a poem inspired by an article inspired by a tweet.

wrote a poem today, inspired not only by the lush graffiti and wondrous sites of johannesburg (which are pretty glorious indeed), but by a small twitter storm i unwittingly waltzed into. nothing inspires like a good twitter kerfuffle.
i wrote this poem over an ethiopian meal in maboneng.

On Reading the Tweet from the Girl Proclaiming She’s Getting Her Dresden Dolls Tattoos Covered Up
Due to an Article I Tweeted a Link to About the Dark Sides of Online Political Correctness

as above; so below
thick-skinned deep; thin-skinned shallow
as with ink; so with outrage
it bites deep, that needle
it digs, it commits
bares it’s fangs to the fickle

i love you; i loved you
Winona Forever
i mean, i had feelings, one time,
at some level.

it’s not what you think
(i mean, it is, but it’s Not, too.)
fuck it. pour shots.
(that’s one thing i’ll commit to.)

so you’ve made a commitment.
a commitment to what?
to love…
or to anger?
to a thing you once felt?

is it a flag?
a reminder?
to whom?
to me?

to yourself?

love eats deeper than fear.

it seeps layers below.

and the scars that it carves
are not visible now

but you’ll feel them
they’ll tickle
a phantom reminder
of the protests
that made you you,
not another.

it’s your right
to be angry.

it’s your right
to remove me.

it’s your right
to march forth and
with pride
de-tattoo me.

but it’s also my right
to embrace you, and tightly;
while you exercise loudly
your right
to not love me.

and as hate lingers thick
like a black cloud above you
pile ink upon ink

I’m still there

i’m still there

and still love you.

(you could laser me off, i suppose, but I’d linger.
i’d prefer being subsumed by a comparable singer.)


the original article, by jonathan chait in new york magazine:
“not a very PC thing to say”

a few great follow up-reads to the original article….

julian sanchez
“chait speech” – a great in-depther look at the problems…

jessica valenti
‘PC culture’ isn’t about your freedom of speech. It’s about our freedom to be offended



john hodgman’s brilliant tweet-response:

and a mild cover-up suggestion for…

although regina’s head would have to be huge…

off to the joburg house party: the famed very last of 25 house parties, the official end of the kickstarter.

see some of you there. i hope you brought rusks.


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  • kathrynamelia

    That’s my tattoo. I never said I was going to get it covered up. I’m v confused :(

    • http://gmskarka.com Gareth Skarka

      I’m fairly sure she was using it as an example, to stand in for the tattoo of the person who said she’s going to cover it, because she has no photo of that person’s tat.

      • kathrynamelia

        I see that now. I just wasn’t sure since I wasn’t part of the original discussion and just kinda woke up to this. But she cleared it up to me and on facebook. So it’s all good. :) And a lovely poem.

        • http://gmskarka.com Gareth Skarka

          I can see how that might kinda suck to wake up to. :)

    • Anonymous

      ethiopian meal in maboneng? don’t eat the ethiopians amanda

  • http://anna-punking-c.tumblr.com/ anna

    “I’m still there



  • http://burnsthefire.com/ Burns the Fire

    Just keep singing. We feel your love and hear your song.

  • http://drunkkitten.com Emily Ramsey

    Lovely poem and great sentiment <3

  • Lydia Tewkesbury

    I’m not going to lie, I didn’t read the whole article because it’s super long and I’m supposed to be writing an essay right now.
    However –

    I think that it would help if we stopped expecting each other to be everything. Because that is waaay too much pressure. Maybe we should just accept that there are people and experiences that we don’t understand, and that as a result of that, we’re insensitive sometimes. I think that what we need to do is acknowledge those insensitivities and vow to do better next time. Try to love each other better rather than all the yelling. If we just talked to each other, rather than proceeding through life with the assumption that our particular world view is perfect and right then we might all get along better.

    That is what I inarticulately believe. Do your best. But also, you know, acknowledge when your best needs to be a little better.

