S. Thompson, George W. Bush and the Free Republic
month, after the Drudge Report linked to a recent Hunter S. Thompson
Go to the Olympics," May 18, 2004) an editor at
ESPN asked that an inflammatory statement be removed. "Not even the foulest
atrocities of Adolf Hitler ever shocked me so badly as these [Abu Ghraib]
photographs did," Thompson’s sentence read, before eventually being
Thompson was merely stating opinion, ESPN recognized the controversy
behind the quip and changed it. "Hunter can go too far sometimes," the
editor reportedly said.
Drudge’s observations were nevertheless posted on the Free
Republic Web site, and, as usual, the hall monitors from hell took aim. "They
can second guess their outrageous comments all they like...we still catalog
and record them," one poster wrote of ESPN’s intervention. "Hunter can
join his friend Garry [sic] ‘Mr. Jane Pauley’ Trudeau on the sh*t list,"
another warned. And of course, there was the ever-original: "THEN LEAVE
AND STAY OUT!"
Thompson’s observation was, admittedly, over the top. After all, George
Bush is not exactly advocating any "final solutions" just yet. Even so,
in light of all the rhetoric about freedom, liberation and democracy,
memos leaked to the Wall Street Journal confirm that this administration
-- in its search to legitimize torture and unseat our representative
republic in favor of empire and an imperial presidency -- continues to
lead the country down a Death Star-lit path.
if London's Telegraph is to be believed, explosive and confidential
Red Cross documents have been handed over to a U.S. television
network which plans to air them soon. "There are some extremely
damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses [at
Abu Ghraib]," attorney Scott Horton said. "The biggest bombs
in this case have yet to be dropped."
And though this time the "Big Lie" looks like "6 or 7 bad apples," one
thing is clear: the columnists, politicians and bloggers who asserted
that the war in Iraq was just like World War II (while casting the U.S.
as a big-hearted and selfless G.I.) now seem like characters in a Harold
reaction to Thompson’s column is not surprising, however. In Sept.
2002, after listening to the gonzo journalist’s thoughts on the Bush
administration (a " gang of thieving, lobbyists for the military
industrial complex,") an Australian radio host characterized probable
reaction to Thompson’s suspicions regarding the official Sept. 11 story. "Oh
look, that's just another conspiracy theory from a drug-addled gonzo
journalist like Hunter S. Thompson," the interviewer said, of likely
responses to musings that the White House was not exactly telling us
Which, of course, is precisely how denizens of the Free Republic responded
to Thompson’s Drudge-linked piece. "Well, he's obviously on drugs," one
Freeper wrote. "And here he is, an addled fool. Drug burnout," another
responded. "The drugs Ozzie [Osborne] and Keith Richard have done are
literally chump change compared to Hunter; he's a professional," another
So, yes, while it’s true that Thompson has done his share of illegal
substances and often relies on hyperbole (that’s part of his charm, if
you ask me), the tactics used to ignore the larger concerns raised by
the Good Doctor’s piece -- in this case, questions about U.S.-sanctioned
torture -- are now commonplace. While in a perfect world, discussions
regarding America's changing attitudes towards the rule of law and human
rights might rightly follow, instead teeth are bared at Thompson and
anyone else whose message is disliked.
And while the musings of zealots on an Internet message board might
not amount to a hill of beans in this world, the fact that similar diversionary
tactics are used on talk radio, TV and in Op-ed pages everywhere is problematic.
Before the war, you most undoubtedly recall, discussion and debate were
squelched through attacking people’s patriotism, a mode that’s become
less popular now that many of the Bush administration’s deceptions have
been unearthed. Nevertheless, the national dialogue is as sickly as ever,
and the following ploys guarantee that it won't recover anytime soon:
1. Attack the messenger
A: "maybe Hunter is an anti-semite."[sic] -- Free Republic post #8
B: " . . this is just an opportunity for these absurd products
of the zeitgeist -- women clearly in the grip of the delusion
that they know something, have some policy, and wisdom not given
to the rest of us to know -- to grab the spotlight. again, and
the same tripe before a national audience." -- Wall Street Journal pundit Dorothy Rabinowitz on the 9/11 widows
2. Curse the venue
A: "Disney-ESPN saw fit to give him [Thompson] a column to spew
his hate." -- Free Republic post #19
B: "For all that, what makes [Paul] Krugman so devastating
and dangerous is the fact he operates from the pages of America's "newspaper
of record." -- Donald Luskin, National Review Online
3. Disparage the messenger’s credibility
A: "His [Thompson’s] credibility left with his brain cells" -- Free
Republic Post #23
- Exhibit B: "People out there are accusing you [Scott Ritter]
of drinking Saddam Hussein's Kool-Aid." -- Paul Zahn, CNN , Sept.
