “I mean seriously? We’re not for a second claiming that snowboarding is super-cool or anything, but honestly, we thought it was better than Beiber!”. Justin Beiber posted a video, showing himself Snowboarding and doing some simple tricks – something any dude of his age would do and probably get a few encouraging and some bashing comments from a handful of mates. But Beiber does an attempt of normal life and and it “uncooles” a whole sport. It is very ironic and sad but what is really uncool is that while everyone wants to be different and belong to a special posse, a true thing where one’s known and recognised we seem to become completely blind to the fact that we pour hate on the ones who’s lives have actually put them in such a place of desire if they got there with something we don’t entirely appreciate. We are all humans, the one posse, we all stink when we shit, we all hurt if we don’t get love and compassion. No one HAS to listen to shit music. No one who gets paid doing shit music is by definition an asshole in all other aspects of his life. Live and let live and try not to be an asshole yourself.

  • amanda’s fucking fan

    There is a serious lack of decency in our world. We are born wild animals, and decency has to be taught. Those of us lucky enough to have good parents, a wise and caring teacher, or some other positive role model, are spared le plupart of the indignity and humiliation of having to find out who we are all on our own. We have the benefit of sound guidance. To be raised by the neuroticism (sp) of public opinion and have to fumble for self identity in a fishbowl is a hard way to go. Money or no money. No wonder so many “stars” burn out on drugs. Who wouldn’t want to escape that?

    In high school, I once went to school one day wearing a big green stuffed Hefty garbage bag, some black tights, and red chuck taylors. I was making a statement to the world: (I was bullied all through school,) you treat me like trash. Fine. I’ll be trash.

    It was stupid. I was angry, hurt. No one cared, no one took pictures. No one but me even remembers.

    And for that, I’m pretty thankful.

    Bieber, Cyrus, who else can we crucify? Look at me. I’m stupid. Love me. PLEASE.

  • kmwilliams

    I think of some of the things I did at 16, 17, 18.. *ahem*..19, 20, 21.. 22, 23.. and I become acutely aware of the glass house I live in.. and mindful of the stones in my pockets.

  • rubi-kun

    … But we can still hate Shia LaBeouf, right? He’s older and pretentious and a thief. ;)

  • Ashley Jack

    Your continuum song stopped by from being a critical hipster.

  • Jamie M.

    Dear Amanda Fucking Palmer,

    You are totally wrong about Justin Bieber.

    Before I tell you why, please know that I have read and mostly agreed with a great many of the things you’ve posted here and in your virtual Twitter playhouse. I actually LIKE you. A lot. And I have absolute respect for your work. And while I have assayed the occasional oblique comment to your blog or witty aside via Twitter (all of which have been ignored, by the way), when it comes to this, my umbrage now must take the form of a formal, fullbore “don’t-you-dare-ignore-me” letter-to-the-editor style counterpunch to: ” “oh poor him and his gazillions”, you say sarcastically. i say: yeah. actually…yeah. poor him and his gazillions. because guess what? the last time i checked, money doesn’t buy FUCK ALL in the happiness and balance department. in fact, it’s likely, at that age, to fuck you the fuck up.”

    Amanda. Your compassion is laudable.

    But please.

    Okay, enough about you. I am a working writer. I ain’t Neil Gaiman by any means but I’ve got 30+ short stories and one novel to my credit. I’ve never self-published a goddam thing and have paid my way for meal and board throughout this long, strange trip (no hand out, couch-surfing, welfare-bumming artsy asshole here). As of today – right now – I live in a trailer park on the edge of an Indian reservation in British Columbia. I work at fucking for slave wages (plus what I can earn bouncing, doing PI work or teaching martial arts) to scrape together a living so I can Write. As of right now, the cupboards are bare, I have -$100 in my checking account and I don’t get paid for another week.

    I know you know what this is like, Amanda Fucking Palmer. Cuz I know you were a human statue and stripped and did your share of shitty gigs before you and Brian lit the world on fire with the Dresden Dolls. I know you’ve been there, girl. But you’re not there any more. (And good for you! Seriously. You EARNED your way out.) But how the FUCK can you expect me – a guy who sacrifices EVERYTHING for his art, works shit jobs and is now FORTY-SEVEN FUCKING YEARS OLD – to have compassion for some little punk asshole who gets pulled over drag-racing in his LAMBORGHINI for Chrissakes, then has the fucking nerve to sass the cops while he’s hopped up on booze and speed and pills?

    Amanda, behavior like that gives the finger to the world. It gives the finger to the fans who’ve bought his music. It gives the finger to other, less successful artists who are working their asses off (some of us under VERY DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES) to try and bring a little beauty and harmony into a very dark and fucked up world (withOUT the help of Warner or Sony or whatever genocidal intellectual property vampire controls that weird little fucker). And it even gives the finger to YOU – someone decent enough to even CARE. Justin may be in the spotlight, yeah, and I’m sure it’s rough. But where’s his fucking mother? Where’s his family? And why the fuck aren’t THEY stepping in to make sure shit like this doesn’t happen? It’s THEIR job to care for Justin Bieber. Not mine.

    Not now.

    Not EVER.

    Cuz I got enough problems just taking care of me and my cat. And our trailer. And that -$100 balance in my checking account. So don’t talk to me about how having TOO MUCH MONEY fucks people up.


    Look. You are solid, Amanda. You’ve got mountains of cred and you re-earn your fans’ loyalty and respect each day – with each song, each tweet, each blog post. You continually show the world how FUCKING REAL YOU ARE. But STOP feeling sorry for Justin Bieber. Because he’s a joke. A fucking loser. And when you come to his defense like this, it just sounds (- regardless of whatever your real intentions may be -) like you’re pandering to the music industry elite by providing distraction, covering fire, additional spin to whatever inevitable media counter-attack the Bieber machine has planned. Bieber and the vile corporate-whore hit-makers who created him have millions to spend covering the little fucker’s ass and they don’t need your help.

    Which is good. Because the fucking slimebags don’t DESERVE your help.

    You’re better than that.

    WAY fucking better.


    • Ashley Jack

      So it is ok to hate him because of our own troubles? That…is exactly what bullying is.

    • Luci

      “But how the FUCK can you expect me – a guy who sacrifices EVERYTHING for his art, works shit jobs and is now FORTY-SEVEN FUCKING YEARS OLD – to have compassion for some little punk asshole who gets pulled over drag-racing in his LAMBORGHINI for Chrissakes, then has the fucking nerve to sass the cops while he’s hopped up on booze and speed and pills?”

      Mm. I’m inclined to agree up to a point. Disgust was pretty much my reaction when I heard what he was doing. What a prick.

