American Sniper – Highlighting the Dichotomy in American Society



This is what happens when popular culture meets a complex issue head on. For the sake of a public, that doesn’t wish to think too long or too hard about a subject they would much rather be force fed their opinions about. Popular culture has a nasty habit of over simplifying an issue,to  make it black and white, you’re either with us or you’re against us. In reality the majority of us are able to appreciate the nuances and complexities of life, but such subtleties have long since vanished from the art of American movie making.

I was aware of, but had been intentionally avoiding this topic. From what little I’d heard, it just sounded like another dumb American movie glorifying another banal military campaign. But a friend kept drip feeding me links, at first I showed the poise and clarity of mind to ignore them, but then, like a Frenchman living next door to a brothel, I couldn’t resist.

I thought this was going to be simple, to use a fitting simile, like shooting fish in a barrel. War hero writes book (probably badly), Hollywood make a bad movie of a bad book. Conforms to the status quo, nothing new or unusual there. Now believe it or not I do endeavor to lace my rants with some facts, and it was whilst looking for these so called “facts” that I quickly came to realize that this story goes far beyond the movie.

Reaction to the movie has been strongly divided with the movie seemingly representing the dividing line or watershed between liberals and conservatives, below are some of the responses to the movie including links:

Americans showed up en masse for a patriotic, pro-family picture

The New York Times

Bill Maher refers to Chris Kyle as:

He’s a psychopath patriot

A former US intelligence officer was less than impressed when he made a visit to a ‘clubhouse’ for snipers, he recounts:

‘the barroom walls featured white-on-black Nazi SS insignia, and other Wehrmacht regalia. The Marine shooters clearly identified with the marksmen of the world’s most infamous killing machine, rather than regular troops.”

Dennis Jett from the New Republic ran the following title for his report on the movie:

The Real ‘American Sniper’ Had No Remorse About the Iraqis He Killed

And perennial windbag Michael Moore weighed in with the following bizarre tweet:

What Would Jesus Do if he could be a sniper & save soldiers lives by shooting “savages” in the back?

Jesse Ventura Calls American Sniper‘s Chris Kyle a Liar, Not a Hero

A more positive view was put forward by Republican senator and former Navy Seal Ryan Zinke:

My view on Kyle is he’s kind of a warrior and a hero. I think (director) Clint Eastwood did a spectacular job of telling (“American Sniper” co-author) Scott McEwan’s story of Chris Kyle with a twist.

And Clint Eastwood believes:

“The biggest antiwar statement is what it does to the families left behind,”

Which leads me to where I am right now. With so many conflicting opinions there was nothing else for it. I would have to undertake something I hadn’t done for a long time. I was going to have to go behind the enemy lines and into the heart of popular culture and eyeball this bastard for myself. So feeling like a complete idiot I went to buy my first cinema ticket in over two years and promptly discovered I couldn’t do it. You see when I last went to the cinema you bought a ticket from a person, now I was being forced to interact with a touchscreen. This quickly caused me to hyper ventilate, break out in a sweat and just when I was about to find a place to hide whem a member of staff operated the device on my behalf, which to me seemed to rather negate the benefits the cinema were hoping to gain from having the devices installed, but with a ticket and a shred dignity I made my way towards the cinema. I digress, as I dared to delve into the deep, shady, subversive film genre of American propaganda, I armed myself with a vat of coke and a silo of popcorn, setting me back the deficit of a small African country. I knew from what I had read this was a story far complex to experience without popcorn, or through eyes of film reviewers, to use some army vernacular, this needed some eyes on the ground, and I was goin’ in hot.

So I watched it, I survived, but I’m confused(but before I go on, is it only me who gets really nervous whilst holding a gallon of coke and fumbling in the dark for the cup holder? I had visions of drowning the people sat in the row in front of me, would it have caused an evacuation of the cinema? It was a biblical sized cup of coke.) You see, I really don’t like America, its culture and particularly its movies, I find it crass, tacky, superficial and just downright mindless at times. So going into the the movie I was primed and ready to be disgusted by an obscene display of jingoism and patriotism. The disturbing and peculiar thing is, I wasn’t. Now I’m liberal, I’m pro choice, anti-gun, I believe anyone can marry anyone else provided they are of age and I support the voting rights of minorities. I was supposed to have been offended by this movie, for it failed to include a single lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans-gender love scene, but I realized early on that this wasn’t that kind of movie. Other liberals may not have picked up on this and had been expecting the protagonists of war to cuddle and kiss one another into submission. This is a war movie and as such people do really bad things, these people don’t appear to be that nice to us because they are doing really bad things. Now it’s another question entirely as to whether or not those people should have been sent there to do the really bad things, but sent there they were and I believe they would have done their best under the extreme conditions they found themselves in.

