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Big Brother is Looking Out for You

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11/19/2006

A few weeks ago, Big Brother wanted to make sure my friend and I were good citizens.

My friend, Colin and I, had just finished eating dinner and were going to see Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers (which, by the way, lets you draw your own conclusions, but for me was evidence of how contemptible the state and its wars are) when we got in his car and he drove off to the movie theater.

At an awkward fork in the road, Colin took a right where he should have gone straight. He ended up turning left across the double yellow line and across two lanes of opposing traffic to get back onto the road. And, of course, a police officer was waiting right in front of us on the dark road for someone to do something just like that.We pulled over, and the police officer asked for my friend's license. Colin stalled, since he (naturally) didn't have his license on him, and started searching his pockets and glove compartment.

Then came the questions. "Have you been drinking? Do you have a license at all?"

Colin had not had anything to drink since the previous night, though the officer said that he could smell the alcohol on his breath. And his license was in fact valid, praise be to the DMV and the Arlington County Police Department to let someone have a valid license who accrued over $1000 in tickets last summer.

Soon the cop's female partner came up to the passenger side, shining a flashlight by my face. And I guess I couldn't blame her. I mean, I do look kind of like a criminal, and have seen older women pitifully clutch their purses as I walk by them down the street, worried that this peace loving anarchist would rob them. Plus, I had a hard time not cracking up in laughter at the absurdity of it all and the attention we were getting for my friend's thoughtlessness.

After a few minutes of badgering from the first cop over drinking, not having a license, drug use, and past driving infractions, he and his partner decided to bark at my friend outside while I waited in the passenger seat.

I could clearly hear the conversation. Colin took a pounding while being questioned over whether he had a job, how he didn't know how to drive (true enough, his driving makes me nervous), whether he paid his expenses, got good grades, was a good son to his parents, and so on. In the fifteen some minutes he was questioned, I zoned out a few times.

Worried that we would be late for the movie, and figuring Colin would have his car towed for not having a license on him and his previous infractions, I rolled down my window and yelled, "Hey, Colin, should I just refund your ticket?" I got a chilling look from the female cop, so I qualified that with the more innocuous, "Your movie ticket."

The officer simply barked at me, "Why don't you stay seated and not ask any questions?!" I ducked my head back into the car, and was told by Colin later that she told him that even his passenger thought this was all a big joke.

Damn right I did. I'm no delinquent, and I was outraged by what the officer said, her rudeness, and presumption of sovereignty over me just because my friend was thoughtless enough to cross two lanes of opposing traffic and drive without a license on him. It violates everything I believe in. I was ready to step right out of the car and give her a brief course in argumentation ethics, as well as to tell her how contemptible it is that the state is trying to re-educate my friend into being a model citizen who will provide a nice base of revenues to tax.

At the same moment I realized that it's illegal to disobey the order of a police officer. I was going to risk arrest and having a gun pointed in my face if I got out of that car, the justification being I came at them first.

After some more badgering, Colin got back in the car, and to my astonishment, the male officer just gave him a warning! After all that, Big Brother explained that he wasn't going to punish Colin because he had bigger fish to fry that night and because Colin had not been drinking.

I've never been so grateful to be white in my life.

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