Merchants Of Change

If you share the values and value the beliefs of serious columnists who aren’t afraid to challenge the recently re-energised merchants of change – especially the disciples and followers of the well trumped Hope and Change High Priest Obama – you’ll have plenty to reveal when you come out of the emerging market wilderness and seek the sanctuary of shared cause.

The first consideration in what to reveal when concerns aim. Satire has always been the most effective way to expose hidden agendas that threaten healthy values. To paraphrase Swift, satire is a sort of glass (a mirror) wherein beholders do discover everyone’s face but their own (irony), which is that chief reason for it’s kind reception in the world (yeah right), and why so very few are offended by it (hah hah). He also calls satire a game of hide and seek, since exposure by ridicule doesn’t endear a satirist to his prey.

In the good old days, any self-respecting pro-am satirist would be delighted to find some creative way to have a go at a pseudo-charlatan like Barry and hope to provoke overreach. While the satirist could expect the system savvy to take revenge in ways many and nefarious in the age of technology, panicking Plod into prosecuting wasn’t one of them. But not now. Today, in the UK’s post-sticks’n’stones society where everyone is quick to take offense to gain an advantage bestowed on them by a pampering nanny state, even a wannabe charlatan at the bottom of the grievance-mongering food chain can expect to be indulged by the Police.

So while a pseudo-charlatan like Obama can drive policy that damages your interest and insults your intelligence, and you can return the compliment with a satirical gauntlet, a common or garden charlatan with a piss poor social media following, loads of mental health issues, entitlements and a criminal record, who happens surprise surprise to know his way around the system, can take any liberty he wants, and if challenged by satire ring 999, claim victim status, and watch the state machinery fire up in his favour.

From there, in my experience, the satirist is on a one way ticket via The Protection From Harassment Act 1997 to a criminal record of his own for non-violent harassment, while the fake victim wallows in the complete and confirmation biased support of impartial Police looking to take advantage of soft targets to boost prosecution rates. In mitigation, I guess he who pays the piper, calls the tune, if you forget that is ultimately the taxpayer. Less agreeable is the complicity of legal eagles for defense and prosecution, who see the gravy on the train, and ignore the devils driving it, and Magistrates or Judges who appear more inclined to take whatever the fake victim says at face value, while dismissing any line of argument that questions how satire that aims to offend creatively can be conflated with harassment in the first place. All in all a united front of ‘you’re lucky not to get six months inside, Son, here’s a criminal record, 120 hours community service, and a £500 quid fine, now fu@k off it’s 5 pm, we’re late for our afternoon crumpets and tea’!

Since when was legislation originally designed to meet the challenge of creepy stalkers reinvented to target free speech? You’d have thought in a UK Magistrate’s Court the pen would be mightier than the sword when it came to settling differences, but if I’d gone Ben Stokes, at least I’d have had a path to a Crown Court jury, who might have seen through the fake victim’s act, and acquitted on the basis he had it coming to him. Sad to say with a conviction for non-violent harassment, all that’s on offer is an appeal to a Crown Court in front of a Judge and two Magistrates, so out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Well, we’ve all had that sinking feeling when authority applies the letter of the law subjectively to suit their agenda, and appears blind to all mitigating circumstances, which the rest of us would call context. Nothing will save you, not even a miracle, and the miracle in this case was that my satire worked. The lowlife who tried to end my marriage on his terms, and make off with my wife and our three year old Son, was exposed as a fraud to those that mattered or cared, and most importantly my wife! She was well beyond the point of no return, with a whole legal system in place to carry her deeper into her misfortune, when a simple satirical spanner in the works confounded the whole self-serving chicanery. But it was a race against time, with the Police doing everything they could to PROTECT THEIR VICTIM, which meant a cover up of glaring Police bias and inadequacy first and foremost.

