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The League Of Extraordinary Journalists

Last month, the story of the mysterious theft of the Sandy Hook memorial signs was picked up by news agencies and bloggers all around the world. The internet seemed to pause in collective disgust just long enough to remind itself that there are, still, to paraphrase the late Bill Hicks, “little demons running amok.”

But I’m certain no one said better what we all felt as human beings– all still suspended in a seemingly perpetual state of shock and mourning, still coping with mass-shooting after mass-shooting– as parents, as affected communities, or as kids and teachers still trying to acclimate to the new mass-shooting drills being taught in elementary schools between recess and Climate Change Denial studies (as part of the NRA/Republican plan to deal with the epidemic of gun violence in America) than The Daily Banter’s own Chez Pazienza.

Like Brian Johnson writing on behalf of Breakfast Club America through the leather-gloved lens of John Bender, Chez touched a nerve. In particular, what must have been the last frayed nerve of one Andrew David Truelove just before the “snap.”

The Daily Banter has foiled a crime, and maybe altered the course of history in the process. Who knows how far this guy would have gone to prove his point?

Reading the motives of the obviously disturbed mind belonging to the young man responsible, I couldn’t help but empathize in trying to understand how this would-be delinquent from The Simpsons went from sawing the head off the Jebediah Springfield statue with Jimbo Jones and the gang to robbing a community of its sentimental property and then taunting their grieving process.

Last year, I was standing outside my house around midnight when a young kid about 15 years old walked up to my shared-driveway and quietly lifted the door handle on my neighbor’s car. He didn’t see me there in the shadows, and I wasted no time in alerting him to my presence, yelling out, in my take-no-shit voice that years of Chicago public schooling had taught me, “Hey, Bitch! What the fuck you doin’?” The kid immediately stopped and physically sighed in way that said, “Oh, man. I’m busted, and now I’m gonna have to run.”

He ran, and I could have chased and caught him easily, but I didn’t. What stood out to me wasn’t that he seemed scared-straight by my striking tone, and that he likely wouldn’t be back, but the brightly-colored Chicago Bulls jacket made of leather he was wearing on his petty crime spree. I thought, there’s no way this kid’s going to be able to wear that expensive jacket ever again. He essentially lost something that probably had some value to him that night over some dirty pennies in a cup holder.

Weird thing is, though, the kid came back. He walked right up to my door on a bright sunny day and apologized. He explained to me that he was having trouble at home, in particular his father was shunning him because he was gay. He was too young to work and his group of friends were more troubled than him, he said. He told me he thought he had more in common with the good-nature of hippies than common criminals. I must have talked to him for a couple of hours– telling him that it gets better. That there are good people out there who are understanding and open to his troubles, but that he just has to focus, ask for help, graduate high school, and value his worth.

He’s come back a few times to share his progress and his ideas he’s had about revolutionizing the graffiti culture with a new spray-can design. Hey, at least he’s not stealing from my driveway anymore. He’s thanked me several times for giving a shit, and showing some moral support. A little counseling and compassion goes a long way toward the road to redemption, evidently.

But I couldn’t imagine if this kid had shown up to my relatives’ house, let alone someone like Andrew David Truelove, as was the case with Bob Cesca. Like America’s Dumbest Criminal auditioning for some attention from the owners of Empire Records, this is just one of the reasons why I value my anonymity, and why I have the utmost respect for those who put it out there– knowing that some lone nut showing up to their family’s door to take issue with something they’ve written is always a possibility. In this regard, I’ve always held a great deal of respect and admiration for Bob. And, I don’t mean to laugh, but Chez seems to have the cool-kid respect of the lone-nut-collective for some reason.

So, when I saw the exclusive photos of the stolen signage posted at The Daily Banter, I felt like I had met the person belonging to that chubby, emotionally-stunted middle finger and those distinctly colored pair of scrub-Jordans before. I imagined that he just didn’t have anyone in his life to call bullshit on all of his delusional beliefs and to encourage him to do better (turns out, his father was certainly no guide).

And what sort of guidance could he be getting from the so-called champions of liberty, truth and freedom, out there in the information void?

I looked up a column written by Glenn Greenwald that he wrote soon after the shooting in Newtown, CT. In it, he uses the tragedy to try to redirect our attention away from examining our gun-crazy culture to drone killings in Yemen and Pakistan. He tries to put our consciences on a couch that a disturbed conspiracy theorist like Andrew David Truelove must crash on after turning over all the piss-soaked cushions for ‘loose change.’

In his post-Sandy Hook column, Greenwald mocks the president’s sincerity and “teary sermons” and throws the dogs of the idiot-propaganda war a tasty bone, writing,

Citizens of a militaristic empire are inexorably trained to adopt the mentality of their armies: just listen to Good Progressive Obama defenders swagger around like they’re decorated, cigar-chomping combat veterans spouting phrases like “war is hell” and “collateral damage” to justify all of this.

See, it’s not a direct line to Godwin’s Law, but in typical Greenwald fashion, he’s suggesting that “Good Progressive Obama defenders” is just his way of updating “The Good German.” So, we’re just a bunch of Nazis, which pretty much nurtures and vindicates any violent, anti-government conspiracy theorists out there.

But in the deep end of the cesspool of paranoid delusions, the all-things-Truther movement has no better swimmer than Senator Rand Paul– the savior of the manipulated masses.

