“Bush Lied, They Died” Draws a Drunken Punch


Only an American would visit a foreign country and even think of doing what three Yanks just did to me. Here’s the skinny.

I was walking Prince, my golden retriever, along the lake front boardwalk in my Toronto ‘hood midday on Monday when I got hit in anger for the first time in my life.

I was wearing my Bush Lied / They Died t-shirt with the names of all of the service people killed in Iraq through August 2007, when I bought the shirt online. Three 20-something louts, half-drunk at noon – probably because Americans don’t realize that Canadian beer is real beer, not the watered down mother’s milk that Bud and Miller and Coors sell, and so they get drunk much faster – were walking towards me.

One of the three stopped and, facing me directly, shouted in my face, “You Canucks really piss me off. I’m an American, pal, and I fucking resent you assholes telling our president how to run America!”

Looking him as squarely in the eye as I could – in his semi-inebriated stage, his gaze kept shifting so it was hard to know just where to look – and said, “Well, I’m an American too, pal, and I resent Bush being president and resent him telling me 935 lies to stage a phony war.”

With that, the guy slugged me, aiming for my head but sort of hitting my shoulder mostly by accident. It wasn’t hard enough for me to lose my balance, let alone fall over. As I stood there in amazement, his two buddies pulled him away and headed into the park along the lake front.

charley-james.jpgI wasn’t hurt, just surprised. This being Canada, strangers immediately crowded around to see if I was OK and two lifeguards from the beach who saw it happen went chasing after the trio. Not sure if they caught them.

Prince was no help at all, being much more interested in a bag of chips one of the three was holding than in the fact that I was a victim of grevious bodily harm.

by Charley James

Charley James is an American journalist, author and essayist who lives in Toronto.

Reprinted with permission from The Progressive Curmudgeon

Earlier articles by Charley:


  1. Rich Campbell says

    Remember that, whatever the arguments, whatever the violence intended to silensdce you…He still lied, and they continue to Die. Kind of reminds you of the (probably) apocryphal sentiment attributed to Galileo, doesn’t it…Eppur Si Muove… quod militis etiam moriore

  2. JMarra says

    I believe there is a tshirt available with a picture of Obama and below it says “DOPE” instead of “HOPE”. If I were to wear that around anywhere I think I would expect some harassment,in some eyes almost asking for it.

    No, you’d get some disgusted looks is all. I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to expressing my opinions in someone’s fact–and believe me, I’ve had plenty of red-faced, spittling RIGHT WINGERS, male and female, try to shout me down–before each and every last one FLED THE SCENE. FLED THE SCENE. Wouldn’t discuss the issue. Just wanted to scream and shout slogans and have their little adrenaline rush.

    I always stay cold with them. That makes them madder than anything. And they always end up looking like the more fools.

    So, no, I don’t think your personal safety would EVER, EVER, NOT ONCE, be in jeopardy from progressives, left-wingers, “liberls,” or whatever not-quite-nice-enough word you use for people who disagree with you.

    But we’ve already seen DOZENS of incidents since 2000–reported in the media at the time but never seen as a trend–of right-wingers using violence against the left. Guys trying to steal the American flag that a father put was carrying–the flag that was once on his son’s coffin–because said father wasn’t huffing Bush’s war the way these two fat, ignorant right-wing DRUNKS were.

    Sorry, you have no case to make for violence bythe left wing. It’s almost ALL coming from Bush suckers, Palinistas, and the most ignorant, bigoted, unlettered, uncharactered STUPID RIGHT-WING THUGS the world has ever seen.

  3. annie cook says

    I am also ashamed of what Bush has done to the American reputation abroad. Two years ago we vacationed in Italy. We had a choice between an American Flag luggage tag and a Smiley Face. We took the Smiley face, and it’s still on the luggage. We pretended to be from Canada and fortunately are thin enought to pass. The only fat people we met during the entire trip were, of course from USA. I recently volunteered at the Democratic booth at the state fair. The fetus display men told me I was going to Hell because I was voting for Obama. I tried to explain that I thought Jesus was a pacifist and wanted to help the poor and unfortunate. He then flipped his wig and told me Jesus was against abortion and He was going to strike me on the head with a lightning bolt. You can’t reason with single issue low information voters who’s only source of opinion is Fox and Limbaugh.

    • says

      Annie, you’re not alone in not wanting to be tagged as an American when travelling abroad.

      For example, large numbers of US citizens from New York and New England fly to Mexico, the Caribbean and Cuba through either Montreal or Toronto. En route, flight attendants always offer a choice of lapel pins. I’ve never spotted an American yet grab the stars and stripes pin, opting instead to be identified as a Canadian.

      I suppose it makes sense for an American heading to Cuba not to want to be spotted as such. But Mexico? St. Barts? The Bahamas? Bush has truly destroyed America’s image abroad when people walking through Nassau don’t want to shout their American status.

