The Talking Lion

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Terminating Civil Liberties...

My latest column. Not a new discovery, but perhaps an important insight (Pitt News):

I think I have finally figured out President Bush’s favorite movie. Well, this movie might not be his favorite, but it has influenced his policy making at the least. This epiphany emerged after the recent illegal wiretapping scandal, and I feel like an idiot because I should have noticed it earlier. If I hadn’t caught the movie on television, perhaps this insight would be lost forever. The nation should be thankful I spent most of this Saturday on the couch. This movie, of course, is The Terminator. Bear with me.

We all know the movie is about a soldier from the post-apocalyptic future that travels to the present to stop an evil android from killing the mother of the humanity’s only hope. But, I think the president saw this movie and came to the same conclusion that I did this weekend: There are a number of reasons for a giant robot to be chasing you, but it makes a damn good pick-up line.

I mean, this man is telling you that not only is there a giant robot after you, but that copulation with him results in an offspring that saves humanity. I imagine it’s hard to have the requisite resolve to judge who the giant robot is really shooting at after you realize that the thing shooting in your direction is, in fact, a giant robot.

But messianic offspring aside, if you think you’re being saved from a death-dealing automaton by a hot guy, you’re liable to give in to his bedroom eyes, regardless of how silly what he’s saying sounds. The president took this lesson to heart and has crafted his entire administration to be that hot guy.

“Sure,” he says, “I am shooting wildly and throwing homemade explosives behind me as I please, but that’s because there’s a robot after you.” Once you’re convinced that this is truly an android, you tend to listen to the person who tells you he’s from the future. Sure his actions are dangerous — irresponsible at the least — but he must know what he’s doing because you certainly have no relevant training. He needs unregulated wiretapping of his own citizens? It’s illegal, but he says that if he can’t listen the robot will get me. Let him listen, for god’s sake, there’s a giant robot behind us!

This is Bush’s most recent example of legally questionable tactics under the banner of fighting terror, but the subsequent attempt to get into our pants is no longer merely proverbial. You see, Bush is trying to — ahem — relate to America with the formation of a new national secret police force with the power to search American citizens’ pants without a warrant.

The renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act calls for the creation of “a permanent police force, to be known as the ‘United States Secret Service Uniformed Division.’” This new division is empowered to “make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence” and has a nearly limitless jurisdiction.

They also would have the power to make an arrest “if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony.” As you can see, the language is more than slightly troubling; “any offense” and “reasonable grounds” can be broadly defined and easily abused as a result. “Those are just words, baby.” He promises to be gentle.

I draw attention to how ‘easy’ he thinks we are as his remarkably P.R. savvy administration isn’t even going to take the word “secret” out of the official name for our new secret police. “Listen,” he says, “the future of humanity, of freedom, rests on you agreeing. Giant robot.” With our fear he grooms us to heatedly acquiesce to whatever he wants. Apparently we are also turned on by his determination and steadfastness even in the face of obvious mistakes and their predecessors. We have some unresolved issues with our forefathers, and seeking a strong father-figure is only natural.

In this state of robot panic we are unable to see how dangerous and possibly insane this hot guy is. We are unable to ask ourselves a very necessary question: Is this robot worth abandoning our standards? I mean, we’re a pretty sexy country, and we’ve done way better. And unlike Sarah Connor, this robot is no bigger than we faced in the past, knickers intact. To paraphrase a great man, those who would sacrifice a little loving for protection against robots deserve neither and will end up losing both.