    I’m sorry this happened, Amanda. For what it’s worth I think you’re incredibly brave to keep sharing your opinions when people get so mad about it. I rarely share my opinions on anything because I’m scared people will yell at me. (to the extent that I lost the first comment I wrote while trying to figure out how to post anonymously. I failed).

    • Anonymous

      it is one long story of kerfuffles after another for the last few years ever since that katy perry rape on stage video came out and i am really over it

  • tootles

    lovely! you need to write more poetry. you are very brave.

    it reminded me of this, which I jotted down impulsively after the last GTO gig in Munich. it’s similar, although pretty vague:

    and I’ve discovered rusks last week as well :) I bought them for my grandma who’s having a dietary crisis at 87.

    have fun with the joburgs!

  • Krissy Whasserface

    I really love that poem.

    Personally, I think there are problems with PC because it so often ignores intent. It’s kind of like reading a sentence and getting so stuck on a grammatical mistake that you suddenly make yourself blind to the very meaning of the sentence.

    One of my cousins (let’s call him B), he’s this adorable little man who looks like a kinder version of the Insurance Agency boss from The Incredibles, his father was a massive bigot. The old man was so racist and narrow minded that if you weren’t his religion AND his particular ethnic background, he had a problem with you.

    B is not remotely like that. He is this sweet, gentle spoken man who tries to help people. When he found out his own son was mentally challenged, he went above and beyond to make sure that kid would be able to function independently and would never feel like his parents treated him differently from his brother.

    A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit B and his wife and he was telling me about having gone to the hospital in Florida while they were down there visiting (we’re Canadian). In describing the nurse who took care of him, he said “This really lovely coloured, negro, black lady”.

    Now, on the surface, that could be really offensive but B wasn’t trying to be offensive. He used those terms in the context of saying that this woman was the best nurse he’s ever met in his life and from the get-go she made him feel totally comfortable (he’s not a fan of hospitals).

    Does the language he used to describe her really matter as much as the intent behind how he described her? He didn’t say ‘negro’ with scorn or surprise that someone with a different skin colour could treat him so well. He said it the way you might say someone is blonde or brunette. He wasn’t trying to use the wrong term, if anything, I think in an effort not to sound like his father, he was struggling for the right term (he’s about 75 now, so there’s also the generation gap regarding what’s PC now).

    My point is that words without context are meaningless and I think that is an issue that Political Correctness has.

    • http://www.concertmanic.com/ Sarah V.

      I know what you mean. You don’t want people to stop themselves from saying or doing something kind, helpful, etc. because they are afraid of causing offense. I saw a friend get scolded because she opened a door for somebody and they were offended that she assumed they couldn’t open the door themselves. OK, I understand that it can get frustrating if you are a disabled person and people assume incorrect things about you all day long. But getting mad at a stranger who politely opened a door for you with a smile is probably not constructive.

      Of course a person always has a right to be offended and there’s a lot of good discussion happening these days about things we used to take for granted that people are now speaking up about. But there are probably more constructive ways to go about it than getting mad at someone for using the wrong term or being helpful in the wrong way. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is not such a bad thing sometimes. Or just saying something like “I know you don’t mean to cause offense, so I thought I’d let you know that is the preferred term for that.”

      • Jacqueline

        This just reminded me of an instance when I got yelled at by a disabled person for treating them as if they were just like everybody else.

  • http://danceinblue.com/ Monica


    i woke up with too many feelings for more words, but this is, this is important

  • kmwilliams

    Intent is intense. Particularly in the (presently tense) present tense.

  • melastica

    This should be set to music! It’s fantastic.

  • Meredith McGuire

    Oh, I love you, Amanda Palmer! Great poem, amazing sentiment (that I share with you in all those relationships with people who, for trifling and shockingly-fickle reasons, abandon our love): I’ll always love you, even if you try to erase me.