Yes, I am trying to defend this movie and Chris Kyle (as much as we know about him). For the life of me I struggle to understand what people found shocking or propaganda like about this movie. Any movie about an army at war is likely to side with one set of combatants. A movie focusing on the life of a soldier will probably make a note of that persons patriotism, after all soldiers tend to be patriots. In the movie and the book (I have yet to read) Kyle refers to the enemy as savages. I find this neither surprising nor insulting. When your having to kill people dehumanizing them is pretty common coping strategy to make it easier, it’s not pretty, but then again neither is shooting people for a living.


Mistakes, Inconsistencies, Lies, Lies and more Lies

“The first casualty when war comes is truth”

Hiram Warren Johnson (1918)

Eastwood’s movie and Kyle’s book undermine their own credibility through factual inconsistencies and overt lies. Johnson’s quote could be easily corrected so that it read “The first casualty when war or Hollywood comes is truth”. Firstly let’s cover the mistakes in the movie.

  1. Chris Kyle and his wife watch the Twin Towers being hit by passenger planes on the news, the date of this September 11, 2001. The next scene we have Chris Kyle in Fallujah, Iraq 2004. No mention of the war against the Taliban or the search for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, instead erroneously implying that Iraq had involvement in the September 11 attacks.
  2. Mustafa the sniper that plays the adversary of Chris Kyle and a central part in the movie only appears Kyle’s book for one paragraph. The movie has Mustafa fighting first for Sunni insurgents and the Shia. This is a ridiculous proposition given that at the time the Shia and Sunni Muslims were actually fighting one another.
  3. The movie tries to humanize Kyle by making him appear to have a sense of regret. This is not evident at any stage of the book, in fact he admits to his time being a Seal as ‘it was fun, I had the time of my life being a seal’.

 These are three poorly thought out, or lazy mistakes made in the movie. Unfortunately Chris Kyle himself made a litany of lies and preposterous statements, after becoming aware of these it throws the whole Chris Kyle, American Sniper phenomena into a tail spin. Chris Kyle claimed the following:

  1. First appearing in his book and subsequently removed, the lie Kyle is most famous for is ‘punching out’ Former governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura after Ventura had said Seals ‘deserved to lose a few over there’. Ventura started the action against Kyle whilst he was alive and then took the unusual action of continuing with it after Kyle was murdered, suing Kyles wife successfully for $1.8 million.
  2. Kyle claimed to have shot two men in Texas as they tried to steal his truck. There are no police records of any such event but his full story/lie/ schizophrenic/psychotic episode can be read here:
  3. You have to leave the absolute whopper to the end. What would motivate a man to claim he had done this is far beyond my reasoning. Chris Kyle claimed to have gone to New Orleans and ‘picked off’  dozens of looting bad guys. Again a story Louisiana state police called ‘preposterous’,for source read:

Like I said I left the cinema confused, the movie wasn’t fascist nor overtly nationalistic, but then again it wasn’t factually accurate and it told the story of a compulsive liar or someone suffering from psychotic hallucinations.

The only thing I feel pretty certain about is that American Sniper is about America’s most deadly sniper, it also happens to be about one of America’s most preposterous liars and directed by a senile old fart with not respect for the history or causality of events. Based on these facts alone I’m guessing American Sniper will go on to pick up most of the 6 Oscars for which it has been nominated.

Sniper Chris Kyle
America’s deadliest sniper and one of America’s most accomplished liars.

Gonzo symbol

Capital Punishment: Can State Sponsored Murder Ever be Justifiable Homicide?

In recent years it has become rather unfashionable, but recently I’ve got into revisiting some Orwell, both his novels and biographies about him. The acerbic author and journalist Will Self has recently described Orwell’s work as “Supreme Mediocrity”, for which I believe he makes quite a compelling case. However, It isn’t for the prose that Orwell’s work still captures the imagination, it’s for his ability to represent the most down trodden elements of a society, and it was whilst reading his essay A Hanging that he prompted me to vent my spleen about capital punishment.

