Verbal extremism in defense of civil liberties is no vice
Friday, April 29, 2011
I Heart Royalty
No, this post isn't about the inbred rich dude who got hitched in England today, and shame on you for even thinking I'd care enough to write about that. Though in retrospect, maybe it's my fault for writing the wrong title; this post should be called "I heart royalty payments." Yesterday I learned that the German publisher of an English-as-a-second-language textbook got licensed to print one of my Guardian immigration columns. [Boyfriend's response: "Germans pick your least scathing piece. That must hurt."]
Not really, but what does hurt, as I remember back to my own student attempts to read whatever foreign-language essays my teachers and textbook publishers deemed acceptable, is knowing karmic law demands certain high school students in Germany will one day hate me. I always try to write so the result is easy to read and understand, and I daresay my immigration column met that standard . . . assuming you-the-reader are not only fluent in English, but also familiar with American history, laws, mainstream politics and everyday culture.
But I tried reading the column again, imagining myself someone for whom the English language is something I must seek out rather than my everyday means of communication, and without footnotes I might not understand that "suckitude" is no real word but a slightly vulgar portmanteau, and the word "illegals" considered rude and incorrect as a plural noun but neutral and grammatically sound in singular adjectival form. There's also mention of "totalitarian regimes," and regime-vs-government is a standard example used in American denotation/connotation lessons; when I taught high school English I did that lesson every year.
What laws regarding the status of people who to the United States emigrate does the woman who this column wrote prefer? Cite three examples to your answer support.
I miss the days when the Transportation Security Administration was merely a bad joke rather than a public employment program for NAMBLA. Spokesmen for the TSA have already admitted that the agent who molested six-year-old Anna Drexel in the now-infamous video followed “proper procedure”; in other words, TSA sees nothing improper about forcing little girls and boys to submit to big scary strangers who want to squeeze their buttocks and run their hands between their legs, stroke their hair and pull it back from the nape of their neck, run their fingers all around the insides of their underwear and shirt necklines — nothing extraordinary about that, just the ordinary everyday submission TSA expects all travelers to endure.
Now that Drexel’s parents have come forward and made national headlines, other parents have come forth with their children’s stories too: last week eight-year-old Spencer Sheahan was fondled on his way to Disneyland. Spencer said “I didn’t know what they were going to do to me”; Anna Drexel’s parents said their daughter started to cry after her groping, and asked if she’d done something wrong.
No, dear, you did nothing wrong: the TSA did, and to a lesser extent your parents did too, taking you on an airplane a full six months after TSA implemented its molestation policy. TSA agents in Washington DC might have gone too far when they pulled a 15-year-old girl away from her mother before groping the teen; the girl turned out to be the daughter of Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who has introduced legislation that would ban TSA agents from groping a minor “unless a parent gives consent and is present for the screening. If a minor is traveling alone, a representative of an air carrier must supervise the pat down.”
Chaffetz means well but misses the point: the problem isn’t “minors are being groped without their parents’ consent” but “every flier in America is being groped (or at least at risk of it) without their consent.” And having your mom or an airline executive watch while you’re being degraded won’t make it any easier. Just ask little Anna Drexel.
The TSA has been a pointless, useless, unconstitutional organization from its very inception. Preventing another 9/11 required two things, and we’ve already done them both: strengthen cockpit doors so hijackers can’t force their way in, and let passengers know the old conventional wisdom “During a hijacking, the best course of action is to be quiet and do what the hijackers tell you” is wrong.
I never thought I’d wax nostalgic for the Good Old Days when Bush and Cheney were running this country into the ground, yet here’s one way Bush’s America was indisputably better than Obama’s: under the Bush administration, child molesters were given long prison sentences, whereas today they’re given tax-funded salaries and turned loose to diddle children and adults alike in American airports for the TSA.
Here’s a video I’d never have shown you during the Bush administration, because back then it would’ve been classified “softcore child pornography” rather than mere “documentation of American government agents at work.” If you’re not a pedophile, prepare to be outraged; if you are a pedophile, prepare your Vaseline and tissue box. You’ll need them both.
Background: apparently, just before this video was shot, the little girl did go through the nude scanner, but that didn’t satisfy the TSA so the child had to be groped instead. At the very beginning, you can just hear the girl’s mother plead, “Can’t you just re-scan her?”
