The smelly hippy in the other half of my duplex paints cow skulls and reads Rudolf Steiner. Across the street is the head of a witches’ coven who makes the dogs howl all through the day and night, and covers my porch in crawling bugs. The woman next door to me studies yoga, runs a halfway house for wayward punks, and works during the day as an acoustical engineer — somewhere in her brain lurks the secret to pulverizing bones and rupturing kidneys with sonic weapons. Further down the street, there lives a lurching, 7-foot tall mohawked kid with an endless supply of drugs who comes home with a mysterious shiny new car every other month or so. There isn’t a single “Bush/Cheney 2000” sticker on any bumper on the street. Something’s not right. They’re not normal Americans. Worse, they may be un-American.
Before September 11, I would have shrugged my shoulders and locked my front door. What else could you do? It was a free country, after all. Not anymore. They’re being watched: When the postal carrier drops off that copy of Mother Jones with the Working Assets long distance phone bill, he doesn’t forget. When the cable guy spies that People’s History of the United States next to the half-eaten morsel of spelt bread on the coffee table, he’s taking notes.
The U.S. Justice Department, in conjunction with FEMA, is recruiting 1 million — and eventually, 24 million — U.S. citizens for Operation TIPS, a vast citizen informant network which will be comprised primarily of workers whose vocations bring them close to other citizens’ homes and businesses — couriers and mailmen, for instance. Their job is simply to report “suspicious activity.”
The Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS, means the US will have a higher percentage of citizen informants than the former East Germany through the infamous Stasi secret police. The program would use a minimum of 4 per cent of Americans to report “suspicious activity”.
Well, that’s unsettling, to be sure. Our liberty and the future of our republic are at stake, so news like this deserves careful consideration. Let’s consider.
- Living in a police state is undeniably romantic. Driven underground by the whispering and pointing cadres of postal carriers and UPS drivers, we will fight with the Resistance, and we will sip espresso furiously.
- The nation that we were taught to love and the ideals that we were taught to cherish are gone, and we are to blame.
Well, you are. We have a website. We’re doing something.