Conform or Be Cast Out: Have Courage Unvaccinated Friends

Does being a weirdo ever get easier? With all the rules, mandates, and heavy-handed government directives we’ve had to deal with over the past two years, I’ve been feeling my “otherness” especially keenly.

I was watching an interview on Free the People with Logan Albright and got to thinking: why can’t I be like everybody else?

Logan has a new book out called “Conform or Be Cast Out: The (Literal) Demonization of Nonconformists (Paganism & Shamanism)”. I listened as he discussed the main ideas of his book with the host, Matt Kibbe (, and realized that he has made a life for himself that is all his own. He does not conform. What a brave guy he must be!

Non-conformity is Terrifying

Is there anything more frightening than to be left behind? To be excommunicated? To be abandoned?

No. I think most people would do nearly anything to avoid this, even as “mature” adults.

Some of us don’t have a choice. We don’t fit in, even when we try. There is something “off” about us. Maybe we don’t laugh at the right things or gloat over the downward spiral of a star. Too often we speak up in defense of an underdog or we give an alternate viewpoint on a topic everyone else agrees on.

We don’t “hate” those that are “other.” Really, it’s obvious we can’t be trusted to conform.

Being different is scary for the person who doesn’t fit in but it also causes fear in those that are in the main group. It’s a challenge to their ideas and accepted reality. No wonder the public has been so quick to vilify anyone who refuses to be vaccinated!

Spirit of Radio

The fact that Logan used part of a Rush lyric as the title of his new book says something. Rush is not a band that is accessible to the average person. “Conform or Be Cast Out” is a lyric from their 1982 song “Subdivisions.”

I know the song well, of course, being Canadian and 17 when it came out. There are Canadian Content rules for all of our radio stations so a DJ has to play something Canadian every third or fourth song on the hard rock stations. I bet many were very thankful for Rush. Logan is American and a youngster when Rush was at their heyday so he must have discovered them on his own. Maybe he heard it on WRAS, the Georgia State radio station where he got his degree in economics. (College radio is still the best place to hear new music.) Someone’s older brother might have played Rush for him.

I am not being sexist here – Rush is known as a guy’s band. Maybe because only musicians could appreciate their virtuosity and most musicians in the 80s and 90s were guys. Any female singer could cover Rush but Geddy Lee is nearly impossible to imitate and most audiences wouldn’t appreciate the effort it took to cover a Rush song, anyway. For most, Geddy Lee was not inspiring or cool like David Bowie or Joe Strummer and Mick Jones and not as fun to watch as Angus Young or Elvis Costello.

The Battle of New Orleans

The point is that if you were a Rush fan, you were immediately an outsider and the member of a very exclusive club: those who are unafraid to be different and appreciate good musicianship.

Many times during my teenage years my paths crossed with the Rush fans – after all, I was a “weirdo” who dressed in outlandish, albeit raggedy, clothing but I’d listen to anything good. Standing around a campfire way out in the bush, as we often did on Friday and Saturday nights, we’d have heated debates over lyrics, song titles, and meanings.

Sometimes we’d break out in song, drowning out the tape deck playing Aldo Nova or Quiet Riot. In one of my cherished memories, someone threw an old Johnny Horton tape into the deck. Suddenly, at top volume, a clear voice rang out… “In 1814 we took a little trip…” Stunned into attention, the lines of class and label blurred, and by the time Johnny got to the bridge, even the “cool” kids were singing as loud as they could, ”…they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit wouldn’t go…”

If the cops had shown up that night and heard us all singing and stomping around that fire, I think they would have turned around and left us alone. Hell, maybe they did.

Rebel Rebel

But all groups coming together like that didn’t happen much at all. High school for me was like living in a very small town I couldn’t leave. I had my place and stayed within those confines. Mostly, I wanted so badly for everyone to like me but fitting in with people I had little in common with was – uncomfortable. I often felt like I was two, three, or even four people. That’s when I started to try on different personas, depending on what I was listening to at the time – or who I was hanging out with.

