December 29, 2005
As laughable as a hoax
(Except I'm not laughing....)
The main reason I thought the Little Red Book hoax was so laughable was that I couldn't believe that federal officers would seriously waste their time on innocuous, universally-available, tacky Communist kitsch.
A story in this morning's Inquirer, however, would be even more laughable if it wasn't true, which it appears to be. Amazing as it sounds, a Bryn Mawr college student was arrested not for a silly book, but for flour in condoms:
She was a freshman on an academic scholarship at Bryn Mawr College, preparing to fly home to California for Christmas, sleep-deprived, with questions from a calculus exam still racing through her head.It wasn't as if she was trying to pass the stuff off as drugs, either. The girls at Bryn Mawr are known for making goofy arts and crafts things during Finals Week, and young Ms. Lee stuffed the condoms to make improvised stress squeeze balls (a bit like these omnipresent things).
Obviously it was not a busy day for terrorism, as the authorities we normally trust to keep us safe from Osama bin Laden devoted themselves assiduously to putting this girl in jail on trumped up charges:
....[S]creeners at Philadelphia International Airport inspecting her checked luggage found three condoms filled with white powder. Lee laughed and told city police they were filled with flour. It was just part of a phallic gag at a women's college, she told them, a stress-reliever, something to squeeze while studying for exams.How in the world could a "field test" determine that flour was opium and cocaine? The police won't say -- and apparently many of the records remain "confidential":
Capt. Benjamin Naish, a spokesman for the Police Department, declined to comment, noting that the department rarely comments on litigation. Cathie Abookire, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, also declined to comment.(Only after she got a lawyer was the flour retested again and determined to be flour.)
I don't blame this woman for suing! I note that her lawyer (former White House appointee Jeremy Ibrahim) is no slouch, and I honestly hope she ends up owning the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia Airport so she can fire everyone responsible and tell the rest to devote themselves to fighting terrorism.
While I find the story hard to believe, the Inquirer is not some college newspaper, and I don't think they'd have run this story without checking the facts.
I have a brief observation and a question.
First of all, airport authorities have no business abusing the extraordinary powers granted them during war on terrorism to shake down people for drug offenses -- real or (as in this case) imaginary.
Second of all, what the hell kind of "drug field tests" are being used in this country? If they can't determine the difference between flour and cocaine and opium, why, it makes me afraid to get on a plane.
(Especially if I'm carrying well-known methamphetamine precursors like sudafed and lithium.)
AFTERTHOUGHT: My gut reaction to this is that the police probably never did a field test. It's just a guess on my part, but my common sense tells me that they just made up the test results to "teach her a lesson." If so, I hope she teaches them a lesson. I wish it didn't have to be at the taxpayers' expense, but maybe if things like this happen more often, people will start asking tough questions about the growing totalitarianism inherent in that damnable human rights atrocity so euphemistically called the "Drug War."
A bored official glanced at my visa, rubbed his face, stamped my passport and pointed me toward my first Libyan checkpoint. A man in an untucked button-up shirt, with a cigarette jutting out the side of his mouth, waved me toward a metal detector. He hadnít shaved in two days. I walked through. The alarm screamed and I braced for a pat-down. He just stood there, took a long drag on his cigarette and stared bleary-eyed into space over my shoulder. I guessed that meant I could go. So I did.I hate to say it, but right now I'd rather be searched by lethargic Libyans.
posted by Eric on 12.29.05 at 07:25 AM
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