    You’re such an incredible inspiration, and surprisingly-close soul-sister in this most important way.


  • Tokyo Chaser

    A straight white male is writing an article about the “dangers”, or “bad things” about political correctness. Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

    • Faith Galvan

      Yeah, see, the “straight white male” thing is getting really fucking old. I’ve seen shit from other races, sexualities, and women, so stop being such a SJW.

      • ephena

        Other people can be shitty, so give straight white males a pass. ok then.

        • Faith Galvan

          No. I’m saying don’t give anyone a pass just because of their gender and race.

      • luci_fer

        Could you explain to me where you’re coming from by using ‘SJW’ as an insult…?
        (Never understood that one. Fighting for social justice is a positive trait. It’s like calling someone ‘progressive’ :/ )

    • luci_fer

      Yes and no. Depends very much on how you’re using or understanding the phrase political correctness.

      Excluding class, a white male has three levels of automatic privilege due to race, sex and sexuality – i.e he will often be seen as the default, normal. Which is not to say you can’t have misfortune, or have to work hard your whole life, etc (which understandably makes people baulk about the word ‘privilidge’)- just that you’re comparably unlikely to receive prejudice and abuse based on your race or your sex or who your sexual partners are.

      So, if you’re seeing political correctness as a way of trying to use vocabulary to redress the problems in this kind of thinking; the idea that ‘white’ and ‘male’ and ‘straight’ are default, and others are somehow less or other, then yes. There is some irony in a white straight male in criticising it.

      But there’s more than one way to see it. Policing vocabulary can be profoundly unhelpful when taken out of context or stripping away the intent. Then it just becomes nit-picking at words themselves and not the meaning behind them or what those words are signifying. Then the importance is placed on the word choice, rather than the word meaning.

      See, the thing is, people can still use the correct, favoured terms and still be rigid bigots in their thinking. People can use old-fashioned or contentious terms but the thinking behind that word can be entirely legitimate.

      The idea of changing the words themselves, not attempting to engage in the thinking behind them, is the idea that changing the word will change the thinking behind the word. Not the other way around. To me, that’s addressing the symptom, not the cause, and is simplistic (and can be) repressive or hostile.

      So I think there are definitely dangers, or bad things, about being overly politically correct.

      You are perhaps proving his point here, a little though. When he writes “Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing.”

      I’ve had this happen on twitter. I have a fairly gender neutral username and avatar. So people assume I’m male. I’ve made the exact same point as someone with a female name and avatar; she got abuse, I got “oh, I agree with you there” – from the same person. I was (presumed male) and judged reasonable, she was treated as histrionic. Same point. Same person responding. Different responses.

      I would ask if I am any less or more entitled to have the opinion that there can be down sides to political correctness as a female? Would it be more or less ironic?

      I would suggest, if you’re going to dismiss what he’s saying, to do so by dismantling the argument rather than attempting to suggest it’s a point someone cannot make if they belong to the dominant paradigm.

      It doesn’t matter who is making the point. It matters what the point *is*.

      • mindy

        Also, straight-white-male is an insanely America/England-centered concept. Those straight white males who grew up in Slovakia or Czech Republic or East Germany, etc… in the 80’s were certainly less privileged than someone not straight or white or male growing up in the States then. Or a SWM from Romania vs. a latino guy from Miami, for example. It is stupid to tie privilege to race (I understand lack of opportunity based on skin color/gender/sexual preference, but that is the fault of the discriminator, not the fault some faceless catch-all called “privilege”), and even stupider to worry about the privilege of others in the first place. Even the richest of the rich have voices worth listening to when they have something interesting to say, as do we all.

