Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why I hate Ford Park: Reason # 23

A while back I wrote this about Ford Park:

The first time I went to Ford Park was for a ZZ Top concert a few months back. It was a nightmare. It took more than an hour from the time I exited the freeway to the time I got in the parking lot. And then it was about another hour to clear security. This time, there was no wait for anything. But then, this wasn't ZZ Top and the parking lot wasn't nearly as full. Nor was the pavilion. But there was still a pretty good crowd.

I knew I should have known better, but I guess I never learn.

Anyway, that little ol' band from Texas was back last night, along with Cross Canadian Ragweed and Los Lonley Boys. Kid Rock might have been there too, but if he did anything other than introduce ZZ Top, it was before I got there or after I left. Or maybe while I was waiting in one of their interminable lines. This is not the concert review. This is a rant. If I get around to doing a review, it'll be in a separate post.

I guess it wasn't quite as bad as last time. This time, it only took about half an hour from the time I exited I-10 to the time I got to the parking lot. And then probably only another 45 minutes to clear "security."

"Security" is quotated for a reason.

And that reason is that it has nothing to do with making the place more secure. It's all about the idiots who hold power trying to look like they're doing something to protect us from all those swarthy guys in Iraq who want nothing more than to come to Beaumont and take out a whole bunch of us infidels at a concert. Something like that, anyway.

Anyway, whatever the reason, it seems that one can no longer go to government owned facilities where lots of people congregate without giving up your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. (They do the same thing, although somewhat more competently, for Texans games at Reliant Stadium, which is owned by Harris County.) But on top of the insult of the search, the morons who run the thing don't hire enough people or buy enough wands or whatever, which means the lines get ridiculously long and the people who are supposed to be doing the searches get more and more careless and perfunctory.

So almost an hour was wasted standing out in a cold rain waiting for the opportunity for someone to run a wand over me in a manner that would not even have detected it if I'd been carrying my Kel-Tec P-3AT in my pocket. I was told by people who arrived a couple hours later that they'd tired of this and just waived people through without treating them like criminals.

I remember back when this was America. Hell, I remember back when this was Texas. Now it's seeming more and more like a pussified wannabe police state. It seems that's what a "Post 9/11 World" is all about. (These intrusive "security" measures are almost invariably blamed on 9/11, after all.)

I am not happy about this.

And I think that if Osama & Company wanted to punish ordinary Americans for our government's officious foreign policy, they've succeeded brilliantly. They had the resources to make one big show, but that was about it. And in response our government has done more to diminish our quality of life than Osama & Company could have ever hoped to achieve.

To put things in perspective, Osama & Company killed about 3000 people on 9/11, an, in this country, we've heard barely a peep out of them since, but you can't get on an airplane without being subjected to all sorts of idiotic, completely pointless "security" measures that don't do one damned thing to make flying safer, but that are enormously annoying and time consuming. Same goes for concerts and football games. On the other hand, doctors and nurses kill about 30 times as many people each year because it's too much trouble to observe proper hygiene between patients. And what do we do about it? Do we round up hospital administrators and the head doctors and ship them off to Gitmo until they learn to wash their hands properly? Hell no! We enact "tort reform" to make sure they aren't held accountable for the damage they do.

* * *

As Judge Wiener observed in his dissenting opinion in U.S. v. Zapata Ibarra, the Fourth Amendment no longer applies within a hundred (or more) miles from the Mexican border because any reason that a law enforcement officer might give for search will be accepted as reasonable by the courts. In one of my favorite pieces of legal writing (which I include here only because I love to quote this passage), Judge Wiener cataloged facts which the Fifth Circuit had, in previous cases, accepted as creating a "reasonable suspicion" justifying vehicle stops that would otherwise offend the Fourth Amendment:

The vehicle was suspiciously dirty and muddy, or the vehicle was suspiciously squeaky-clean;the driver was suspiciously dirty, shabbily dressed and unkempt, or the driver was too clean; the vehicle was suspiciously traveling fast, or was traveling suspiciously slow (or even was traveling suspiciously at precisely the legal speed limit); the [old car, new car, big car, station wagon, camper, oilfield service truck, SUV, van] is the kind of vehicle typically used for smuggling aliens or drugs; the driver would not make eye contact with the agent, or the driver made eye contact too readily; the driver appeared nervous (or the driver even appeared too cool, calm, and collected); the time of day[early morning, mid-morning, late afternoon, early evening, late evening, middle of the night] is when "they" tend to smuggle contraband or aliens; the vehicle was riding suspiciously low (overloaded), or suspiciously high (equipped with heavy duty shocks and springs); the passengers were slumped suspiciously in their seats, presumably to avoid detection, or the passengers were sitting suspiciously ramrod-erect; the vehicle suspiciously slowed when being overtaken by the patrol car traveling at a high rate of speed with its high-beam lights on, or the vehicle suspiciously maintained its same speed and direction despite being overtaken by a patrol car traveling at a high speed with its high-beam lights on; and on and on ad nauseam.

Judge Wiener wrote that back in August of 2000. But that was then, and this is now. In this Post 9/11 World, with Islamofascist Terrorists hiding under every bed and unchecked illegal immigration, are we not all living "on the border" now? How much longer before we have swarms of smartly dressed Homeland Security Officers to greet us on every corner with a cherry, "Papiere, bitte!"? Or to periodically make unannounced home inspections to ensure that there are no undocumented Islamofascist Terrorists living in the spare room? Or to rummage through our garages to make sure we don't have any diesel fuel and fertilizer stashed away?
All this has me in the mood to watch my favorite movie about the day after tomorrow, when it'll feel like we're all living in Brazil.



Blogger Susan in St. Paul said...

That is insane!

I guess your local cops need a reason to be. maybe it all comes down to money, overtime even in the name of security.

They are certainly doing their part in letting the terrorists win.

"we have nothing to fear but fear itself"

and WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP EVERYONE, esp medical personnel! (this is the 21th century not the 17th!)

Sunday, April 08, 2007 6:24:00 PM  

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