  4. Rick says

    I am ashamed to be an american. And have been, for some time now. I find George F**king Bush and his minions an embarrassment. This isn’t the same country I was born in. It has become one of the most vulgar, over-fed, over-medicated, over-sexed, violent, hateful, corrupt, spoiled, selfish, wasteful, arrogant, warmongering countries on the face of the Earth.

  5. Eric says

    I’m a black man living here in America. I personally think that it’s great that people seem to finally be waking up. I served in the Army and I love this country. The only thing white America has
    to thank “bush” for is screwing this country up so bad that a black man even has a viable shot at the highest office in the land.

  6. Serigala says

    As a non American, and living in Asia, I can tell you that America and Americans are hated (at least disliked) by a vast number of people in countries around Asia.

    Bully boy tactics from the government down to the public.

    I hope for America’s sake that Obama becomes elected to erase the bad feelings Asians have about America and Americans.

  7. Bill says

    To P.A.Bonk,thanks for the correction on my use of the word unanimously. After submitting my post ,I reread it again and realised I should have said overwellmingly(not unanimously). Also to Charley,while I don’t agree with you,again I respect your right to wear the shirt. It was harsh and unfair to call you stupid and I apologise. While rereading my post I realised I sounded no better than some of the far left posters I read on some sites(democratic underground etc) that i get upset at. I would rather have civil discussion/debate and stay away from vitriolic criticism.Back to topic,Charley (assuming your story is true) you are painting with a very broad brush about Americans (Im sure you really mean “republicans”). Your story starts with what three Yanks did to you,but you later say the other two pulled “him’ away.Your writing this story over the actions of one american seems a little frivolous. I believe there is a tshirt available with a picture of Obama and below it says “DOPE” instead of “HOPE”. If I were to wear that around anywhere I think I would expect some harassment,in some eyes almost asking for it. Sometimes its just better not to wear it so as to not “provoke” a reaction as you may have intentionally or unintentionally done.

  8. Linda Dann says

    In America there are two sides to every truth- and if you go around speaking or advertising raw untreated truth in any way you become a radical- once radical you threaten ‘our way of life- (lies?).
    Then as you are a danger to the very continuation of our values of ‘freedom.’ You can have vigilante drunks- Seattle cops- etc etc and then you’ll learn to look at both sides a little more clearly! And moreover- you’ll learn to keep your truth to yourself- Mission Accomplished!

  9. Mel R. says

    “I wasn’t hurt, just surprised…the fact that I was a victim of grevious bodily harm.”

    …Yeah. and that’s not contradictory at all. I’m hoping that was a joke and I’m pretty sure you misspelled “grevious.”

    So even while I agree with the sentiments of your T-shirt, I’m going to have to disagree with the implied (oh wait, that was actually rather explicit, wasn’t it) notion that it’s only our fellow countrymen that can be aggressively ignorant of how ridiculous national policies have been. As a matter of fact, I’ve got plenty of “canuck” and European friends and family who will bitterly argue over whether the Republican party- and even Bush- are just, “misunderstood.”

    “…what three Yanks just did to me…One of the three stopped and, facing me directly, shouted in my face…his two buddies pulled him away and headed into the park along the lake front.”

    So either I read that incorrectly, or this is a sob story. It sounds like the other two drunkards actually helped remove their rowdy friend from the situation.

    “This being Canada, strangers immediately crowded around to see if I was OK and two lifeguards from the beach who saw it happen went chasing after the trio.”

    …Because if this happened anywhere else (presumably the U.S.A.) no one would give you the time of day, right?

    Well, I’m saddened to see that the trend of “faux news” isn’t confined to conservative expressions, considering you’re a “journalist, author and essayist.” If this piece of trash is any indication, it’s probably a good thing you’re an ex-pat. We should start a mass deportation of journalists who exaggerate for dramatic purposes and don’t spell-check their work. Canada can have you.

  10. Seeing the Light says

    Yeah, that’s a little scary, but you got off easy.

    In our society, people get shot because their opinion differs with another’s.

  11. P.A. Bonk says

    So you don’t get the wrong impression about the “Iraq Liberation Act” here is what it authorized:

    Authorizes the President, after notifying specified congressional committees, to provide to the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations: (1) grant assistance for radio and television broadcasting to Iraq; (2) Department of Defense (DOD) defense articles and services and military education and training (IMET); and (3) humanitarian assistance, with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled from areas under the control of the Hussein regime. Prohibits assistance to any group or organization that is engaged in military cooperation with the Hussein regime. Authorizes appropriations.

    Directs the President to designate: (1) one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that meet specified criteria as eligible to receive assistance under this Act; and (2) additional such organizations which satisfy the President’s criteria.

    Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.

    Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq’s transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq’s foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.

    It does not make any findings about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Also recall that prior to the invasion of Iraq, there was a UN sponsored process in place to dearch for WMD in Iraq,and leaders of that effort made it clear that they did not think there were any. There were senators and congresspersons on both sides of the isle who should have known there was no WMD. I knew that, and I also knew that even if they had them, they did not have the power to throw them much further than Kurkuk.

    Finally, the vote to give Busch the authority to go into Iraq was not passed unanimously. There were 22 Senators, and (I don’t have the numbers from the HOuse) who voted against it.

  12. Bill says

    Charley,I posted a rather long response to your story and submitted it,yet it doesn’t/hasn’t appeared.Curious as to why? Bill

  13. Bill says

    5-6 intelligence agencies from different countries (including our own) said there were WMD in Iraq. Go on YouTube and type in Democrat hypocracy on Iraq and tell me if these democrats who read the same reports as Bush are lying.Take note that some statements are in 1998 by Bill Clinton and others.Clinton in 1998 signed the Iraq Liberation Act (HR 4655) to depose Saddam Hussein and support a transition to democracy in Iraq. After 9-11-01 Congress and the Senate unanimously voted to institute this resolution. Your “Bush lied,people died” shirt/statement is intellectually dishonest along with being beyond ignorant.To be fair and honest,you shirt would have to read: Intelligence agencies from Egypt,Jordan,Israel,Germany,Russia,France,and the U.S said Iraq had WMD and Clinton,Clinton,Kerry,Kennedy,Byrd,Rockefeller,Levin,Pelosi,Reid,and Bush believed it,but shouldn,t have,and people died. I’ll finish up by saying to you Charles James,no one should assault you for wearing that shirt and showing your ignorance of facts.Its your right to be stupid. Spend a little time on factcheck.org. Peruse it for a while and you will see its a fair and unbiased site. (it shows alot of distortion of facts by both McCain and Obama about each other,so you will see its fair) Do the search feature and type in Bush lies about WMD, or something similar) Educate yourself a little and you’ll see how stupid you look wearing that shirt,and why an intelligent American may be offended by it. (after reading some of your other “stories” on your site (ie unnamed sources etc) I have to wonder about your credibility and if the assault even happend) P.S. To the above poster “Kim”. The “selective perception” you cite is a perfect description of yourself and the author. “Indisputable facts”? Your kidding,right? When you get to Canada (or some other less scary location)”ponder” doing a bit of candid,intellectually honest research and get back to us,thanks.

    • Mave says

      Jack, sounds like u’ve been fortunate never to run into people like this. The incident sounds entirely possible to me.

      I myself attended a Cuban concert a few years ago in Miami and had Cuban exiles spit and curse at me because they didn’t feel I should be allowed to attend. I mean nice, sweet grandmotherly types, with their grandchildren at their feet.

      I’ll betcha lots of blacks, Indians (or Native Americans, if you wish) Eskimo, Chinese, Mexicans, etc. could detail at least one incident where just being who they were in a particular place was enough to garner aggressive behaviour from others. And I mean since 2002, not back in the ’60s and ”70s.

      My point is that some people don’t separate well between disagreement and violence; when alcoholic beverages are involved, lots of social restraints are removed.

  14. A Southern Perspective says

    I just finished school at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. The only “political” t-shirt I own reads a “Barack ‘n’ Roll” in colorful letters and has Obama’s smiling face next to the words. No attack or provocation in it whatsoever. BUT! You would not believe how many times I had to leave bars–or at least relocate to a new part of a bar–because some drunk frat guy “took offense” to my shirt. That’s right. He took offense to an Obama t-shirt. Why? Well, one guy was “about to join the fucking Marines” and said that people like me (Obama supporters) were what’s wrong with this country (which, by the way, I’ve heard many many times that Democrats and Liberals are what’s wrong with this country–to that I always laugh in their faces) and that if Obama is elected there will DEFINITELY be a World War 3. All I said back waas, “The Republicans start wars.” And he came right at me. Luckily a bouncer saw what was going on, listened to what happened and they kicked the asshole out. Another guy I caught glaring at me from across a bar and I didn’t even make the connection that it was my shirt he was glaring at. This guy started walking toward me, kept his eyes locked forward and just threw a shoulder into me. I spilled my beer and said, “What the hell man?” and he turned around and said “Fuck you Communist”, turned back around and kept walking. I have countless stories like this one that involve that shirt, but I also have stories about people trying to fight me because I had long hair!
    This is a breed of American that I’ve known my whole life. I played football in high school for a year and got to expirience it all up close and personal. My father is like this. Everyone knows a hot-headed Republican. I know this is probably a really tired point to most forward thinking people, but seriously, what the fuck is going on here?
    Is it getting worse? I used to love the movie Easy Rider back in high school. I would watch that scene where they go into the po-dunk backcountry diner and just their appearance alone would rile everyone up. But I’m relatively young, relatively naive. I saw that scene and said, “People can’t think like that anymore. We know too much for people to be that stupid.” Then I moved to Mississippi.