Despite their concerted efforts, I won that race before the Cops could close me down, my wife saw the dark side of the fake victim the Police became complicit in hiding from her, so when his anger and jealousy boiled over after she’d been on a night out with her girlfriends, she dropped him like a hot rock. Directly or indirectly, satire was a game changer for my life, and salvation for my wife. It was so effective, I wish I could set up a business offering the same service to other beleaguered fathers up against seemingly insurmountable odds. My method was quite harmless and according to case precedent legal, and even gave the fake victim a rocky ride that might have turned him in a better direction. Unfortunately it was also creative and unconventional, and designed to knock a back-stabbing foe off balance, and the fact that it worked, and I won, was almost unbearable to what passes for authority in the politically correct, progressive socialist culture of the UK.

Well, marriage in the 21st century is as popular with the bien pensant as capitalism, free speech that disagrees with them, any independent mind that stands up for itself, or indeed Christianity, which is a shame since these are the very foundations of a Western culture that allows them the freedom to dream up and write such reckless self-sabotaging ideology into law in the first place. In 21st century Britain who doesn’t accept women are free to make their choices, but also to handle subsequent warnings about choices made based on fraudulent claims or cover ups? And surely satire is the safest and surest form of exposure, where authorities can’t or won’t step in?

So, egged on by a Probation Officer who liked my story, I decided to appeal. At least a more experienced Crown Court Judge might be less subjective than the prim and proper local Magistrate who so disliked my method. But things didn’t start well. As I waited outside Court, my Barrister emerged to say the fake victim had applied to appear via TV link, a tactical move clearly designed to influence the Judge against me, which was accepted even though he’d previously given evidence from the witness box at the Magistrate’s Court. This sleight of hand backfired somewhat amusingly when the Crown’s Prosecutor, looking to establish the identity of his client in the opening preamble, repeatedly asked the claimant to confirm my wife (who had sought sanctuary back in my safe stable) was his partner! As the fake victim’s carefully crafted mask of put upon vulnerability turned from frustration into anger, the Judge rescued the floundering Prosecutor by suggesting he focus on the satirical flyer, an original copy of which I’d made sure the Judge had in his hand. While throwing a hissy fit at being asked to even look at the flyer again, the fake victim accused me of depicting him as a baby strangler in a rant that the Judge ended by ordering him into Court to appear behind a witness box screen. We all watched him jump up from his seat, pull off his microphone heatedly, and exclaim ‘let’s do this’ like he was ready for fisticuffs.

Since I’d planned to set his harassment claims in the proper context of his anger and exaggeration, I should have been cheering these own goals to the rafters, but he’d been exposed as a liar twice at the beginning of the Magistrate’s Court hearing to no avail, so now at appeal I paid more attention to the way the Judge clearly sympathised with the blundering Prosecutor, and appeared ready to wave on a change of demeanour in the claimant that exposed his request to give evidence by TV link as completely unwarranted.

So when proceedings resumed with the Judge saying that he and his fellow Magistrates had studied the leaflet, and couldn’t see how it wasn’t harassment, I feared the worst. ‘What is his defense?’ he asked my Barrister. ‘That the leaflet is satirical’, she replied directly. ‘But he could write he was going to send heavies down to the victim’s house and call it satire’, was the Judge’s reply! From there, the way he’d schooled the hapless Prosecutor, and tolerated the fake victim’s defiance when pulled up for exaggeration, prior experience told me we were into familiar ass-covering territory where the better my defense, the heavier the punishment I could expect.

My Barrister asked for a brief adjournment. She didn’t have much work to do to persuade me I was on a hiding to nothing. At least the farce of the TV link and the Prosecutor’s comical bungling meant I wasn’t quitting an evenly reffed contest so much as getting out 0 – 0 in a rigged one. Needless to say, when back in Court, the Prosecutor had rediscovered his legal mojo enough to ask that I cough another £250 fine to cover prosecution costs.

