LOCATION: *T.I.G.E.R. HEADQUARTERS, DETROIT MICHIGAN
(*Tiger Interest Group for Equal Rights)
THE REVEREND AL TIGERTON: Ladies and gentlemen...ladies and—please! We'd like to get this under way, so please, if you could all keep it down to a roar...please, my brothers and sisters? Thank you! Thank you.
“Ahem!” I just want to start this off by thanking you all for coming out here today. It's not the way we'd have liked to start the new year, but sometimes things occur when they do and simply give us a moment's paws.
You are no doubt aware of the unfortunate Christmas Day incident involving our late, and beloved Tatiana the Tiger. I'n sure that you've heard the initial news reports. But if that's all you heard, you would think, and rightfully so that we are looking at just another case of a young tiger's resorting to the “law of the jungle” while in civilized society. Another tale of a cat gone bad and paying the ultimate price for a for the garden-variety feline-ious assault. These...are lies! Lies which unravel like a ball of yarn once truth's paw bats it around a little bit.
CROWD; (Assorted “Mmmmm-hmmms” and “Wells”)
REV. TIGERTON: And what is the truth? The truth...is simply that our dear, deceased comrade was not just some wanton beast, stereotypically “attacking” because according to society, “that's just what we do”. Noooo! It turns out that our comrade was herself—a victim, and that the so-called victims—“the survivors”—may be the criminals themselves! But you see, that kind of misconception is something our community is sadly all too used to. Our brothers, The Black Panthers suffered the same kind of character assassination in the 1960's, and just like Tatiana, eventual actual assassination at the hands of the powers that be.
Now, are we angry? You're damn right we're angry! We tigers have long been contributing members to the fabric of American life. Contributing members of society! You will...note alongside me several prominent members...of the Tiger community To my immediate right we have, Brothers Tony and Esso,...
CROWD; (Applauds loudly and cheers as the distinguished guests nod in acknowledgment )
REV. TIGERTON: And to my left at the rear of the stage, Brother Hobbes and...(TO TIGGER)...uh...there's nothing wrong with my using this name, is there my brother?
TIGGER: Hoo-hoo-hoo-hooooooo! Preach on, br-r-r-r-r-r-otha!
REV. TIGERTON: Thank you...Tigger. That's Brother “Tigger” ladies and gentlemen. And-and—in the eyes of our tormenters, every one of us—we're all... just a bunch of “Tiggers”!
CROWD; (Assorted “Tell its” and “Yes sirs”)
REV. TIGERTON: So, as you can see, they all—everyone on this stage shares in my outrage at the circumstances...of the death of Tatiana, because they know that as an...orange-and black-skinned “other” in this land, it could just as well have been one of them. For all of our so-called acceptance in society, we, the Tiger community are in reality little more than mascots, to be used, and pimped, and made into-into some sort of cartoons...things to be laughed at, and pointed at!
We didn't ask...to be here! We...didn't choose this! We were brought here, yes... against our wills, across the sea, and then were made to live in cages for our masters' amusement—our freedom deprived! Deprived! The Ring-Master cracked his whip, and we had to jump! Through...through burning rings and onto silly little boxes and pose—and do-as-we-were-told, or face the whip!
Ohhhhh, it's a shame, America! But...but, the circumstances are what they are...and like it or not, we are here. And we are proud...and fierce, and we're not just gonna...lie back and let you rub our stomachs and pretend that everythang's...alright! 'Cause everythang is not alright! Everythang is not, as Brother Tony likes to say, “G-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-eeeeeat!”
You snatch us from our motherland. You bring us here. You cage us. You whip us. Mock us, and then...when a few of you decide what's already been done isn't enough, you wanna take personal liberties with us. You invade and harass us in the one so-called “safe” space we have here—while drunk! You want a private show, and when one of us says “I'm mad as hell and I ain't gonna take it any more”, and defends her home the only way she knows how...all of a sudden, it's the Tiger that “attacked”. It's the Tiger that went “crazy” and committed the crime! It's always the Tiger who's guilty! What did Brother Chris Rock say? “That tiger didn't go crazy...”
CROWD: (CONTINUING)...“That tiger went tiger!” (We hear whoops and cheers)
REV. TIGERTON: But we're used to this! You see, too many people think that-that Montecore the Tiger attacked Roy on that stage in Las Vegas years ago, right? Mmmmm-hmmmmm! The urban legend is...that Brother Montecore supposedly snapped like Tatiana did and mauled Roy Horn—when in reality, Roy fell, and Montecore merely tried to pull him to safety by the nape of his neck as if he were a cub. But see, all folks remember is that Brother Monte supposedly attacked Roy! Or Tatiana attacked the visitors! When the truth...gives us something quite different.
But let's not pussy-foot around here, shall we? The real culprits here is the press, spinning old wive's tales and stereotypes about Tatiana, about her being some sort of “supercat” leaping 20 feet in a single bound, or being this human-flesh crazed beast that ate a handler's hand last year—a handler that violated well-stated rules about feeding I might add! We, the Tiger community are outraged at the irresponsibility of the press' mis-reporting on this case, and will not rest...will not stop pacing until some balance is introduced in the coverage. It took very heavy pressure, from the lawyers for the assembled luminaries here on this stage and at considerable expense, to get reporters to finally focus on the facts that have now come to light about this tragedy. Facts that exonerate Tatiana as the instigator in the incident.