      I don’t think that gut response is bad, either. But there’s perhaps a difference in condemning the action and – en masse – tearing someone in the limelight to pieces. Because he’s been set up to be torn to shreds; one way or another, under a level of scrutiny and global mega-stardom that is insane. (I’m not saying that justifies his prickishness, mind).

      I also think there is a kind of glee in building someone up (by adoringly placing them on a pedestal of godhood) and watching them topple which is fairly toxic. I think we all partake on some level, whipped up by media frenzy.

      But yeah the extremes of Bieberdom love and hate is kind of mind-boggling, so he has my empathy from a kind of “jesus, your world, albeit super-pampered and privileged, must be fucking nutso land” but not to the extent where I think “poor Bieber for being a rich nob-end”

      (and I feel the music industry elite have created, or if not then certainly capitalised on this fucking nutso land. it’s their bread and butter, after all…)

      • Anon

        Amanda made this story about herself, just like every other public atrocity, Luci. It never had anything to do with Amanda, her music, or her message. She used to to get attention to herself. It has zero to do with empathy. That whole “empathy” kick is a gimmick, just like everything else regarding this performer. Stop propagating falsehoods.

    • Jennifer

      By empathizing with you I understand the horrible feeling of working your absolute hardest to be able to create art, barely being able to make ends meet. And on top of that a kid who’s got all the success you’ve ever dreamed of is acting like a total jackass.

      All I can say to this is: life isn’t fair. That’s the way it is. Is that an excuse to abandon your humanity?

      Amanda’s not suggesting that you should ‘care about’ or ‘feel sorry’ for Justin. She’s not defending him in any way. This post could have been about anyone, the main point isn’t the celebrity in particular. The point is that blindly hating someone to the point of making them less than human makes us blind to the fact that if we were given the same circumstances, that person could have been us.

    • Félix Marqués

      I think you don’t have to like him at all, in fact I wouldn’t even ask you to care for him. I think it’d be just fine if we simply didn’t pay attention to him and other celebrities in the obsessive way in which we usually do. Stuff like this wouldn’t happen.

      I completely understand your point of view. I’m also an artist with no money. I’m young, but I’ve been supposed to help pay rent since I was 17 and I know what it’s like to barely have any money to spend on making art—or doing anything, really. But precisely because artists are easily hated in our society, I find solace in seeing others, and myself, try to be understanding towards others. And understanding truly means seeing that everyone has their own fears and insecurities. Even though some (very few) people (e.g. Donald Trump) could honestly fall down a staircase and die for all I care, I find that it is still an interesting exercise to picture myself inside their heads. If anything, it may help to avoid becoming someone like them.

  • Guest

    I prefer to remain neutral. My own experiences tell me that alcohol/drugs/money can cause a lot of personal problems which may affect or effect (it can be both ways) other humans. One must first have compassion for self and that in itself is fucking hard enough. May peace be with you ALL.

  • Alex Gomez

    The actions, yea, dumb. Yet what are the consequences of his actions? There are countless people in immigration detention centers that are being deported for less. As long as he has money and a way to feed the media, he can get away with anything. (If that makes any sense.)

    • shonias

      There’s a fine line between keeping perspective by understanding where your troubles (or that of Bieber) fit in on a global scale, and being condescending and othering to people whose troubles are objectively worse than Bieber’s or “ours”. The fact that people are being wronged in a bigger way doesn’t absolve folks from doing wrong by someone whose life is generally privileged, nor does it mean that those less privileged would not care about the “smaller” wrong. It’s still wrong. It’s also fair to point out that without money & whiteness, there’s a good chance Bieber might be dead, rather than at the centre of a massive pile on. However, humanity is not improved by saying this smaller wrong doesn’t matter because of that bigger wrong over there.

      • Luci

        Hm. Well, I think perspective is important (you need empathy with others and their circumstances not to be shallow and self-absorbed in your own), but the “third world problems” meme has always irritated me. Maybe for the reasons you mention; the condescending othering. Also I’ve heard people respond to others with depression with a statement like “what have you got to be unhappy about? people in the world are starving have it a lot worse than you!” etc. As they do. But the concept that someone already unhappy (however small their suffering may seem in comparison) is going to find happiness or enlightenment in the idea that, elsewhere, somewhere will be suffering worse – that in fact, the world is FULL of suffering…I mean, I just don’t see how that’s going to cheer them up. (as well as ‘trying to cheer them up’ being a fundamental misunderstanding of depression).

        But I digress…

        I do agree that one of the consequences of a large wad of privilege is sometimes going to be abuse of that privilege; and I’d certainly agree that massive fame and wealth is going to result in a lot of rule bending (certainly legal) that most others would never experience by comparison. I do not approve of this :p (but it’s more disliking the fundamental unfairness of the system that rewards wealth and power and punishes poverty than wanting Bieber punished to the full extent of the law. I have no personal stake in Bieber either way)

  • Romix Valeski

    ” i think people are too afraid to imagine what it must be like to BE this kid: a gazillionaire at 19, out of control, with little sense of consequence or reality. ”

    You just described affluenza, the same defense used to get Ethan Couch off on multiple homicide.

    While I don’t actually hate Bieber, he needs to be held accountable for his reckless actions because of the large influence he has over his impressionable fans.

  • gilda

    love that poem. wow. really wow. kinda opened my eyes a little, and i thought they were already open. love you. you brave thing, you. opening your heart to love everyone. i never could. wish i could. you inspire hope in me. maybe someday i won’t hate all of humanity. afterall, you are human and i love you. you dangerous woman. sparking compassion everywhere.

  • Carolyn

    Oh man, Bieber.

    I’ve had a weird soft spot for him since I happened upon a doco and realised just how young he was (thirteen) when he got picked up by the industry. I realise this isn’t ABOUT Bieber, but that blows my mind, thinking about all i’ve done and learnt and grown since I was that age, and trying to imagine what would have been different or impossible or worse had I been a superstar by fourteen. And a superstar now, as well, with internet and camera phones and intense celebrity commodification.

    Tangentially relevant, this is cool. Jack Gleeson (A Game of Thrones guy/recently celebritised) gives a lecture on modern celebrity. Has a Baudrillard reference. The intro-y remarks wrap up around the seven minute mark, from memory.


    (and poem awesome)

    • Luci

      aw he’s lovely :3 slow to start, but fascinating once he got going – a lot of interesting discussion points.

      I agree that celebrity (and celebrity endorsements) is cannibalistic consumerism which dehumanises and objectifies said celebrity into an entertainment ‘product’ and it is worth asking what effect that would have on the ego after years of sustained and early fame. (which, for the record, does not excuse everything they do, just that the “acquired situational narcissism” becoming so used to people looking at them they then stops looking back, can provoke a loss of empathy and “celebrity meltdowns”).