In Orwell’s essay A Hanging he recounts the events that led to him observing an execution while serving in the Imperial Police Force. As the condemned man was being walked to the gallows he side steps a puddle to avoid getting his feet wet. To Orwell this was a profound moment and inspired him to write:

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working–bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming–all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned–reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone–one mind less, one world less.

Despite what Will Self might think, for me this is an outstanding piece of writing expressing the barbarism and ultimate finality of the act about to take place. Many criticize Orwell’s essay as being overtly biased, for one thing he never goes on to inform the reader of the crime the condemned man was found guilty of perpetrating. I believe that there is a very easy answer to this observation, and that is in Orwell’s opinion the crime committed can never justify capital punishment.

I’ve a very general philosophy in that death is bad, for everyone. That said I am pro-euthanasia and pro-choice, so on reflection, I support the death of those who are in suffering and I support the death of a fetus in its early stages of development, but I absolutely draw the line at the death of those convicted of serious crimes. (Damn I’ve just gone and compromised my own argument).

For me the death penalty is perverse. Societies universally agree that murder is bad. It then seems duplicitous for a society that believes murder to be bad to then murder someone. Imagine if you will, you catch your child fighting, you grab his hand and lead him away. You shout at him that violence never solves anything, and to make sure he learns his lesson you smack him a few times. This should cause cognitive dissonance as your actions directly contradict your message. And so it is with capital punishment.

Surely it is the goal of any custodial institution to reform its detainees to a point beyond the possibility of recidivism. Sentencing someone to death clearly demonstrates that the judge feels rehabilitation is far beyond the powers of the state, which seems ironic as all through the trial the state requires witnesses swear on a book  whose central tenants are compassion and forgiveness and in which miracles happen.

So far I have just considered the death sentence in the same context as Orwell in that it is an unjustifiable sentence, too great a power for any state to wieldd. Another far more practical argument  is that no legal system is impervious to making mistakes. In the U.S since 1973 150 death row inmates have been exonerated due to the fallibility of the legal system. In the U.K the Review Commission exonerated three people who were executed between 1950 and 1953, it should be kept in mind that the U.K executed on average 17 people a year at this time. Owing to the age of these cases it is impossible for the Review Commission to determine how many more wrongful executions there might have been.