4. Speculate on the messenger’s hidden agenda (without offering substantial
A: "This business of equating merely abusive American practices
with blood thirsty genocidal murder commited [sic] by the Nazis
does nothing but obscure the reality of what the Nazis did. People
do that on a regular basis can be fairly said to be holocaust deniers.
Hunter probably has some anti-semitic [sic] friends in Europe he's
laying down cover for." -- Free Republic post #8
B: "[Bill] Moyers and his friends have betrayed the citizens of this
country in their battle to advance an anti-capitalist,
anti-American agenda. . ." -- Front Page Magazine, March 2003
5. Accuse the messenger of bias (without offering substantial proof)
A: "He [Thompson] somehow could find NOTHING to criticize in 8
years of Clinton. He re-discovered his political voice only after
Jan 2001, when the Clintons were out of the WH." -- Free Republic
Post # 23
B: "The failure of chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix to inform
the U.N. Security Council of the discovery of an Iraqi
drone with a 24-foot wingspan, during his oral presentation yesterday,
has outraged U.S. officials and cast serious doubt about his objectivity."
-- Newsmax, March 2003
6. Try to intimidate the messenger
A: "Hunter can join his friend Garry [sic] "Mr. Jane Pauley" Trudeau
on the sh*t list. . . If you want on the list, FReepmail me. This IS
a high-volume PING list..." -- Free Republic post #33
B: "Inexplicably, more than 1,000 theaters have indicated they
will proudly broadcast what The Guardian calls an "anti-war/anti-Bush"
film. . . HOW TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST MICHAEL MOORE: "Move America Forward
. . . has compiled contact information for the leading movie executives
in the business. If you don’t want to see them promoting anti-American
propaganda then tell these executives so directly." -- Newsmax, June,
2004 (*Ties between "Move America Forward" and GOP activists have
since been uncovered and some movie theater owners are reportedly
7. Question the messenger’s sanity (a variation on the pre-war theme
of the questioning people’s patriotism):
A: "[Hunter Thompson] is so warped he is interesting but I wouldn't
take anything he said seriously. This is bat country you
know!!!" -- Free Republic post -#26
B: "It looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium
again." -- Charles Krauthammer, FOX News "Special Report" May 26,
2004 (*While commenting on Howard Dean in Dec. 2003, Krauthammer also
suggested "it’s time to check the thorazine supplies," and in Dec, 2002
declared, "I'm a psychiatrist. I don't usually practice on camera" but
nevertheless decided that Al Gore "could use a little help").
Not surprisingly, conservative pundits have long perpetuated the "loony
left" theme, while the folks at the Free Republic have also chimed in
on the latest
attacks against Vice President Gore.
Which brings us back to the topic at hand. Just how drug addled and
out of touch is Hunter S. Thompson? Sifting through past columns, it’s
easy to see why Freepers don’t care for him. Far from being incoherent
and wrong, he’s often quite lucid and right. And, even when he’s not,
as an ESPN editor concluded at the start of one column: "The opinions
voiced below are those of the infamous Doctor Thompson and are absolutely
not the views of this network or the editors. That is free journalism."
And so, in the interest of free journalism, free speech and a truly
free republic (and as a reminder that nothing is ever as absolute as
strident right wingers try to make seem) the following is a brief retrospective
of some of Dr.
Thompson’s more recent hits:
‘The Fix is In,’ Nov. 27, 2000
- "There was one exact moment, in fact, when I knew for sure
that Al Gore would Never be President of the United States, no matter
what the experts were saying -- and that was when the whole Bush family
suddenly appeared on TV and openly scoffed at the idea of Gore winning
Florida. It was Nonsense, said the Candidate, Utter nonsense. . .Anybody
who believed Bush had lost Florida was a Fool. The Media, all of them,
were Liars & Dunces or treacherous whores trying to sabotage his
victory. . . Here was the whole bloody Family laughing & hooting & sneering
at the dumbness of the whole world on National TV. The old man was the
real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It was like
looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth.
The sheep's fate was sealed, and so was Al Gore's."
‘Fear & Loathing
in America,’ Sept.12, 2001
towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes
for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country.
Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we
will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives."
- "It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines
and no identifiable enemy. . . We are going to punish somebody for this
attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard
to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three
at once. Who knows"?
is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed
-- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W.
All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and
that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global
Oil industry to finish it Now."
War Drums Roll,’ Sept. 17, 2001
last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich
kids, compared to what's coming now. The party's over,
folks. . . [Censorship of the news] is a given in wartime, along with
massive campaigns of deliberately-planted ‘Dis-information.’ That is
routine behavior in Wartime -- for all countries and all combatants --
and it makes life difficult for people who value real news."