      I also agree late-stage capitalism fuels the later angst he was referring to where people feel lost in the crowd and out-competed and want to feel somehow different by somehow absorbing the celebrities ‘charisma’ by worshipping them; ironically subjugating the self in order to feel less alone and less unimportant. It also makes sense to me that celeb culture is a consequence of the transition from a producing to a consuming society, as people become products to sell because there are vast sums of money in doing so. (though the evolutionary bit could highlight why we are so susceptible to that kind of marketing)

      The ‘celebrity worship syndrome’ is a very scary thing – and you can see that kind of obsessiveness from Bieber fans on twitter (‘free Justin’ hashtags and ‘We’ll support you forever’) It’s all extremes, I suppose. He’s the target of a lot of hate from those with tall poppy syndromes, or those (like I do, actually) who resent the entire system of commodification of people and turning them into plastic products of diluted mass manufacture – but end up seeing Bieber as a signifier of the whole – I guess ending up hating the player for representing the game. But he’s also the target of a lot of obsessive ‘love’, which is just as unhelpful to the idea of him being a human underneath all the glitter.

      As ridiculous as it was, there might be something to that kids tearful shrieking reproach; “leave Britney alone! She’s a human!” While I think his position may have been motivated by the obsessive love end of the spectrum, he does have a point. Britney is a human. It’s just she’s been marketed and manufactured, for years, as a product. Therefore people treat her as a disposable commodity. Which is slightly chilling.

      I agree we need to choose our role models more carefully… (and maybe ‘role model’ is the wrong words – but who inspires us, perhaps) but I do object to the idea of a role model being a moral compass for an individual, whereby the said role model takes on the responsibility not just for their behaviour, but for the behaviour of anyone who deifies them and copies (or interprets and carries out what they *think* that person wants – see Nirvana and Polly). I don’t think it’s just picking the right role model to dictate our morals – I think it’s more an increase in critical faculties is needed and independence from celebrity culture so there isn’t a need to copy someone else to a dangerous extent and we develop our own ethics.

      I’m not going to hold Bieber to account for the young impressionable kids who deify and copy him – he shouldn’t be being deified in the first place. Why exactly are those kids worshipping him to the extent that they’ll do anything he says and have this celebrity worship syndrome? And why has he been ‘manufactured’ to elicit precisely that response? (because there’s buckets of money in it) I’d agree he needs to take responsibility for his own actions, but I’m dubious of the idea of a role model needing to be perfect so that anyone copying won’t transgress – as well as dehumanising the celeb it removes all agency from the individual doing the copying. I know kids/pre-teens are more susceptible than teens and adults, but they should also be encouraged to have more of their own agency and individualism, rather than subjugating it in hero worship.

      tl;dr – mostly agree with Jack Gleeson’s arguments, apart from the role-model bit.

      • Carolyn

        Great summation. I agree regarding the “role model” framework. I can see in Gleeson’s talk how it relates to the anthropological theories he was discussing, but I think contemporary celebrity is a whole other ball game. And we (culture) are often no longer deifying people for impressive skills or traits; celebrity at Bieber-level has become hyperreal. And working an ethical framework around that seems difficult.

        Much to ponder!

  • Sandra isn’t funny

    Well, IF I judge people (who I don’t know personally – which I’m trying not to, because who am I to do this..?) – then I would like to leave out things like status or money or in this case musical taste. I would say that I’m judging people by their actions.

    I’m not saying that the personal background is not important and I’m certainly not saying that I imagine it to be easy to be a teenage star … all the attention, the money and the lack of privacy must be overwhelming for such a young person.

    However, if you have a look at people like Daniel Radcliffe i.e., who I’ve also met and is such a charming and decent person, than you see that early fame isn’t an excuse to believe that you are the king of the world.

    If you act as ruthlessly as Justin Bieber did, than it’s just natural that people start judging your actions. That this doesn’t always happen on a very tactful basis is sad, I do agree with that. But I wouldn’t want to go as far as to defend him or sympathize with him, because there comes a time for everyone when you need to deal with the consequences.

    • SitsUnderWaterfalls

      Mm, but there are plenty of people who are far worse than Bieber, who are in the public sphere (for example, Jared Leto, who has been accused of rape and physical abuse by groupies) who get no public harassment. Or, non-famous people (like the kid who killed people while driving drunk but got off scott free because of the “affluenza defense”) who most people seem to admire, at least in jest.

      I think for some reason, reasons that have nothing to do with the actual JB and a lot to do with what he symbolizes, people get a free pass to hate on Bieber; hating of JB is almost a cultural pastime, the way hating on the ‘Twilight’ series was a few years ago.

      I personally don’t sympathize in the sense that I think his actions are excusable, only that I think the hate is disproportionate. It is far beyond what a person signs up for just by being a celebrity.

      • Sandra isn’t funny

        I totally agree with you! I think your arguments are totally valid for what I said above. An unreasonable wave of hate is just sad… and I think it’s a result of either boredom or a need to use a little of JB’s potential of spotlight for themselves.

        I think you always have to have a look in what way people talk about him. That he is being talked about coms naturally now.

  • Frank Connell

    I would Love to give the world a history book. There has been in almost every culture a form of public sacrifice. Where the Sacrificial “lamb” is offered up for adoration to the masses before being destroyed. This is nothing new, We pluck these mildly talented and extremely marketable children from the populace. set a narrative for them wind them up and watch the almost inevitable outcome. In most of these cases these sacrificial lambs are given everything and never told NO. They are allowed to indulge in every whim to the point now where it’s almost formulaic as to what the out come is. And the public snickers and Jeers at the fallen Idol. Then it’s wash rinse repeat. It’s all bread and circus to distract us and what used to happen in local tribes is now beset before the whole world for billions to consume while the powers that be Rob us blind. Wake up! The fiddle is being played for you while the house burns.

  • Leena

    Oh I agree yes.

  • http://natemaingard.com/ Nate Maingard

    I have such deep love and respect for what you are allowing to flow through you into this world. My absolute gratitude for the channel you are Amanda Fucking Palmer.

  • Aline Kaloudi

    Amanda, the other day I read a book called the Chimp Paradox. Great book. I was thinking to myself out of all the people I know and know of… who manages to stay human the most? The answer is you. In the world of social media where everybody has knee jerk reactions full of anger about anything and everything, you are the one keeping us human and reminding us to STOP and THINK. You have no idea how much this means to me…so, thank you.

  • Ella

    Yes, I see that celebrities and role models are tearing others apart. Even though I don’t have any control over them, there are things we can do. We can be the role models ourselves and show kids by our own example.

    Last week I was cycling home and on my way I saw two kids in an intense physical fight. I stopped, got of my bike and ran up to the boys and pulled them apart. The next thing I did was try to calm them and just listen to them. When the peace returned I told them, that violence never is the way to solve a problem. Talk, talk, understand, compromise, talk, action, compassion, talk is kinda the way in a nutshell. And being a person threatened and bullied myself when I was young, I knew the effect in the long run. So I told that too. It’s up to the boys what they do with it in the future, but at least that day the violence was stopped.