A table showing the 150 people sentenced to death and later exonerated  

1 David Keaton FL B 1971 1973 2 Charges Dismissed
2 Samuel A. Poole NC B 1973 1974 1 Charges Dismissed
3 Wilbert Lee FL B 1963 1975 12 Pardoned
4 Freddie Pitts FL B 1963 1975 12 Pardoned
5 James Creamer GA W 1973 1975 2 Charges Dismissed
6 Christopher Spicer NC B 1973 1975 2 Acquitted
7 Thomas Gladish NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed
8 Richard Greer NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed
9 Ronald Keine NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed
10 Clarence Smith NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed
11 Delbert Tibbs FL B 1974 1977 3 Charges Dismissed
12 Earl Charles GA B 1975 1978 3 Charges Dismissed
13 Jonathan Treadway AZ W 1975 1978 3 Acquitted
14 Gary Beeman OH W 1976 1979 3 Acquitted
15 Jerry Banks GA B 1975 1980 5 Charges Dismissed
16 Larry Hicks IN B 1978 1980 2 Acquitted
17 Charles Ray Giddens OK B 1978 1981 3 Charges Dismissed
18 Michael Linder SC W 1979 1981 2 Acquitted
19 Johnny Ross LA B 1975 1981 6 Charges Dismissed
20 Ernest (Shujaa) Graham CA B 1976 1981 5 Acquitted
21 Annibal Jaramillo FL L 1981 1982 1 Charges Dismissed
22 Lawyer Johnson MA B 1971 1982 11 Charges Dismissed
23 Larry Fisher MS W 1984 1985 1 Acquitted
24 Anthony Brown FL B 1983 1986 3 Acquitted
25 Neil Ferber PA W 1982 1986 4 Charges Dismissed
26 Clifford Henry Bowen OK W 1981 1986 5 Charges Dismissed
27 Joseph Green Brown FL B 1974 1987 13 Charges Dismissed
28 Perry Cobb IL B 1979 1987 8 Acquitted
29 Darby (Jesse) Tillis IL B 1979 1987 8 Acquitted
30 Vernon McManus TX W 1977 1987 10 Charges Dismissed
31 Anthony Ray Peek FL B 1978 1987 9 Acquitted
32 Juan Ramos FL L 1983 1987 4 Acquitted
33 Robert Wallace GA B 1980 1987 7 Acquitted
34 Richard Neal Jones OK W 1983 1987 4 Acquitted
35 Willie Brown FL B 1983 1988 5 Charges Dismissed
36 Larry Troy FL B 1983 1988 5 Charges Dismissed
37 Randall Dale Adams TX W 1977 1989 12 Charges Dismissed
38 Robert Cox FL W 1988 1989 1 Charges Dismissed
39 James Richardson FL B 1968 1989 21 Charges Dismissed
40 Clarence Brandley TX B 1981 1990 9 Charges Dismissed
41 John C. Skelton TX W 1983 1990 7 Acquitted
42 Dale Johnston OH W 1984 1990 6 Charges Dismissed
43 Jimmy Lee Mathers AZ W 1987 1990 3 Acquitted
44 Gary Nelson GA B 1980 1991 11 Charges Dismissed
45 Bradley P. Scott FL W 1988 1991 3 Acquitted
46 Charles Smith IN B 1983 1991 8 Acquitted
47 Jay C. Smith PA W 1986 1992 6 Acquitted
48 Kirk Bloodsworth MD W 1984 1993 9 Charges Dismissed Yes
49 Federico M. Macias TX L 1984 1993 9 Charges Dismissed
50 Walter McMillian AL B 1988 1993 5 Charges Dismissed
51 Gregory R. Wilhoit OK W 1987 1993 6 Acquitted
52 James Robison AZ W 1977 1993 16 Acquitted
53 Muneer Deeb TX O 1985 1993 8 Acquitted
54 Andrew Golden FL W 1991 1994 3 Charges Dismissed
55 Adolph Munson OK B 1985 1995 10 Acquitted
56 Robert Charles Cruz AZ L 1981 1995 14 Acquitted
57 Rolando Cruz IL L 1985 1995 10 Acquitted Yes
58 Alejandro Hernandez IL L 1985 1995 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
59 Sabrina Butler MS B 1990 1995 5 Acquitted
60 Joseph Burrows IL W 1989 1996 7 Charges Dismissed
61 Verneal Jimerson IL B 1985 1996 11 Charges Dismissed Yes
62 Dennis Williams IL B 1979 1996 17 Charges Dismissed Yes
63 Roberto Miranda NV L 1982 1996 14 Charges Dismissed
64 Gary Gauger IL W 1993 1996 3 Charges Dismissed
65 Troy Lee Jones CA B 1982 1996 14 Charges Dismissed
66 Carl Lawson IL B 1990 1996 6 Acquitted
67 David Wayne Grannis AZ W 1991 1996 5 Charges Dismissed
68 Ricardo Aldape Guerra TX L 1982 1997 15 Charges Dismissed
69 Benjamin Harris WA B 1985 1997 12 Charges Dismissed
70 Robert Hayes FL B 1991 1997 6 Acquitted
71 Christopher McCrimmon AZ B 1993 1997 4 Acquitted
72 Randal Padgett AL W 1992 1997 5 Acquitted
73 Robert Lee Miller, Jr. OK B 1988 1998 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
74 Curtis Kyles LA B 1984 1998 14 Charges Dismissed
75 Shareef Cousin LA B 1996 1999 3 Charges Dismissed
76 Anthony Porter IL B 1983 1999 16 Charges Dismissed
