Roger’s Rules

The Way We Live Now, a continuing series

Last week, a lounge singer was arrested on suspicion of racism for singing the Frank Sinatra classic “I’ll Do it My Way.”

The song, performed by Durka Mohammed, 28, a native of Somalia, is said to have offended a Westchester couple as they walked past the Hindu Kush Bar in Manhattan.

The entertainer regularly performs the 1967  hit, but when the passers-by —  identified by police as Ms. Mary Smith, 34, and Jane Farnsworth, 36, of Bronxville —   reported his routine on Sunday, Mr. Mohammed was arrested for racially aggravated harassment.

“We were performing ‘My Way,’ as we always do — it’s a crowd favorite,” said Mr. Mohammed,  “and these two blonde ladies walked by and started swearing at us, making obscene gestures, and taking pictures. ‘DO what your way?’ one of them kept screaming.”

Smith and Farnsworth called the police, who later apprehended Mr. Mohammed when he was eating at Le Bistro Français, a nearby restaurant.

An NYPD  spokesman said Ms. Smith and Ms. Farnsworth had felt racially and sexually abused by the song. “If a victim believes a crime is racially or sexually aggravated,” he said, “the police will treat it seriously.”  Investigations into the incident are continuing.

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OK, sorry: I made that up.  It never happened. Mr. Mohammed, whose full name is “Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad,” doesn’t exist, and the Westchester babes are completely fictional. But the incident, with a few ethnic and other adjustments, is utterly real, as we’ll explore after the page jump.

This from The Daily Mail of 27 April, 2011:

A pub singer has been arrested on suspicion of racism for singing the classic chart hit Kung Fu Fighting.

The song, performed by Simon Ledger, 34, is said to have offended two Chinese people as they walked past the bar  where he was singing. . . .

But after one of the passers-by reported his routine on Sunday afternoon, Mr Ledger was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated harassment.

“We were performing Kung Fu Fighting, as we do during  all our sets,’ he said. People of all races were loving it.  . . . But this lad walking past with his mum started swearing at us and making obscene hand gestures before taking a picture on his mobile phone.” . . .

Officers later called Mr Ledger while he was eating in a Chinese restaurant to arrange a meeting.  . . . A Hampshire police spokesman last night said a 32-year-old man of Chinese origin had claimed he was subjected to racial abuse. He added: “If a victim believes that an alleged crime is racially aggravated, the police will treat it seriously. Investigations into this incident are continuing.”

I have long wanted to acquire a keychain that would play the theme from “The Twilight Zone” when you pressed a button. So much about contemporary life seems to call for that eldritch accompaniment. I never found such a device, but, reading about Mr. Ledger,  I am determined to renew my search.