    If celebrities would take us as their role models, things wouldn’t be so bad. :)

  • belle

    This is an excellent point. And now I feel guilty. But, that guilt is quite pointless, because ultimately it doesn’t make me despise JB. One. Whit. Less. I like to think that the Beiber hate is a part of humanity’s need to redress imbalance. Does that mean if he were hungry, we wouldn’t feed him? Not necessarily. If he were dying, I think humanity would could to the fore in *most* people, and they would help him. So saying ‘we hate him’ is really just rhetoric. But you have to understand, saying it relieves spleen; we say it to blow off steam, so that if we ever did have to help, we wouldn’t have this great big build-up of pressure that made us just walk away and act like dicks. I’m glad you posted this, because it will make me think twice, but underneath that, I still cannot overcome my *gut* reaction of detestation. I’m not sure if that makes me a horrible human, or just a human. But I promise you, if JB were on fire, I would put him out.

  • esmevandeslampen

    Wonderfully put into words. It’s one thing to find a person – whichever person – annoying, overrated, tedious or whatever, but hate? Isn’t that a bit…much?

  • Rhi

    Thank you AFP. Thank you for putting into words, the sensation I felt in my gut when I saw this note on the counter of a cute little artsy coffee shop in Edinburgh during the festival. The people in the shop were nice, really friendly, intelligent, caring people. But somehow they thought this was funny and acceptable. I didn’t have the words to explain my sudden lack of desire for caffeinated beverages… but now I do. Much love xxx

  • Claudia

    Love you Amanda. You seem to always open my mind more on things speaking with disarming simplicity.

  • J Lo Borges

    Hey, Amanda.

    I think u’re right about Bieber. He’s just a messed up kid that is trying to deal with all the shit people throw at him. U know, even brazilians celebrities are trashing him like he’s some kind of Antichrist and I think that’s fuckin’ him and his fans up. As feminist, I’m actually worried about how this blind hate would affect his fans: little girls whom do not know if try to justify his actions with his art (as teens, we don’t usually know how to argue or process this kind of things) or just start thinking it’s cool to act like an ass. I really don’t want these girls to fall in love with drunks jerks that would beat them up or treat them like trash.

    Well, I really don’t think it’s JB’s fault: society made him act and think stupid – think about Britney Spears or Chris Brown that freaked out badly with the pressure that came of being an international teen idol. I think that if we do not give him the love and patience he needs to rethink his actions, it would only make him to act worse, after all…

    We are all to blame. It’s society’s fault and it’s time for us to build a new one…

    (P.S.: I’m a huge huuuuuuuuuuge fan. Hope you come to Brazil as soon as possible. ;) )

  • chrissy

    This is a really great post from you this week. I especially loved that only 2 hours after you spoke, you and Danny fully realized the theme of your TED talk by exchanging keys to eachother’s homes. Ask/Receive/Trust/Community. Simple, right and true. That, my dear, was poetry in motion. Beautiful moment to read about, so thank you for sharing it here.
    Onto, young Justin, (who could be any one of the other million or so 19 year old kids named Justin in North America right now), was caught doing stupid, dangerous teenage crap. It happens when you are a member of the species sometimes.
    I wonder if any of those other Justins were also caught drag racing drunk, or throwing eggs, and doing worse things etc.,this week, and if so, did they manage to become world wide pariahs too. Probably not.
    I wonder how many of the other Justins have only to scroll through a facebook news feed to see memes of their faces alongside text with implied rape threats. Probably none. I hope.
    This celebrity kid machine must stop, and we as a society must stop feeding it.
    I have so much empathy for these kids, sometimes I’m afraid I empathize too much because it breaks my fucking heart for them. And then I realize that if just by feeling for their batshit crazy lot in life, and their predicaments can break MY heart…what on earth must it be doing to theirs?

  • amandalea420

    I showed my 7th graders the headline/mugshot, and felt the same way (disturbed at the hate/love display) about their reactions…some were cheering, some were crying, which underscored the greater problem here – idolizing prevents empathizing; we have countless examples of what forgetting that someone is a person does to people.

  • Anna Kalashnikova

    Amanda, I cry when I read your blog… It is fantastic that in the world there are people with such a huge soul, as you! You are like a ray of sunshine amongst the darkness as something natural in a plastic world. You are the most sincere and kind person who I know! When I read this, inside, everything is turned upside down and I understand – here is something to aspire!

  • tamara

    crazy. i have a really bad day and the first thing i saw on facebook were you, amanda. and your hand. and the message. it answers all my desperate questions in exactly this moment. THEN i scrolled down and the first comment was written from”ksenia” and next from “tamara”. my sisters name is xenia and mine is… yeah. tamara. i have nothing to say to JB, because i´m struggling with my own problems…. so just wanted to say thanks to you, amanda, and thanks to k & t- seems like nothing, but you did something for me in this moment, just because you were there.

    love xxx, t.

    ps. sorry for bad english, i´m german.

  • Leo

    Gosh, your both so lovely.

    Nobody likes being judged so why judge other people the way you don’t like to be treated.

  • http://nannirk.net/ Marius Krinnan

    You’re awesome. Please don’t ever stop.

  • Nini

    I started off rolling my eyes at the defence Justin was receiving — especially from AFP .. LIKE REALLY.. It took me a moment to push aside the anger and listen to the meaning to the words. Ignore what JB has done in the past, and accept him as nothing more than a person. Just a person existing on the same planet as you.

    Every person has made mistakes, no matter how big or small. You’ve misspelled a word, spilled a drink, tripped over something, broken something that wasn’t yours, offended someone, and maybe even hurt someone. It’s our mistakes that help our journey towards learning right and wrong to better ourselves, and why should we deny someone else the opportunity to help themself grow?

    Few plants can grow in the shade. Open a window, fertilize their foundation, provide the light and let them bloom and be great. Don’t put them in a corner and throw bad words, negative emotions at them, or ignore them — that won’t solve anything. How can we expect positivity from something we fill with negativity?

    Put your anger aside, and see how lost this kid is. His music has nothing to do with who and where he is as a person, and right now — he’s lost. Even the teenager down the road, who thinks it’s cool to go out and get hammered and race his rust bucket down the road is in the same place of life as Justin, there’s just no media to make a big deal of it. Sometimes it’s hard to find your way back to yourself, and I thank Amanda for this blog to help me find my way back.

    Put your hand out today, and help someone in need. As a world-wide community, someone needs to make a move towards peace and respect. Be their sunlight, help someone grow.