After Sandy Hook, Rand Paul used the tragedy to accuse the president of using the parents as props, saying,

“When I see the father and the mothers and them testifying — and I know they’re coming voluntarily, and they want to come and be part of this debate — but it still saddens me just to see them, and I think that in some cases the president has used them as props. And that disappoints me,” he said.

“A lot of things in Washington are window dressing, it’s a dog and pony show, it’s a parade, it’s theatrics it’s histrionics, all to show people that something bad happened — which it did something terribly tragic happened.”

This is the core of the suggestive-reasoning amplifying the screeching voices of today’s anti-Obama propaganda. The binding derangement these Truthers all seem to have in common is that President Obama is staging false flags for the UN to take away our guns. Like the Nazis, of course. Sen. Rand Paul, especially, is the recurring appeal-to-authority tie that binds them all together in the bomb shelter. Greenwald might as well be supplying the canned goods.

But getting back to the case, when I saw those Air Jordans on the floor in the photographs, I thought it couldn’t be long before someone who knows those particularly-worn shoes comes forward with information. To say and do nothing would be an obstruction of justice. And I can’t help but laugh a little over the fact that this guy is currently walking around a county jail with no laces on those shoes.

As it turns out, investigative police work is still alive and well, but not without the help of concerned citizens and journalists who place principle before opportunity.

Bob and Chez could have seized the opportunity in this neo-journalistic world we’re all being led to believe is the only way to overcome the vast perniciousness of the drooling, media-lapdog conspiracy.

Sure, they could have accepted the stolen signage to mine endlessly for proof of a government conspiracy, releasing new bits of sensationalized information about the suspicious bolts and screws that must have had their FEMA serial numbers removed. They could have then flown Andrew David Truelove to Russia where he would appear as a giant head warning of the dangers of not seeing the Orwellian language written on the signage at the memorial park.

But they didn’t, simply because they still have something called integrity, and now they’re a couple of bona fide journalist/crime-stopper extraordinaires.

I know it sort of goes against the unwritten rules of decorum in journalism, the same way you’re supposed to act like you’ve been there before, but I’m really proud of you guys. You brought a piece of a broken community back to its rightful owners and maybe answered a young man’s indirect cry for help.

Some days the terrorists win, and some days they run into Bob and Chez.

  • Art__VanDalay

    Excellent post.

    • Badgerite

      Of VanDalay Industries?

  • muselet

    Brink, you’re one of the good guys. Keep an eye on that kid: if he’s got the smarts and the talent, you could be following his very successful career in art (graffiti art is, or can be, art; tagging and the like is mere vandalism; and yes, it can be very hard to tell the two apart).

    Bob and Chez are good guys, too. Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen journalists—some of them very good journalists—who would simply have run a story on the theft of the playground signs and the motive of the thief, patted themselves on the back and moved on to the next story (and would, with their employers’ lawyers, fight like rabid wolverines against disclosing the thief’s identity to law enforcement). Bob and, especially, Chez stepped up and did the right thing: they acted as humans first and journalists second (a close second, but second).

    As for Glenn Greenwald and Rand Paul, they’re puny excuses for human beings, unwilling even for one brief moment to shut the fk up (Winston Churchill: “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”) in the face of unimaginable tragedy. They deserve more contempt than a sad sack like Andrew David Truelove, because they encourage the sad sacks to think they’re smart and clever and brave.

    And, I don’t mean to laugh, but Chez seems to have the cool-kid respect of the lone-nut-collective for some reason.

    You’re right. It’s probably because he’s a bigger badass than any of the lone nuts could ever hope to be. Good thing he’s on our side, innit?


    ADDING: Great headline.

  • Badgerite

    “Good progressive Obama defenders swagger around like their decorated, cigar-chomping combat veterans spouting phrases like ‘war if hell’ and ‘collateral damage’ to justify all this.”
    I believe Greenwald is confusing the verbiage and attitude of the the Bush years with the Obama years. He really is quite dishonest in this regard. And I don’t remember hearing a peep out of him during the Bush years.
    If he wants to see hypocrisy he can look in the mirror. He dismisses the terrible suffering caused by Al Qaeda for 2 decades, dating back to the political turmoil in Somalia where women and emaciated children were starving on the roadways due to the political strife caused by the warlords that Al Qaeda was supporting. Aid organizations would deliver food only to have the warlords confiscate it for themselves.
    Boko Harem , translated, is supposed to mean “No to Western Education”. Not western militarism. Western education. So in the moral universe of the people we are fighting, ‘western’ education, and in particular education of women, is a crime. Last time I checked, neither Al Qaeda nor any no organization affiliated with Al Qaeda ASKED anyone how they felt about them taking over and in areas they control, military force is how that control is attained and exercised. God, he makes me sick.
    Just yesterday, HuffingtonPost had an excellent article on the state of affairs for free speech and dissent in China entitled, An Inside View of China’s Network to Suppress Dissent. That Snowden should have run off to China claiming that somehow, the US was worse, is just preposterous.

    • muselet

      Off-topic as usual: a couple of weeks ago, BBC News ran an article on the meaning of “Boko Haram.” It translates approximately to “Western education is a sin.”

      The official name of the group itself is “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad,” which translates from the Arabic to “People of the Sunnah [the practise and examples of the Prophet Muhammad’s life] for Preaching and Jihad Group.” It is a militant Islamist group, but as far as I can tell it has no connection to al-Qaeda (which emphatically does not make them any less insane or bloodthirsty, mind).


      • Badgerite

        Corrected, I am.