        • luci_fer

          Sure. Valid points, and I don’t think it should be used as a weapon to invalidate anyone’s experiences (as perhaps, sometimes it is). I’d also agree on your point of the value of what someone is saying, as an individual, is not dependant on class or individual wealth. (I kinda hate the whole “3rd world problems” meme for this reason)

          I think your bracketted statement gets to the heart of what I was getting at, though:

          “(I understand lack of opportunity based on skin color/gender/sexual preference, but that is the fault of the discriminator, not the fault some faceless catch-all called “privilege”)”

          I did say excluding class, by which I also meant economic factors in a more general sense, which works on a similar framework. (wealth is a huge feature of ‘privilege’, in terms of automatic advantages or lack thereof!) But the reason I excluded this, though (when it’s clearly a vital component) was to explain that if we were to assume the playing field is already level economically from the beginning (or they started from the same level of ‘economic privilege’, if you like) they can still be at a disadvantage on other levels.

          (though yes, things like ‘race’ will depend on where they are and the society within which they live, as you point out).

          Absolutely that disadvantage – the cause of a ‘lack’ in privilege w/regards to race/sex/sexuality, is the fault of the discriminator; the problem comes in when the discriminator is not an individual but systemic; i.e if the most powerful ruling class discriminate on this level, legislators, etc.

          • mindy

            Yes, I agree with you. I was thinking in smaller terms, about individuals. My point is definitely not that discrimination is not a problem – of course it is – just that it seems like the wrong response to try to quiet every straight white male in an attempt to right this wrong. I absolutely agree that there are discrimination issues that have to be addressed, I don’t know if any thoughtful person would argue that.
            It’s just that I want to hear everyone’s opinion and not judge a point of view based not on merit, but on origin.
            But I agree with you overall.

  • perceval

    A couple of classic movies from the 70s that were anti-bigotry that you couldn’t make today because the humor and the way of making the anti-bigotry points weren’t PC…

    Blazing Saddles (1973) directed by Mel Brooks



    Car Wash (1976) directed by Michael Schultz, with one of the greatest disses in movie history…


    A large chunk of Monty Python and early Saturday Night Live? Not PC, and would cause too much outrage, today. Jet Li would never have had his American breakthrough role in Lethal Weapon 4 in today’s environment because an Asian villain is forbidden, never mind how amazing he was in the film.

    And then there’s music… Rock & Roll, in fact all popular music today, is rooted in part in Blues. Any fan of old Blues can tell you just how un-PC the old Blues songs were. But, they’re vital to the musical and cultural history of not only African-Americans, but the musical and cultural history of America as a whole and, through their massive influence, the musical development of the world during the second half of the 20th Century.

    So, I have to wonder how much great creativity we’re losing now due to this fear of offending ANYBODY.

  • RiverVox

    Very Seussian! Nice word play. You music has altered my DNA. No going back.

  • flynn99

    Another related article looking at privileged journalists vs the masses:


    “Few things are more dangerous than having someone with influence or
    power hear only praise or agreement. Having people devoted to attacking
    you – even in unfair, invalid or personal ways – is actually valuable
    for keeping one honest and self-reflective.”

    • Faith Galvan

      Shut the fuck up. I’m oppressed by your people’s standards, but in the real world I have more privilege than many, many males.

      • flynn99

        I’m not sure what you mean. I was using the word to contrast those in centres of power/influence to those outside them. I wasn’t implying anything gender-related. I’m obviously missing something – can you elaborate?

        • Laura

          sadly, most people here don’t truly understand constructive criticism very well if at all

    • nerdwomanisme

      So the same should be true for everyone, right? SJWs and minorities? Everyone should hear constructive criticism and encouragement, both.

      • flynn99

        I think Glenn Greenwald was in part talking from personal experience of being unfairly and personally attacked himself and the value of it in maintaining his honesty. I thought that was interesting, which is why I posted it. But I agree, yes, everyone should hear constructive criticism/encouragement and I don’t advocate personal attacks.

  • Imp and Petal

    Live, love, live, love, try hard, screw up, try again, live, love, live, love. This shit is not complicated. I will never stop wondering how exactly these things get so twisted up.