  • Athenalily (SMShaw)

    Thank you for this post. I have been guilty of jumping on the bandwagon and have opened my eyes to take in your message. The “kick them while they are down” mentality was not taught in my household but learned in school. I was bullied to bully once, to hide a heavy girl’s shorts in the gym shower in elementary school. I saw the victim crying while looking for them and my heart hurt. I retrieved the shorts for her. This amazing lady is one of my closest friends today and I will never let her go. She is aware it was me that did it because I told her. Sometimes it is best to learn from your own mistakes.

  • Andromeda

    I understand not liking someone’s music. Or books. Or acting choices. Or writing. Or actions. Or what the hell else you can hate. It nobody’s job to like EVERYTHING. But when hatred of something becomes popularized, when people start hating things without informed opinions, and just because nobody else liked them, I get scared. Popularized hatred. Who’da thunk that would become a thing.

  • Miss Invisible Tits

    I’m still crying. I mean, you read it all the time, Amanda, but I still need to say: you’ve been forming me for the past 8 years as a person. people look at me like I’m crazy for trying to understand EVERYBODY, especially the “evil” ones. because I strongly believe nobody does evil on purpose. everybody has his/her reasons at that moment. I used to be angry and scared and spiteful. you taught me love, empathy, childish curiosity. It wasn’t my mother, it was you. And has been and still is a painful process sometimes, because sometimes people don’t know how to deal with somebody who doesn’t judge them instantly and out of fear they might end up hurting you for opening up to them, but I never regret a single time I tried, at least tried to connect with a person. thank you so much.

  • JenB

    I’m sure Justin Bieber will get over it. When you choose a career in the public eye, this kind of thing is inevitable. He has the choice of whether to pay attention to it or not. If he really cared that much about what anyone else thought would he be doing dumb shit like this to start with? I don’t think so.

  • Krissy Whasserface

    The Justin Bieber situation makes me angry and thankful:

    A little angry at him for his choices (because he is, as we all are, always going to have to take responsibility for those, understanding why he’s being an idiot doesn’t absolve him of being one)

    A lot angry at the people around him who should have worked harder to help guide him through this insane life he got thrown into

    Massively angry at celebrity culture for turning people into angels and then demonizing them just as quickly

    Angry at myself for being a harsher critic of him than I probably have a right to be.

    Never in a million years would have behaved the way he does because I had amazing fucking parents who taught me about hard work and the responsibility I have to share whatever I can with anyone who needs it. It’s hard for me to feel sympathy for Justin because I don’t understand HOW he could act like that because my parents hard wired responsibility into my very being. I’m really thankful that my folks are so amazing because if they weren’t, who’s to say I wouldn’t have ended up being a bigger mess than Justin ever thought of being?

  • Jon_A_S

    And now I feel guilty. I’ve shared a few posts on the whole Bieber thing, I’ve laughed with the rest of the world. My only defense is that I’ve never hated on the guy, because I see that as a waste of energy (and besides, who can honestly say that they would have done anything differently, given the same chance that Bieber had to make it big?) I just loathe the apparent stupidity of the fans, the Beliebers, who would have Bieber go free just because he’s Bieber.

    I will try to do better.

  • Kolourz

    Finally! Someone is saying what I have been thinking and trying to articulate to others for some time now. I was viewing a demotivational meme which mocked a very young and chubby child star several months ago, and thought what I think most any time I see a celebrity, but especially a young one. The post came on the heels of some pretty heavy, anti-bullying threads. It’s sad and hypocritical. The idea that “Without game, men pray in each other” is a reality. Our culture glorifies, nearly diefies successful strangers to the point where they become objects to the bulk of our people. This same society, who condone massive invasions of privacy of these idols, simultaneously attempt to display to us what we should already recognize (celebrities: they’re human! Duh…), while contradictorily tearing these strangers apart in a public market (hello, tabloids?) We are all on our own journeys, each and every one.Why then as a society do we deem it acceptable, even amusing, to tear another being down, to pass judgment or criticise another, simply for dealing with their journey? Why not, instead, try viewing another being with empathy? Let he without judgment cast the first stone. Do you hear the crickets?
    Thanque Amanda Palmer, for calling attention to this problem. I hope this message reaches many others and helps them to unlearn, to rethink the behaviour which has become so commonly acceptable.

    • Kolourz

      The quote above should read, “Without game, men prey on each other”. Damned autocorrect.

    • SitsUnderWaterfalls

      Definitely. I have become so frustrated with comedians–and my friends who imitate them–whose whole schtick is mocking people they feel superior than. But on the other hand…it’s so hard to figure out otherwise. Like especially when trying to figure out the line between mocking a bad value–mocking hypocrisy, recklessness, shallowness, willful ignorance, blind obedience to authority–which is what a lot of good comedy does, and just being unnecessarily mean and hurtful against people, without consideration as to why they do the things they do.

  • Moirla

    I’ve never been particularly fond of “public opinion.” How many times have I been told “life would be so much easier for you if you would just act normal,” for daring to have sympathy for the devil because I could see a little bit of myself in him?

    I do wish I heard more stuff like this growing up.

  • http://Oxfordseo.com IgorG

    I love the poems and I love the sentiment behind them. If I ever was an Amanda Palmet fan I am one now; if for no other reason than the ardent flame of your humanity. However, may I disagree with you and Danny Hillis (thanks for the screen squeeze, man!)? I would suggest that much of the bile directed as Justin Beiber is not directed at him personally by the crowds; but rather his particular delivery of a general hypocracy and lack of integrity the crowd detects in all media manufactured figures? Isn’t Justin just paying the costs of doing business as a mass market performer? Certainly I don’t condone the crowd throwing stones at artists and musicians, without them we are all lost; however might it perhaps be a more gutteral reaction to mass market media now that we have viable alternatives? Who are we condemning? Is it Justin or is he just the label on the product we no longer want to buy?

  • Tory Gates

    I tend to think that Justin is acting out because either he feels he is supposed to do this, or because, as Jello Biafra noted in one of his songs, “I do whatever my manager tells me to…every inch a rockin’ dude!” (That is from the CD “Prairie Home Invasion”)

    Consider he is 19, has had the adulation of the pop world (justified or not isn’t the point here), and is feeling himself a lot, did we not see it coming? I’m just glad he didn’t kill himself, his “opponent” or anyone else.

    I wrote a song years ago about this phenomenon, “Today’s Pop Star.” You’re today’s pop star, and tomorrow’s scandal/yesterday’s news/suicide.

    Pretty much it.

    The thing is: WHY are we so interested in watching these public train wrecks? Is it because our lives are so unfulfilling, boring and unhappy that we have to watch this shit?

    Do we like watching the suffering of others to make us feel better? Oprah Winfrey and numerous talk show heads and others made billions out of mining the suffering of others for personal gain. We just do it to get our rocks off.

