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Guardian's So Sorry By: Francis Till
National Business Review | Thursday, October 28, 2004


The Guardian has taken a remarkable step by replacing a column in which the writer appeared to call for the assasination of George W Bush with an apology.

The columnist, Charlie Brooker, reviews television programmes for the Guardian.

In his October 3 column, "Dumb Show", Mr Brooker reviewed the debates between Mr Kerry and Mr Bush and found both candidates lacking -- but reserved a particularly venomous evaluation for Mr Bush.

He wrote: Throughout the debate, John Kerry, for his part, looks and sounds a bit like a haunted tree. But at least he's not a lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat. And besides, in a fight between a tree and a bush, I know who I'd favour.

It was the closing paragraph, howver, that got global attention.

In that passage, Mr Brooker wrote: 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?

Today, the Guardian withdrew the column from its website, replacing it with
this:
The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

"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."
All of which leads one to wonder whether the Guardian doesn't have a special, private dictionary in which "irony" has a definition not readily available to the rest of the world.

Welcome as the apology was, it fell short. Ironically, the Guardian seems unaware of the full import of the original column. But the well known
Powerline Blog perhaps summed it up best: "This is, of course, where the liberal campaign of hatred and violence has been going for some time. I do think it is likely that someone will get killed; I hope it isn't President Bush. One can only wonder: if such a tragedy occurs, will the liberals come to their senses?"

Francis Till writes for the National Business Review.


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