  • Laura

    Look, how many controversies can an artist have in such a short period of time until people start wondering if this is to gain attention of this is just stupid management? I love AFP music as much as you do but don’t you get tired of this bullshit? What happened to real music? What happened to integrity? Get back to work!!!

    • http://singsincolor.wordpress.com Michelle

      This isn’t really a controversy. This is a Twitter conversation that sparked debate. The word “controversy” has become seriously overused.

    • Faith Galvan

      It’s because special snowflakes and such get offended by everything.

      • ephena

        Except when Chait is the deeply offended special snowflake. Then it’s serious bizness. He’s cranky because he got his ass handed to him by Coates.

    • luci_fer

      Well, that sounds a bit like “shut up and sing” directed at the Dixie Chicks…

      Yeah, no. She can say what she likes, be as controversial as she wants, and produce music when and how she wishes to.

      Being silent is in no way the same as having integrity.

  • ephena

    “but it’s also my right
    to embrace you, and tightly;
    while you exercise loudly
    your right
    to not love me.”

    I beg your god damn pardon? Yeah. No.

    The right to embrace someone tightly against their will. What in the actual hell.

    While we struggle to teach kids about consent. Amanda. Really.

    • luci_fer


      I would’ve thought a poem is the last place you’d want to attempt a strictly literal interpretation…

    • shannonRP

      Metaphor is as metaphor does. Pretty sure AFP isn’t hunting her down anytime soon to nonconsensually hug her.

    • esmertina

      Ephena, I am nonconsentually metaphorically hugging you right now.

  • https://www.etsy.com/shop/LegendsofDarkness Megan Campbell

    I think that this is all a result of our “meta” culture – we feel the need to analyze every word said and done by every person. The current state of the media/internet phenomena allows us to do so. What once was in the hands of the academics since they were the ones writing papers that could be read and analyzed and deconstructed now is in the hands of anybody with a Twitter account. Should we hold people more accountable for the things that they type in 140 characters? I don’t have answers for these questions, but I personally want the ability to talk about it in a safe place without being attacked for my ideals.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • shannonRP

    I tend to agree with Hodgman some and with Valenti a lot. I’m not concerned about the trend of people wanting to point out problematic stuff that media does when speaking about or representing minorities. It would be giving a lot of people way too much credit to say that those arguing for a more PC world always have noble intentions; on both sides of any argument there is an awful lot of hatefulness in online conversations. But the intent of political correctness is a greater level of compassion. More equality. Equal representation. So I can’t help but see the irony of a hetero white guy complaining about feeling like he has to watch what he says because of people who say, with varying degrees of vitriol, “I don’t like what you said” when that guy has a platform from which to say it.
    I am far more concerned with the trend in which, every time a journalist or a comedian (for some reason it’s often comedians) gets a lot of hate for saying something that many people are offended by, they respond by shouting “freedom of speech!” back at those criticizing them. I get it, people on the internet can be really, really mean and irrational, but a person might have a more rational conversation with someone if he could resist climbing up onto the cross of free speech as if he’s about to be shackled and hauled off to prison for making a rape joke.
    And just a little bit more of a fist bump to Hodgman – checking your privilege now and then isn’t a bad thing. I’m a white feminist. I reacted, in this order, defensive/interested/concerned when I first saw black women saying that feminism excludes them. As a person fighting for human rights should be, right? It’s not wrong to feel like “but I’m trying to be one of the good guys”, but it’s very right to say “wow, we could do better though, huh?”

    • Honey Badger

      Still waiting on Valenti to say two things about the Rolling Stone/Uva non-rape article.

