Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto: Pirate Radio

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Romeo and Juliet.

Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 3: Pirate Radio

On April 1, 2009 in the UK, and on November 13, 2009 in the U.S., a movie originally titled The Boat That Rocked and retitled Pirate Radio for its American release, told a fictionalized and somewhat fanciful story of a boat in the early 1960’s, anchored just far enough off the British coastline that it was in international waters. Consequently — at a time when the government-owned British Broadcasting Company monopolized British radio broadcasting and had no pressure to respond to its listening audience’s desire for pop music — “the boat that rocked” broadcast rock and roll to an eager British listenership, and sold commercial advertising to pay for it.

Historical anachronisms in this wonderfully enjoyable movie are beside the point for me. There really were commercial pirate radio stations broadcasting rock into the UK in the 1960’s for the precise reason the movie portrays. The BBC had a government monopoly, were not subject to any incentives or penalties if they failed to attract an audience, and thus had no reason to seek popularity. Elitism requires either tax subsidies or wealthy benefactors in order to survive. The BBC operated by taxing the public but its elitist operators felt no accountability to broadcast to the taxpayers what they wanted. Seeking popular approval — known as box office, sales, rentals, ratings, impressions, circulation, subscriptions, or eyeballs — is survival for any enterprise that hopes to pay its bills by satisfying a customer base.

Pirate Radio is a classic object lesson contrasting the difference between government and privately run enterprises.

But an economics lesson isn’t my point here.

In the movie Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, is skeptical of the idea that breeding reconstituted dinosaurs is a sound business plan for a theme park. He makes compelling arguments that small variations in complex systems can result in unintended consequences, especially when dealing with biology. When Malcolm is told that the dinosaurs can’t reproduce on their own because they were bred all female, he retorts, “Life will find a way.” The plot of Jurassic Park proves Malcolm correct, as a spliced DNA sequence used to bring back the dinosaurs allows for spontaneous sex change — and the dinosaurs do start breeding on their own.

As it is with forbidden dinosaurs it is with forbidden music: life will find a way.

I grew up in a household devoted to classical music. My dad made his living as a classical violinist. My parents were of a generation that never heard rock and roll until they were adults … and when they finally heard it they didn’t like it.

My older sister and I were a different story. We came of age in the era of rock and roll. One of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio was Elvis Presley singing “Hound Dog.” I was ten when the Beatles first played Ed Sullivan … and within a few years I had my own electric guitar and amplifier (a Bar Mitzvah gift from my grandmother) and I was playing nothing but rock and roll — the Beatles, the Stones, the Animals … and my own attempts at songwriting.

Still, whether coming from the radio, or a record player, or a tape recorder, or my own electric-guitar amplifier, the only words I ever heard from my classical parents about the rock and roll music my sister and I loved was, “Would you please turn down that noise?”

Rock and roll wasn’t the first music to provoke fanatical passion from its audience. Teenage girls swooned over crooner Rudy Vallée in the 1920’s and over Frank Sinatra in the 40’s and 50’s. By the time teenage girls were straining their larynxes over the Beatles in the 1960’s musically-generated hysteria was a well-known phenomenon, reliable enough to write it into business plans. But even crassly commercialized and packaged, the passion of musicians to be true to their muse, and of audiences to follow the geniuses rather than be herded toward plastic imitations, meant that even if Jimi Hendrix was an opening act for the Monkees, it was Jimi Hendrix who was making the musical history.

Rock and roll was hardly the first forbidden music, either. Long before rock and roll was forbidden ragtime was; and long before ragtime was forbidden “consecutive fifths” were disallowed in musical composition that we today would regard as classical.

Over and over, passion prevailed, rules were broken, and the silly control-freaks were overcome.

But with each new generation of musicians came a new generation of self-appointed guardians of the public morality, jealous no-talents who considered that if they couldn’t create anything great at least they could put their jackboots on top of it.

I hope my repeated examples in this book of power-grabbers targeting anything that makes life worth living doesn’t get to be tiresome.

So to avoid making this book a mere litany of passions and their oppressors, let’s change things up and talk about just what it is They want from you, and what They will offer you to get their slimy hands on it.


Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter IV: Selling Your Soul

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto: Romeo and Juliet

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Forbidden Passions.

Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 2: Romeo and Juliet

If I had to take a quick guess about whether governments, churches, or families have been most oppressive to the romantic desires of lovers, my money would be on families. But it’s definitely a horse race.

Throughout much of human history — and in much of the world today — romantic love is an idea subversive to an established order in which marriages are arranged by families for reasons of finances or politics. It’s not only daughters who are treated like commodities when families arrange marriages, either. A potential husband has to be financially stable and of a character likely to remain that way. Beauty and sexual attraction hardly register at all when marriage is handled by a family’s mergers and acquisitions department; wealth, social standing, power — and of course not being a dreaded outsider from the wrong caste, clan, color, church, club, job, language, politics, or place of origin — are infinitely more important.