77 Steven Smith IL B 1985 1999 14 Acquitted
78 Ronald Williamson OK W 1988 1999 11 Charges Dismissed Yes
79 Ronald Jones IL B 1989 1999 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
80 Clarence Dexter, Jr. MO W 1991 1999 8 Charges Dismissed
81 Warren Douglas Manning SC B 1989 1999 10 Acquitted
82 Alfred Rivera NC L 1997 1999 2 Charges Dismissed
83 Steve Manning IL W 1993 2000 7 Charges Dismissed
84 Eric Clemmons MO B 1987 2000 13 Acquitted
85 Joseph Nahume Green FL B 1993 2000 7 Charges Dismissed
86 Earl Washington VA B 1984 2000 16 Pardoned Yes
87 William Nieves PA L 1994 2000 6 Acquitted
88 Frank Lee Smithdied prior to exoneration FL B 1986 2000 ** 14 Charges Dismissed Yes
89 Michael Graham LA W 1987 2000 13 Charges Dismissed
90 Albert Burrell LA W 1987 2000 13 Charges Dismissed
91 Oscar Lee Morris CA B 1983 2000 17 Charges Dismissed
92 Peter Limone MA W 1968 2001 33 Charges Dismissed
93 Gary Drinkard AL W 1995 2001 6 Charges Dismissed
94 Joaquin Jose Martinez FL L 1997 2001 4 Acquitted
95 Jeremy Sheets NE W 1997 2001 4 Charges Dismissed
96 Charles Fain ID W 1983 2001 18 Charges Dismissed Yes
97 Juan Roberto Melendez FL L 1984 2002 18 Charges Dismissed
98 Ray Krone AZ W 1992 2002 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
99 Thomas Kimbell, Jr. PA W 1998 2002 4 Acquitted
100 Larry Osborne KY W 1999 2002 3 Charges Dismissed
101 Aaron Patterson IL B 1986 2003 17 Pardoned
102 Madison Hobley IL B 1987 2003 16 Pardoned
103 Leroy Orange IL B 1984 2003 19 Pardoned
104 Stanley Howard IL B 1987 2003 16 Pardoned
105 Rudolph Holton FL B 1986 2003 16 Charges Dismissed
106 Lemuel Prion AZ W 1999 2003 4 Charges Dismissed
107 Wesley Quick AL W 1997 2003 6 Acquitted
108 John Thompson LA B 1985 2003 18 Acquitted
109 Timothy Howard OH B 1976 2003 26 Charges Dismissed
110 Gary Lamar James OH B 1976 2003 26 Charges Dismissed
111 Joseph Amrine MO B 1986 2003 17 Charges Dismissed
112 Nicholas Yarris PA W 1982 2003 21 Charges Dismissed Yes
113 Alan Gell NC W 1998 2004 6 Acquitted
114 Gordon Steidl IL W 1987 2004 17 Charges Dismissed
115 Laurence Adams MA B 1974 2004 30 Charges Dismissed
116 Dan L. Bright LA B 1996 2004 8 Charges Dismissed
117 Ryan Matthews LA B 1999 2004 5 Charges Dismissed Yes
118 Ernest Ray Willis TX W 1987 2004 17 Charges Dismissed
119 Derrick Jamison OH B 1985 2005 20 Charges Dismissed
120 Harold Wilson PA B 1989 2005 16 Acquitted
121 John Ballard FL W 2003 2006 3 Acquitted
122 Curtis McCarty OK W 1986 2007 21 Charges Dismissed Yes
123 Michael McCormick TN W 1987 2007 20 Acquitted
124 Jonathon Hoffman NC B 1995 2007 12 Charges Dismissed
125 Kennedy Brewer MS B 1995 2008 13 Charges Dismissed Yes
126 Glen Chapman NC B 1994 2008 14 Charges Dismissed
127 Levon Jones NC B 1993 2008 15 Charges Dismissed
128 Michael Blair TX O 1994 2008 14 Charges Dismissed Yes
129 Nathson Fields IL B 1986 2009 23 Acquitted
130 Paul House TN W 1986 2009 23 Charges Dismissed
131 Daniel Wade Moore AL W 2002 2009 7 Acquitted
132 Ronald Kitchen IL B 1988 2009 21 Charges Dismissed
133 Herman Lindsey FL B 2006 2009 3 Acquitted
134 Michael Toney TX W 1999 2009 10 Charges Dismissed
135 Yancy Douglas OK B 1995 2009 14 Charges Dismissed
136 Paris Powell OK B 1997 2009 12 Charges Dismissed
137 Robert Springsteen TX W 2001 2009 8 Charges Dismissed
138 Anthony Graves TX B 1994 2010 16 Charges Dismissed
139 Gussie Vann TN W 1994 2011 17 Charges Dismissed
140 Joe D’Ambrosio OH W 1989 2012 23 Charges Dismissed
141 Damon Thibodeaux LA W 1997 2012 15 Charges Dismissed Yes
142 Seth Penalver FL W 1999 2012 13 Acquitted
143 Reginald Griffin MO B 1983 2013 30 Charges Dismissed
144 Glenn Ford LA B 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed
145 Carl Dausch FL W 2011 2014 3 Acquitted
146 Henry McCollum NC B 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed Yes
147 Leon Brown NC B 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed Yes
148 Ricky Jackson OH B 1975 2014 39 Charges Dismissed
149 Wiley Bridgeman OH B 1975 2014 39 Charges Dismissed
150 Kwame Ajamu OH B 1975 2014 39 Charges Dismissed

