The Most Basic of Rights

“Where are you coming from this evening son?” asked the cop, who might have been two years older than me.

“What do you need that information for sir?” I asked with as much contempt as I could pack into an eight-word sentence.

“This is police business. Don’t try and get smart on me. Where are you coming from?” he repeated. This time I could SWEAR that his hand moved closer to his baton. As if to let me know that he was not afraid to beat my brains in for not answering his questions EXACTLY the way he wanted them answered.

“Once again, SIR”, I said with extra sarcastic emphasis on “Sir”, “If you could tell me why you need that information, I would be glad to think about letting you know.”

He huffed like someone had just given him an SAT level math problem, and then walked briskly back to his cruiser. He sat there for a while GLARING at me under the brim of his State Policeman’s hat. I saw him slap his dashboard and shake his head as if he were disappointed about something. He then walked back to my car and literally threw my license and registration into my lap.

“This could be easier next time.” He stated with an air of “how dare you!”

“Yeah, you could have something on me before you pull me over. That would make everything easier.”

“You want to step out here and settle this son,” he said excitedly. There was a tone in his voice that I hadn’t heard in a long time, but I still knew it. This guy wanted to destroy me. He wanted to take me out of my car, get me to throw a punch, and then beat me in to a coma, or worse.

“Are you threatening me sir?” I said with genuine shock. At this point, I was BEGGING for another cop to pull up and see what was going on. But there’s never a cop around when you need one.

He stared into my soul. This guy had flipped. He had reached a point in his head where something didn’t make sense. Everyone that he had pulled over that day had handed him their license and registration and then proceeded to tell him their life story. They made SURE that they cooperated with his every whim, just to get out of a ticket. No one wants to be a criminal right? No one wants to be suspicious of anything. And if a cop pulls you over, he must have you on something. Right? RIGHT?! Wrong.

We live in a time on this earth when people are giving up their most basic of rights in the name of safety and paranoia. Forget the constitution for a minute. Forget the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just for a moment, and let’s get down to what REALLY matters. Your most basic right in life is to exist an anonymous human being. No one has the right to track your movement. No one has the right to hunt you down and tag you like some rare species of lizard, but that’s what’s starting to happen RIGHT NOW.

There is an old story that says if you put a frog in a pot of water, you can eventually boil him to death as long as you gradually turn up the heat on the stove. He’ll just keep getting comfortable with the heat. No need to escape right? The temperature will get tolerable sooner or later. Is this happening to us? Are we allowing the government to pass laws that take away our freedoms, simply because we are comfortable with the way things are? Are we so complacent that we let things like the Patriot Act and Domestic Security Enhancement Act 2003 just slide through without anyone griping, simply because we don’t want to be labeled as domestic terrorists?

The Domestic Security Enhancement Act 2003 states that the government doesn’t need a warrant if they suspect you as a terrorist. Section 501 of this document states that anyone found breaking a law during a time of war could be considered a terrorist. Before that, section 201 says that the government never has to release the whereabouts of a jailed terrorist. Pretty nice and neat huh? First, we’ll grab you off the street, and then we’ll lock you up and no one ever has to know. And why do things like this get through? Why would we let something go through our government that allows them to completely wipe their ass with the 4th amendment? People are scared to stand out. It really is that simple. People have convinced themselves that if they haven’t “done anything wrong”, and then they don’t have anything to worry about. They are secure in their head that there is no way that the government would mobilize troops on it’s own people. Ask the people that were at Ruby Ridge what they think about that thought process.

The new trend coming through America now is the microchipping of kids. Just take your rugrat into a specialist office, like the ones at a place called Verichip, and just get a little microchip implanted beneath the skin. This chip can be scanned to verify identity, social security number, medical information, place of birth and whatever else you want to be known when those chips get scanned. Why is this a concern, you might ask? Well, think about a government that has total access to the movement of all of its citizens. Think about how easy it would be to declare martial law on the citizens of this country, and then herd them all up into camps, or wherever they wanted us to go. And hey, it’s for our safety right? There is no way that the elitist, rich, power hungry government would EVER put it’s own citizens into camps for no reason right? Well, unless we were at war, and it was the 1940’s and you were of Japanese or German decent. They don’t tell that story too often, now do they?

