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The Exchange Rate

(A protest speech for March 20, 2003, in Los Angeles.)

I cannot condone the use of violence of any kind for any reason, unless somebody really fucks with me, for example by making an abrupt lane change in front of my motherfucking car, asshole. So even as we go marching into a sovereign country ­just in case, you never know- with our entire military might, a war machine such as this world has never seen before, I must warn my fellow protestors: don’t use violence to fight violence. That’s like throwing gasoline on a fire, and we all know gasoline is worth more than blood. Actually that’s not true. Blood plasma costs $26 per IU, which is 450 milliliters, or just under a pint, or in layman’s terms waaay more blood than you’ve ever seen come out of somebody’s neck. Gasoline is worth a little more than two bucks per gallon at the moment. A gallon contains 3,785 milliliters as any goddamn fool knows, so you can see why I’m bringing a couple quarts of unleaded premium with me to the hospital when it’s surgery time. It stings like bejeezus, but I’ll sure save a lot of dough.

So blood is worth more than gasoline. Of course the price of crude oil is plummeting at the moment, wandering in the region of $31.00 per barrel (44 gallons each, or a shitload of milliliters) so blood is worth exponentially more than crude oil, which is what this war is mostly about. If you could fill your car’s tank with crude oil instead of refined gasoline, you would save yourself at least $1.44 a gallon. But if you fill same tank with actual medical-grade blood plasma, it would set you back a solid $208.00 per gallon. So fuck it, no blood for oil, right? It doesn’t make economic sense. As I wrote this, around three dozen people in the combat zone were definitely dead- about half of them ours and half of them theirs. Your average adult human at full capacity holds around 8 pints of blood ­that’s 4.5 liters for you metric freaks, but the pint will never die as long as there’s beer in a glass somewhere in this Godless world-so each of those humans (all of whom by some startling twist happen to be adults, but this record won’t last under the circumstances) is worth an impressive $208.00 in blood alone. So that’s $7,488.00 worth of blood spilled so far, and by the time I read this that number will have skyrocketed along a Bell Curve the shape of the Grim Reaper’s scythe.

So here we are at war for oil, and it’s a pretty unpopular idea, so we’re getting all disobedient and such here on the home front. The loyal opposition in Washington folded its hands in chaste obedience at the first shot like Bush crossed a magic safety line when he started the war and now he can say “fuck you” to the Democrats and they can’t do anything about it but humbly pass whatever evil domestic policies he’s cooking up, all in the name of supporting those poor bastards who are over there in desert camouflage fighting for the pump. That leaves the American people to do something about it. And without our elected representatives to defy the unelected ones, we must take to the streets. I fully support the notion of civil disobedience. I fully support shutting down every goddamn downtown area in this country, forming a human chain down the main street of this whole country until this war is over. Anybody who doesn’t like it should probably be over there fighting. Or maybe he should examine the black smudge under his armpit where his soul ought to be.

So don’t be obedient citizens. The Founding Fathers weren’t. Martin Luther King wasn’t. Jesus H. Christ was so disobedient they nailed his ass to the tree, and look where it got him- even George W. Bush believes in him now. Back in Jesus’ day they didn’t have tear gas and nylon handcuffs and pepper spray. But they have these things now. Back in Jesus’ day they didn’t have bulldozers. They have them now. So be careful out there. Shut this country down, if you think that will make the difference. I do, but it would be seditious of me to say so. So instead of recommending that you all get out there and spend the rest of your days until this thing is over making sure there’s no such thing as business as usual in America, let me just say this: whatever you feel moved to do, be safe. Because your blood is worth a hell of a lot more than oil, any day of the week.

BEN TRIPP is a screenwriter, satirist and cartoonist. He can be reached at: credel@earthlink.net.

 

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