Activist in the house

By By Victoria Johnson

By Victoria Johnson

“We interrupt this program with a special bulletin. America is now under martial law. All constitutional rights have been suspended.”

This was how Jello Biafra began his spoken-word performance in the Union Ballroom Thursday night.

“Do not attempt to think or depression may occur.”

Biafra came out on stage wearing a judge’s robe and a German military cap, both of which he later removed to reveal a sheriff’s uniform underneath.

He spoke for four hours-with only one short break-on everything from the failings of the American news media to the failings of both the Republican and Democratic Parties, and what he sees as a breakdown of adequate communication and activism among young people.

“If you know anyone in the military, do whatever it takes to get them the hell out of there,” he said.

Biafra said nearly 3,000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and nearly 45,000 have been injured, according to the Web site,

He said he thought the American news media is failing to report fully on the war and other world issues, due largely to corporate ownership, which Biafra said compromises the ability to report independently and thoroughly.

He urged people to look to the European media for better coverage, particularly The Guardian, a well-respected British newspaper, which can be read at

He also complained that local elections are not covered sufficiently by the media because more time is devoted to celebrity gossip.

“It’s getting to where you can’t tell news from ‘Entertainment Tonight,'” he said. “Local elections are the most important reason to vote. It matters who’s the mayor. It matters who’s on the city council.”

He called on people to “become the media” by communicating directly with friends, neighbors and co-workers, instead of relying completely on news media. He said too many people believe that “if it’s not on TV, it must not be real.”

Biafra also said too many young people were distracted by text messaging and MySpace, and this prevents them from engaging in local community activities. He joked that the average MySpace user has 500 friends to whom he or she never actually talks.

“It wasn’t that long ago that living in a world with imaginary friends was considered a mental illness,” he said.

Biafra finished by urging people to educate themselves, scrutinize everything they read, hear and watch and to go to the polls.

“Get off your butt, get out and vote- and vote smart,” he said. “Not just in this election, but in every election.”

Mike Terry

Former Dead Kennedys front man “Jello” Biafra ranted about the war in Iraq, Arnold Schwarzenegger, text messaging and more to a Union Ballroom crowd Thursday night.