Friday, August 13, 2004

Cautionary Tales: A Brace 

Cautionary Tale the First, from the Des Moines Register, courtesy of Suburban Guerilla:
Editor: I am a registered Democrat voting for John Kerry, but I thought it would be educational for my daughters and me to go see President Bush speak at the Davenport riverfront Aug. 4.

I wanted them to see that the president was supposed to be working for all Americans. Even if I didn't agree with his policies, I could still show my children how elections and politics work.

I waited in line, picked up my Bush tickets and waited in line to enter the park to hear the president. When I got up to the front of the line, I was grabbed by security, pushed to the side (in front of my children and Republican friends) and my ticket was ripped. They said, "We don't like your pin, so get out of here."

I was wearing a small pin that said, "John Kerry 2004." The worst part is the security team did this in front of my children. I want my daughters to understand that in America we have the right to free speech. We have the First Amendment, but that was blatantly violated.

I wasn't making a scene. I didn't even say anything. My daughters don't understand why this happened. They thought in America people could express themselves without repression.

Someone owes my friends, daughters and me an apology, and that someone needs to reinforce my rights as an American.

--Glen Wooldridge, Davenport.
Cautionary Tale the Second, from Sea and Sky and Land, via Chas. Dodgson (with an assist from Avedon Carol):
This morning, they're doing bag searches again to get on the ferry. And the guy doing the searches pulls me aside and says, "Sir, I feel that I need to confiscate this book."

I pause and say, in that tone of voice that most people would recognize as meaning, "have you lost your grip completely, chuckles?": "You need to confiscate... a book."

"Yes. I feel it's inappropriate for the other people on the ferry to be exposed to it."

Now, I had the book IN MY BAG. It was not open. And while the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile is displayed as improbably proportioned, well, this is not, as far as I know, illegal to have. I mean, there was a guy carrying a copy of Maxim, and some of the women in THAT are improbably proportion. (All right, I admit: they're not wielding a huge sword and dressed in a bustier studded with human finger bones. But really.)

My response: "Well, let me call the ACLU and have them come down here, and see what they think about your attempt to confiscate a book that was not in the plain sight of others due to your feeling it's not appropriate." And I pull out my cell and start scrolling down the list - ACLU-NJ is at the top, actually, before 'Amanda' and 'ardaniel' since it sorts alphabetically.

He gets all pissy at me and says, "Don't you understand this is for your safety?"

"Confiscating someone's gun or bomb is for my safety. Perhaps confiscating someone's pocketknife or nailfile may be for my safety. What's so damn dangerous about my book?"


"That's NOT YOUR DECISION! I could be carrying a copy of Hustler in here, and it's STILL not your decision! You're looking for bombs and knifes and guns and things that hurt people, and a book that is IN MY BAG is not going to leap out of its own damn accord and HIT SOMEONE!"

The rest of the people waiting for the ferry are watching our exchange. He realizes that they're all looking at him, and that I'm winning this one in their eyes.

He lets me go on the boat.

I'm pretty sure he made notes about me, and I'll probably get more hassling later, and if I run into him again he'll probably be more of an asshole.

But I don't care. I won this one. I'll win the next one if I have to fight it.

Today I print out the Fourth Amendment and keep a copy of it in my bag.
The cautionary tales above offer two compelling reasons to vote Mr. Bush out of office, but if they do not suffice, Suburban Guerrilla will gladly direct your attention to a thousand others.

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