On Average, each of these 150 people spent 11.2 years in jail before their exoneration. Simply there is no legal system with the infallibility to be able to use the death sentence. Any execution of an innocent person has to be a murder by the state with people being held responsible for such a murder. Some may argue that the 150 exonerated is proof of the legal  system working, but this is a ridiculous argument, given the liberty that has been denied to an  innocent person as well as the stress of being on death row for all that time.

Another famous author who was present at an execution was Truman Capote, the result of his research into his non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. Despite the fact that he knew both Perry Smith and Richard Hickock were guilty of an absolutely gruesome murder, Capote could never see the legitimacy of a just and moral society using the death penalty, and believed that it was only being used to address the fears and anger of the citizens of Kansas. To be honest and realistic can the death penalty ever represent anything other than the states efforts to address the public’s anger and fear.

So is it state sponsored murder or justifiable homicide? (a definition of which you can read below) To be honest I don’t know, all I do know is that the taking of life is wrong, you’ll have to make your up your own mind. In the meantime I’m off to open up my clinic offering cut price abortions to Thai prostitutes using nothing more than a pair of chopsticks, and then I have to euthanize my gran.

Justifiable homicide: n. a killing without evil or criminal intent, for which there can be no blame, such as self-defense toprotect oneself or to protect another, or the shooting by a law enforcement officer in fulfilling his/herduties. This is not to be confused with a crime of passion or claim of diminished capacity whichrefer to defenses aimed at reducing the penalty or degree of crime. (

Does the Freedom of Speech Empower us to be Needlessly Disrespectful?


We were barely able to see in the new year before its first major event revealed itself, a little like dung negotiating its way out the anus of an elephant. I intentionally use a vile simile because let’s make one thing clear from the outset, the violence that we witnessed in Paris was barbaric and vile. There is, and never will be a way of justifying those actions

In the 10 days since the attacks I have been left feeling a little perplexed by the spin the media and government put on it. We were told incessantly that this was an attack on our freedom of expression. Unlike 9-11 which attacked buildings, the Paris attack was more symbolic, it was an attack on a fundamental ideology held by the countries of Europe and North America. For the past 10 days I have been left to wonder what the freedom of expression is, do we have it, do we use it as it is meant to be used, and what’s next?

The Role and Agenda of the Media

Please don’t get me wrong, masked gunmen firing Kalashnikov rifles in the middle of one of the worlds major capital cities should capture the interest of the major news networks, but what concerned me was the rhetoric they were quick to use.

The smoke was still drifting out the barrels of the terrorists rifles and the smell of cordite still hung heavily in the Paris air that morning, when the media declared that this was an attack against our inalienable  right to the freedom of expression. I was surprised with the celerity that the news networks were able to be so certain, to draw such a definitive conclusion. Now I confess that I am inclined to look at things a little differently, and whilst not condoning the actions of the gunmen, it was possible for me to see a causal relationship as to how and why this occurred. To say that Charlie Hebdo is a good advocate for the right to the freedom of expression is no different from saying the Kouchai brothers were good Muslims.

Lest we forget the circumstances upon which the Republic of France was founded. After succesfully storming the Bastille, the people went on to execute any aristocrat or reactionary they could place their hands on. Ironically this period is known as The Terror. A period from 1793-1794 when over 16,000 people were guilotined alone. One of the most iconic actions that set the United States on their way to becoming a republic was the Boston Tea Party, an event that if it were to happen today would be defined under American law as an act of terrorism. Both of these events are held up with a near sacred reverence, symbolic of their nations struggle for freedom. What today is seen as an act of violence, might be viewed diffrently by some people in 100 years time. Again this in no way placates the events in Paris, it is just interesting to acknowledge the violence from out of which both these republics arose. I could go onto mention scores of acts of violence and torture the republics have been involved with in more recent times, but that only opens a whole new can of works.

