The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Wednesday, October 16, 2002
TO ASSEMBLE FREELY: Tomorrow morning we depart for Maine -- by car. Partly this is because it's cheaper to drive than to fly, and partly this is because road trips are good for the soul. But mostly it's because airports are police states these days. If I can drive somewhere in a day or two and can spare the time to get there, I'd rather travel on the highways than through the increasingly intrusive bullyocracy of the air.

Well, that's my rationale. I think it was the price difference that convinced my girlfriend.

Speaking of police states: There's been a lot of over-frantic talk about the death of dissent since 9/11, which seems a bit premature at a time when Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore can write bestselling books. But if we haven't seen the death of dissent, there has been a slow-motion assault on free expression; if we aren't headed for the gulag, we may yet be bound for Singapore. The free press is surviving, but freedom of assembly has been pummeled over the last year, with cops stopping protestors from holding anti-Bush placards at unapproved spots, police arresting anti-IMF demonstrators without regard for whether they're breaking the law, and -- back to the airports -- peace marchers being barred from planes because they've been put on a mysterious "no fly"
list.

Some of this goes back before the 9/11 attacks, of course. The IMF roundup, for example, had more to do with what happened in Seattle in 1999 than with what happened in Manhattan in 2001. But the fact that there's more than one source for the trend does not make it any less alarming.

Fortunately, I don't have to worry about any of that for the next few days, as I and other wedding guests assemble freely on the New England coast. See you next week.


posted by Jesse 5:38 PM
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