Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Men in Black: bumper sticker profiling

Political activist Jim Goodnow of the Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bus was stopped by two Homeland Security agents for having... too many bumper stickers on his car?

Incredible as it may sound, that appears to be what happened last Saturday when Mr Goodnow was leaving my home in Washington, DC. As Mr Goodnow was standing beside his heavily stickered car and waiting for me to snap a couple pictures of him and his car from across the street, two men in suits came up to him and began questioning him. At the time I could not guess what they may have wanted but decided to take a few more photos of them from a distance. After they left Jim walked back to me and gave me the full story which, in his own words he prepared for publication on his website and you can read below. (or listen to Jim's podcast)

Howdy Friends.. Jim the Bus Driver here reporting to ya'll from the nation's Capitol.

A rather curious event went down as I was leaving my friends bill and patti's digs in Washington, Dc. It was a pleasant May day on connecticut Ave, washington, dc as I approached the newest vehicle in our peace efforts, the bumper-stickered station wagon "motherload" named by Father Timothy O'Connell who has graciously made it available for the good cause.

Two men blocked my path and wanted to know if I was a certain "Mr Quinn".
I didn't say if I was, or wasn't. Instead.. I wanted to know who they were!.. and was told that they were with "law enforcement". ..and they again asked if I were "Quinn". I didn't say who I was but wanted to know what law enforcement they were associated with?..
"HOMELAND SECURITY" I was told and I thought "Okaay.. here we go. Is it 1934?
Perhaps 1984?"
Nope. It's 2007 in the nation's capitol.

Don't let the suitcoats and ties fool ya folks. In my mind I saw brownshirts and jackboots as they again hammered away at me as perhaps being the elusive "mr quinn". When I queried them as to under what authority I must answer their questioning, they dodged the issue and ask if I had a driver's license. ..and when I replied "yes", they demanded to see it.
"I don't think so" thought I and broke out my cell phone and small address book instead and informed them that I was going to place a call with my attorney.
At that, they backed down and prepared to depart.
"Oh my.. I hope you guys don't take this too personally" I stated as I extended my hand.
#1 man refused to shake my hand informing me that he had a "cold". I think he was lying. I mean like his nose wasn't running.. he never coughed or sneezed. His diction seemed pretty clear, all things considered.
#2 man said zip as he also would not shake my hand.
This kind of snobbery could give a guy a complex, I surmised internally as my extended right hand went limp and unshaken.
"Must remember to contact Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and suggest placing an airborne formula anti-cold tablet dispenser next to the water coolers down at their headquarters! Who knows.. this thing might go pandemic amongst the agents if not confronted immediately!

A feeling of melancholy bemusement swept over me as I watch the men lope away still in their hot pursuit of the elusive Mr. Quinn.
I wondered, could it be that this was just the beginning of.. "bumper sticker profiling!"?

Jim Goodnow of the Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bus

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