Saturday, September 6, 2014

Worse Than Big Brother

Ten bucks says this self-righteous asshole goes home every right and rapes his own kids, thinking himself morally superior all the while. And goes to church every Sunday.


Ok, we're officially a depraved, paranoid society. A man was taking pictures of his daughters on the ferry as the family went on vacation. He's been doing that every year since they were little. Now they are teenagers:
Totally engaged with the scene in front of me, I jumped when a man came up beside me and said to my daughters: “I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you were okay.”

At first none of us understood what he was talking about. His polite tone and tourist attire of shorts, polo shirt and baseball cap threw us off. It took me a moment to figure out what he meant, but then it hit me: He thought I might be exploiting the girls, taking questionable photos for one of those “Exotic Beauties Want to Meet You!” Web sites or something just as unseemly. When I explained to my daughters what he was talking about, they were understandably confused. I told the man I was their father. He quickly apologized and turned away. But that perfect moment was ruined, and our annual photo shoot was over. (Only after we arrived at our rented condo did I find out I had gotten a great shot.)

As I was telling my wife what had happened, I saw the man again, scanning the horizon with his binoculars.

I walked outside to where he was standing and calmly said: “Excuse me, sir, but you just embarrassed me in front of my children and strangers. And what you said was racist.”

The man didn’t seem at all fazed. He replied: “I work for the Department of Homeland Security. And let me give you some advice: You were standing there taking photos of them hugging for 15 minutes.”
A couple of things: it's bad enough that we've become so paranoid that a man taking pictures of teen age girls is automatically a sign of a pedophile at worst and a dirty old man at best. The girls were hugging because they are sisters. It says more about this man's turn of mind than it does about anything these people were doing. They were, after all, on a public ferry. Anyone with a normal thought process would not automatically suspect porn or trafficking in that situation. This says something about the way we have puritanically sexualized everything in this culture.

And then we have the fact that this is an undercover "Homeland Security" officer saying "let me give you some advice, you were standing there taking photos of them hugging for 15 minutes" as if that's a suspicious act in itself that's bound to get the attention of authorities. I don't think the people have been made aware that the government finds this sort of thing a cause for intervention.

I appreciate the fact that we are concerned about human trafficking but this strikes me as absurdly intrusive. As the author of the piece points out, there were many ways to approach this if the agent felt it required further investigation. (For instance, he could have engaged them in a normal conversation and found out quite readily that they were a family.) But once again we see this authoritarian mentality encroaching on daily life in America wherein we see police everywhere, in various guises, looking over our shoulders, asserting their authority, making themselves known in small ways and large.

We always had aggressive cops in this country and they've always been willing to stretch the meaning of the bill of rights. But this sense of them being everywhere, seen and unseen, is new. And it's chilling.

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