Citizens say the darnedest things

Following on from the revelation that the Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen were big fans of the Canadian Punk Rock Band The Suicide Pilots comes an editorial from the Upright Ottawa Citizens’ Association.

The ‘What Do You Expect’ dept.
The Ottawa Citizen
May 23, 2008

Many Canadians likely would want to dismiss Jeffrey Monaghan as nothing more than a misguided young man, but in fact he has provided a service by restoring a measure of unity to our fractured political body.

That is, politicians of all stripes are united in their belief that Mr. Monaghan is a misguided young man.

Ok, perhaps that’s not exactly how politicians are putting it, but they are agreed that Mr. Monaghan is wrong to complain that the RCMP is persecuting him and his friends. If anything, the consensus seems to be — rightly — that the police would have been derelict had they not done some checking into the group’s activities.

Mr. Monaghan belongs to a punk rock band that calls itself the Suicide Pilots, and its logo is an image of airplane heading towards the Parliament Buildings. In the post 9/11 world, this is a bit like making jokes about hijackers at the airport. If you joke about hijackers at the check-in, people are going to notice and start asking questions. It’s disingenuous to then react with righteous indignation and claim that you are shocked — shocked! — to be mistaken even momentarily for a terrorist.

An intriguing question: just how many jokes about hijacking a plane does the Al Qaeda Training Manual actually contain? And are hijackers instructed not to make jokes to airport authorities about their intentions to commit a terrorist attack upon boarding? Or is there, in fact, a strict limit on the number of jokes concerning their immediate goals members of the terrorist cells are able to relate? Inquiring minds demand answers.

The Citizen continues:

The Suicide Pilots learned from documents obtained through the Privacy Act that their band had caught the attention of the RCMP. Actually, police already knew Mr. Monaghan. He was arrested last year while working on a temporary assignment with Environment Canada, on suspicion of leaking government materials relating to environmental policy. Mr. Monaghan was associated with an anarchist group in Ottawa at the time and while no charges have been laid, he has made clear that he is a fierce political opponent of the government.

“Actually” — that is, in reality — it appears that the investigation into the band was launched almost immediately upon Monaghan’s arrest. Further, the investigation concerned not just the supposed leak — the treatment of which raises other issues — but Monaghan himself, his band, and his political activities as a whole, including — but presumably not limited to — his involvement in Exile, an anarchist infoshop. “According to documents obtained by Monaghan through the Privacy Act, two days [after his arrest] the RCMP decided to investigate the band, which “compares Harper to Hitler.” The handful of pages released by Monaghan of the 184 pages he obtained indicate that police examined the band’s lyrics and Monaghan’s involvement in an anarchist bookstore” (Mounties probe band: Investigate lyrics, logo, Elizabeth Thompson, The Gazette, May 22, 2008).

Now, Mr. Monaghan is absolutely correct to insist that police should not be harassing people for their political views, no matter how eccentric they might be. But celebrating suicide terrorism — as the name and logo of the band seem to do, at least at first glance — can hardly be dismissed as just another variety of political dissent. Mr. Monaghan and his fellow musicians are no terrorists, but it’s hard to blame the RCMP for wanting to confirm that.

Uh-huh. Well, actually, the band’s logo can be dismissed, quite easily. (Try it at home.) But the point is that it wasn’t. By an institution — the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team — dedicated to combatting non-state terrorism. On what basis? Do the Yaksmen seriously believe that a terrorist organisation would form a band and call it The Suicide Pilots? If so, then the RCMP’s account of the terrorist threat requires some very serious revision:

Threats to our national security are continually changing, presenting an “intelligence challenge” to governments and law enforcement around the world. Potential terrorists may not have yet engaged in criminal activity and are therefore difficult to recognize and impede. Terrorist organizations, whether foreign or domestically-based are increasingly sophisticated, with members linked through technology and loosely linked groups or cells, allowing them to operate in an environment where borders are virtual and detection is difficult. This global operations base for terrorist groups emphasizes the importance of an integrated policing approach where intelligence is shared among countries around the world.

On the other hand, “increasingly sophisticated” potential terrorists may also form punk bands, call themselves The Suicide Pilots, and employ a silly cartoon as their logo; a real ““intelligence challenge”, this sneaky tactic.

The editorial concludes that “The anarchists with whom Mr. Monaghan has been associated may not like our system of government, but they’re lucky to be living under it”; to be precise, to be spied upon by it on the basis of their cartoons.

The last word goes to The Suicide Pilots:

SP and the Terror Coppers!
May 22, 2008

It appears some idle bureaucrats in Ottawa’s spy departments have been evaluating the terror-ness of The Suicide Pilots.

A note on our logo: Please, please, notice the plane has a face. Unless you’re a crude and improbate crap-sack, you will recognise that “planes” do not have faces. Therefore, if this “plane” has a face, is it really a “plane”? Now, silly reactionaries, ask yourself that question. If you’re being snide, let us help you: The answer is no! (our apologies for all individuals that did not need that condescending explanation). That is not a plane. It is an image of a plane with a puzzled face. That means it’s a symbol, or metaphor, or whatever the fuck you want to call it. Please feel the freedom to interpret it any particular way you’d like. We’ve displayed the image publicly and have therefore accepted the risks of independent interpretation. So please, eat that shit up.

Authoritarian states have a long history of suppressing dissent. Some of history’s most powerful images of dissent have been expressed through various means of art (for the record, we don’t consider our art, or expression, or music – for that matter – particularly important). The fact that the gargantuan “War on Terror” apparatus of the State has identified and catalogued our work is an example of the ridiculousness of this phony war. Of course, there have been many individuals directly impacted by this war’s racism. We do not want to understate those abuses. Along with the renditions, racism, and other forms of oppression perpetuated by the “War on Terror” campaign, the spying on social activists, artists and others, displays the real character of the State. It shows a closed group of power-hungry megalomaniacs entirely concerned with protecting their power and suppressing movements that challenge their authority and legitimacy.

Paranoid governments are prone to attacking artists and dissidents. Perhaps the paranoia evident in this enormous police apparatus is an expression of the system’s weakness; the tighter their grip, the more people will slip through their fingers. As more folk find themselves on the fringes – disenfranchised, manipulated, persecuted & cast aside by a system emphasizing property and profit – resistance to this abusive structure will grow. Things desperately need to change; the more those at the top of the hierarchy struggle to hold on to the reins of power, the more apparent it becomes, even to those who never thought themselves radical, that change is imminent. We would like to believe that this bloated, top-heavy, cop-shop-State – being built by people, can be broken down just the same. Sarah Polley shall lead the charge that sees Harper swingin’ in the breeze, so much crow meat… Apologies to Ms. Polley if they take that last sentiment as seriously as our poor little plane.

For centuries the buildings atop of Garrison Hill (aka Parliament Hill) have coordinated the violence of this colonial enterprise. No empires last. When in Rome, do as the Vandals.


About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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