This attack struck at an ideology that we in the west unquestioningly consider to be an inalienable right that we all have. But do we?

Do we Have the Freedom of Expression?

Many of us in Europe particularly following the Charle Hebdo attacks assume that we have the freedom to say, print, or draw anything we please. There are certainly libel, and slander laws that prevent us from circulating information that is false and malicious, there is also the following legislation that the EU passed in 2007:

European Union Framework Decision for Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2007)

The text establishes that the following intentional conduct will be punishable in all EU Member States:

– Publicly inciting to violence or hatred , even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
Publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising

crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in the Statute of the International Criminal Court (Articles 6, 7 and 8) directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, and
crimes defined by the Tribunal of Nuremberg (Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, London Agreement of 1945) directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

The reference to religion is intended to cover, at least, conduct which is a pretext for directing acts against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

Member States will ensure that these conducts are punishable by criminal penalties of a maximum of at least between 1 and 3 years of imprisonment.[

Member States may choose to punish only conduct which is either carried out in a manner likely to disturb public order or which is threatening, abusive or insulting.

This act gains its notoriety as being the one that prevents anyone from denying or trivializing the holocaust. In all honesty it would appear to me as being a pretty difficult subject to trivialize, but none the less our freedom of speech ends here. Interestingly one would think that those at Charlie Hebdo should have been held responsible under the passage:

Publicly inciting to violence or hatred , even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

It is at this juncture that my anti-social level of cynicism comes into play. The staff at Charlie Hebdo were clearly acting in defiance of this act. As it turned out their actions not only got 8 of their employees killed but 12 others who had nothing to do with the magazine. Why wasn’t this law enforced. Had this law had been enforced would, the very reason for the law itself to prevent stirring racial hatred, then there is a good chance this event would never have happened. Since this law was passed the following people have been found guilty of holocaust denial, one of which received a 6 year jail sentence.

Feb. 15, 2007 Ernst Zündel Germany 5 years’ imprisonment
Nov. 8, 2007 Vincent Reynouard France 1 year imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 euros
Jan. 14, 2008 Wolfgang Fröhlich Austria 6 years’ imprisonment (third offence)
Jan. 15, 2008 Sylvia Stolz Germany 3½ years’ imprisonment
Mar. 11, 2009 Horst Mahler Germany 5 years’ imprisonment
Oct. 23, 2009 Dirk Zimmerman Germany 9 months’ imprisonment
Oct. 27, 2009 Richard Williamson Germany €12,000 fine [later overturned]
Jan. 31, 2013 Gyorgy Nagy Hungary 18-month suspended jail sentence 

Now these people are most likely extreme right-wing neo nazi morons, and west-double-standard-on-mocking-jews-muslimsprobably not someone you would ask to baby sit for you. None the less they demonstrate that this law is really only meant to protect a certain group within society. In Europe to date, nobody has been incarcerated or fined for inciting the hatred of Muslims.


The events in Paris were one great tragedy, but there is one case that should make people realise this was an attack by terrorists who happened to be Muslims. Members of the Ku Klux Klan were Christians but they did not behave in ways the christian doctrine endorses. je-ne-suis-pas-charlie-copy Ahmed was the Muslim policeman who was executed as he lay wounded on the pavement. Ahmed was a Muslim who chose a career that would help protect the people of Paris.

Wherever it is that we go from here I only hope there are enough of us with the courage to discuss and bring to light the agenda that is fanning the flames of this fire.


Confessions of a Jetlagged Manic Depressive


Degenerative Personality Disorder, Regressive Emotional Development Syndrome, or simply, irresponsible selfish wanker, are all terms that can equally be applied to me. The medical profession however prefer a more tactful approach, they try to keep me sweet in order to make more money out of me, so to them I am Bipolar, Manic-depressive. It’s a title that costs me a couple of hundred dollars a month in drugs to retain, think of a hook and get the interest of the reader god dam it; like I said I’m a selfish wanker who couldn’t care less whether you read this or not, in fact I only write it in the hope that it will provide me with some ultimately defining cathartic experience, a moment of clarity, an epiphany that will enable me to walk away from myself .

“It had already begun by the time I was so unsure as to how I got to be sitting in the Thai Airways Executive departure lounge. I quickly put a stop to asking myself such questions and just accepted it for what it was. When your in the throes of a manic episode the temptation is to give in to it, let it take control, to ride it out and see where it ends.