So when is enough, enough? When do you stop using your credit card with the little magnetic strip on it that tells the bank, and everyone else who wants that information, where and how you spend your money. How do we stop the use of things like face recognition software out of malls and schools? How do we prevent city and state governments from putting cameras on every street corner? How do we keep things like the national ID card from coming to fruition? The answer is a LOT simpler than people might like to think; we simply MUST care where our freedoms go. They CAN’T pass these bills and spend our money this way if we don’t let them. The root of all of this comes back to us as citizens. We MUST shake the apathy from our collective brain, and take the country back from the people that would abuse it and our freedoms.

"Because I said so."

The other day, I was at the zoo, looking at all the beautiful animals. The shiny, grunting pygmy hippos… the fragrant bisons… and lastly, the gibbons (which are long-armed monkies from Africa). I saw them sitting there in the sun, arms stretched out, closing their eyes to the cool breeze that flowed through the park. As my cell phone began to ring, I sighed, and looked at the primates with envy. I could be there, junk hanging in the wind, smelling like rotten fruit, and not giving a damn. Instead, I talk to some strange new person as the animals look at me with some fascination. There is no screaming. No division. And it is then that I wonder if we haven’t been evolving in reverse.

Remember being a kid, sitting in the sandbox or whatever, doing whatever the hell it is you were doing? And you’re completely happy, until some jerk comes over and starts messing with you, forcing you to do something you don’t want to do? Maybe calling you some names in the meantime? What was the person’s justification for attacking you? Was it… “Because I said so?”

We’ve all said this at one time or another. Most of us happen to grow out of it at the age of…. I dunno, five or so. But there’s certain sects of people who cling to this idea of being absolutely right, no matter what the cost to others. They carry it around like a gigantic shield, and bring this dumb, outdated concept out when backed into a corner. They rarely bother with evidence, and when you ask for it, will present you with phantom sources, spectral footnotes.

There are people with all sorts of beliefs who adhere to this type of behavior. I’m taking aim at one. Not because it alone distorts and/or manufactures facts to cover its own ass… but because out of all the groups that do this, I dislike this one the most:

Fox News and it’s Enthusiastic Viewers.

I was on a plane the other day, sitting next to a balding man and his starry-eyed son. Behind us, a heated political discussion was going on. I rolled my eyes, and muttered to him that I wish people wouldn’t talk politics so loudly. It made me rather angry, I said. He replied that it made him angry too. And then, of course, he ruined the geniality of my upcoming plane ride by saying just what was angering him…

In the space of an hour in a half, I was informed of the following:

1. The News is Very Liberal. Very very Liberal. That is a fact. Go to ratherlies.com* . It will show you everything.

2. Fox News is fair and balanced.

3. Liberals hate Christians.

4. Other religions should not be treated as being on the same level with Christianity in America.

5. Liberals love Homosexuals, who will no doubt cause the death of the American family.

6. Anne Coulter is funny.

7. Hannity and Colmes is a show featuring a conservative and a liberal, who discuss things.

8. Kerry is not a war hero.

9. John McCaine is not a war hero.

10. It was Wesley Clark, Arkansan General-cum-Democratic Presidential hopeful, not any of Bush’s men, who okayed the Bin Laden flights out of the USA after 9/11.

My answers….

1. It leans left. But that’s simply because reading the news with moralistic and religious overtones screws up the message. “Jesus is making it rain in Tampa because you touch yourself” isn’t something you want included in your weather forecast.

2. Could be true… if it is trying to balance all the supposed liberalism in other news outlets. I was also informed Fox had tried liberal shows (has it?) but nobody watched, so they dropped them, and run conservative shows. By that count, they are no longer “Fair and Balanced”.

3. Well, they keep telling us we’re going to hell.

4. Well, the Middle-Easterners hold Islam higher than Christianity, so why can’t we show ’em by holding Christianity higher than Islam here? Oh, because we’re in America, which is based on the ideals of freedom and equality. For now.

5. Yes, we love the queers. And they’ll destroy the American family. After all, I’d rather have a dead son in combat fatigues than a gay son in a turtleneck.

6. I laugh at Anne Coulter. But probably not for the same reason this person does.

7. If by “Conservative” and “Liberal” you mean “supernaturally enthusiastic conservative mouthpiece and middle-of-the-road wimp”, then yes, this is true.

8. Hence the metals.

9. Hence the years as a POW.

10. It was actually Richard Clarke, the anti-terrorism guy who was a holdover from Clinton. See? It was Clinton! Clinton! Which brings me too…

Passing the Buck and taking the Change

The blame for the terrorist attack on America has been tossed around like a beach ball. When faced with the idea that their own glorious leader and his glorious staff might have royally dropped the ball, Fox News did what any red-blooded follower of it’s ideology would do: They’d blame Clinton. Yet, when it comes to the sucky economy, this conversation often takes place:

“Well, the economy was better under Clinton.”

“It was a holdover from Reagan’s era. Clinton didn’t do that.”

Then, by the same token, I hypothesize J. Edgar Hoover got us out of the Depression through his economic policies. Evidentaly, Presidents and their economic policies are akin to sending off for X-ray goggles in the mail. Please wait two to three administrations for delivery.

Anne Coulter

I tried to think of a joke to go along with her name, honestly I did. But poor Anne Coulter’s been having a rough time as it is. Recently, she was hired by USA Today to write articles for each week of the Democratic convention, but was relieved after one article. The folks at MSNBC (not Fox, mind you) took this poor woman in. She decried the injustice that was done to her at the hands of the liberal media, and then they read excerpts of the article she wrote on the air:

Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazoned with the “F-word” are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling… My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie-chick pie wagons they call “women” at the Democratic National Convention.

I’m going to pull a wild guess here: Maybe USA Today didn’t cut her off because of her politics. Maybe they cut her off because she’s a terrible fucking writer.

First, “Spawn of Satan Convention” is pretty damn witty… for a girl between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Terms like that are usually written in a diary, not in major newspapers.

Gay men use covert signals? Amazing. I knew when Pierre was trying to tell me something when he waved that flashing red light at me…

Oh, and Anne Coulter is now supposedly a pretty girl. So when did being horse faced come back in style?

As for her idea of what a chick on the left side of the spectrum looks like… bitch, you are way off. Look around BP, and take a gander at it’s women. They are all what I would consider to be pretty girls… all two of ’em. They got that way without rich daddies and choir practice and absorbent amounts of makeup. They got that way without watching Fox News and calling liberals un-American and supporting a leader who has a complete disregard for human life just because it was the thing to do. They look good simply because they do. Not because they take part in some powdery-ass aristocracy.

The Maine Event

Something to keep in mind at the end of this column: Simply because somebody says something IS doesn’t mean it necessarily is. Just as the man on the plane told me that it was a FACT Wesley Clark let the Saudi’s go, so might others try to mislead you, through evil or ignorance. It is important for you, as Americans, to form your own ideals… don’t be a Fox News zombie, or a Bush-Basher (like me), unless you are certain that that is who you are. America is built on freedom, but there are still chains here…. only we are the ones making them, and locking our own hearts and minds in them.

Break the chains. Many points of view in this country are not represented… but they should still see the light of day… be heard… and have their moment. The people in power… and pursuing power, in this country, have been deafened by spin, by polls, by the roar of campaigns, of faith and paranioa. They cling to ideas many of us do not have, but for some reason, they are the only groups people are allowed to listen to. This begets such mystifying anomolies as a party that cries out for soldier’s lives, while casting the lives of unborn children to the wayside (and vice versa).

Whenyou think you’re on the side that is right, you can do some terrible things. Consider Hitler, burning bodies across Germany. Or Truman’s bombs as they seared and poisoned thousands of civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in fire from the air. Right or wrong depends on what side you are on. That is why there should not be rushes to judgement.

Consider the Maine, the ship that exploded in Havana Harbor. Experts believe now it was the fault of a boiler or a cigarette on the munitions deck… but back then, we wanted a war, so it was the Spaniard’s doing. Because we said so.

The Gibbons sit back in that cage tonight. There is no war on thier minds. No pundits blathering on about whatever. There are no Michael Moores or Anne Coulters or Colmes or Hannities (or Anonymous folks, for that matter). There is no society, no politics. Just the cage someone else put them in, with no concievable way out of it.

I know how they feel.

* Ratherlies.com does not exist. Neither does Danratherlies.com.