What surprised and disappointed me most, apart from an inability to establish my satire as anything other than a form of harassment, was the way the legal system prevented me from introducing the context of my choice to meet a challenge that was very publicly posted over Facebook and Instagram, to thousands of people I didn’t know, with a satirical flyer that in the end could only be proven to have been seen by the fake victim and two of his friends, apart from it’s one intended recipient, my wife! I branded him a charlatan because that is what my investigations revealed, but none of the evidence I’d compiled was admissible, or even open to discussion, not even a criminal record for some shotgun violation, which, when mixed with an opioid prescription, medication for depression, and claims of clairvoyancy, should have rung anyone’s alarm bells. In fact, my Lawyer accepted I could have been facing a convicted Yorkshire Ripper, and my satire would still have been criminalised. The victim, or whoever claims victim status first, gets ring fenced by the legal system, which, without the checks and balances provided by context, is easily exploited by fake victims like this one.

On a personal level, the means justified the ends, and if offered at the outset, I’d have happily taken a criminal record, 120 hours community service, and total £750 in fines as punishment for breaking a charlatan’s spell that, with a child involved, could have had a negative impact on the rest of my life.

On the other hand, I was found guilty in two Courts of law of non-violent harassment, with my unique brand of satire offering me no protection whatsoever. There wasn’t a single part of the process, with the notable exception of the ex-cop Probation Officer who urged me to appeal, that didn’t feel like an institutionalised stitch up. If there was any crumb of consolation, or satirical lining to this dark cultural cloud, it was that the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the more serious charge of malicious communication, after it had been used as an excuse to send three Cop cars and a van to arrest me, stick me in a cell for 8 hours, and search my flat without my knowledge, when my mobile number and internet addresses were on the leaflet, and I’d apparently been reported for such a serious crime ten days previously.

But how would my satirical genre, abstract definition, fair in the court of public opinion? It’s undeniably, and quite intentionally, rude and offensive, but what most reasonable family people would consider proportionate and even restrained given the level of provocation. However unpleasant to its intended target, and distasteful to some who’d prefer ineffective manners to effective method, is it ridiculous and exaggerated and quite clearly satirical to others? Everyone knows impartial Plod is part of a legal process that has a left liberal agenda which takes sides, but is this, to the wordly-wise in modern Britain, acceptable satire or, as the law has found, criminal harassment?

The inside spread, A4 fold into A5 250gm mat full colour card.
Front and back, business branded!

It’s well known the legal system has a blind spot when it comes to personality disorders, the spectrum of conditions which belong to some of the most manipulative people in society, and to that you can add a pathological dislike of effective satire. Two months after the appeal, my wife was contacted by a young woman who had endured three years of emotional abuse and harassment from this loser. It became so bad, she had suicidal thoughts, which is a red flag for me personally when it comes to the establishing the gravity of abusive behaviour. It turned out I’d seen the tip of the iceberg, but perhaps even underestimated what lay out of sight. She claimed he went for vulnerable women with young children, and knew of five other women who’d suffered at his hands. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. She described in some detail how he’d abused her.

She wanted to know if my wife had managed to take out a restraining order on him, but of course he’d managed to take out a restraining order on me! As her story unfolded on my wife’s speaker phone, my wife at least admitted, for the first time, that I’d saved her life, but could only advise her to ‘stay strong’! It struck me later that my wife had no emotional empathy for this woman and could only offer crass advice because my ingenious satire provided an early escape and that prevented her form making the full transition from accomplice to victim, and a firewall that prevented follow through. In a perverse way, I guess she has never forgiven me!

At least I didn’t have to rue my bad luck that, like busses, six witnesses turned up at once when it was too late, since the letter of the law would still have found me guilty of non-violent harassment, according to the legal advisors I could muster without legal aid. Presumably he has moved on to his next victim, protected and emboldened by our errant establishment, with the one method that has ever held him to account criminalised, while my wife prepares to move onto her next husband! At least she now knows what I saved her from. I’d had him down as a charlatan with narcissistic personality disorder. His victim identified him as a malignant narcissist, and called him a dangerous man. So cut from the same cloth, I suspect, as Obama, and vulnerable only to perfectly pitched satire, the Achilles heal of those born to destroy.

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