Killing Me Softly With His Song

You’ve got to be careful what you say these days in regard to President Bush. Three high school students in Denver, Colorado found this out the hard way when a talent show poetry reading rehearsal caused some parents to assume they wished for his death.

Calls were made to the school, students were interviewed, local talk radio jumped into the fray and the U.S. Secret Service even sent two agents to interview the principal at Boulder High School.

Even if there was a misunderstanding over whether the students—some of whom called themselves the “Talibanned”—meant to wish harm to the president, they learned how offended people can get.

“It was positioned right after the elections and close to Veterans Day. It was more an emotional than a thoughtful response,” Principal Ron Cabrera said referring to the public reaction.

He said there was really nothing to worry about. “I showed them the lyrics of the song,” Cabrera said, referring to the federal agents who paid him a visit.

The problem started after rumors circulated that a trio of students planned a poetry reading at the talent show using lyrics from the Bob Dylan anti-war song “Masters of War.” But some parents got the impression that the students wanted to alter the words to say they wanted to see the president dead while a slide on a curtain displayed Bush’s picture.

“It’s a tempest in a teapot. “It apparently began with a misunderstanding of a parent who was told about a rehearsal,” Denver attorney and local talk show host Craig Silverman said.


The lyrics that fueled this death by poetry scheme:

Masters of War / Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

I think I understand exactly why Bush should fear poetry. I seriously doubt anybody really wants him assassinated (I’d settle for him being charged and found guilty of war crimes) but you’ve got to watch out for these poetry reciters – At the very least, they’ll bore him to death.

5 thoughts on “Killing Me Softly With His Song

  1. I read that on one of my JS fave’s Caractus’ blog. I wrote back: Fucking idiotic twats… what de jail is really wrong with the Secret Service? It’s like setting off firecrackers next to nervous people… mention any kind of condemnation of violence, and they ready to cry foul…

  2. Another great example of the hyper-sensitive society we live in.  I understand the obligation of the Secret Service to investigate every reported threat but honestly, can’t some of these things be done over the phone without blowing the entire situation out of proportion?

    Personally, I think George is just jealous that other people out there are actually literate.  There goes the education budget for ‘05.  ohh

  3. The FBI blew it with predicting 9/11.  Their investigating stuff like this doesn’t make me optimistic about our chances to forsee the next attack…

    OK, maybe that’s a bit unfair- maybe 9/11 couldn’t have been forseen and prevented even if the FBI had been on the ball.  Impossible to say in retrospect.  Still, I can imagine better uses for taxpayers’ money than this idiocy…

  4. Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”, Country Joe and the Fish (“Gimmie an “Eff”“, “whoo hoo we’re all gonna die”), Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd.

    I think it is time for a new protesting counter culture. It’s been 35 years, way too overdue. I’ve got my peace button, straw mat, rolling papers, candles, and black light all ready.

    “Hell no we won’t go”, “Hey, Hey GWB, how many kids did you kill today?” (sorry, LBJ works a little better)

    Seriously, we need something before we even get near 53,000 dead.

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