"Ah mate, someone's stabbed me for having a really Nazi haircut. Don't... don't check the CCTV."
Five Questions… is a new series where we ask five questions about something in the news, come on. I mean: come on. It's not that hard to get your head around, is it? Come on. This is not a nuanced concept.
We're all clumsy, we've all hurt ourselves at some point in our lives. All of the scars on my body were entirely avoidable. Scar #1: along my hairline, my glorious strong hairline, a small vertical slice where, as a three-year-old, I stumbled over while playing on an allotment and donked head-first onto a broken glass lemonade bottle. Or Scar #2: when, playing in goal on hard tarmac as a 12-year-old, I watched a ball slip past me into the goal and for some reason then flipped myself into the air, landing hard on both knees and ripping one of them open, right on the joint where it's impossible to stitch shut, and I had to stumble one-legged across the length of a playing field for help, sobbing, trousers in tatters, blood down my leg like a waterfall.
In a way, it's unavoidable. If you do not have scars then you have not truly lived. The only way to avoid injury altogether is to stay inside, swaddled in soft cotton, piss through a catheter and slowly inch your way into a nice, cosy coma and then, in time, lovely death. It is impossible to live your entire life without bumping your elbow on something.
Anyway, here's a guy with a scar.
Here's how he got the scar, per his own account (warning: blood):
Here's how he got the scar, per the police. From Buzzfeed:
A man who claimed that he was stabbed after being mistaken for a neo-Nazi now admits that he made the whole story up after accidentally stabbing himself.
Joshua Witt, 26, told police two weeks ago that he was getting out of his car in the parking lot of a Steak 'n Shake in Sheridan, Colorado, when a man came over to him and attacked him with a knife.
On Monday, the Sheridan Police Department told BuzzFeed News in a statement that Witt admitted to making the story up after police confronted him with evidence that the attack never took place.
Also from Buzzfeed:
Witt, who posted his claims on Facebook, claimed that a man asked him if he was a neo-Nazi while reaching over his open car door to stab him.
"I was just getting out of my car to go get myself a milkshake and the next thing I hear is 'You one of them neo-Nazis' as this man is swinging a knife at my head over my car door," Witt told BuzzFeed News at the time. "I threw my hands up out of natural reflex and then I kind of dived back in my car as the suspect took off running."
Ah yes, that classic antifa stabbing gambit: asking someone if they are a Nazi before stabbing them in the hand about it. "Oi, milkshake boy, you a neo-Nazi? Mind if I stab you up then?" Anyway: also from Buzzfeed:
Police became suspicious of his story because surveillance video did not show anyone running from the scene, as Witt had claimed, and because police found and interviewed someone who matched Witt's description of the attacker, "who is a transient and lives in the area [and] was cleared as a possible suspect".
They also looked at video from a nearby sporting goods store, which showed Witt buying a small knife minutes before the alleged attack.
They also looked. At video. From a nearby sporting goods store. Which showed Witt. Buying a small knife. Minutes. Before the attack. Buzzfeed:
Last Thursday, police re-interviewed Witt.
"Where he was confronted with the all the information listed above. Mr. Witt subsequently admitted to accidentally cutting himself with the knife while parked in his car in front of the sporting goods store and admitted making up the story about being attacked," Sheridan police said in their statement.
Yeah, some questions:
HAS THERE EVER BEEN A MORE CLUMSILY EXECUTED FAKE STABBING EVER IN HISTORY?
I think my favourite thing about this – the bit that has had me cackling at my desk all morning – is the sheer shambolism of the fake stabbing, i.e. if a child was going to pretend to get stabbed by anti-fascists, or a dog perhaps, both the dog and child could do a better job of pretending to be stabbed by antifa and covering it up, despite having simple and in some cases animalistic brains. Example: there was literal CCTV footage of my dude buying a knife minutes before he reported the stabbing. Minutes! He did not even drive to another location to stab himself at!
This is Fake Stabbing Yourself 101: don't use a knife that the police can trail back to a sporting goods store seconds away from where you got stabbed, the receipt for it probably still affixed to your foot with blood-glue; do not buy the knife you are going to stab yourself with in broad, CCTV daylight and then stab yourself with it; do not try to put the police off the trail by describing your attacker as both "antifa" and "vaguely a homeless guy". You know, in Batman, the Joker does stuff and people can hardly believe how he's getting away with this shit? He's blown up a hospital or something. Done that thing with the walkie-talkies and the bombs and the boats. Everyone loves it, though. They are holding their heads like, "This guy, wow. He is like… a criminal mastermind! Like some mega-genius, but for crime!" You know that bit? The bit that happens in every Batman comic and film? My boy Joshua Witt is the exact inverse of that. He is like a crime rock. A special kind of dull-ended crime idiot.
THE DETAILS OF THE STABBING
We have to run two scenarios here:
IN WHICH JOSHUA WITT STABBING HIMSELF WAS AN ACCIDENT
100 percent he did it getting the knife out of the packet. 100 percent. Knives come in those packets. Heat-sealed packets. Very hard to get into elegantly. The packaging itself is hard shards of plastic that splinter in a way that can hurt you anyway. Piece of cardboard sandwiched in between. Just enough space to work your hand into to get the knife out, but not enough to pull the hand out in a smooth movement. 100 percent Joshua Witt cut himself on a knife getting the knife out of the knife packet and, to really fold this moment of stupidity on top of itself for a double-drop, decided to blame antifa.
