Yet another complaint about our staunch support of free speech has been lodged. Reminiscient of Charlton Heston's classic line, "You'll take them from me when you pry them from my cold, dead hands," Editor in Chief Brian Davis could be heard muttering "When you get the smut out of the back of Scene magazine, we'll talk about 'cleaning up' the language in The Grapevine."
As Operations Manager for one of the few remaining media outlets in which homeless people can express their real opinions, I must confess I am surprised by the controversy this poem, "Fuck the World" has caused. Granted, I could have chosen to "hide" the poem next to the ad congratulating The Homeless Grapevine for winning this year's Community Shares Award for Social Justice Reporting. But doing so wouldn't serve our mission, and it would have been a disservice to the poet himself. I take full responsibility for placing the poem so conspicuously on page 3, so long as it is also known that I was not intending to set ablaze a firestorm of controversy. I was merely doing my duty to protect another American citizen's right to free speech.
What puzzles me the most is how the real issues we bring forward are often ignored, but a word people use every day is getting so much attention. If I had known that using the f-word was such an effective way to bring attention to homelessness and poverty, I would have worked every possible derivation of the word into every headline of our fine paper. To be quite frank, the headline "Cleveland Still F---ing Poor" is a very versatile headline.
On a side note, I want to personally say that I am proud to work for an organization that stands firm on its principles and gives those who are materially disenfranchised a bullhorn to voice their concerns. Our vendors sell their words for their livelihood, in the proud tradition of Thomas Paine and our nation's Founding Fathers. I am honored to be a part of such an endeavor and will defend the right to free expression for all until my dying breath. . . even those who raise their voices to condemn us and tell us, in the words of Vice-President Dick Cheney, to "Go fuck yourself."
Kevin E. Cleary
The Homeless Grapevine