      1. I was wrong.
      2. I’m sorry.

      • shannonRP

        I wasn’t aware of her other work, and should note when I say I agree with her a lot, it’s here, in the linked article. I agree with that article a lot. I don’t actually know anything else about her.
        Although interesting point. At the time that I saw this post from AFP, I had already heard about the Chait article by way of the backlash to it – backlash that I found to be on point and well defended. It is, after all, an interesting thing when any person (but also, certainly a hetero white guy) says “all these PC people are entirely too sensitive. Now STOP CRITICIZING ME because you’re making people like me stop writing just because we don’t want to be criticized!” If I’d read his article before reading the backlash, I might have initially felt differently about that, though. I kind of felt like AFP had the misfortune of stepping into something without yet knowing that a backlash had formed. It happens, and probably happens a lot more in the internet age.

  • Tiki Twoflower

    Thank you, Amanda, for giving me just what I needed today.

  • Jacqueline

    As an actual victim of trauma I’m not sure the use of the word ‘trigger’ in the article is quite right. To me trigger means an entirely different kind of reaction.

    I know there’s lots of ins and outs to it, but free speech is free speech. The minute you start putting add ons to it, it is not free speech. And I’m not sure that political correctness doesn’t count as an add on. Yes, free speech means people have the right to say things that can offend, upset, disturb, or even challenge you. But there are other ways of responding than resorting to violence. The person who is offended also had the right to use words, right? What was it about the pen and the sword?

    I like the poem by the way.

  • Tom Steiger

    Any response to an opinion that involves physical violence should – nay must – be condemned, regardless of the opinion expressed. Remember: You can never hope to change an opinion to which you are unwilling to listen.

  • Laura

    is this a another of her ‘real’ controversies or made-believe controversies to be on the front page of music news again? when does she get back to performing and getting great reviews for her work instead of staying in the limelight with gimmicks et al U2?

    • flynn99

      Amanda did not claim controversy
      “Small twitter storm” was all said she
      Some emotional trouble
      Caused by “twitter kerfuffle”
      Hurt becomes love with a poem. See?

      • Laura

        kerfuffle = controversy (splitting hairs over the meaning of words again to defend the ridiculous behavior of one afp)

        • flynn99

          Perhaps you’re right, I was splitting hairs a bit. Your comment came across a bit mean and I felt the need to ‘defend’. (Though I’m sure Amanda doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend how she chooses to express herself.)

          My view is that this poem is also “her work”, for which she got many “great reviews” in the comments below. I don’t see a meaningful difference between that and if her work is a recorded song receiving reviews in the mainstream press.

  • Finkdoobiest

    Chanced upon this today (It’s from 2005) – http://youtu.be/hUDAxWlNrQ4

  • Peter Laughingwolf

    Oh, people. This isn’t about freedom of speech. That’s something they deal with in the Supreme Court. This is about replacing “power over” with “power to”. Silencing others undermines inclusiveness, community, empowerment, connection, everything that denies the oppression that characterizes the current milieu. Hey. Tell me if the way I express myself impacts you in any way. I want to connect with you. I’m a white, male. If you have a clear idea about my gender identity, you’re way ahead of me. Back in the day, we tried to embody “The personal is the political.” There’s an example in one of the links above (I read them all) about a confrontation between a UCBerkely professor and a pair of anti-abortion protesters. In my opinion, it would have been far better if she’d turned the foetus picture into confetti in front of them, communicating TO THEM the pain that picture created. Silencing any of them would be a lose-lose for all involved. Being PC is putting on a mask. I so miss the mid-west (or at least the mid-west of the ’60s) where people would get in your face because they didn’t like how you dressed, or a look you gave, or who you associated with. I liked it because they were interested. They wanted a response. Carefully editing your choice of words is just a way of keeping a safe distance, ruffling no feathers, and opting for the status quo.

  • http://seo.inf-d.de/seo154/WasIstInformetricity.html Informetricity Band

    Oh wow, i love it!


  • Sammy Kwarciak
  • http://iblisqq.com Widget Animasi

    Try to love each other better rather than all the yelling. If we just talked to each other, rather than proceeding through life with the assumption that our particular world view is perfect and right then we might all get along better.