IN WHICH JOSHUA WITT STABBING HIMSELF WAS AN ELABORATE AND DELIBERATE LIE
I've said this before, but men's minds work in absurd and mysterious ways, and often completely get overridden in moments of chaotic impulse and sprint headlong into the eight-lane traffic of logic and get smashed into incomprehensible pieces, and that – if Joshua Witt stabbed himself with a sports knife deliberately – that is what has happened here. He's seen a Facebook post about SJWs ruining college campuses again by demanding people respect each other, and his mind's gone. Or: he's seen another to-camera lad-and-map video about net immigration based on un-cited statistics and he's walking to buy the knife before he even knows what he's doing. Front seat of his car, deep breaths, plunge the knife into the hand, bleed on the jeans a bit, Snapchat, upload to Facebook, start to panic a bit when the post goes more viral than he's expecting and the police start getting in touch. There's no way someone stabbing himself and then blaming antifa has thought this through.
WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON?
I'm still trying to figure this out. In his original (lie) Facebook post, Witt says he was attacked because "sooooooo apparently I look like a neo-nazi and got stabbed for it…" which he blames on his high-and-tight-and-alternate-right haircut. This would indicate: he is not a neo-Nazi, because he is upset at looking like a neo-Nazi and then getting stabbed for it.
But then, also, he does have a really alt-right haircut. We meet an impasse.
So further evidence. Let us consider this photo. Waistcoat over a blue shirt, top button undone, tie knot down to his belly button. This is a very "I get literally all my fashion advice from a forum called r/Gentleman", isn't it. Like, there is no way this dude doesn't describe himself as "dapper" on his Tinder bio. It's very "your cousin who used to be into magic is into pick-up artist conferences now instead", but it's not Nazi: in fact, it's fairly far-removed from the de facto alt-right uniform of polo shirt and eunuch chinos and a tiki torch and a council permit to march about a statue. I'm leaning: not a Nazi.
Plus, crucially, Witt has told the New York Post that he's now thinking of changing his haircut because it's too Nazi-y, just like how we can't have little dark moustaches any more. Oh, and here we go – and the local police chief said there was no evidence that Witt has any ties to white supremacist or Nazi organisations. He doesn't have any ties to not stabbing yourself in the hand organisations, either, but there you go. Conclusion: there is no conclusion.
THE DECISION TO LIE AND THEN THE PANIC OF THE LIE
I was a very good boy at primary school. A real – and listen, I'm not proud to say this! – a real kiss-ass, actually. All the teachers liked me. Straight As in everything. Artistic talent. Excelled in every lesson but for sports. Unfailingly polite. Real… real kiss-ass. Proper little fucking spoff cunt. I can say this about myself! I was a little spoff cunt. It went off the boil at secondary school, but Years 1 through 6 were a real ass-on-lipsfest.
So the one and only time I got in trouble at primary school was Year 5, end of summer term, and some rhododendron bush or something came into bloom on the edge of the playground, and me and two other boys – both called Tom, eerily – spent a lunch hour snapping all the blooms off and throwing them over each other like confetti, laughing and laughing, joyously gallivanting amongst the blooms.
I am reading that back and it is the absolute softest way anyone has got into trouble, oh my god—
So anyway, almost immediately after lunch everyone in the school was called into an emergency assembly for a mass bollocking because the janitor's prized rhododendron bush or whatever had been trashed by hands unseen, and nobody was going anywhere until they got to the bottom of it, which resulted in the headmaster, Mr Oates, giving a speech about personal responsibility and then just sort of staring us down in folded-armed silence in an effort to break us, which it did, because after about 15 seconds the two Toms stood up and admitted their part in the crime, saying yes they did it but they wouldn't spill who the third boy was because of omerta.
Minutes went by and I, like tissue paper in a storm, started to disintegrate. Now, at this point, you have to acknowledge the two forces wrestling morally within me:
- I was a Very Good Boy and had never been in trouble before;
- I was in the most trouble of my life and the trouble was only escalating the longer I pretended I was not in trouble;
My tiny good boy body wracked with sobs. I was shaking and my face was leaking. I was making soft, monstrous noises, somewhere beyond sounds that humans make — hblrugh, wuh-hurr — and: listen, in hindsight, to even the most untrained eye it would have been easy for the teachers to pick out, in an assembly full of mainly un-crying children, which particular Good Boy had done the crime. And then, eventually, I stood up, sobbing so much my body buckled, and admitted what I had done. I got a mild-to-medium telling off and had to sweep the flowers up, but my parents were not informed.
So like: so I know what it is to live with the guilt of a lie, and I've never even stabbed myself and told the police antifa did it. What has Joshua Witt's life been like these past two weeks? Every time he looks at his healing hand-wound he must be thinking: the lie I told. Every time a police officer gets in touch to double-check a detail of the attack: the lie I told. Every thousand shares the original Facebook post gets: the lie I told. Up at night, alone in the cool blue of the early AM, and all that goes through his head, like a mantra: the lie I told.
AT WHAT STAGE OF NEWS ARE WE IN
I dunno what stage of the news cycle we are on – are we Fake News, now, or are we post-Fake News? Are we post- post-Fake News? Are we… fake Fake News? Post-fake Fake News? It's kind of hard to know, isn't it. When I was a kid, I always thought the fable about The Boy Who Cried Wolf was just a sort of "don't lie" thing, and not a larger allegory for the state of the news in 2017, but then what do I know. I have never stabbed myself in the hand, achieving nothing in the process, and lied to the police about it to cover my tracks. I've never come up with complicated ways to slur antifa that involved bleeding all over my car and doing news interviews about it. I don't know! I don't know. I don't know any more what's real and what's not. Apart from the guy who got stabbed by antifa for looking like a Nazi. That's definitely Not Real.