Welcome to the
Sorry to be the one to have to break this to you folks back in America, but youíre
living in a police state. And Iím not saying that as an exaggeration for comic
effect; Iím saying it because itís true.
Any place where the police have license to break into your possessions or your
abode, without benefit of a warrant and without fear of any messy consequences
like lawsuits or reprimands, and where they have the power to detain you for any
reason or no reason at all, is, my friends, a police state.
Iíve been hearing rumors that America has been tightening the screws on
personal freedoms, that was academic to me before my recent visit. Having now
been a victim of these tactics, however, itís all too real.
Basically, entering and moving about in America, in and of itself, makes you a
suspected criminal; and you are treated as such. I suppose I brought it upon
myself by locking my suitcase for a flight from NYC to Seattle. How was I to
know? Last time I visited, it was still a free country where locked luggage was
not cause for suspicion. Consequently, my suitcase was broken open and my
possessions manhandled. A gift I was bringing my son was ripped open and a box
of cigars I had bought for myself was scrutinized. Iíve written an editorial
to the papers about this already (hoping to recoup some money for a new
suitcase) so I wonít rehash it here. Instead, Iíll highlight some issues I
did not address in the editorial.
Most disturbing, to me, is the reason I believe my case was targeted. An x-ray
image of a box of cigars does not look like a bazooka, or even a pack of
dynamite; it looks like a box of cigars. But you canít tell from an x-ray if
they are Cuban or not. These goons were not looking for terrorists; they were
using the Patriot Act to circumvent conventional search and seizure laws.
Fortunately, the cigars were Honduran, or Iíd probably be enjoying the sunny
climes of Cuba right now, only not in a location where I would have access to
any good smokes.
Another disturbing fact left out of my essay was the picking and choosing of
people for an absurdly invasive search before letting us on the plane. It
stopped short of a body cavity search, but just. In my essay, I did not point
out that there were two classes of people they elected to ignore: women with
babies and fat people.
Why is a woman holding a baby any less likely to be a terrorist? As if they
would think twice about using a baby as fatwa fodder. And whatís really in
that milk bottle or hiding in the little guyís diaper?
And fat people? My theory is: the guards were just being lazy. These goons,
after all, are merely civil servants (ďI was only following ordersĒ) and
overweight people have a lot more surface area to pat down. Who needs the extra
work? But does al Qaeda have a weight limit? Are there no fat terrorists? And
besides, unless you actually pat them down, how do you know they are really fat?
That overweight blonde could actually be a skinny bloke wrapped in layers of
The whole charade is ludicrous. No one is any safer because of these tactics.
America is spending a whole lot of time, effort and money turning everyday
citizens and visitors into criminals in order to provide the appearance of
safety when, in fact, none of this will deter any terrorists.
Being in an airport now is a frightening experience. It makes me wish I had a
Tourette's Syndrome medic alert bracelet so I could walk around shouting ďFuck
you!Ē with impunity.
Thatís enough ranting; I just wanted to get this off my chest so I could write
up my American visit without having to mention any of this unpleasantness. The
write-up is, I promise, light and breezy, hopefully humorous and 99% airport
Iím glad to be safely back in England now, where my belongings can be
ransacked by honest thieves instead of government screws under the pretext of
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