I write this with a heavy heart. Strasbourg, my home town, was torn apart this Tuesday night when a gun-wielding cretin took to the streets. Having randomly picked out innocents to execute he fled into hiding. Three days later, with his killing spree brought to an end by the forces of order, the city and its people are still coming to terms with what happened.
I spent much of the evening watching the #Strasbourg twitter feeds to keep track of developments, the first time I have done so, and for news of the victims; for, I have made so many good friends in this fair city, I knew the chances of knowing one or more of them was a distinct possibility.
I shall not bother with Twitter again. News of real events was muddied by egotistical cretins simply trying to ensure they got more likes or follows than anyone else, cretinous politicians who wanted to make capital out of the deaths of innocents, cretinous extremist sympathisers, cretins in general (gilets jaunes), racists, conspiracy theorists, adolescents sharing memes and idiots sharing fake news or real news (despite pleas by security forces not to.)
Raking through Facebook and texting our closest friends – we ensured everyone we could think of was out of harm’s way before heading off to bed. Although we didn’t hear back from everyone, all of our inner circle reported back safe. Many had been caught in the following security lock-down, people hiding in restaurants, cafés, theatres, the parliament buildings and the basketball arena until the all-clear was given.
I awoke the next morning in the belief that the dickhead would have been caught by now, and that no-one I knew had been among the victims.
I was wrong on both counts.
My sorry tale does not end there however: the “gilets jaunes” say they are intent on returning to their anarchistic ways this weekend. With almost 2000 security personnel deployed in Strasbourg throughout the week the government has asked these idiots to forego their grievances this weekend out of respect for the situation in Strasbourg. “Respect” however is a word, among many others, these people do not understand. Some even spent Tuesday and Wednesday insisting that the cretin murdering people in Strasbourg was nothing but a government stooge hired to distract the nation from their plight.
Since Macron’s appeasement speech earlier in the week, there has been little sign that the demonstrations will end. This is primarily because it is an emotive movement driven by nothing but frustration at the economic situation in France. It is a frustration I share, but one that I believe should be dealt with through the economic and social reform programme promised by Macron at his election. I believe he is on the right path – he just needs to speed things up.
The problem is that the “gilets jaunes” are formed of people with diametrically opposed needs and they are unable to make coherent demands from the government because of this dichotomy. While I do not deny anyone the right to demonstrate for change, I draw the line at cretins unable to grasp the basic tax and spend principle, at cretins who think ’employers’ are somehow different from everyone else, at cretins who think the price of a slice of cheese is decided by the president, at cretins who believe there are millions of rich people in France who could afford to pay for the livelihoods of everyone else, but especially at cretins who believe they should take advantage of Strasbourg’s pain.
At this moment, my namesake, the man who taught me how to say “Łódź”, my comics-festival buddy, Bart Orent-Niedzielski (pictured) lies in intensive care at Hautepierre hospital having taken a bullet to the head on Tuesday night. The prognosis is not good but I pray he will still make it. I am sending him all my love and good vibes.
I am also praying that this outbreak of cretinism ends before anyone else gets hurt.