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Permission granted by author for anyone to distribute this
writing free of charge (including translation into any
language)...under condition that no profit is made therefrom,
and that it remain intact and complete, including title and 
credit to the original author.

Ezekiel J. Krahlin

(A True Tale From The Castro. Eat your heart out, Armistead!)

© 2003 by Ezekiel J. Krahlin

Do you trust tobacco companies? Are you aware they are now surveying our queer community via gay bars? In exchange for a trinket, a piece of junk (a cigarette lighter made in China), the survey requires you to scan your driver's license into their database, and answer a few questions. Of course the solicitors are cute young men and women, in order to seduce you to comply. They take your ID card, and scan it on a portable, flat-screen computer.

This is your picture ID, peoples, with your license number, photo, and personal information! Which, to my dismay, many bar patrons willingly one of the most scurrilous industries in the world.

What tobacco companies can do with this information, eh? Big bucks can be theirs, if they sell your data to other marketing companies. Of course, they promise never to do this...but you KNOW that's a lie. You KNOW how our rights to privacy and identity are rapidly being stripped away by just such big-brother industries (not to mention government). And what vulnerability to indentity theft, once your ID is now the property of irresponsible monopolies! Capitalist syndicates which cater to right-wing, homophobic/racist/misogynistic elements, who presently run roughshod over our civil rights, since taking over the White House in 2000.

Bad enough, that some of our watering holes allow soliciting in a place where we expect to relax, AWAY from advertising come-ons. Why any bar owner or manager allows soliciting by ANYONE for ANY reason is beyond me. I don't even think they receive a financial reward for letting tobacco zombies invade our hangouts, who destroy the casual ambience by their hideous, glowing laptops, and syrupy-sweet personas. Shades of the Moonies, Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons!

But keep in mind, these are TOBACCO companies targeting new customers from our queer family. Like they really care about improving our lives, caring for our health. We are already a frighteningly-besieged community, ravaged by hostile factions of all sorts, who are out to destroy us; or at least, make us very, very miserable! (Then they turn around and say "happy gay" is an oxymoron, for most homosexuals are terribly sad.) So why not make a quick buck off us, before we die of lung cancer, a coronary, or emphysema...if we don't first get mortally bashed? (Or are escorted to detention centers for our own good...enjoying a final puff on a Marlboro before the firing squad riddles us with bullets.)

It is quite sad that young people desperate for work, find themselves money whores to tobacco's pimp daddy. "What's wrong, if those interviewed ALREADY smoke?" queried one defensive solicitor...who was also African American (another oppressed group hooked to this toxic weed). She herself claimed to be gay; which for me makes this a double shame. If anything, she should be INSPIRING smokers to cut down, and finally (hopefully) give up the dangerous habit for good. Would she just as gleefully survey her black sisters and brothers, if it earned her keep? I shudder to think of the answer.

Why so many patrons comply EAGERLY to volunteer their sensitive, personal data to a corrupt and powerful interest, astounds me! I have not heard one peep of disapproval or disgust from anyone who was approached by these tobacco lackeys. For myself, I make it a point to confront them, and say that, if I were the owner, I'd kick them out. I also bring this up to fellow patrons, to discourage them from freely contributing personal information to a malicious that is DEFINITELY homophobic.

Forget the evil tobacco aspect; the fact they are SOLICITING at all, should be justification enough to bar them from our hangouts. If you understand where I'm coming from, and agree, you ought to consider engaging these solicitors in conversation, in order to tell them what a bad thing they're doing. I would also complain to the manager, followed by a phone call or letter, to the bar's owner. Even BOYCOTT the bar, if you get no satisfaction via a simple complaint. We CAN put a stop to this, if we bother to care about what is being done to the fabric of our community, by this commercial intrusion to our highly treasured social spaces. Human spambots!

Saving the worst for last: What if the government decides it NEEDS the ID database of this national gay-only survey...and MANDATES these tobacco companies to turn it over. (Foolish of me to think tobacco industries wouldn't eagerly VOLUNTEER to donate a valuable list of queers that comes complete with photo and license number, to our right-wing government.)

We sexual minorities ARE under vicious attack by no other than our Federal gov't via that evil triangle: Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft. And here we have a database that is an ever-growing list of queers, under the auspices of tobacco companies. But who knows why they're REALLY collecting this data? Even if they sincerely have no intent to create a master list of known queers...that fact they are doing so makes it that much EASIER for the government to sabotage our lives. And we now know that if they can get away with it, they WILL.

Years ago, the government asked ONLY HOMOSEXUALS to volunteer for the final testing of the Hepatitis B vaccine. A few years after that, we had our very first gay AIDS patients. Now, we are being put on a national list, under the "innocent" auspices of tobacco companies. Could this actually be another ploy by government to sabotage our community? Call me paranoid, but just keep in mind how one women's liberationist (who said this years ago, and whose name I've since forgotten) defined paranoia: "heightened awareness."


Zeke Krahlin a.k.a.
"The Sheriff of Castro Street"