Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reasons I Need to Move, #27

I was about a mile from my home in beautiful suburban Lee's Summit, MO, yesterday when I noticed this bumper sticker on the car in front of me. At first I laughed, because I figured it must be satire--you know, kind of like the "Gay Shame Parade" article from the Onion that I posted, which apparently offended someone anonymous who took it literally, which one ought not to do with satire.
>Other empirical evidence which led me to conclude that the bumper sticker must have been satire: this car had no fewer than eight bumper stickers. The only people in Missouri who have that many bumper stickers, in my limited experience, are other leftist pinko Berkeley types like me.
>Empirical evidence which led me to conclude that the bumper sticker was, in fact, not meant as satire: well, I was in Lee's Summit (most recently made famous as the opening location of the movie Jesus Camp), AND the other bumper stickers all made specific reference to a particular branch of the military, except for the one which said "The Iraq War Is Keeping American Families Safe."
Really? American families are safer because thousands of members of those families are being killed and maimed in Iraq. Not to channel Jon Stewart too heavily, but really?
And you love wiretaps. Really? That's some effusive emotion to be ladling out on a surveillance technique. Whether the technique is invasive, unconstitutional, even immoral, or not, is beside the point. (Though worth considering sometime. Maybe the Congress will get on that in a few years...) But I've got to ask the person in that car in front of me one more time, because I just can't wrap my brain around this: do you really love wiretaps?
I love my wife. I love my dogs. I love my mother and my brother. I love our cat, though she just tolerates me. I've been known to say I love Lake Viking, our other residence in rural northern Missouri, where people are, generally, less right wing than my neighbors in Lee's Summit (see post title).
I've been known to say I love clam spaghetti. Yeah, that's a bit of hyperbole. But I think it pales in comparison to "loving" wiretaps. I think no matter your political persuasion, it should be troubling that people are willing to take the discourse to this level. The level which says "I think my government ought to be allowed to do whatever it wants, as long as it promises that its actions are promoting the general welfare. And I will support my government, most especially its ever-expanding executive branch, with inflammatory rhetoric."
See, 'cause here's the thing. I really don't believe that the person driving that car really "loves" wiretaps. I'm willing to bet that the person driving that car wouldn't know a wiretap if it was right outsider her house, which it very well might be, though I'm sure it is her assumption that the FBI has carefully avoided tapping the lines of any red-blooded American, and is only listening in on terrorist communiques.
I'm also willing to bet that the person driving that car is a good person, with fine values--a parent (it was a big car), a taxpayer, a citizen. I'm willing to bet that she just wants to feel safe, wants her family to be safe, and feels a little bewildered that the safety rug seems to have been pulled out from underneath us. And in the absence of viable courses of action, sometimes you've just got to rely on your government, which is, after all, tasked with the job of keeping us safe.
But who protects us from ourselves? Who protects us from becoming so afraid that we're willing to say we love wiretaps?
I really wish that bumper sticker had been meant as satire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is the problem with using satire. People don't know how to take it, if it is for real or not. However, I always did believe I was being watched or listened in on. Big Brother is listening. This is why miss understandings happen and people get hurt or worse. Satire good only on the TV or Stage, not so good in life, only when it can be explained.