Over at Crooked Timber there's been some analysis of the online hoo-ha over a recent Guardian article by Charlie Brooker. The article itself is no longer available online, but I've scanned it in here, at almost exactly the same size as it was initially published.
If you go to where the article used to squat online, you'll instead read that '"Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. 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."'
Why's he apologising? Well, it appears that some people are determined to convince the world that the old canard about Americans lacking any sense of irony. If you check out this hateful rag, you'll see that a smart-arsed TV review has instead been interpreted as a call to assassinate the American president - 'The Left’s campaign of hate and defamation against the American president has hit a new low: a major media organ of the international Left, edited by an associate of Bill Clinton, has called for President Bush’s assassination.'
I'm not sure how to respond to that sort of thing. Blinking is probably a good start.
Did Brooker, even in jest, call for Bush's assassination? He said, after all 'John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?'
Is that a call to kill the president? Hmmm. I'm not sure. Bill Hicks used to say something similar about George Michael. What was it? 'The fact that we live in a world where John Lennon was murdered, yet Barry Manilow con...tinues to put out albums. GOD DAMMIT. If you're gonna kill someone, have some fucking taste. I'll drive you to Kenny Rodgers' house. Get in the car I know where Wham! lives.'
Sorry, guys, it was a joke. Not a funny joke, perhaps, and one in questionable taste - after all all human life is sacred - but a joke for all that. By screaming about this being a threat to kill the President you just draw attention to it and make yourselves look like fools.
But then, that just supplies more amusement for those of us in the real world.