HOMELAND INSECURITY

We're fed up with the War on Terra and the dime-a-dozen Chicken Littles, all constantly reminding us that the sky is falling. On the other hand, we know it's a practical certainty there'll be another terrorist attack in the United States, even if the Chicken Littles have to do it themselves, just to show us. The important question to ask is: how will we react when the inevitable occurs?

Many think that there will be a knee-jerk reaction toward martial law, thus dragging us further toward a totalitarian state. Others think that cooler heads will prevail and we will choose a path away from the failed militarism that we've embraced since 9-11. Nah, who are we kidding? Nobody believes that. It’ll definitely be martial law, totalitarian state.

So when the shit hits the fan and the clampdown begins, we know the first question everyone will ask: “What happened to The Beast?” Doesn't it stand to reason that this paper will be shut down?  Sure it does. Not because we really do anything important or dangerous. We just annoy the hell out of enough people around here that, in an era of unrestrained concessions to security concerns, there would be little opposition to extinguishing our Beastly liberty. So this got us thinking about who would be putting their boots to our necks. We figure it will be Dicky Peterson.

Remember Dickey Peterson, Cherub of Justice, played by Jim Carrey on “In Living Color?” Carrey's dorky Guardian Angel reject was a hilarious depiction of the sort of person that would gravitate toward right wing vigilantism. The cruel joke is that the War on Terra and the media’s constant warnings of terrorists lurking around every corner is making the Dickey Petersons of the world take themselves seriously.

Don't believe us? Then look no further than the Buffalo News for the melodrama: “Boot camp for the war on terror marched into the Town of Tonawanda on Saturday.” This was the opening sentence of an article entitled “Citizens learn tips to spot terrorists” by Lou Michel (the News’ terrorism expert, because he wrote about Timothy McVeigh) on 2/26/2006.  This article is a good example of how silly this nonsense has become.

The News' report tells of how the Peace Officer Training Academy, a group whose only apparent credentials are that it has a website, gave a free eight-hour course sanctioned and paid for by the Department of Homeland Security to 55 people on spotting terrorists. A 15-year-old who attended the course summed up what he learned about spotting terrorists: "It's the way they carry themselves, acting odd."

The Chief instructor said the “course gives them technical knowledge of what to look for,” which his assistant described as things like "buying bulk amounts of fertilizer,” “suspicious-looking individuals taking pictures,” and “people wearing over-sized coats or hooded sweat shirts on warm days.” Seems like they covered all the bases, except for the infamous “I Blow Shit Up” T-shirt typically worn by al Qaeda operatives.

The course also provided “a better understanding of the importance of being alert in a region filled with potential targets” such as the “Niagara Power Project, Buffalo City Hall, the U.S.-Canadian border, downtown Buffalo office buildings and Niagara Falls.”

Fifteen members of a volunteer group called the Buffalo Special Police attended because according to their chief “they want to be ready if terrorism ever comes to Buffalo Niagara” and "we have the waterfront and the border. If something happens, we'll know what to do." Cherubs of Justice Unite!

What's really unsettling about the idea of this sort of citizen participation is the algorithm of going from law enforcement wannabes to actual sanctioned conduct. The father these citizens are from being police professionals the more likely they are to be in it for the joy of thuggery. In a climate of hyped war on terror we need to be asking questions before the bomb or bombs go off.  If we wait until after it happens can we expect a fair hearing from a person that will take great pleasure putting a boot to you for failing to get in line in a properly subservient way?  

There is such a thing as being vigilant without being neurotic. We lived through an era, (still live, actually) when the Soviet Union, now Russia and various godforsaken war zones, had world-ending missiles pointed in our direction. Back then (we don't think about that particular very real danger today), we learned to hide under our desks and kiss our asses goodbye in the event of an attack.  People otherwise went about their lives without much concern for their impending doom. If you gave it too much thought you were called nuts. If you suspected your neighbors, you were paranoid. Today the paranoid nuts are not only respected, they are encouraged.  We need to recognize that these people are not only nuts, they are dangerous, and a hell of a lot more common than terrorists.

If The BEAST died of natural causes, that would be terrible enough. But if some “benevolent” government entity euthanized us in the name of freedom, that would be a very, very bad sign.

But don't tell Dicky Peterson we said that, or he might use his “Death Touch” on us.


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