    I don’t care for Bieber’s music, or him. I can’t stand his fans, but I do NOT hate any of them. Not at all; they have made their choices.

    Let us think a bit more about ourselves in that we have the power (as shown by many) to do what WE want to do, and ignore all that stuff.

    I write, I play music, and I work in a business that at times has been unkind, but you know what? I’m living my life. I don’t regret it. I don’t have time to watch reality TV, and pick apart the lives and times of pop singers. I’m making a life…most others just masturbate in public over the suffering of those they are jealous of.

    I’ve learned a lot from Amanda by her stance, and that of others who dared to go their own way, and defied what the critics and everyone else said they/you should do.

    Hope the kid gets his ass straight and grows up, but I’m not going to waste my time worrying about it, because I sure can’t change it.


  • faafy

    This hole text/poem is so fucking awesome, I love your words and the way you put that on paper, it’s possible to hear your voice saying it. And this drove me to think how important and difficult is stop and think about this all, and at the same time, totally necessary. Thank you for the beautiful words.

  • Weez Tyo

    Due to a personal spiritual bottom I hit a few months ago, I’ve been studying Buddhism and reading much of the renowned Zen Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh’s work diligently to learn new daily spiritual practices in an effort to deal with all the inner and outer hate in the world (i.e. suffering with a capital “S.”) After spending the last few hours on the web learning about you and your world, Amanda Palmer I have to say, in my humble opinion, I see you as living the Buddha-way and I’m so very grateful I came across your message of hope for a better today and tomorrow. Namaste!

  • Julienne

    It’s amazing how the same thought can exist in SO many heads at once. A few of my friends and I had this conversation that day. Our anger at the fact that it was even news (and taking away from actual, real news) and the disgust at the bully culture that exists in this world. It was heartbreaking and awful and sick all at once. Can all of us that love you and love each other find a safe place to start a new country?

  • SitsUnderWaterfalls

    I keep thinking of that line from New Girl, where everyone’s piling on Jess after she messed up, and she says, “Hey. Think back to a time when you did something stupid. Think about the way you were treated. Now think about the way you wish you were treated.”

    It really is that basic, you know? People mess up. Sometimes they actually do awful, terrible things. But “do unto others” applies to them too, otherwise it literally couldn’t apply to anyone.

    <3 Good post. Love the poem

  • ElizabethGrammaticas

    You’re not alone, you’ve probably seen this, I may have missed this in the comments, but THIS.
    “Rather than Joking about Justin Bieber watch this video”


  • http://gabrielgrub.blogspot.com/ June_Miller

    Well, I can certainly empathize with Biebs, as I got my DUI back in September.

    I think that’s about where the similarity ends, though.

    DUIs are really humbling experiences, to say the least. There’s the stigma from letting other people know you made that bad decision, and how they want to look at you like you ARE a bad person. It’s why they make you go to group therapy: so you have a support group of people who got to that same shithole you fell into and you can all not feel so alone.

    And empathize with each other.

    And work on NOT going back there.

    The largest part of DUIs are the bills coming from different sections of the court, or the jail, or your DUI classes, or your car, or, or, or.

    A struggling artist like myself, some…what, 7-8 years older than the Biebs, cannot pay all the court fees all at once.

    But I’m on them as soon as they’re there, and try to take care of them asap.

    It’s not just about the financial torment.

    It’s the constant reminding of you being a ‘bad person.’


    When I got mine, I blacked out behind the wheel. I became accustomed to driving myself back to my house after drinking, due to lack of proper support (moral, emotional, the works). Not enough money for cabs. Living too far out so no carpooling. They’re all shitty reasons, but they’re also legit.

    My headspace was not the clearest for multiple reasons, that night.


    I have no clue how much you drank, how dank your weed was, what pills you popped, or what you were feeling.

    Grinning like a damn fool in your mugshot, though? Poor show.

    Here’s a funny thing:

    My mugshot? Looks infinitely better than my license photo. I wasn’t grinning, but it was a good pic. I was legitimately pissed when I saw this, but you also have to laugh.

    However, I don’t tell anyone about it because IT’S NOT SOMETHING WORTH BRAGGING ABOUT.

    Who’s going to have a sit-down with him to inform him this truth?

    Because Rebecca Horne nailed it: ‘If you grow up being manipulated, and now can’t have a real relationship because you’ve become an icon, and everything you love has been taken from you (he used to like music–now he sings things handed to him by people who are trying to use him to make a profit), and you face the possibility that you will never be able to show your face in public or say your name out loud without being pounced by people who would be as glad to watch you die as to succeed, then what have you got to lose?’

    Can a guy with such a shallow circle of managers, ‘yes men,’ and basically fucking mooches really have someone tell him ‘Dude, you fucked up and you need to actually watch your shit’?


    I shared my cell with one other person that night: an exceptionally pissed waitress, named Janie.

    Janie wasn’t exactly making things better for us, arguing with the jailers and making scenes on occasion. I mainly sulked.

    All we could do in that cell was pace back and forth, and reflect on what happened, and what the fuck we’re supposed to do.

    I asked her at some point: What the fuck am I going to do?

    Janie gave it to me straight:

    ‘You have to own it. You fucked up, you made a mistake, but now you’re going to take care of it. You fuck up and you own it. You correct it.’

    I never forgot that.


    So, Biebs.

    I hope you work your shit out. I remember 19-20 and those were probably the two worst years of my life, thus far.

    I hope you meet your own Janie at some point in your post-DUI life who can remind you that you did, indeed, Fuck Up.

    Owning It doesn’t mean sitting on top of a Cadillac upon your release from jail, giving hollas to nearby fans.

    It’s not just having your managers write off different checks for the various bills you’re about to receive. (Have fun with those, everyone!)

    From what I’ve read about you, you don’t necessarily seem like someone I’d like to associate with. Your music doesn’t do it for me, you spit on your fans–not even in a weird punk camaraderie sense, but just to be a dick–and you’ve put far too many lesbians in jeopardy simply by styling your hair.

    That said, trying to figure yourself out–if you actually want to–after being perfectly crafted into this media-darling-being, must be goddamn hard if not near impossible.

    It’s hard to figure out who’s right for you in your life, and if that direction your life is going in is really what’s best for you.

    It’s up to you if you want to figure out all of that, man.

    Better luck.

    • http://gabrielgrub.blogspot.com/ June_Miller

      That poem was very cleverly written, by the way.

      The remnants of my Catholic/Baptist upbringing are like, ‘She’s being compared to Christ! What!!’

      But the rest just goes, ‘That’s the idear. The people who vilify her for her own poem do exactly that, and jump thegun. And if they do that reading this, then it’s preaching to a deaf ear.’

