Radio Essay #1 transcript

Recorded by The Final Straw.
by Sean Swain

I remember reading an interview a decade ago where a taxi driver in Saudi Arabia was talking about Osama bin Laden. In response to a question, he said that it was the humiliation of the Arab world that the one guy willing to tell the truth had to do it from a cave.

My name is Sean Swain. I’m an anarchist prisoner held hostage at Ohio’s supermax facility. I think about what that cab driver said as I sit here in my cell on the top floor–which might be a good measure of how dangerous they think I am.

My cell looks a lot like a cave.

I think about the implications. Back in the old days the whole continental United States was a free speech zone…or, at least, that was the happy narrative. Then came FREE SPEECH ZONES, where you can remain silent where people are, or else you can express yourself where there’s no one to listen.

Now consider: Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Barrett Brown, the NATO5, the Cleveland4, Jeremy Hammond, Daniel McGowan, Julian Assange… FREE SPEECH ZONES are now exile and prison. If you think ideas the State doesn’t like, they develoop a way to criminalize your very existence. In my case, imprisonment wasn’t enough–they have to send me to the highest security prison in the state for my “ideology.”

And to be clear hear, they aren’t afraid of what I’m saying, they’re afraid of you hearing what I’m saying. When the fascists control and neutralize speech, they’re eliminating the sharing of ideas…if no one says it, then no one thinks it, and no one does it.

So how free are you if you don’t know even what you don’t know? What choices are foreclosed? To what degree are you programmed by default to a zombie life of shopping and dragging stones up the side of someone else’s pyramid?

I don’t know. You don’t either. The State spend 12 years telling you what to think in school, and then you get your news from Disney, named after a guy honored by Hitler’s Third Reich. McDonalds murders your food, American Idol murders your music, WalMart murders everything else, and the NSA murders your mind through attrition. To what extent do you feel like a concentration camp prisoner, biting your tongue about everything you see and everything you feel, marching day after day into the mass grave of our collective future, brought to you by corporate sponsors?

Let me ask you here: How many times have you nodded while I’ve been talking? Would you say what I’ve said? Would you post it? Put your name on it? And if you did, would you go through the drudgery of daily life just waiting for the say the authorities drag you away?

See, you may have material wealth that I don’t have. You have a bigger range of movement. More toys, tastier snacks, the potential for sex.

More to lose. Leverage to keep you silent.

So we’re back to th cab driver who said it was the humiliation of the Arab world that the one guy telling the truth had to do it from a cave. In your world, the guy telling the truth has to do it from a supermax facility.

So, my hope is that I will say something that resonates with all of you out there istening, for as long as we can go before the fascists pull the plug. And I’m going to talk without worrying about the authorities because, frankly, if I said something wrong, my back should be dirty and my nose should be bleeding. But they’re not, so I’ll keep talking.

But there will come the day that you’ll try to access my latest segment and you’re going to hear five minutes of dead space. I won’t be here. Someone will have decided that you can’t listen to me any more. Then, wherever I am and whatever’s happening to me, I’ll hope that you’ll have the courage to reply with one word:


Until then, I welcome questions, comments, and feedback, and I hope the producers create a system for you to communicate those to me.

Thank you.

This is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain from Ohio’s supermax. If you can hear the sound of my voice, you are the resistance.