It’s two o’clock in the morning. I’m in a room at the holiday inn Bangkok, I’m wired. I’m 700 miles from where I should be, where I’m expected to be, where people think I am. I haven’t slept for more than two hours out of the last 72 and my mind gathers momentum as it careers at breakneck speeds contemplating nothing, on the face of it not dissimilar to the mindset of your average tuk-tuk driver. But the sheer exhilaration is consuming me. People pay good money for illegal drugs that can’t get themselves half as high as this. I’m out beyond the edge, and I know that coming back from this one is going to hurt, people will have to pay for this. For as Thompson said “For every moment of triumph for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled”. O.k so this moment is devoid of both triumph and beauty, it’s really only the trampling of souls that applies. It’s a white knuckle ride I never remember getting on and I have no idea where to get off, when or how it stops. All I do know is that I’m not the one sitting at the controls. Out of interest I ask my best friend if there’s any link between mania and jet lag. I only ask because yesterday I feel certain that I was on a long haul flight back to Thailand recently. I’m wondering if there is a causal nature between jetlag and how I’m currently feeling and behaving, why I can’t sleep and why I keep succumbing to base impulses. Rather eloquently it informs me that disruption to the circadian rhythm can have a negative impact on people with psychiatric diseases, including manic depression. For a moment I am pleased with this, it placates me, I have found an excuse, suddenly it’s not my fault, like how the death of a friend gives an alcoholic an excuse for the day.

In a soulless hotel room nothing that surrounds me offers any comfort. Not even the prostitute who appeared and sits on the end of my bed, whose job it must be to surely fill this void, but only achieves in adding to the soullessness of the room, the situation. What is just another in a long line of improbable situations I have manufactured out of a nebulous circumstance.

One flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. When you don’t sleep for several days it’s hard to keep track. Sleep is an effective way of demarcating the end of one day and the start of another, without it, you’re just experiencing an endless, meaningless procession of non sequitur events. Still I have been responsible enough to book a return flight early enough to get back for an appointment with the psychiatrist.

I’m in a new room now, one that’s decorated with even less imagination than the Holiday Inn. I’m sat at a table, crude strip lighting illuminates two angry men in skin tight brown uniforms sitting opposite me. The Thai police uniform has forever reminded me of what it used to be like to pass solid stools, something I have been unable to do since living in Thailand. The one that’s been playing the “good cop” suddenly stands up and walks out, slamming the heavy door behind him. His partner moves his corpulent body around to my side of the table which he sits on, looking down at me, adipose flesh stretching the seams of his uniform. He leans towards me his nose a couple of inches from my face.

“Farang have big problem, dead prostitute in farang bedroom. Bad, bad farang.” I can smell cheap cigarettes and even cheaper Thai whiskey on his breath, and as he speaks  to me some of his spittle lands on my lower lip.

He runs his hand through my hair and places his other hand in the crotch of my pants.

“Is that all?” Quizzed the psychiatrist.

I actually like my psychiatrist, he’s the one person I know is probably madder than I am. He’s a big man, thirty odd years old and with green hair. To me he always looks like a man who has insisted upon only drinking the tap water from a nuclear power plant.

“Isn’t that enough?” I answered. ”Then he rapes me. And I’ve also caught myself using two computers at a time, which upon reflection it seems a little unnecessary.”

“And why do you feel the need to do that? I mean It’s not a crime, there’s no need to feel guilty about doing this?” The psychiatrist retorted, surprising me by completely ignoring the policeman rape story.

“Well on one there’s porn obviously, what would be the point of running two computers if one wasn’t being used for porn?”

“Indeed” he interjected.

“And on the other one I like to keep a note of what I have been doing, seeing if I can spot patterns in my cycles of mania.”

“It sounds like a very practical idea, have you noticed anything?” The psychiatrist questioned.

“Nothing definitive as yet. I like to write down things before I visit you. Try to get straight the important things that have happened. Try to put things in order and forget that this is my life, and it’s ending one moment at a time.”

“Maybe you could bring these you next time, so we could look over them?”

“Hell no! What I do during a manic binge stays strictly between me and my mania, I would die from embarrassment if anyone knew. To be honest with you who would anyway, if that’s all I’ll pick my lithium up and get out of here?”