The Rogue Voice


October 01, 2006

Editor's Rant

By Stacey Warde

This issue marks our first anniversary. We’ve published 13 editions of The Rogue Voice. Amazing, isn’t it?
We’ve offended a lot of people since our first edition appeared one year ago. We’ve also brought some humor into the world, and shed light on how life is lived in prison, on the road, in a cab, at the pub, and even in our beloved Cayucos. We hooked up Jesus with Wal-Mart and talked about abortion, broken dicks and went on a train ride.
Photo by Phil Klein
ROGUES Editor Stacey Warde (left) and Publisher Dell Franklin, despite threats of torture and banishment, have enjoyed their first year of publication of The Rogue Voice.

It still makes my head spin to think people will actually plunk down hard-earned cash to read our little literary journal, even though it’s available free at more than 150 outlets throughout SLO County. Every month, we get new subscribers, readers from our area and beyond, who want to make sure they receive their copy in the mail. We salute and thank you. The more support we get, the more independent we can be, like a Rogue Nation.
We’ve been called everything from “liberal” to “drunks” to “perverts,” and even survived the disposal cranks who thought we were no better than a butt wipe and tossed our hard work into the trash heap. We had a couple of fallings out but bounced back with new hopes and new loves, just the way rogues always do.
We’ve seen and done a lot in the past year.
We’re not proud. We do marvel, though, that we’re still alive and kicking, and hope to stay that way for a long time. And we couldn’t have done it without you, our readers and contributors. We have more support than we could have imagined, more subscribers, advertisers, and friends, more writers. Again, thank you. That means all of you.
And now that Arnold Schwarzenneger recently signed a bill outlawing the theft of “free” newspapers, we trust local law enforcement to be more helpful protecting our First Amendment right of a free press. Republican Assemblyman George Plescia of San Diego sponsored the bill making it a “crime” to lift free newspapers in an attempt to “prevent others from reading the paper.” The bill also clarifies that stealing newspapers “is a unique crime [there’s that word again], not a petty theft.”
We agree with Mr. Schwarzenneger, who said: “The freedom of the press is one of the most precious freedoms that Americans can enjoy. We must work to ensure that no one is able to deprive others of their First Amendment rights.” We’ll drink to that. To free speech, a free press, and the right to assemble peaceably! Cheers!

We offer our own cheers to artist David Settino Scott whose “Obscenities” sketch no longer appears in The Rogue Voice. Early on, David approached us because he liked what we were doing, and offered his series of sketches, inspired by the first Gulf War. They have appeared with our “Letters” as a protest against the military-industrial complex that has taken over our government. His series reminds us where this nation’s real obscenities occur, in the violent affairs of warmongers and profiteers. David loaned his sketches, which have appeared in galleries at Fullerton and Cuesta Colleges, to do as we please.
And so we printed the bulk of them. There were some that we chose not to print in the interest of taste. Even David conceded the possibility of a breaking point with art considered by some to be offensive, or “as trite and cheap sensationalism.”
David’s purpose in sketching these images, he says, was “to shock. To alert people to the realization of the real obscenity: The obscenity of war profiteering. They also address the hypocrisy of so-called ‘moral values.’ …There is a secrecy surrounding political and economic negotiations that I find to be unhealthy for society, and I wished to express that.”
We’re grateful that he did and have enjoyed featuring David’s “Obscenities” in The Rogue Voice. If you’d like to see the full series of his fine sketches, you can visit his web site: Thank you, David.

“Bush acknowledges secret jails.”
“Fear dictates everything we do.”
Speaking of a free press, these words were printed recently in the news pages of the Los Angeles Times. If the enemies of a free press had their way, like the individuals who once vandalized The Rogue Voice, those words would never have made print. The first statement was the headline of a front-page story indicating the president has known all along about, and in fact supports, government outsourcing of torture. The second came from a father in Iraq, writing anonymously for fear of his life about why everyone in his neighborhood refused to help the victim of an assault, a man dying in the street, pleading for his life. Finally, a car pulled up, a gunman got out and shot the poor bastard in the head.
No one dared touch the body. It could mean certain death. In the morning, the body was gone. This occurs daily in and around Baghdad, a city held by the American war machine. Iraqis there live in constant fear, with little trust in their neighbors, their government and or in American troops. Iraqis, and citizens around the world, suffer the American malaise of corporate greed and militarism. They’re paying for our sins. Iraq is a disaster; America defends the use of torture. These are the dreadful headlines of today’s free press. And we wonder why “the terrorists” hate us.
That’s why we have a free press, to remind us of our duties as citizens to protect the weak and defend ourselves against tyranny, most especially the tyrannies of our own government. Of course, we all have our own tyrannies of the self, but none so bad or corrupt as the tyranny of fear, which is why, you can imagine, we keep hearing so much about “the terrorists.” Do you feel any safer now than you did five years ago? Are we safer, knowing our government and our tax dollars support overseas torture and occupation? Until Americans take a stand against U.S.-sponsored terrorism—and torture is terrorism, no matter what else you want to call it—you can bet it won’t be long before we start seeing laws outlawing a free press.

Recently some morning regulars at Kelley’s Espresso in Cayucos reminded me, “You can’t believe everything you hear and read in the ‘liberal media.’” That’s true of anything in print, or on the air, not just the “liberal media.” Still, I’m more inclined to trust a liberal newspaper or a respectable journalist or a rogue columnist than George W. Bush, or Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld about terrorists, torture, secret jails and weapons of mass destruction.

This month, I leave for the nation’s capitol to attend an award ceremony at the Library of Congress for an editorial I wrote about the kindness of Sharon Ostman, a homeless woman who was murdered last year in San Luis Obispo. We decided to re-run the story, which first appeared in the Tribune and was later recognized by the magazine In Character as one of the best editorials on human virtues in 2005.
I’m told that Congresswoman Lois Capps will receive an invitation to attend the ceremony and I’m hoping that, even if she can’t make it, she’ll at least demand more protections for the homeless in her district.
Meanwhile, I’m really looking forward to visiting the District of Columbia, and touring a few of our national monuments. I’d love to stop by the White House and show the president my backside, but I’ve decided to keep a low profile and behave myself, and cross my fingers that my name’s not on the no-fly list.

This month, we asked Tito David Valdez Jr., author of our ongoing prison column, “Life in the Cage,” to tell his side of the story about how he got busted [see page ??]. Many of our readers have been wondering. We feel David’s story is important, and strong enough to be this month’s cover piece. A rising star in radio and promoter of raves in the early ‘90s, David quickly ran afoul of the law and found himself facing a life in prison.
Publisher Dell Franklin adds to Tito’s story with his own account [see page ??] of a visit to see Tito’s at the California Mens Colony several years ago, before he was transferred to Soledead. Dell’s story shows a glimmer of hope in an otherwise hopeless and inhumane institution.
And that’s all we ever wanted to do with this journal, provide even a sliver of hope, a touch of dignity, to those individuals in our culture who are viewed with disdain or contempt; the homeless, the prisoner, and the drunk and the poor and the bachelor. Inside, you’ll find more art, poetry and interesting stories by and about just such people, including bachelorettes. Thanks for believing in us. §

Stacey Warde can be reached at


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