      • Félix Marqués

        I thought the POINT of Christ was that we could be him, connect with the God part inside us. Sadly Jesus has been made into a distant idol. Idolizing really is a problem in many ways, I guess.

        • http://gabrielgrub.blogspot.com/ June_Miller

          It is, though a lot of Christians view that as blasphemous and likening yourself to God.

          Which is funny, because we were supposedly made in His image.

          (Christians are kind of a screwy bunch, from time to time.)

  • StacK

    You are amazing. Now I know about another super cool guy via you. Thank you so much. I am smiling and inspired. I might even go write a song on my daughter’s ukulele. : )

  • alex dahlberry

    Totally agree on all points. I’m as freaked out/skeptical of justin bieber as everyone else, but logging onto twitter to see all these full grown men — celebrities — making jokes and bashing him (especially when it’s jokes about him looking like a female) and whatever publicly…like. wow. even if you ARE right about whatever you’re saying, that kind of hate and bullying PUBLICLY is just. awful.
    thanks for writing this.

  • calannie ’64

    Ah, woman, what a joy to know you exist on this earth.
    This is from the liner notes of a very early Dylan album and I have tried to remember it all my life:
    “i know i never have to hate anybody.
    an if i do, it will be because i’m afraid,
    an i’ll know it.”

  • poppy

    Thank you for calling attention and connecting dots. One Love.

  • Finkdoobiest

    I guess a lazy Sunday afternoon is as good a time as any for a confession…especially when there’s a large pile of dishes in the kitchen.

    Amanda, I hated you for a long time. Not hate hate, more of an eye-rolling oh-whats-she-up-to-now kind of derision. Yeah, that’s probably a better word for it. Your artistic output changed; You evolved, while I was left sitting miserable in my house, assuring myself I was really a natural introvert and it was ok. In that kind of situation, an artist leaving you behind feels like a bit of a betrayal. So I became a hater. Yet here I am, apparently in the same place as you again, having taken a completely different path. This isn’t hero worship or a desperate omg-we’re-so-connected cry for help.It’s an apology for previous sharp-tongued posts…and a recognition that this is where everyone, the human race, belongs. So…

    To the people reading this – She speaks the truth. For my own part Mandela’s death had an effect on me. He was a personal hero of mine, and the day after he died I got a tattoo – The numbers 46664 written across my heart; A promise – Never be a prisoner to anything but your own convictions, not your failings, not your prejudices, FInd the strength to be better than you are. Sitting alone deriding others actions isn’t the solution, getting out there and engaging is.

    I was prejudiced against Christians, and that prejudice was reinforced by my own Humanist community. They had let their fights define them and succumbed to otherisation. I noticed that some of the things they said about christians would be easily classed as hate-speech if they just replaced the word “christian” with “nigger” or “faggot”. Talk about twisted logic…So I went on hiatus from my tribe and my comfort zone and engaged with the other.

    People I’m telling you, get out there. Engage others and do it with grace. Focus on your similarities and keep your conversation elevated. You’ll find that no matter which group you’e hold prejudice against are full of wonderful people…and you will find beautiful connections. I’m still a staunch atheist, but I’m volunteering with a christian charity that promotes cultural integration through the arts, and for the first time in years I am happy…Not even because of those connections, as wonderful as they are, but because I am living true to myself.

    Pointing the blame towards others for all that is wrong with the world is not the solution. Getting out of that chair you’re sitting on and fearlessly showing the world what you’re all about is. Compassion comes through understanding, which in turn comes through listening. Get out there and talk to a demon, and you will inspire the better angel of both your natures.

    Also, stop procrastinating and wash that fucking pile of dishes.

  • Sabre Sutherlin

    Amanda Palmer dont be strayed by these comments, i understand empathy all to well. i can forgive anyone no matter what they do not because i think they deserve it but because i deserve peace. empathy isnt about feeling sorry for someone its about understanding and love, its about trying to understand that your not in their shoes and its not up to you to judge, especially in a way that promotes bullying, we are born in a society that is the biggest bully of all, saying what a certain gender should wear or what color a gender should like, or what color you should be or how long your hair is or what job you have or car you drive. we are such emotional creatures that we become weak and forget that the reason we pick sides and trash people is because we dont want to be trashed, so we favor a side, thats the problem we forgot how to think for ourselves and even if we do we are to scared to express that empathy or stick up for anyone, people talk about peace and how we should not bully and abuse people, but alot of us do just that talk about it. we dont do it. your very strong for voicing your opinion on this, stronger then alot may realize, youve excepted the fact that people would hate and show dislike towards you after it, but trusted enough people would read and take in what you said, even if you were alone you accepted it, and its alot more then some of us could ever do as human beings. you help change the world and have a bigger impact then people think, your helping lay a foundation that will cause us to question ourselves and everyone around us, and change our actions because we realize we have a choice, you help people feel welcome in the fact that we are not the only one who think this way, when you raised your voice the way you did on this matter, it made us.. me… question who is really in the wrong? how can we talk against bullying when we become the very same bully. people say punish bullies show them everything they showed you!! but what if we just showed them love in instead. we could change the world.

  • Guffaw

    Back when I was 19, I was hanging with kids in junior high, driving them around so they could moon people. Contributing to juvenile delinquency. Trying to sell a Wal-Mart bag full of shake. Justin Beiber is human and all these headlines are silly.

  • Tana Davidson

    I love this man and I love this poem. Thank you for, in some strange way, guiding me in my own life. Thank you for helping me stop doing spiteful things to my coworkers whom I do not like. Thank you for helping me become a better person. I will try to selflessly love people for just being people and I offer you this in return. It is something I was taught by a rave-kid who had no idea he was helping me the same way you are. It’s called PLUR (peace, love, unity and respect). You’re an amazing human and artist. I love you and have since your first Dresden dolls album. You were my first Valentine’s day gift to myself and I thank you for all that you do

  • Audrey S

    That last picture really gave me some feels.. :3 In my humble humble opinion, I think that we feed into celebrity and personal issues far too much. How many other things could be topping CNN right now, in place of celebrity news? How much energy could we individually devote to others if we removed Hollywood gossip from our priorities? The only reason I’m glad I check twitter for the first time in several days was to find this …the rest was cruelty. I have a sense of humor, and I can laugh at almost anything but there are some things that should be let be. On the other hand, THANK YOU Amanda, this seriously set up my week in a fabulous way.

  • Jann McKenzie

    What a sublime poem. Thank you so much for sharing it and sharing you and being the best “you” you can be. As an example, you are stupendous, just by being yourself. May we all be encouraged to be our best “me” as well. And may we love each other and ourselves in equal measure. Blessings!!!

