No Good News – Pity The Fools

The 2012 Summer Olympics have begun – and how did the Nepalese flag-carrier have his hands all about? … Pretty awesome! The world is excited about running, swimming, variations on running, diving, throwing things, and running with jumping added to it to break up the monotony by turning it into some kind of rhythm.

Ha ha ha, maybe in another 4 years, fellas. For me, it was hard to focus on the world of sport. Sport of the world? Forget it – Conrad Black upped the ante. He took the first shot. He ended it, here and now. He started pitying fools. He even picked up some slang when he was in the slammer:

I have known for many years that there were haters out there, by which I mean people who hated me.

Hey, I said “some”. It’s amazing to see Conrad Black say “haters”, even if it’s just in print. I’d also like to think that he starts to sound like Michael Caine when he gets mad, calling whoever he’s going to headbutt “my son”, and sounding furious but never raising his voice.

So, about whom is Conrad speaking? What, you want to wear this sweater before he’s done knitting it? For shame, 7,000,000,000 impatient NGN readers.

Notwithstanding that the chances of my committing a crime are less than zero (and that no sane person could possibly believe, on the shabby and extorted “evidence” offered by prosecutors, that I had done so in the past), I resolved that my Christian duty as well as my rational self-interest required me to rise above my circumstances as best I could, and make the best of it. In prison, I treated all my fellow residents with respect and with the comradeship of a fellow victim of the American criminal justice system.

Fellow victim of the United States criminal justice system! Conrad Black is dead set on being remembered in history as some kind of warrior. He’s compared himself to Josef K in the past. Also, not the strict demarcation between “Christian duty” and “rational self-interest”- those never blur or cross paths in Conrad Black’s mind. Frankly, I’m sure “with respect and with the comradeship of a fellow victim of the American criminal justice system” means he shanked somebody powerful in the yard. Just look at this picture:

That’s the cold eyes and half-grimace of a man who has stabbed another man in the gut with a knife he made by holding a lighter to the bristles on a toothbrush until they were rock-hard, then spent 6 weeks just filing it down to a jagged, vicious point on the rough cement floor of his cell and hid it in the toilet trap so that when he stabbed  Rooster Prez and moved the blade around it was all shredded intestines and Aeromonas.

I didn’t hate anyone, and got on well with everyone. There was not a single difficult moment with anyone in three years in two prisons. And some of the people I encountered, both among the unskilled labour of the so-called correctional personnel, and those of us in their charge, included a good many, to say the least, rebarbative personalities.

So he doesn’t hate the “rebarbative”, or the “unskilled labour of the so-called correctional personnel”. I guess those choices of words are just honest. Conrad Black: calling it like he sees it. Some less accepting people call that kind of candid integrity “being an asshole.” I call it “a symphony of words”.

As I have come to regard life as a God-given privilege that we should always be thankful for and try to make the most of in all circumstances, and accepted that there was some reason, albeit not easily discernible and having nothing to do with my legal conduct, for my ostensible downfall and incarceration, my time as a prisoner was not without its rewards, especially when I had the privilege to help some of my fellow residents as a teacher.

Did I say symphony? I meant opera. What, was he in prison for 17 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family? Guy makes it sound like he’s Jean Valjean.

I have never accepted that there is no right to hate. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is “a time to love and a time to hate,” and I do hate a few of those who betrayed or otherwise tormented me, a very few.

Please, please name them. He’s got his hooks in me! His tantalizing words-hooks. It’s like a delicious Cuban cigar of words. It keeps coming, I can taste more character, the smoke of the aged wood, the drying process in every plume of smoky verbiage that bursts forth from the SEE WHAT HAPPENS? And he’s just like this at 9 am on a Thursday, wearing his shell hat and snifting a Brandy before he goes to shoot skeets with the face of Sir Edward Heath in the centre of a pentagram painted on them. Look it up.

Black has a detailed sketch of a fool ready for us, an antagonist who he seems to think of as homeless, but is probably just a baby boom liberal arts graduate.