So it was in the 1590’s when William Shakespeare adapted to the stage Arthur Brooke’s poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet into his most famous play about two feuding families whose teenage children fall in love and seek a marriage forbidden to them by custom and power. Romantic love was still a novelty when Shakespeare wrote about it, and Romeo and Juliet — first staged when it wasn’t even socially acceptable to have the role of Juliet played by an actress — was as subversive in its day as Tea and Sympathy was in 1956 when it portrayed a romance between a 17-year-old boy and a married woman twice his age, or Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner was in 1967 when it portrayed an interracial couple, or 1973’s La Cage aux Folles was in its portrayal of homosexual lovers.

Readers familiar with my articles critical of the politics of gay marriage might be surprised to learn that I am as absolutely supportive of the rights of same-sex couples to fall in love and spend their lives together as I am for opposite-sex couples. My problems with the semantics of calling such couplings “marriage” — and populist defense of congregations’ and voting populations’ rights to decide on a definition for their church and polity that restricts the definition of marriage to couples with “one-each penis and vagina” — do not in the slightest mean that I wouldn’t place myself as an armed citizen in between any bigot seeking to interfere with a bonding ceremony between a same-sex couple, or dissociate myself from lowlifes who can’t find it in their heart to accept same-sex couples as respected members of their community, workplace, or social set.

But the news and entertainment media’s over-exertions to defend one underdog aside, there are still many, many more opposite-sex lovers on planet Earth whose romantic desires are being foiled by family, religion, or law, than there are same-sex lovers … and it’s not my intent in this book to succumb to special pleadings.

The freedom to fall in love and commit oneself to that person will never be entirely non-controversial. My grandfather, Abraham Schulman, was 26-years-old when he married my grandmother, Anna Rosen, who was 13. Even then, at the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries, the age difference was shocking enough that my grandmother added several years to her “official” age. I never would have learned the truth if later in life my grandmother hadn’t been afraid to lie about her real birth date as beneficiary to my father’s life insurance policy. But by today’s standards, my grandfather was a child molester who would have been sent to prison. Had today’s laws been applied back then, I could not be writing this since my father was their fifth child.

There are still parts of the world today where arranged marriages are the rule and marriage for romantic love is discouraged, if not forbidden.

Customs vary, even today, such that the definition of an “incestuous” relationship might forbid relations between step-children or adopted children with no biological consanguinity; on the other hand, in other parts of the world brothers and sisters may still marry.

Even leaving out “one-each penis and vagina” as the minimum needed for natural human reproduction, both multiple-participant marriages — and all variations of coupling outside state- or church-sanctioned monogamy — allow for far more variety of human romantic passion than is customarily approved of in the average rectory or county clerk’s office.

And here’s where I shall sound as quaint as did the fictitious version of H.G. Wells in the 1979 movie Time After Time. I’m here to defend Free Love.

The decision to follow one’s heart — damn the local customs, full speed ahead! — has to be a hallmark of human liberty.

No, I won’t defend relations between adults and children. Biology, and thousands of years of customs derived from biology, have long established puberty as the dividing line between childhood and adulthood, and most cultures when not invaded by imperialists have rituals making it clear who is marriageable and who is not according to whether an individual has grown into the physical capacity to reproduce. Pick up a book by any honest and non-judgmental anthropologist. Or just find the nearest Bar Mitzvah. Some customs, merely by not going away, become subversive to piety and its secular edition, political correctness.

But between or among consenting adults, the right to love whom one does love is one of the pillars of freedom.

That is why this freedom — the right to love — is at the top of the list for tight controls by those among us whose main passion is to be your ruler.


Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter III: Pirate Radio

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto: Forbidden Passions

Read the Introduction

Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 1: Forbidden Passions

Just what is it in your life that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning?

For me, my best days are being an explorer.

I don’t have to put on a pith helmet, sling an elephant gun over my shoulder, and trudge into the heart of Africa or through tropical rain forests deep in South America.

What gets me out of bed is finding an idea new to me and following where it leads, whether that journey is writing a new book chapter or story, entrepreneuring a new business, or walking onto a movie set and trying to figure out how I’m supposed to watch other actors in a scene I’m directing while I’m also on camera playing dead.

But what if I wasn’t allowed to write or make movies or pursue new business ideas? What would my life be like then?

I don’t have to time-travel back many years to find authorities that despite a constitutional guarantee of my freedom of speech and freedom of the press would have charged me with a crime because my writing or filmmaking could be interpreted as obscene, blasphemous, seditious, or otherwise contrary to public morals and safety.

