There are going to be more an more stories like this as the years roll on. Someone gets fed up with additional security. The Man leans on them. Oh, the injustice of it all. 1984 here we come.
Gerry Dunphy grew increasingly angry last summer about the new police checkpoints choking his Capitol Hill neighborhood. And one morning in August, as he was driving his son through one of three checkpoints to get to Union Station, his temper got the better of him.
Dunphy, 70, recalls shouting at the officers that they should stop wasting their time on passing cars and worry instead about whether a bomb could be placed on a train passing through Washington. Law enforcement officials say that he went further than that, pointing at the U.S. Supreme Court and screaming that his son was “going to use the train and tunnel to blow up that building.”
Those words wound up costing him $15,328. Dunphy was charged with making a false threat, and yesterday a federal judge ordered him to pay that amount in fines.
Now, I’m sympathetic to the guy. And I agree with his agitation that so many “normal” folks seem to be getting the shaft while so many things that seem so much more threatening (the Mexican border, ocean containers, Federal Air Marshals, Los Alamos) seem to be getting so little attention.
That’s not my problem with the story. My problem is the next section:
Defense attorney Allen Dale said it was too bad that the government couldn’t distinguish between a retiree and a terrorist. He said Dunphy was a “person terribly inconvenienced . . . who finally got ticked off enough that he said something he shouldn’t have said.”
His friends said they fear a new post-9/11 police state in which people can’t get angry, question authorities or step across a line without being labeled a threat. They said that makes them feel less safe.
“They spent $10 million on those checkpoints, and who did they get but Gerry?” said his friend Jane Rasmussen.
On the surface, this is just pretty irresponsible. First of all, how does his friend Jane Rasmussen who they’ve been able to “get”? And the real reason for checkpoints isn’t to “get” anyone, but to discourage the bad guys from trying to pass through in the first place. It’s a way to make it more difficult and expensive for terrorists to do business.
I had a fingernail clippers taken away from me before boarding a flight some time back because the nail file was too long. Long nail files aren’t going to be used to hijack planes, but checking for them and enforcing the rules will make it far more difficult for real weapons like box cutters to be smuggled aboard. (Don’t start a debate on the security of our air travel. I know that it stinks. I was only using a personal experience as an example of checkpoints and how they make a difference.)
But the real problem is that Gerry’s friend Jane Rasmussen gets her quote into this sort of story. We are going to be subjected to more and more of this sort of thing. It won’t be uncovering holes in the system or finding security breaches for the purpose of making the security system better. It will often be for the purpose of dismantling the security system because it inconveniences too many people and doesn’t seem to catch enough bad guys.
Anyone who defends the security is going to be called Orwellian. I guess that will be me in many cases. Those that stand up for the security policies will be called “brainwashed”. Again, that will be me in many cases. I’m simply pointing out this story and noting that I think we’ll see many stories like this in the future.