Shock Horror: Folklore of Disaster 13

SHOCK HORROR: The Folklore of Disaster


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© Warren Fahey


The popularity of the WWW and its accessibility to the common man (and woman) has created a world wide chat room. It reminds me of my youth when I would venture down to Sydney’s Domain parkland to hear all manner of sage, lunatic and zealot spruik about all and nothing at all. It was here that I listened to one of the last of the Wobblies as he yelled out ‘International Workers of the World’ to which the audience would chant back ‘IWW – It Won’t Work!’. The Internet reminds me of those soapbox days and the messages are as garbled as ever. It has also seen the distribution of well-intended, often misguided, facts and especially ‘lists’ on how to make our world a better place. No one could or should argue with such intentions however a zealot is still a zealot however he or she is packaged.      

Several computer desktop graphics were circulated after America declared its War on Terrorism. The following enabled viewers to ‘shoot’ at bin Laden and even provided a scoreboard.

The following email was given wide distribution soon after the terrorist attacks and whilst it appears to come from the heart of a supposedly brilliant young man it still has the vagueness one associates with urban lore.  On reading Alex’s prose I decided to tap his name into the Internet and lo and behold he not only exists but also is an Australian living in Sydney. What interested me is the accompanying questioning dialogue where www users asked if Alex Hartman is real. There was no mention of the following screed on the postings so there is still no way of ascertaining its validity. Whatever the case the sentiments are real. 

 (Alex Hartman is a lad who became a millionaire in Year 11 or 12 for designing some piece of software that the mega-computer companies salivated over. On the subject of the crisis in Afghanistan he writes:)

 Bomb them with butter, bribe them with hope!

 A military response, particularly an attack on Afghanistan, is exactly what the terrorists want. It will strengthen and swell their small but fanatical ranks.

Instead, bomb Afghanistan with butter, with rice, bread, clothing and medicine. It will cost less than conventional arms, poses no threat of US casualties and just might get the populace thinking that maybe the Taliban don’t have the answers. After three years of drought and with starvation looming, let’s offer the Afghani people the vision of a new future. One that includes full stomachs. Bomb them with information; – video players and cassettes of world leaders, particularly Islamic leaders, condemning terrorism. Carpet the country with magazines and newspapers showing the horror of terrorism committed by their “guest”. Blitz them with laptop computers and DVD players filled with a perspective that is denied them by their Government. Saturation bombing with hope will mean that some of it gets through. Send so much that the Taliban can’t collect and hide it all. The Taliban are telling their people to prepare for Jihad. Instead, let’s give the Afghani people their first good meal in years.  Seeing your family fully fed and the prospect of stability in terms of food and a future is a powerful deterrent to martyrdom.

All we ask in return is that they, as a people, agree to enter the civilized world. That includes handing over terrorists in their midst. In responding to terrorism we need to do something different. Something unexpected; – something that addresses the root of the problem. We need to take away the well of despair, ignorance and brutality from  which the ‘Osama bin Laden’s’ of the world water their gardens of terror. It is important that we learn to think in NEW ways. If we continue attacking in the old ways we will get the same old results.

Look at what has been happening the Middle East for thousands of years to see what we can expect if we attack with bombs and military force.

Do we want to live a life of fear as people in the Middle East do?

Here is another example. These messages often appear as if they are chain letters however, unfortunately, they also look as if they carry a virus. There is a whole folklore associated with such viruses. Beware of false prophets especially when they have a virus attachment!

 Not poverty. Not greed. Fear. Always fear. And above all, fear of women, their fertility, sexuality, and inability to be controlled by men, and their closeness to the earth with the

Natural cycle of their lives, holding the power and the secret of life in their loins

And the belief that death is infinite and fear of death. Of ultimate nothing, Powerlessness. Nothingness. Fear of interpersonal honesty and equality in intimacy. Socio-spiritual growing up in you and me that will achieve peace: inner peace,  world peace, leadership by who we are, not what we do. Anything else is futile.

Inner peace is world peace. Peace will come. Have faith.

Only love lasts forever

Here is a similar piece however this one has a feminist joke in its tail:


What to do with Osama bin Laden?

Killing him will only create a martyr. Holding him prisoner will inspire his comrades to take hostages to demand his release. Therefore, it has been suggested that we do neither. Let the Special Forces, Seals or whatever covertly capture him, fly him to an undisclosed hospital and have surgeons quickly perform a complete sex change operation. Then we return HER to Afghanistan to live as a woman under the Taliban.

In a similar feminist vein this item spells out the role of the American women.

 Take all American women who are within five years of menopause. Train us for a few weeks, outfit us with automatic weapons, grenades, gas masks, moisturiser with SPF15, Prozac, hormones, chocolate, and canned tuna. Drop us (parachuted, preferably) across the landscape of Afghanistan, and let us do what comes naturally. Think about it. Our anger quotient alone, even when doing standard stuff like grocery shopping and paying bills, is formidable enough to make even armed men in turbans tremble.

We’ve had our children. We would gladly suffer or die to protect them and their future. We’d like to get away from our husbands, if they haven’t left already. And for those of us who are single, the prospect of finding a good man with whom to share life is about as likely as being struck by lightning. We have nothing to lose.

We’ve survived the water diet, the protein diet, the carbohydrate diet, and the grapefruit diet in gyms and saunas across America and never lost a pound. We can easily survive months in the hostile terrain of Afghanistan with no food at all!

We’ve spent years tracking down our husbands or lovers in bars, hardware stores, or sporting events…finding bin Laden in some cave will be no problem.

Uniting all the warring tribes of Afghanistan in a new government?

Oh, please … we’ve planned the seating arrangements for in-laws and extended families at Thanksgiving dinners for years … we understand tribal warfare.

Between us, we’ve divorced enough husbands to know every trick there is for how they hide, launder, or cover up bank accounts and money sources. We know how to find that money, and we know how to seize it …with or without the government’s help!

Let us go and fight. The Taliban hates women. Imagine their terror as we crawl like ants with hot-flashes over their godforsaken terrain.

Sex, like humour, can be a powerful weapon and it is not surprising that some jokes, and especially photoshop, used sex to belittle bin Lager’s reputation. Most are cheap shots involving homosexuality and bestiality.