  • Kuiken

    This might be a stupid question (I don’t know the pop industry well enough to know the differences between the two) but why is it that when Miley risks merely embarrassment by taking racy pictures, the media goes mad trying to “save” her from herself, but when Bieber endangers his own life (and potentially others), it’s just a mock fest?

  • poet

    Poem? Line breaks doesn’t automatically make it so ….

  • Thomas

    I try, and often fail, to be compassionate and forgiving to all. I try to be a good buddhist and am reminded, in the mirror, I am really awful at it. Why tell my story? Because I am forever fascinated by your compassion, your uncompromising love. If I met you in the street and asked for a hug, I would probably get one instantly. If you asked me, I might hesitate. I try. You have ample reason to be more cynical than I and you are not. I don’t know where it comes from, Amanda, but I look forward to this contagious blossom spreading and glowing. Maybe someday I won’t hesitate. I love you.

  • John Coons

    Amanda, I spent a night with you, Casey, Tristan, and Lee last August, drinking wine and sharing stories. You talked about the house gig you did post-boom-mic-to-the-head, and people spilling their guts to you. I was fascinated by how you’re such a lightning rod for media hate and people’s innermost secrets at the same time. I think a good chunk of it is because of posts like this, where you try to show some sympathy/understanding for everyone- we’ve *all* been fucked up by something or somebody.

    Recently I wrote a song about your story and played it at a gig for the first time: “Sin-eater, or: Just make sure that you buy her t-shirt or at least for fuck’s sake, take her for granted.” (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awXIvPy0jSM )


    She wasn’t the first
    and she won’t be the last-
    the great sin-eater among us.

    She’s just another tenant in a
    brownstone, peddling penances.
    Crowned a human wishing well,
    she’ll take it in, but never tell.

    They’re not sure if they hate her
    or hate that they need her.
    Some would kill for her fate,
    some would die just to meet her.

    So give her a sixpence
    to keep yourself from
    walking long after you’re dead.

    Hear them scream and shout-
    what gives her the right?
    Bleed her dry, bleed her out.

    She’s not one for hunting heresies,
    but they lay themselves out at her feet
    With such an open, willing wrist,
    bleeding for saints and terrorists.

    And they’ll rise from the depths
    to berate her and beat her,
    but they all stand in line,
    so anxious to feed her

    their broken lives
    and broken loves
    and everything in this day and age
    that won’t stay put within its cage-
    all their rage that isn’t “all the rage,”

    the pain we’re just too hurt to share,
    our naked skin we can’t bear to bare,
    the fears we’ve been trained to be scared to admit,
    the loving boys that make us feel like shit.

    So give her a sixpence
    to keep yourself from
    walking long after you’re dead

    Open wide
    open wide
    open wide, she cried


    Keep on daring to care.

  • You’re No Saint

    “we need to feel empathy with
    (you guessed it)

    the minute you qualify compassion, you fail.
    the minute have compassion for some, but not others, you fail.”

    This coming from the woman who created Evelyn Evelyn. That last sentence should read, “the minute [you] have compassion for some, but not others, like conjoined twins, you fail.”

    Consider yourself a failure in this department.

  • Archie Wah Wah

    I think the majority of normal people feel a kind of visceral injustice that this (as you said) arrogant, talentless nothing-more-than-a-kid – and not a good one at that – is pimped to us as a role-model for our youth and given more money and privileges in a week than most of our entire families could hope to gain in a life-time. I find the backlash fascinatingly indicative of that.
    I don’t agree with tearing this poor little kid (though I almost said ‘shit’) down either. And the celebrities who are doing it are cashing in on the general public’s dismay at the phenomenon-that-is-Justin-Beiber, well, they are just as bad as he is.

  • rebecca doane

    Today I read on internet that he was desperately searching for a church last night. (or the night before?? days…) He wanted to be baptized. Then at the same time they talked about something stupid he did….one of the many things lately, it seems. Finally, they went on to mention that he ran into two of his fans at the Apple store and bought them both an iPhone. What’s that about?
    Anyway, I’m getting to something —
    after I read that I started thinking about how much people ridicule this person. PERSON. Famous or not. Whatever he does. Person. And I was thinking about how it must feel, really, to be so hated. I tried to feel how it must feel although I’m sure I am totally incapable. How horrible it must feel to hear the jokes people make at his expense and know that people don’t want him around. I couldn’t help but wonder, then, if he’s thought about suicide at this point. If as he’s driving around searching for this church and desperately needing to feel this closeness to his higher power, he’s thinking that maybe he’s better off gone?
    i just sat there and focused on that thought for a little while. That the relentless cruelness of all of these people might actually lead a 19 year old kid to take his own life. That was enough for me. It felt so sad and I had to stop thinking about it. Then I read this.

  • High Z

    Everyone deserves everything. Everything they could possibly want, every good experience, all the happiness. It’s not what we’ll give them, and it’s not what they’ll get, because the world gets in the way. But it’s what they *deserve*. Every last one of them.

    Remember that. Even while we’re locking people up because maybe we need to — we have practical needs. Even though you get angry because maybe you need to — you have emotional needs. But don’t confuse pragmatism with judgment. Cultivate empathy because that’s how to connect to the world, not just your corner of it. Otherwise it’s just too easy to get mired in that hatred that’s never as focused as you think it is.

    And if you can’t remember that, I’ll still love you.

  • MNK

    Absolutely agree. Same when everyone jumped on Brittany Spears when she was having a breakdown. Same even for Charlie Sheen. Mental illness isn’t amusing. Bullies come in all forms and is especially heinous when it is for profit and ratings. We all need to be ashamed for allowing this.

  • Michael McDonald

    I’m sure Danny Hillis is a great technologist and human being, but he is not a poet. Just because someone can write in English does not automatically mean that person can produce a poem. I say this as a testament to the artists who spend decades perfecting their craft as poets.

  • Alexander Gordon

    Judgement & jealousy killed Amy Winehouse whom i only really started liking about a year & half ago, reading about how celebs like Nat King Cole’s daughter had publicly dissed her at awards ceremonies & seeing her drunk & singing Back to Black on a loop made me want to cry, how could people not see/hear her pain when she was falling towards her death? i Totally dislike Justin Bieber – he is a boy, so maybe children can digg his music, as a 36 year old i would feel a bit like a paedo or those dirty daddies (in the ‘gay’ community, well, the heteros have dirty daddies too don’t they?). Glad your standing up for him, but i do still enjoy Kool A.D.’s Eroika. Thanks for having heart sister. (+ head + hand)

  • tolik

    It’s new game for Biber game!!
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  • Saharajinni

    Trite I suppose but you don’t have to hate a person to hate their actions/behavior.
    I love my partner so much but he does thing I simply loathe…so when I’m angry & we are shouting – I make sure to say “You I love, but boy I hate when you do…. or say…..”
    It’s a fine line but one worth communicating clearly & loudly.

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