Friday, November 19, 2010

Pardon me for Stepping on my Soapbox

I generally opt out of following the news, but cannot totally remain ignorant since I use Yahoo as my internet opening page. Actually, it would be the same with MSN, or practically any other provider. A few days ago, I read about John Tyner who refused a full body scan at the San Diego Airport, and was then directed for a full body pat. He said to the attendant who would pat him thoroughly, "Don't touch my junk", meaning his genitals. It all turned out a very big hullabaloo with threats of a fine of $10,000. even after he had gotten a refund from the airline, and he'd been escorted by a policeman toward the exit.

The first fact that stared me in the face is how terribly invasive and offensive these procedures are. Who would choose to have a perfect stranger examine your naked body? Many of us are even ill at ease disrobing for a doctor! In the face of such losses as the economy fosters on families and individuals--loss of gainful employment and all that it entails, loss of home, bleak prospects for children's education, non-access to medical care, etc. etc. one freedom should remain. That of protecting one's own body from unwanted intrusions or invasions. I may not earn a salary, or even live in a regular home. But my body remains MINE alone. To reveal naked or not. My choice. To be groped at or not. My decision. To have one's most intrinsically private possession, perhaps the final one, exposed in stark nakedness or groped at in a way that would be judged an indecent act in other circumstances, and this by order of the government, is the final act of coercion into totally surrendering to Big Brother.

A second fact is that if we look back at 9/11, the greatest loss of human lives and property was the assault on the twin towers. The airplanes that slammed into the World Trade Center were piloted by privately trained men. Thousands of lives were lost and I feel quite sure that had those men been scanned for weapons or any article that could be construed as a weapon, they would have passed with flying colours (no pun intended)! Airplanes had been their weapon of ultimate destruction. I do not doubt for one second that whenever and wherever terrorists would plan an attack, most if not all would be knowledgeable enough to realize what procedures are in place at the airports of the world. If they are determined to mount an attack, they will find a way to achieve their goal. A difficult to accept but stark reality.

Meanwhile, civil liberties are increasingly eroded. When I spoke to my son yesterday, he told me of his sister-in-law who had to go to a pharmacy. She went with her miniature Shih-Tzu all properly leashed, then tied the little one outside the pharmacy. A civil security employee accosted her and told her that she wasn't allowed to leave the dog tied outside. OoooK. She then untied the dog, took it in her arms, and started going into the pharmacy. Whereupon, the zealous civil employee followed her in and told her that she wasn't allowed to take the dog inside either. A discussion ensued. Finally, the obviously annoyed pharmacist intervened and said that he was ok with it, then proceeded to fill her prescription.

When I decided to come to Mexico, it was following an incident where I had been parking the rig for years in a small town of rural Alberta. I had secured official permission from the RCMP to park on that abandoned road between a town street and the new highway through town. And it had been given every year. I was careful to keep Keesha and Teddie leashed when they were still with me, then Queenie for that last year.

I had undergone elbow surgery in June and was following a program of physiotherapy twice a week through August. One day when I returned to my parking spot, I noticed that signs had been nailed to the fences on each side of the RV. They posted "Private Road" (an absolute falsehood), "No Camping", "Positively No Camping"... This on a road where I had often witnessed big rigs with trailers full of horses dropping by the field a bit down from where I was parked to let their animals take care of natural needs. At other times, big 16 wheelers would park a bit ahead of me and let their engine run all night long. On weekends, youngsters in a mood to party would litter the area with beer bottles and fast food containers. At the sight of my RV, they would leave for another party spot.

It did upset me a great deal. Feelings of dejection, rejection and finally disgust and of wanting to be free from it all shook me up. You will tell me that these are the risks of boondocking in towns. Not necessarily everywhere, but increasingly so, and on account of bylaws. Pray tell what harm can a lone woman (or a couple for that matter) in an RV parked overnight cause? The week before, I had watched on the news how a woman from North or South Carolina who lived up a hill in what appeared more of a rural area than a high-rise or condo environment had been told on threat of a fine that she wasn't allowed to hang her clothes on a clothesline! 

It has been very insidious how bit by bit, one bylaw following another, our liberties (dare I say our rights?) have been eroded, most of the time without our really noticing it. All in the name of law and order? or to ensure conformity in the general populace? I suppose that many bylaws have an ultimate aim to protect citizens. But tell me how the size of a leash or the breed of a dog consists of a threat. When I got Teddie Rottweiler at 10 months of age, I wasn't aware that she was considered an "Unacceptable Breed". The condo association sent me an ultimatum in writing, get rid of the puppy or face expulsion. Within the month I had moved out. BTW my Rottweiler Teddie, in the 10 years of her life, never so much as adopt an aggressive attitude or made even an appearance of a threat to bite anything other than her kibble and her toys.

The football player Michael Vick ran dog fights (secretly) where some atrocities were taking place regularly in defiance of laws and bylaws. Many of the animals were rescued by Best Friends Animal Society and fully rehabilitated. Please check out Best Friends. If I was a four-legged and suffering, I would pray to be rescued by them. It's people who choose a particular breed as a way to vicariously feel the "power" of owning such a dog who are the culprits as well as those who breed them so carelessly for profit. 