Je ne Regrette Rien

In the “intellectual” classes with the geeks, I would sing Bowie or Clash lyrics and ask the teachers personal and sometimes disjointed questions. I really did want to know the answer to some of these questions but I see now that what I was longing for was connection. Why learn all this stuff? What good has it done you, Teach? Tell us the story of your life – how did you end up in this suburb of farmers’ kids and misfits? Was this your dream?

Most adults do not appreciate questions like these from students.

There was one teacher, Mr. Anderson, who had once spent some time in Paris as a young man. After our French teacher married and left, he filled in for the last part of the year, even though his knowledge of the French language was sketchy, at best. That’s the kind of school it was. All I had to do was ask him about the music he listened to in Paris or what he ate and BOOM! he’d be off with stories for the rest of the class. My classmates really appreciated this because it meant no homework and no work, period.

Mr. Anderson had fallen in love with a singer named Edith Piaf. He would get a faraway look in his eyes as he sang us bits of her songs. One day he even brought in a record to play for us. Yeah, he was one of my favourite teachers. And Edith Piaf? She’s pretty cool.

Those stories are almost all I remember from high school now. It turns out that none of the other busy work mattered at all.

Way of the World

No one in my high school would be caught dead talking to anyone who was on the “no fly” list for fear of association. As a nerd, I was on the list for the first couple years. The isolation and bitter sadness of being cast out is a hurt that still haunts me whenever I feel left out. Music has saved my life more than once.

Finally I found a group of likeminded people – or at least open minded people – to hang out with. And then something strange happened. I became popular-ish with nearly everyone. It could be because I was having so much fun with my friends that I exuded happiness and joy.

I wish I could say I ignored the “cool” crowd and hung out with whoever I wanted after that but more often than not, I conformed, just in case I got turfed out again. Finally, in grade 10, I began making a point of not only talking to the freaks and geeks but actively befriending one and all and recruiting them to come and hang out in the smoke pit. Besides, people that are outside the conformation circle are far more interesting. Why didn’t anyone tell us that these original people are the truly “cool” ones?

No one had to smoke to hang out in the pit, of course. The pit was just a piece of scrub outside the fence surrounding the school which wasn’t policed by anyone. A lot of social business went on out there – relationships forged and ended, often badly, parties for the weekend were organized, bad jokes told and laughed at only because you were so damned happy to be included. Discussions, if I was involved, often centered around new music and influences and the meaning of it all.


It was also during this year that I started a cult: Little Green Men From Mars. It was in reaction to a close friend of mine who had become a Christian in order to date a real hottie. At least that’s how I saw it. Anyway, the tenets of the cult were this: you had to love music and believe that Little Green Men From Mars were coming to save us all.

It wasn’t long before I was bombarded with membership requests from kids of all ages, from every group. A friend of mine made membership cards. I was followed around like some kind of guru. It got out of hand and I ended it. People really do just want to belong and will do almost anything – say anything – to do it.

That’s why the whole vaccination cult seems familiar. I had forgotten about my ill-fated excursion into the cult business. Creepy.

But there it is: conform or be cast out


I’ve ordered Logan Albright’s book but I’m a little nervous to read it. He actually wrote it before all the shit went down with Covid and mandatory vaccination. I hope it isn’t a foreshadowing of what is to come for those of us who don’t get behind the mainstream narrative. The title is uncanny, though, yes?: “Conform or Be Cast Out: The (Literal) Demonization of Nonconformists (Paganism & Shamanism)”

Will the self-righteous majority punish those of us who don’t conform? They are already demonizing us and blaming us for the continuation of the pandemic. I’ve written a few thoughts on this: Welcome You Dirty Unvaxxed: 7 Ways to Feel Better Today and Who is Really Selfish Here?

But I am afraid…and gathering supplies. And listening to Rachmaninoff for courage.

“History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.”

Sydney J. Harris

Free the People is a podcast as well as a show in an interview format on various platforms:

Logan Albright is the Head Writer and Sound Engineer for the site and creator of much of the original music for Free the People films. He also writes his own books and creates documentaries:


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