You got booze, and weapons, and interlopers with a history of law-breaking activity, hanging 'round—in effect stalking Tatiana and clearly harassing her and invading her personal space. Then when she retaliates, they cry victim, and Tatiana pays the ultimate price. Now, I'm not saying that Tatiana's response wasn't extreme, and didn't warrant punishment, but if you'll let a Bernie Goetz defend himself, and let a Texas man shoot people who weren't robbing his house, but a neighbor's...I would think that Tatiana's actions while extreme, would be at least considered understandable. And that's all we're asking for here. Fairness and justice.
REPORTER: Reverend Tigerton! Reverend Tigerton! Waldo Kitty here from Cat Fancy magazine...
REV. TIGERTON: Good day, my brother.
REPORTER: Good day, sir. I was wondering sir, if you had any rebuttal to the recent statements by the two survivors—
REV. TIGERTON: --Instigators. They were instigators...
REPORTER: Sorry, sir. The instigators lawyer Mark Gerragos. He seems to be absolving his clients of all guilt in this.
REV. TIGERTON: Well, that's his job. But of course, my question is, if the facts are so clear, why do these supposed victims need a lawyer? A defense lawyer of his caliber? Don't you find that curious?
CROWD: (More knowing “Mmmmm-hmmmms” and “Yes sirs”)
REV. TIGERTON:> 'Cause I'll tell you right now, I find that curious...but you can best believe that curiosity ain't gonna kill this here cat. Nosiree!
REPORTER: According to reports, he's blaming the Zoo, the employees...
REV. TIGERTON: But he won't let the cat out of the bag and say what his clients were doing there drunk, and after hours with slingshots, will he? I don't think so!
REPORTER: Then I suppose you've heard the statement from Louis Shere Khan?
CROWD: (We hear loud hisses)
REV. TIGERTON: I must say that I have not.
REPORTER: I have the clip here, sir. We can play it, and you can follow up.
CUT TO AUDIO CLIP OF LOUIS SHERE KHAN'S STATEMENT:
SHERE KHAN: It is...most unfortunate what has happened to our sister Tatiana, but...we must understand that we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard if we are to live in this society. That's just the way things are. We can not just...bite the hand that feeds us, nor should we blindly lash out at every perceived injustice against us. It's our responsibility to deal with the issues in the Tiger community and not just sweep them under the litter where no one can see them. We have our problems. Tatiana had a problem with authority figures. This is documented. But we didn't do our part to help her. I don't think any of us sat down and broke wildebeest with her and just talked things out. I haven't heard that Tony, or Hobbes or even my poor, misguided brother “T-Word” ever came to speak with her after last year's incident. And that's our own fault. I'm not absolving the two men who were hurt and the one who died, but we, the Tiger community share some blame in this too. I think we need to focus on that.
REPORTER: Comment, Reverend?
REV. TIGERTON: Well, Brother Shere Khan is entitled to his own opinion.
REPORTER #2: Do you differ from his stance?
REV. TIGERTON: That's not the issue here. The issue is that—
REPORTER #3: Do you repudiate Spokesman Shere Khan's words?
REV. TIGERTON: See, this is exactly what I've been talking about! The press wants to make this about something it's not! While Brother Shere Khan and I may disagree, ya'll want to make this into a Tiger-on-Tiger situation. A cat-fight! Well, I'm not going to give you that satisfaction. Yes, we've got our own litter to pick up, and we're gonna do that, but I refuse to let you turn this into a three-ring-circus with us getting burned as usual on the flaming hoops!
You can run the statements of any old self-hating “Tom” cat out there, but it doesn't change the facts! You can trot out all your “Morrises” and your “Garfields” out there that you want. Their being beholden to you for scraps off the table, and saying the negative things they say does not change the facts! These...domesticated cats don't speak for the Tiger community any more than “Snuggles the Fabric Softener Bear” does for the Polar Bear community. You'd rather see the fur fly than hear justice's cry!
But we're not gonna let you get away with it, are you my brothers?
CROWD: (There is a loud, affirmative roar from all assembled)
REV. TIGERTON: They ain't dealin' with no scaredy-cats no more! Are they?!
CROWD: (Another loud, affirmative roar from all assembled)
THE REVEREND AL TIGERTON: Because we are on the prowl for justice, and we will not let the reputation of one of our own be sullied any further by the press and by her attackers! Am I right?
CROWD: (More loud, affirmative roaring, shaking the room)
REV. TIGERTON: (Shouting) What do we say? NO JUSTICE?...
CROWD: MO' TEETH!
REV. TIGERTON: No justice?!...
CROWD: Mo' teeth!
REV. TIGERTON: No justice?!...
CROWD: Mo' teeth! (Crowd begins to cheer wildly and chant as Rev, Tigerton leaves the stage with his comrades.)
Thursday, January 3, 2008
LOCATION: *T.I.G.E.R. HEADQUARTERS, DETROIT MICHIGAN