We were at a very pleasant Toronto restaurant, sitting beside the window at the front of the restaurant on Queen Street West, and were just getting to dessert on what was a very convivial evening, made more enjoyable by excellent cuisine and very courteous and efficient service. A man appeared at the window and remained, a primitive, stupid, demented-appearing man in a sloppy pair of trousers and tee-shirt and a pork pie hat, with piscine, hate-filled eyes, who just stared at us, for nearly 30 minutes, started to mouth sentiments that his expression indicated were censorious, if though probably not coherent, whenever he made eye contact with any of us. We all did our best to ignore him. But it is difficult to avoid awareness, then curiosity, then reciprocated hostility toward a lurking presence, a total stranger and clearly very alien personality, deliberately trying to sabotage a much-appreciated leisure evening, and acting on a compulsion, fortified by incandescent, confected self-righteousness, to irritate, provoke, antagonize and offend us, all total strangers, upon whom he had happened by mischance. It reminded me slightly of the dramatic reappearance of Fagin in the window, in Oliver Twist, a hideous countenance leering and writhing in epithets and contumely, though in this case too ignorant to express its uncontainable hostility of unknowable provenance other than by rude gestures and silent, coarse mouthings.

He goes on to refer to whoever this is supposed to be (Chris Selley? Mulcair? Who?) as a “malignant appartition”, as though he’s 65 years old in 1971, but then this happens:

Fagin (an adapted description that does not imply ethnicity, which was completely indiscernible other than that he was white), bustled around the corner and knowledgeably addressed me by my British title and said I was not welcome in Canada and would be returning “to jail.” (Prisons are considerably more formidable institutions than jails, I learned when confined in them, but didn’t think it useful to enlighten my interlocutor.)

First of all: the Post needs to put this guy who follows Conrad Black around harrassing him on the payroll. Maybe it is Chris Selley? But moreover: Black outsmarts the man mid-insult! I am sure he thought of him as “Fagin” (which absolutely implies ethinicty, and he knows it, and is being so coy about it which is wonderful because coyness and contempt: what a recipe! What is he, a French 6-year old who doesn’t want fish for lunch? Is calling this man “Fagin” a bêtise to Conrad Black?) in the moment as it was happening. Poetry before the poem! This may be his best work.

I felt a sensation of hatred toward this ghastly mutation who thought it his righteous prerogative to disrupt the dinner of strangers and shout abusive comments on the sidewalk, but also pity for this pathetic interloper reduced to such depths of sociopathic impotence. Yet as we drove away, and on reflection, I was discouraged that some nominally conscient person, however contemptible and limited, would be so fiercely antagonized by my physical presence in a public place, for I was the target of his abuse, not the others in our little party, though all are generally well-known.

And so began the fool-pitying. Who was he eating dinner with, I wonder? And which Queen West restaurant was it? Chippy’s? Was he eating at Chippy’s with Belinda Stronach? But the fool-pitying did not end there.

As I thought about it, in the car and when we got home, I realized that the behaviour of this pitiful wretch was not qualitatively different to that of some people who have persecuted me from ostensibly respectable positions that gave them some purchase on events — rabid civil litigators, dishonest prosecutors, and some bigoted judges — in the United States and Canada. And they do not have the excuse of poverty, disadvantage or derangement, some or all of which, unless he was a poseur of astounding virtuosity, our Fagin could probably invoke if pressed.

So many, many fools. Does Black hazard a guess as to how they became fools?

There must be an element of what psychologists call displacement, the exercise of the frustrations generated by their own failings, envy and prejudices, and the imputation to me of imagined and embellished errors and offenses.

He doesn’t need to name names: the unnamed know their names. And this column isn’t for us: it’s for them. It’s clear that he brought the fool-pitying out to make an example out of fools and to keep any potential fools in line, which he concludes by making explicit:

At the end of the day, the officious enemies, their antagonism made more sinister and more protracted than our Fagin’s by perverted careerism, will be no more durable nor consequential. And they have less excuse for their inexcusable conduct than the idiot or lunatic (or both) in the pork pie hat in the window on our wedding anniversary night.

His anniversary! The indignity! How foolish these fools! How robust his pity! Who does this guy think he is?

About Matt Collins

Matt Collins is a musician (Ninja High School), cartoonist (Sexy), jock (Manhunt), and comedian (Matt Collins) in Toronto, Ontario. Please buy more Matt Collins. [Other Posts By Matt]