The 1961 obscenity trial of novelist Henry Miller is within my lifetime, and had Miller lost I would have had to remove sexually-explicit scenes from my novels Alongside Night, The Rainbow Cadenza, and Escape from Heaven.

The Hays Code for making movies is within my lifetime, and had it not been overturned by free-speech activists the Hays Code would have forbidden me to show my film Lady Magdalene’s in which I portray a house of prostitution as a legal employment opportunity, or the scene in which — playing an al Qaeda trainee — I pull down an American flag and throw it to the ground.

I don’t have to travel very far to find foreign countries that would consider my writing and filmmaking to be libelous to their government or officials, or violating their local laws … and in today’s multinational trade environment could issue an arrest warrant for me that could prevent me from traveling to their country.

But even in the United States, today, my freedom of expression is still controversial.

Recently I wrote a piece for my Facebook friends called “Thank God we still have free speech!”

It read:

Thank God we Americans still have free speech!

You can still say anything you want (unless what you say threatens National Security or public safety, or is hate speech against a protected minority or interest group, or threatens the President of the United States or his family, or reveals the contents of a Grand Jury investigation, or reveals information that might expose the identity of a clandestine field agent or violates insider trading laws or is in opposition to universal health care or is in communication with an extraterrestrial, or is sexual harassment in a workplace, or attempts to fully inform a jury about their right to rule on the law as well as the facts, or violates a non-disclosure agreement, or falsely declares information to the Internal Revenue Service or is crying fire in a crowded theater or is electioneering near a polling place or is a statement in favor of a candidate which hasn’t been declared as a campaign contribution or otherwise violates election laws or threatens the well-being of a minor or incites a riot or reveals information about the location of a person relocated under witness protection or violates a judge’s gag order or is a communication to someone who’s got a restraining order against you or represents an implied threat to a school or its students and teachers or obstructs justice or is deemed to be lying to a federal or police officer during a criminal investigation or promotes the use of tobacco or illegal drugs or is lying to a census taker or is in contempt of court or contempt of Congress or slanders or libels someone or is contemptuous of Muhammad or Allah or is obscene or pornographic or violates someone’s copyright or trademark or is a prayer or statement in favor of a religion within a public school or at an event organized by a public school or violates Facebook’s, Twitter’s, Myspace’s, or YouTube’s terms of service.

So speak up! You have the God-given right of free speech!

(But don’t quote me at a public school.)

For much more of human history than my life — and much more of the world than my country — every time I sat down to write, or tried to make a movie, I’d have to be looking over my shoulder to make sure that some cop or political officer — or some snitch — wasn’t looking for an opportunity to turn me in to the authorities because they disapproved of what I wanted to say.

My creative freedom is one of my passions and is one of the things that makes me libertarian in my views.

Free expression is something I will fight for … and that is not a metaphor. In the extreme necessity I would fight for my right to write.

Yes, it’s that important.

At various times and places other kinds of passions have been outlawed, and only outlaws could express these passions: forbidden love, forbidden sex, forbidden friends, forbidden imagination, forbidden music, forbidden lyrics, forbidden jokes, forbidden words, forbidden poems, forbidden reading, forbidden books, forbidden stories, forbidden movies, forbidden comics, forbidden dancing, forbidden art, forbidden science, forbidden math, forbidden buildings, forbidden faiths, forbidden foods, forbidden drink, forbidden plants, forbidden sports, forbidden travel, forbidden smoke, forbidden games, forbidden toys, forbidden professions, forbidden knowledge, forbidden speeds, forbidden skills, forbidden medicine, forbidden risk, forbidden thoughts, forbidden fantasies, forbidden privacy, and even forbidden colors.

If anything has made someone not willing to do what they were told because something was more important to them, the people to whom the only passion is a death grip on other people’s throats have tried to outlaw, control, or at least tax it. The passion for power over others is one I will not be defending. Nor will I be defending passions which depend on molesting or exploiting the innocent and the powerless.

But for those pleasures which make life beautiful and worth living, whatever they are, someone wants to forbid it. Megalomaniacs are a jealous lot. They want no competition. They want no gods before them. They want all attention on them.

As Groucho Marx sang as Rufus T. Firefly in the 1932 movie Duck Soup, “If any form of pleasure is exhibited, report to me and it will be prohibited! I’ll put my foot down. So shall it be! This is the land of the free!”

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But what Jefferson didn’t have the space to explain in his wartime requirement for eloquence and brevity was that Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness is a diagram of necessity shaped as a pyramid. Life is at the base of that pyramid and Happiness is at the apex.

Without Life there can be no Liberty.

Without Liberty there can be no Happiness.

Life and Liberty are the rainbow. Happiness is the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.


Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter II: Romeo and Juliet

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto

Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman

To Soleil

I’m 56 years old and I’ve been self-consciously libertarian for all but the first eighteen.

I now have an eighteen-year-old daughter, for whom I am writing this, but it’s not my intent to use this essay to convert her to being a libertarian.

Obviously, since I talk about my daughter in the third person, I’m not writing this only to her.

My daughter shares one characteristic with many younger people that made me think of her as the audience for this when the idea of writing it came to me.

My daughter thinks I spend too much of my time ranting about politics. She doesn’t understand why I shout back at the television.

She considers most of what I’ve written — my books, scripts, stories and articles — dominated by my interest in politics, and that discourages her from reading them.

When I say I’m libertarian, I don’t mean that as a partisan affiliation. I’m not a member of the Libertarian Party. Neither do I mean it in the ideological or movement sense. While I’m well-read in what libertarians consider the primary sources for the libertarian movement, and am in debt to many of them for ideas I regularly use, I no longer consider myself part of any organized movement. I’ve come to abhor ideology, itself, as a distraction from my own contemplative thinking.

Years ago I wrote a play titled “Cult of the Individual.” I wasn’t just being ironic.

When, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Brian tells a crowd of unwanted acolytes, “You’re all individuals!” — prompting a shout from one voice in the crowd, “I’m not!” — the humor wasn’t only the oxymoron. Adherence even to individualism, because it has become an ideology, prevents one from being a free individual.

The problem with ideology is that it reduces everything to ideas. Oh, my dear daughter, how I spent much of my life being guilty of that!

As I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate the more non-cerebral parts of my life. Yes, I still appreciate intellect and wit. That’s how I make my living! Nonetheless I’ve become both more self-aware of, and less alienated from, allowing myself to respond first with feelings, and not instantly shut down those feelings with thought.

I grew up reading science-fiction. So when — also around age 18 — I first met other science-fiction readers, I met many others who, like me, led with our brains. If feelings were even spoken of, they were channeled into trivia.

It’s no accident that emotion-challenged scientists, robots, and aliens are staples of science-fiction. Science-fiction writers knew who their fans were and appealed to us with psychological mirrors.

After I peeled away at layer after layer of politics and ideology, I found an emotional core that explained to me not only why I was attracted to libertarianism, but why this particular ideology — as hostile as its advocates were to using feelings as the means of choosing pursuits — is the one that at its core is devoted to protecting human loves and human dreams.

Paradoxically, the ultra-cerebral philosophy I’ve spent a lot of my life talking about is the one that’s best suited for those who lead with their hearts and care about others’ feelings.

To put it simply: the politics, movements, and ideologies that value and seek liberty for the individual over the interests of all groups — starting with the family — have been attempts to protect those things which make life meaningful and pleasurable. They have tried to protect whatever it is that you love … whatever are your aspirations … whatever you dream about as your passion.

For all my Spock-like arguments — my geekiness and wonkiness — my devotion to liberty is about protecting your hopes, dreams, and passions.

I’ve come to understand that libertarianism as a movement has been a failure not only because we have preached it as a set of abstract ideas, but because when we have shown strong emotion it has primarily been hostility to values strongly felt by others.

We’ve failed because we didn’t get that it’s not about what we’re against but what it is that we’re for.

When we’ve won support it’s because we managed to connect with something specific that people cared about in their own lives. When we lost it’s because we couldn’t connect to people’s lives.

Again, my dear daughter, this came as a revelation to me. I finally understood that when movements toward liberty have been successful it was because there was something specific and tangible that people loved and were fighting to protect.

This book will be giving examples of that. I’ll detail how other political movements are based on spreading hate and fear — and appealing to the greed of human beings who want to get something for nothing — but neglect to mention that what you have to give up to join them is any possibility of remaining faithful to your own true loves and reaching for your own highest dreams.

What you have to give up to join them is you.

This has led me to a thought that I hope will transform my life as much as it does yours:

Even if I don’t love what other people love — even if their hopes and dreams seem ridiculous or even offensive to me — I must start by respecting what they love, what they hope for, what they dream.

The beginning of liberty is when I respect — and pledge to protect — what others love, if — and this is a big “if” — they also respect and pledge to protect what I love.

For you wise acres reading this, I’m not falling for the tricks I see coming. No, respecting what you love doesn’t mean that if you “love the earth” I can’t put my carbon footprint up your global ass, or if you “love God” I can’t make fun of your end-of-the-world cult, or if you “love animals” I have to sign onto your campaign to get dolphins the right to vote.

But for my daughter, who is reasonably sane, how this can work in practice, and liberate the world, is a journey I hope you’ll take with me.


Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter I: Forbidden Passions

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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