    • Emily says

      If they weren’t so scary, I’d feel sorry for these people. But, these people are scary because they are dumb enough to be fed propaganda and believe it. What’s worse is that they are so eager to inflict violence on anyone who doesn’t “fall in line” with their hate-filled march.

  15. Kim says

    I’ve been reading about and really pondering “selective perception”, particularly in light of current events. Even though the facts are there. These facts have been presented not only in alternative media but in the mainstream media. Bush lied – that’s a fact. People died – that’s a fact. Yet, there is a huge, scary segment of the US population that simply will not believe these indisputable facts. They blame the so called liberal media. They see current events on TV as some sort of bizarre reality show I think. They’d rather vote on American Idol than think about what is really going on.
    By wearing that tshirt, you challenged their selective perception which sees no facts or truth. It is totally emotional and reactive. In fact when facts/truth are presented, a punch gets thrown. Eh…don’t ya know.
    May I please come to Canada to live?
    I’m getting really scared here.

    • sonofdy says

      Bush lied – No bush was wrong. My god do any of you liberals read anything outside of your own liberal hate machine?

      • Merianne says

        Whether he lied or was just wrong, we are still in the same mess and it seems that he’s not too interested in ending the war any time soon. I feel if he had his way, we’d be in it to the bitter end.

  16. udf says

    John T:

    I really don’t feel that everyone or even a majority of people wearing slogans intend to “get a rise” out of anyone. IMHO, most people are either just refusing to be silenced or trying to get others to think (as opposed to “making” them think) or hoping to let the silent masses who agree with them that they aren’t alone.

    That being said, in the sphere of the empire, horses patooties are common enough that being open with anything that disagrees with the “America is Great” (“USA Akbar”?) opinion of the emboozled may get you decked. I.e., keep your eyes open. “Use protection.” Carry a Big Sticker (the slogan of the company making the shirt).

    • John T says

      “trying to get others to think”

      You’re really talking semantics as to the difference between trying to get others to think and provoking a rise out of them. Different people’s brains work in different ways, and one should realize and respect that. What is thought provoking and interesting to one person is offensive to another.

      • ben says

        and you’re defending the people getting violent with a stranger they just happened to walk by over a t-shirt. because after all the T-SHIRT WEARER should have been more respectful?

  17. John T says

    It doesn’t make what happened right, but I have to ask why you sound so surprised about this? Your sole purpose of wearing a shirt like that is to get a rise out of people – you know you weren’t wearing that t-shirt because it is stylish. If you’re going to walk around provoking people, you have to eventually expect to come across somebody having a bad day.

    • says

      If I were wearing the T-shirt in a small, red state, town in the US, I might agree with you; after all, in Oklahoma and a few other states wearing the shirt was illegal until a Federal Court struck down the law banning the shirt and slogan.

      But I’m an ex-pat American who’s lived in and written from Toronto for 17 years next month. For the year I’ve owned and been wearing the shirt here, in Europe and in Asia, I’ve received nothing but complements, questions about where someone can buy the shirt, and comments totally in agreement with the thought expressed because people seem to universally agree that Bush lied and people died.

      Only “Uh-murricuns” seem to feel it is alright to pop someone in the nose (or, in my case, on the shoulder) simply for disagreeing with them.


      • James says

        LOL “Uh-murricuns” pronounced with a southern drawl no doubt. Wow Charley, what an imagination you have!! Great to know you’re so free of personal prejudice.

        Incidentally, the guys who knocked you out were certainly wrong to do so, and idiots to boot. Sadly, so are you.

    • Sharon Kyle says

      Perhaps some use t-shirts and bumper stickers as a way to provoke people, especially the ones that use provocative language — by that I mean vulgarities or four letter words. But to be of the opinion that when someone openly states the obvious that all they’re really doing is trying to be provocative or incite violence is tantamount to saying that the kid who declared “the emperor is wearing no clothes”, was only itching for a fight.

      • Kurt says

        How utterly ridiculous! Just because someone exercises their right to free speech DOES NOT give anyone the right to anyone to inflict bodily harm. Your statement, unfortunately, is a common feeling among many Americans.

      • karen says

        A lot is two words. After many years of this crap, a lot of us on the left are sick and tired of illiteracy from the right.

    • RJB says

      You go Charley!!

      Keep wearing your shirt–it’s a form of expression, not an invitation to a brawl!! The truth hurts sometimes–face it:
      he Lied & our bros. & sis. Died!!!! Period…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *