Bill Hicks: “the responsibility of the intellectual is to tell the truth and expose lies”

Dear Bill,

Twenty years gone. You must be fucking furious. Was no-one listening? Did you not make it clear? Looking at the power-crazed, trigger-happy “war on terror” (oil/money) obsessed charlatans who still run your country, not to mention the masses who still lap up the lies and deceit with no desire to question, you’d be right in thinking your work was not done. It actually took me until a year after your time as a messenger and prophet was over, and your beautiful life was lived, before I even knew of you. I’m sorry. But if I could choose one person outside of my family who has had the biggest impact on my life, influencing my thoughts, opinions and actions, it’s you, Bill.

A work colleague introduced me to Relentless and my eyes and mind instantly opened wider. All agog I was at your beautifully acerbic divine revelations, and for the next five or so years I was – you would mock me for saying – a Hicks obsessive. You were the best social critic of all-time, attacking your subjects with razor-sharp observations, mocking and ridiculing the closed-eyed, the uneducated and your beloved, God-loving (fearing), dream-chasing fellow Americans. Educating, some would say, and although the lesson would appear to have been wasted on many, it was life-changing for me.

I loved your intensity, your integrity, your bravery and sheer belligerence, fearing nothing except your own volatile vulnerability. Your words really did make a difference Bill, and I know it must seem like nothing has changed – the beautiful young ones are still taken away whilst we’re force fed banal and talentless reality stars, disguised as the ‘real thing’ by corporate dollars and celebrity sell-outs – please know that it is still the likes of Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley and Amy Winehouse who make the REAL difference. They, like you enlightened the world, rebelling against mediocrity and phony celebrity with no intention of selling out or cashing in because that, as you so eloquently put it… is sucking Satan’s cock.


Your appeal to me wasn’t your appetite for self-destruction, your abundant addictions or your story of riotous rebellion. You taught me and millions of others, through the most perfectly aimed broadsides and scathing cynicism, to question, to discuss, to influence and to change. Everything. To do this whilst making people laugh, to pour scorn with such intense fervour, is a genius not yet repeated. A Mr. Russell Brand is in many ways picking up your gauntlet and delivering it to as many people who will listen. I think you’d like him Bill, he looks like the rock star comedian you desperately wanted to be, and unlike you he has on his side the endless possibilities and powers of freedom that are afforded by the internet.

Your attacks were sharp and often cut deeply, but they were never without meaning. You never wavered from your message of peace and love, opening eyes and ears to the possibilities of life beyond those instantly apparent. I’m sorry to say Bill but the demons are still running amok, money still rules, and love and compassion are held back and downtrodden by fear and hate. We are spending more than ever on arms – you’ll be delighted to hear your beloved America is leading the way with a military budget of $612.4 billion this year – but safety costs, right? And they do need to keep people safe, for there are some bad, bad people out there… murderers, torturers, trained killers and well, America has got to stop them! Bill, you’d love these new drones, and boy are they going from strength to strength, spreading a message of love with the death of every innocent civilian.

You once wrote “the responsibility of the intellectual is to tell the truth and expose lies”. Well, I know you never considered yourself an intellectual but your ability to inform, educate and lay bare the barrage of lies and myths by which our lives are run was an inspiration to me and to millions. Your humour and wisdom live on, illuminating brilliantly like a beacon of hope and empowerment. I do hope you are resting in peace, but you should’ve lived longer Bill, you should’ve lived longer.


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