As a result, all these liberties lost have created an environment where neighbour watches over neighbour for any violation of a sacred bylaw, eager to report it and see him, her, or them, suffer dire consequences. Have we become a society of piously intolerant citizens, impatient with non-conformists, eager to prey upon one another in the name of LAW? Perhaps not such a society everywhere or quite such a one just as yet, but certainly a litigious one. So now it is either conform or pony up the $$$! If you can't, jail time! In many places, you can't even paint your own house to your liking--bylaws forbid it. Why such intolerance? What happened to "Live and Let Live"? And please refrain from pointing out that it's all for the purpose of protecting citizens. How much liberty must we surrender for so called protection? I seem to recall how the Godfather and his minions also offered protection to merchants, bar and store owners...

How I love Mexico! What a breath of fresh air it is from what to me felt repressive if not outright oppressive! Houses are painted in many colours here and make it a vibrant, lively and amazing sight. Based on what I have lived, I'm saying Women Solo RV'ers, BEWARE! You may at times be envied. But all too often you'll be judged as foolish, dangerously courting grievous mishaps, and sometimes be hinted at as I was, "...why aren't you home knitting for the grand-children or taking care of the hubby or waiting for death in your rocking chair?" No longer willing to be subjected to such judgmental attitudes, I found comfort in numbers. Which is why I liked it so much boondocking on BLM lands. At least I was among other non-conformists. Bylaws and regulations at RV parks, coupled with serious crowding up of RV'ers parked (packed?) as sardines in a can, also sent me towards boondocking.

That is, until I made it to Mexico where I found a land of delicious freedom. And I love it so much that I don't even feel like visiting back "home". I'm not saying that Mexico doesn't have its problems. What country is without? But it does feel so much freer, so accepting, so friendly and nonjudgmental. Imagine, I had to give up my favourite Jif peanut butter, some bargains, books in English, and I'll even admit to sometimes a few things more. But my gains are undeniable. I'm living healthier, without many of the stresses imposed by laws, bylaws, rules and regulations. With time, I'll be able to read books in Spanish and will get them free at the public library. And imagine!  Instead of losing my house to recession, I'm boondocking on MY lot, and planning to build MY house to my liking, and paint it whatever colour I want! How I love my new country, Mexico lindo y querido!

Please pardon me for getting on my soapbox. I promise to restrict myself to boondocking, Mexico, and RV'ing solo in the future. It's just that sometimes, I feel either terribly disturbed or profoundly emotional about some issues, freedom being my main "obsession".


Anonymous said...

It is wonderful that you are doing what you want to do when you want to do that and living your life to the fullest. It is also great that you have not run into any of the terrible things that are happening in Mexico. People are being killed across the country for no reason. Drug lords have taken over many communities and the people live in constant fear because they cannot trust their police who are at worst, bribed, or at best, just as afraid as the citizens. Mexicans are fleeing Mexico because of these problems. I hope your section of the country continues to be safe. If not, I hope you have an exit strategy. The incident you described was terrible but are you really sure it wasn't an isolated event rather than a total loss of freedom for all of us?

Stargazer said...

Where I live, in Tequisquiapan, is one of the safest places in Mexico as is the central colonial part of the country. The terrible things that are happening in Mexico are mainly localized along the U.S./Mexico border.
As to the incident involving a man who refused to have his genitals groped, it is happening in over 150 U.S. airports to thousands of people daily. The metal handheld scanners are there, but if the security agent directs you to the full body scanner or the pat-down, you must comply, or else... Check out this newspaper article

Sondra said...

Ive been on a rant for a week over the GOP and their stupid concern for the rich and the way they thumb their noses at the poor----I dont like it when Big Brother gets too close I think the Pat Downs is a waste of time and an invasion, as you pointed out if someones wants to get something onboard an airliner they will do so! I witnessed 911 and was part of the volunteer force that worked those few horrible days after the will never leave my mind, but I dont see how we are any safer today than we were that day! Law n Order has to be kept..but many trite things such as clothes on a line is petty-and should never be an issue, but there is always a time and place for everything. IF people would use common sense many of these stupid laws wouldnt be on the books! A woman ties her dog outside a store, what if the sun begins to blaze down on that dog while she is in the store, what if someone comes too close...its NOT good common sense to tie a dog up in a strange place-she should think ahead and leave the dog home or make better arrangements. I dont want more rules I want Smarter people who make intelligent choices SO the governing body doesnt have to Make Choices for THEM and we all get along better if everyone takes care of themselves and dont expect the community to watch out for them..they should be watching out for themselves!
AS for Michael Vick the guy should STILL BE IN PRISON for what he did and what he represented. I love Best Friends went to visit them in 2009-and support them when I have extra$$!!

Stargazer said...

You can find John Tyner’s story and videos here:

Barb said...

I have to agree. I don't like the idea of the body scan or the pat downs. I don't think I'd agree to either. Better to drive. Our rights have been quietly taken away, bit by bit, and we don't realize it until something so obvious happens, such as a stranger putting hands on your body in places they have no right to be. I wonder if it will all stop if the world becomes a less threatening place? I doubt it.

¡Vizcacha! said...

I feel like we're being terrorized by our own "security" measures. I don't feel any more secure, do you?

Stargazer said...

I felt a bit as if I was overstepping my own blog boundaries by posting this. Now I'm very happy that I did. Me and My Dog wondered if it will all stop in a safer world. I would venture a guess as to NO. How often have you seen a government retract previous edicts? Unless a grass root movement makes it obvious to the powers-that-be that citizens will no longer go along with the imposed procedures, nothing will change.

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