Two bits today that fit together in the new, ever creepier America.
First is Adam Liptak's column in the NYTimes about Andrew Feldmar, a psychotherapist from Vancouver, BC, who was driving to the Seattle airport to pick up a friend, a routine trip for him as well as other Vancouver residents. At the US border, an agent entered Feldmar's name into a computer and discovered that Feldmar had published journals about his experimentation with LSD in the 1960's. When this bit of info popped up in the computer, and Feldmar confirmed that he was indeed that Feldmar, he was held for four hours, fingerprinted, and barred entry to the US. He is 66, has what Liptak calls a distinguished resume, and no criminal record. More, of course.
As Liptak writes, "It has been a long, strange trip from the Summer of Love to the Age of Terror, from excluding people based on actual criminal convictions to turning them away based on a border guard’s Internet search. The first approach is rooted in due process and enhances the nation’s security. The second is profoundly arbitrary and effectively punishes not past drug use but honest discourse about it."
Then there's this, covered today by right-wing Strib columnist Katherine Kersten, ever vigilant against sex ed, secularism and, gasp, Muslims. It's the "Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007", introduced by Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.
Nothing Pearce has done in his three terms makes him a stand-out, though he serves on the Financial Services committee and the Natural Resources committee, and the PACs listed as contributors to his campaign tend heavily to the gas, oil and coal side of things, along with a good schmeer of big agra, big housing and banking services. Like I said, nothing unusual.
The bill was inspired by the "Flying Imams", six Islamic clerics who were bumped from a flight when fellow passengers found their pre-boarding prayers unsettling, and who later brought a lawsuit against those passengers. Under the bill, if your boss wrongly turns you in for behavior he finds suspicious, you are barred from suing him for resulting damages.
The bill is co-sponsored by Minnesota's own Rep. John Kline (Barb's favorite) who says, "The core of our Homeland Security system is reliance on everyday citizens to report suspicious activity."
Ewwww. I'm not putting on a "No-snitchin'" T-shirt any time soon, but doesn't this have a creepy Orwellian, if not Hitlerian, ring to it? Isn't spying the job of the FBI and the CIA -- even if they're not very good at it -- not your neighbor and pharmacist? And isn't determining who's fit to board an airplane up to the airline officials and the NSA, not your fellow passengers?
One more day in George Bush's America. Watch your back. And your background.