‘Domestic terrorism at the Super Bowl,’ Feb. 11, 2002
blizzard of mind-warping war propaganda out of Washington is building
up steam. Monday is Anthrax, Tuesday is Bankruptcy, Friday
is Child-Rape, Thursday is Bomb-scares, etc., etc., etc.... If we believed
all the brutal, frat-boy threats coming out of the White House, we would
be dead before Sunday. It is pure and savage terrorism reminiscent of
'Extreme behavior in Aspen,' Feb. 3, 2003
"We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear -- fear
of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized
or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad
debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague
charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer."
‘Love in a Time of War,’ March 31, 2003
is hard to ignore the prima facie dumbness that got us bogged down
in this nasty war in the first place. This is not going to
be like Daddy's War, old sport. He actually won, and he still got run
out of the White House nine months later.. . The whole thing sucks. It
was wrong from the start, and it is getting wronger by the hour."
‘A Sad Week in America,’ April 10, 2003
journalists have died in Baghdad. . . American troops are killing journalists
in a profoundly foreign country, under cover
of a war being fought for savage, greed-crazed reasons that most of them
couldn't explain or even understand."
the hell is going on here? How could this once-proud nation have changed
so much, so drastically, in only a little more than
two years. In what seems like the blink of an eye, this George Bush has
brought us from a prosperous nation at peace to a broke nation at war."
‘Big Darkness,’ July 22, 2003
wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably
a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer
of '03. The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember
in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse.
. . The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am
not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it."
‘The Nation's Capital,’ July 29, 2003
utter collapse of this Profoundly criminal Bush conspiracy will come
none too soon for people like me. . . The massive plundering
of the U.S. Treasury and all its resources has been almost on a scale
that is criminally insane, and has literally destroyed the lives of millions
of American people and American families. Exactly. You and me, sport
-- we are the ones who are going to suffer, and suffer massively. This
is going to be just like the Book of Revelation said it was going to
be -- the end of the world as we knew it."
‘Nightmare in La-La-Land,’ August 17, 2003
- " I
had a truly horrible dream last night. . . [Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Mike Tyson and I] were on our way to a TV studio for
a debate about his long-time working friendship with the powerful Bush
family from Texas and how it might affect the next Bush presidency when
The Terminator seizes power in Sacramento and tries to hand over the
state's 54 electoral votes by election day in 2004. That is the basic
plan behind Schwarzenegger running. He doesn't want to be Governor, he
just wants the electoral votes to go to Bush this time."
‘The Bush League,’ Sept. 9, 2003
are we seeing George Bush on TV every two hours for nine or ten days
at a time, like some kind of mutated Mr. Rogers clone? Something
is dangerously wrong in any country where a monumentally-Failed backwoods
politician can scare our national TV networks so totally that they will
give him anything he wants."
‘Fast and Furious,’ Oct. 14, 2003
have never had much faith in our embattled child President's decision-making
powers ... I know that is not what you want to hear/read
at this time, especially if you happen to be serving in the doomsday
mess that is currently the U.S. Army."
take no pleasure in being Right in my dark predictions about the fate
of our military intervention in the heart of the Muslim world.
It is immensely depressing to me. Nobody likes to be betting against
the Home team."
‘Am I Turning Into a Pervert?’ Nov. 18, 2003
we get chased out of Iraq with our tail between our legs, that will
be the fifth consecutive Third-world country with no
hint of a Navy or an Air Force to have whipped us in the past 40 years."
‘Bush's Disturbing Sleeping Disorder,’ Feb 18, 2004
- "This is no time for the ‘leader of the free world’ to be falling asleep
at massively-popular sporting events. . .Was [Bush] drunk? Does he fear
the sight of an uncovered nipple? Was he lying? Does he believe in his
heart that there are more evangelical Christians in this country than
football fans and sex-crazed yoyos with unstable minds? Is he really
as dumb as he looks and acts? These are all unsatisfactory questions
at a time like this."
it possible that he has already abandoned all hope of getting re-elected?
Or does he plan to cancel the Election altogether by declaring a national
military emergency with terrorists closing in from all sides, leaving
him with no choice but to launch a huge bomb immediately?. . . Desperate
men do desperate things, and stupid men do stupid things. We are in for
a desperately stupid summer."
Better Than the Tournament?’ March 18, 2004
myself, I would much prefer to be stuck with Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament,
than stuck with George Bush in the White House. It is
the difference between losing your wallet at a cock fight and losing
all your credit cards forever, along with your job and your house and
your ability to earn enough money to pay off your sports-gambling debts
or even a six-pack on game day. . . "
‘The Big Finale Was a Big Disappointment,’ April 6, 2004
2004 presidential election will be a matter of life or death for the
whole nation. We are sick today, and we will be even sicker tomorrow
if this wretched half-bright swine of a president gets re-elected in
‘Let’s Go to the Olympics!’ May 18, 2004
- "These horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action
on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected. I
have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering
things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry
an American passport."
there you have it. Is Thompson really "warped"? Is his
credibility shot? Maybe in Freeperville, but certainly not from where