Of course they can’t just “re-scan” her. Where’s the fun in that? Scanning would merely give agents another look-see at the six-year-old girl’s smooth hairless nude body, but if they wanted to see that again, they could call up the saved image with only one hand (leaving the other free to pursue more pleasurable activities). Re-scanning the girl wouldn’t let some fat slob so lacking in morality and marketable job skills she has to work as a TSA agent act out the pedophiliac fantasy in the video: first running her gloved hands down the soft, silky hair on the girl’s head before slo-o-o-owly pulling it back from the nape of her neck, letting the hair drop softly back down onto the neckline of the girl’s shirt just before the agent sticks her finger down said neckline to trace out the full circumference of the child’s naked shoulders before pulling out, and running her palms over by where her victim’s breasts ought to appear in a few years [i.e. when she’s too old to be sexually appealing anymore], across the child’s still-nonexistent waistline and hip curvatures, finally sticking a gloved finger down into the child’s underwear and feeling aaaaallllll the way around the girl’s slender cylindrical little form. Next it’s the girl’s buttocks — gentle squeeze, gentle squeeze, just enough to make sure she’s not smuggling a nuke down there — now between the legs — yes, yes, right there, that’s the sweet spot all the pedophiles wish they could touch — mmm, yeah — now run both hands down the child’s inner thighs … all done while you’re behind the child, of course, so she can’t make eye contact with you but you can, if you want, pretend/fantasize she’s somebody else — maybe that hot little piece JonBenet Ramsey circa 1990-something — now dash around to the front for another quick grab-through — yes, pull the girl’s shirt back down and smooth it out, you did rumple it pretty badly — now walk away and leave the child standing there with her legs apart while she waits for the results of the drug test you’re running on her.
I’m sure someone out there will read this and be very offended by what I wrote. Not offended by the pedophiliac behavior of the TSA, mind you, but offended at me for identifying such behavior as the pedophile wet dream it is. I am not swayed by the argument “TSA does not hire child molesters!” Anyone who molests a child is by definition a child molester, and what that video shows and what I just described is indisputably a bully in authority molesting a child.
I haven’t blogged for awhile because I’ve been suffering through withdrawal symptoms after quitting a drug addiction cold turkey. Specifically, I haven’t had a cup of coffee in several days, because I want to go back to where caffeine brings an occasional extra welcome jolt, rather than being a daily baseline requirement.
But today I had a jolt stronger than any I ever got from caffeine. Get this: a few days ago I started “penny mining” — when I go to the bank, in addition to my regular transactions I also take out some rolls of pennies to sort through while watching TV at home. Pre-1982 copper pennies go in one jar, the very occasional wheat penny in another, and I re-roll the rest to deposit in my account.
So I went to the bank today and came home with $10 in penny rolls, which I sorted while watching a DVD. When I opened one roll and scattered its contents across my work tray, there among the brown and red coins I saw a silver-colored one. “Cool,” I thought, “a steel wheat penny in good condition.” But the back of the coin showed the Lincoln Memorial, and when I turned it over I saw the date was 1974.
The old cliché about time standing still describes the moment too well for me to seek out something better. One of the rarest recent American coins is the 1974 aluminum penny; that year, in light of high copper prices, there was talk of minting pennies from aluminum. (The proposal failed, of course, and copper pennies minted until 1982.) Over a million aluminum pennies were struck; one was donated to the Smithsonian, and a few more passed out to congresspersons and cabinet members and similar people. The US Mint recalled the coins when it abandoned the plan, but about a dozen of the aluminum pennies were never returned.
Nowadays the missing coins are officially considered US government property, and the Secret Service is tasked with confiscating any that are found and returning them to the Mint. Or so it’s believed; nobody knows for sure what would happen if a 1974 aluminum penny turned up, because nobody — not one of the relatives, mistresses or favored lobbyists of the Congressmen who initially refused to return the coins — has ever publicly come forth, admitted holding one and offered it for sale.
I stared down at the silver 1974 next to Lincoln’s silver head and felt hot and cold and dizzy all at once, thinking: “Here I sit with a literally priceless coin in my lap, and there’s collectors who’d pay millions for it except I have no idea how to find any of these people, plus the Secret Service will confiscate the penny if they know I have it.”
All this and more flashed through my head in a fraction of a second, but eventually realization sank in that an aluminum penny would be noticeably lighter than the one I actually held. I have a few aluminum coins on hand; a French franc from World War Two is about the size of a quarter, yet weighs noticeably less than my penny. Then I remembered how, before safety regulations went insane, “turning pennies into silver” was a common high school chemistry experiment.
So I didn’t have a priceless artifact fall into my lap today. If I had, I wouldn’t have updated my blog today either, and would probably continue neglecting it awhile longer until I logged on to report “Hi, everybody, I now live in one of those non-Middle Eastern countries that refuses to extradite rich people to the US. No TSA here, either.”
(Confession: once I realized I had an ordinary copper penny after all, I felt an overwhelming urge to call the Secret Service in the guise of a patriotic citizen who thought she’d found an aluminum penny and was doing her civic duty by reporting it. But I decided not to, figuring I’m probably on some watch list already.)
Jennifer Abel is an American writer who began her career in print media three minutes before the Internet killed the industry. After starting at a small Connecticut daily she moved to the Hartford Advocate, an alt-weekly where her journalistic coups included infiltrating a Furries convention and working on a phone sex line (which fired her six hours later). Since then she’s written for, or been reprinted in, dozens of print and web outlets, including Playboy, the Guardian, Salon, AlterNet, Mashable, the Daily Dot and pretty much every website with the words "cannabis" or "legalize it" in the title. Once, when she was young and naïve and needed the money, she unwittingly edited SEO copy for a spammer. However, in light of the spambot comments she’s deleted from her own blogs since then, she figures she’s more than repaid that particular karmic debt. Jennifer is currently looking for professional, non-spam writing jobs; interested editors are enthusiastically invited to e-mail her.