Fairytale of New York
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me - The Pogues
Funny the things that choke people up. For George HW Bush, it's apparently Jeb (though more likely, for the curse-word his family name has become). For me, it's this song. And if it gets to you, too, you may know that December 18 will mark the sixth anniversary of Kirsty MacColl's death.
MacColl and her family were vacationing in Mexico, where she introduced her sons Jamie and Louie to her love of scuba. After one dive in the protected waters of Cozumel's coral reef, the family surfaced into the path of a 31-foot powerboat that had trespassed into the marine park, traveling at greater than 20 knots.
Then 13 years old, Louie remembers what happened:
She suddenly screamed, “Look out!” and tried to push us out of the way. The boat was already over us — I could see the propellers.... I was swimming in Mummy’s blood. I heard Jamie shout, “Where’s Mummy?” I screamed that she’d been hit, and to swim the other way and not look back.
Having desperately pushed her sons to safety, MacColl's back was ripped open by the boat's propeller, virtually severing her chest and left leg. "Apparently the paramedic threw up on arriving at the scene," says her mother, Jean. "But two boys have to live with those last memories of their mother for the rest of their lives."
The powerboat was the Percalito, and its captain 67-year old tycoon Guillermo Gonzalez Nova, chairman of mega-chain retailer Comercial Mexicana, one of Mexico's largest companies. Gonzalez Nova's two sons and their families were aboard, and one of the sons is believed to have been at the helm, though the story went that it had been Jose Cen Yam, an illiterate deckhand who had never before piloted the craft. (The MacColl's dive-master, Ivan Diaz, said in a statement to authorities that "After they ran over us, I saw Cen Yam jump forwards from the back of the boat, to the controls.")
Yam, who had trouble on the stand telling his left from his right, was sentenced to serve two years and 10 months, but was allowed to walk free after paying the equivalent of a £61 fine.
In the years since, the Justice for Kirsty campaign has seen a few small victories, but no justice. In May, the Cozumel federal prosecutor was found liable for breach of authority for having failed to register the MacColl appeal as a criminal investigation. And last February, after Bono dedicated "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" to her memory during a U2 concert in Monterrey, Vincente Fox spokesman Ruben Aguilar felt bound to say "the federal government is following this situation."
And that's where it lies, like so many other modern horrors: the crimes of privilege and crimes of state unpunished, because it is the privilege of state to judge itself and its own.
Warren Commission skeptics were rewarded with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, but when its original chief counsel Richard Sprague signaled that he intended to conduct a genuine investigation he was promptly replaced by the horrified powers that wanted no such thing. ("I demanded the records from the CIA," Sprague told Probe Magazine, "and now there was an abrupt refusal, and I subpoenaed them. At that point, [Henry] Gonzales, who was Chairman of the Committee, ordered the CIA, or told the CIA that they need not respond to my subpoena, and fired me, and ordered the U.S. Marshals come in and remove me from my office.") What they got instead was Robert Blakey, whose hedged presumption of a conspiracy involving organized crime made for a lovely limited hang out. The conspiracy nuts could have their conspiracy, but it was one in which elements of government were wholly absent. (Even when named, and known. For instance, Jack Ruby's mob connections received attention, but his police connections did not. Nor did his anti-communist gunrunning, where criminal conduct and intelligence work became indistinguishable.)
UFOlogists received similar treatment in 1968 with the Condon Report: an "independent" inquiry commissioned by the US Air Force, contracted to the University of Colorado. After years of pressing for an investigation, they were given the appearance of one, led by a man who didn't bother to mask his disdain for the subject.
A memo written in 1966 by project coordinator Robert Low to university officials before the contract was assigned demonstrates what kind of project was intended:
Our study would be conducted almost exclusively by non-believers who, although they couldn't possibly prove a negative result, could and probably would add an impressive body of evidence that there is no reality to the observations. The trick would be, I think, to describe the project so that, to the public, it would appear a totally objective study but, to the scientific community, would present the image of a group of nonbelievers trying their best to be objective, but having an almost zero expectation of finding a saucer. One way to do this would be to stress investigation, not of the physical phenomena, but rather of the people who do the observing – the psychology and sociology of persons and groups who report seeing UFO's. If the emphasis were put here, rather than on examination of the old question of the physical reality of the saucer, I think the scientific community would quickly get the message....I'm inclined to feel at this early stage that, if we set up the thing right and take pains to get the proper people involved and have success in presenting the image we want to present to the scientific community, we could carry the job off to our benefit.
9/11 skeptics who shout themselves hoarse for an "independent investigation" should expect any hard-won fruit of their labours to prove just as artificial. So why continue to scream for one?
We don't need another investigation, least of all one conducted, or commissioned, by the few and guilty privileged. There have already been millions of independent investigations of 9/11. Some haven't amounted to much, because the investigators have been dazzled by the flash and sleight-of-hand of the Black Lodge's myth-makers. (And though it's great to see David Lynch question 9/11, it's distressing to see him wading about in Loose Change's shallow muck. I believe that being right for the wrong reasons is one of the last and greatest impediments to seeing justice done, because they are reasons which will never convict the guilty, and only sway the gullible.) But in spite of the disinformation, and sometimes because of it, we know enough to make a criminal accusation against elements of the United States government. What we lack is either the law to which they might be subject, or the will to do justice ourselves.
Gonzalez Nova's speedboat entered restricted waters at excessive speed, and after striking Kirsty MacColl, his patsy-deckhand was seen to take the wheel. No more investigation is required. Not for the MacColl family, and not for us. All we need now is justice, and to push our children out of harm's way. Neither happens by polite and patient request.