The time has come for free surfers everywhere to stand in solidarity!
So there I was, late last week, ready to march up to Santa Monica and pound your 95 Theses onto the World Surf League’s Global Headquarter’s door, or at least five of them, when I stumbled upon one of the most odious, most egregious human rights’ abuses on earth. A throttling so aggressive as to make Red China seem open and free. A gagging that ex-Soviet KGB officers wish they had dreamt up themselves.
You see, I was so worried about The People™, and the toxic impact the Wall of Positive Noise was having on us, that I failed to see its true victims.
We The People™, we have to endure the happy racket, Joe Turpel’s cotton candy stuffed down our ears, but are essentially free as birds, can press mute from time to time and speak truth.
Professional surfers, on the other hand, are prevented by law from saying any negative word about either the World Surf League or professional surfing in general.
Almost unbelievable but also right there, plain as day, inside the WSL Rule Book for there we find Article 189 and shall we read it together?
Article 189: Damage to Surfing’s Image
Individuals bound by this Policy shall not engage in any conduct which could cause damage to the image of the sport of surfing. For purposes of this Article, “damage to the image of the sport of surfing” is defined as any act, regardless of time or place, which casts the sport of surfing or WSL in a negative light. Without restricting the application of this Article, “damage to the sport of surfing” will include any comments or broadcast from social media accounts that the Surfer is responsible for.
Any Surfer found in violation of this section shall be subject to the following disciplinary action:
(i) Monetary Fines and Disqualification. The monetary fine amounts for an offense of this Article ranges from $1,000 USD to $50,000 USD per offense.
(ii) Suspension and Expulsion. Any offender under this Article may be subject to suspension and/or expulsion from a WSL Tour upon the first offense. Where multiple offenses occur within one or more concurrent seasons which demonstrate a pattern of unacceptable conduct, the Surfer may also be subject to suspension and/or expulsion from the WSL.
Tears are welling up in my eyes as I think of our professional surfing sisters and brethren trapped like 1970s East Germans, cowering on the other side of the Wall of Positive Noise, waiting for the sound of Stasi-like Erik “ELo” Logan’s jackloafers to come marching to their doors, fines and banishment in hand. Rolled out in front of microphone after microphone having to say, “Yeah, the surf was great today. Competition is good. Really sick.”
No damn it. If one of us is living under oppression than all of us are living under oppression and so before we can even begin to discuss the betterment of professional surfing, before any theses get nailed to any door I look at you, Mr. Logan, and say, “Tear down this Wall of Positive Noise. Abolish Article 189. Let our professional surfers breathe free.”