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Home > Culture and Society

Guantanamo Here We Come

6 March 2006

Morrissey is, frankly and objectively, a bit of a cock. He is astringent. He is ornery. He's an arrogant, sneering, misanthropic so-and-so who even refused to befriend Jonathan Ross (now, what sort of person does that?). In a Smiths royalties court case, an exasperated judge gloriously deemed him 'devious, truculent and unreliable'. However, in the grand scheme of cockery, he doesn't actually figure that highly. There's something about his self-containedness, his unabashed disparagement of humanity in general, that is really rather admirable. He's not a smiling, fool-suffering hypocrite like most of us feel obliged to be. His is the cockery we dare not speak. And he's not doing anyone any harm. And his music is still really wonderfully good, whatever anyone says.

However, just as Morrissey's askew side-smirks at the condition of misery don't wash with people who think songs must be either 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers' or 'The Birdie Song', his voiced views on government don't seem to have gone down well with the FBI. Apparently, Moz was 'quizzed' by both the Feds and Special Branch about his splenetic comments regarding the war in Iraq and George W. Bush. Having lived in the US for the best part of a decade, he felt well-placed enough to suggest in 2004 that Bush had turned it into the most 'neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet'; subsequently he publicly wished Bush dead. *Wished* him dead; not storm the White House, pretzel in hand. Despite the passivity of his death-wish in this instance, and despite being a big old fop entirely without merit as a presidential assassin, the FBI hauled his limey ass in anyway.

Pop stars are often chastised for talking about politics, which is daft - they're just as entitled to mouth off about what they please as any ill-informed cabbie. Furthermore, it's often a lot more entertaining to hear someone like Morrissey, who once described himself as 'just an arcane old wardrobe', rant about politics than, say, any politician. It's just another voice, another bit of spit in the vast receptacle of gobshite run-off that is present in any free society. The big barrel of bollocks that can safely be disregarded. And yet, and yet. Bewildering as it is, it now appears to be the norm for any whisper of dissent to be investigated. Kids in the US have been hauled out of class and taken downtown for writing caustic things about the president, and even a mouthy Mancunian's criticism is elevated to the level of a threat. The ludicrousness of the situation is only surpassed by the increasing shrugging acceptance of it by the public.

Of course, some of the American public enthusiastically embrace the idea of thoroughly and officially grilling all who dare speak such heresy (blasphemy is barely even a metaphor here, when people can't tell president from prophet). For notorious example, Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker wrote, just prior to the last US election:

'On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?'

And all shit broke loose. Right-wing bloggers and the comment- addicts that follow them around like incredibly self-righteous sheep erupted in shrieks of outrage, demanding apologies, investigations and assurances that Brooker would never be allowed to darken US doors for the rest of his life. Whether the FBI did in fact question Brooker as to his homicidal intentions is still not clear; however, the Guardian did withdraw the column from their site and offered a thoroughly oogy apology:

'Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column... Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action - an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind.'

Ugh. Doesn't it make you feel unclean?

It seems moronic to start pointing out that neither Brooker nor Morrissey should ever be considered possible threats to a government, but then again, both have form which must have given the FBI pause. Brooker, a long-time Chris Morris collaborator, contributed to the infamous 'Brass Eye' special on paedophilia, and was named and shamed as such in some papers, who in so doing only proved the programme's point about tabloid hysteria. Morrissey has foolishly suggested that animal rights activists who blow up cars have the right idea, and was also vilified for years because some arse at the NME saw him drape himself in a Union Jack at a gig, which obviously made him a stinking, smirking blackshirt. So perhaps it's not so ridiculous to suggest that such volatile individuals might one day decide to put firearm where witless presidential face is. You can't be too careful when you've got one of the most despised presidents in history in the chair, inducing fury in the most mild-mannered individuals, and continuing to smile and fuddle his sentences while the world continues to trundle hellwards.

Maybe - y'know, in theory - maybe someone should just make him

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