Je Suis Charlie

I try to be funny.  Really, I do.  But sometimes I have no clue how my ideas are being received.  My writing has sometimes caused people to unfriend me on Facebook.  I have gotten bizarre comments on my blog.  I got yelled at for something I said when I thought I was complimenting the person.  I can be an absolute idiot.  I can unwittingly take awkward to whole new levels in public.  Sometimes I am just trying on new ideas, see if they stand up to being said aloud.  Sometimes I have formed opinions that do differ wildly from others. Sometimes, I am just going for the joke. That’s okay.  Differences make life interesting.  It’s a “to each his own” kind of thing. Everybody has a batshit crazy section in their brains.  Some of us open the door and air it out more often than others, maybe more often than we really should. Doesn’t mean a thing, though.

But today, my heart aches as I am reminded that some people are too damaged to understand when someone is just joking.  The news that a dozen people were killed in my favorite city, Paris, only because they worked for a magazine that published satire takes me to a dark place.  I just do not understand what has happened.

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo sometimes focused on uncomfortable topics, as it should have. That’s the beauty of satire.  It amuses while turning a spot light on religion, the government, egos, big business, the holy cows that flourish only when unexamined and unquestioned.

The editor, “Charb” Charbonnier, who was also one of the magazine’s cartoonists, was killed along with his police bodyguard.  He was once asked why he continued to hit issues that he knew would draw ire.  He answered that he preferred to die on his feet than live on his knees.

Ironically, just this past November Charlie Hebdo requested financial assistance to avoid bankruptcy.  Now, instead of the usual 60,000 issues it will publish one million copies of the next issue (14 Jan 2015) in defiance.  It is being called the “survivor” issue.

A makeshift memorial is growing in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices.  In addition to the de rigueur candles, note cards, and stuffed animals, people are leaving pens.  Hundreds of pens.  Pens, the most dangerous tool on the planet, strong enough to shake people’s core values, mighty enough to topple governments, are being left in memory of cartoonists and writers at a humor magazine.

My condolences to the survivors.  My condolences to the city of Paris.  My condolences to the friends and families left behind.  Joking just got real, y’all.

pen

Can You Hear Me Now?

A reader requested that I post my piece on the NSA that appeared on my old blog.  Here ’tis.  Enjoy and  thank you for following me.

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“Ms. Brennan, do you know why you’re here?”

I was sitting in a windowless primer gray room, furnished with the bare minimum of a metal table and two chairs. A man, his glasses riding low on his nose while he skimmed a file, was sitting across from me. He smelled like White-Out and fluorescent lighting, definitely a government employee.

“No, I do not. Why don’t you tell me?”

“Okay, if that’s how you want to play it. You’re here because we suspect you of aiding and abetting the enemy, namely al-Qaeda. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I’d say you’ve been sniffing the Elmer’s. That’s insane.”

“We have transcripts here from NSA, that’s right the National Security Agency, that have you purchasing weapons, making bombs, and going to Iraq and Pakistan. Now what you got to say, Missy?”

“I’d say you’re high. It is not possible that you have transcripts of any such conversation because it simply did not take place. You could pay me all the money in the world and it wouldn’t be enough to get me to Iraq. It’s never going to make my bucket list.”

“Well, it says right here. . .”

“Give me that.” I grabbed the papers and started reading. There were a lot of blanks, referenced by the word unintelligible.

“Dude, what kind of low-bid contractor did y’all use? Over half of the transcript is missing, the other part is misheard. You can not pull law-abiding citizens off the street based on this malarkey.”

“Ma’am, I assure you that we only use the most qualified technicians possible. You can trust this transcript.”

“Oh horseshit. I worked for the government and I know low-bid when I see it. Let me tell you what this conversation was really about and you decide just how qualified your technicians are.”

I turned to the page he’d highlighted as the smoking gun of my malfeasance. It read, “Rupees for AKs to Pakistan and al-Qaeda’s high turnover to Iraq from afar unintelligible.

Suicide bombers will be there. ”

Let’s just take this line by line, shall we? What I actually said when I called my great-aunt Ruby was, “Ruby, tell A.J. to pack his yam dish and alligator pie turnovers.”

I wrecked my car so I can’t go to the picnic. Susie said she’d make her bombe dessert and be there.”

“Ms. Brennan, you could be saying anything right now to wiggle out of this. How am I supposed to believe you?”

“Well Mr. Hot Shot Investigator, if you’d looked up the phone number I called for this little chat, you’d see it was to my great aunt Ruby Fletcher, the best gardener alive in all of Scottsville, Virginia.”

“Ah ha! And how do we know that this Ruby Fletcher is not some Muslim front? How about that?”

“Well, you don’t because you obviously didn’t make any effort to find out. But I hardly think that some Muslim front would pose as the Presbyterian church organist for forty years just to support their back story.   Do you? Let’s read some more of your fairy tales.”

“Bin-Laden and Afghanistan unintelligible.

Mullah training camp, passports unintelligible trained Akbar unintelligible shooting martyrs.”

The truth was, “I’ve been loading my afghan stand with so many new blankets, I’ll have to get another one to keep up with all my knitting.”

Bubba took the train to camp, piss poor supervision there. He sprained his ankle and broke his glasses while shooting targets.”

“Now look here, Ms. Brennan, we’ve spent billions of dollars on this program and it is without peer anywhere in the world.”

“Oh I don’t doubt that. I certainly hope it’s without peer, because it is worthless. Just listen to this beauty you captured.”

“Shoot flak jacket Iraq. Unintelligible oil for Greece mosque fortune. ”

What I said was, “Shoot, I left my Falcons jacket in the car I wrecked. Hope the mechanic doesn’t get oil or grease on it. It costs a fortune.”

“So you see sir, your eavesdropping program is low-bid bunk. Now you take me right back home. Better yet, swing by the park. There’s a picnic that I don’t want to miss. You’re welcome to join us and sample some of A.J.’s alligator pie turnovers or Susie’s bombe. They’re so good, you’ll just die.”