One rule for some and another for others

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You know how pubs have signs asking you to take your hat off “for the purposes of CCTV”? Every two or three months, there’s some OAP or former flight-commander with a taste for boaters being apoplectic about being asked to remove their hat in their local pub. (Of course, in the case of the latter, it should simply be pointed out that no gentleman wears his hat indoors.) Of course everyone knows that they’re not the problem, it’s other people. (And, for the record, this is neither political madness gone mad nor in it’s proper sane sense.)

There is a similar thing with drivers (yeah, all of you); a failure to acknowledge that if people kept to the legal speed-limits then there wouldn’t be the opportunity for the police to fund their xmas raffle through speed-cameras. And, let’s be honest here, everyone’s been in the situation where they’ve attracted unwanted and probably unwarranted attention from officialdom. (And, to PC 359, I again say it wasn’t a church, it was the bush next to a church.) At moments like this the they could spend that money hanging people brigade don’t seem quite so illogically blinkered.

I very nearly made a comment here about Al Capone getting done for tax evasion. But, I think I might be wandering waaaay off the point.

And so to this piece from the Grauniad (higlighted by McGazz) in which journalist Elena Lappin splutters and b-b-b-buts about the horrendous treatment she experienced at the hands of the Department of Homeland Securirty when she attempts to enter the states without a valid visa.

Oh, I’ve tried hard to rail against the neo-totalitarianism of the new world order on view here. But all I keep thinking is that she tried to enter a country without a valid visa. This woman is a journalist and still she tried to get in without a valid visa. But, still I find myself trying to get uptight about the sheer assault on human rights here.

And it’s all down to that sheer incredulity that someone should have the temerity to stop you. She explains:

He swiftly produced the visa waiver (I-94W) I had signed on the plane, and pointed to what it said in tiny print: in addition to not being a drug smuggler, a Nazi or any other sort of criminal, I had inadvertently declared that I was not entering the US as a representative of foreign media

How would you spot that in the (I’m sure everso) tiny print? Of course, anyone that’s been to the states or seen one of these cards will know fine well that it’s all pretty legible. And, anyway, what type of moron fills in something like this without checking they’ve done it right? Thankfully for us, the legal department are obviously well on the ball and insist that she includes this part of the where you are asked to declare you are not a nazi, dealer or stinking subversive journo-type:

“You may not accept unauthorised employment or attend school or represent the foreign information media during your visit under this program”

Which, in view of the fact that this waiver is for tourists and short visits to your family seems fair enough. Unless attend school is some sort of euphemism I don’t understand.

So, if I go into a pub and they ask me to remove my hat, it’s their prerogative. If I chose to remove it I can use the facilities and avoid a gentle, slightly degrading and possibly uncomfortable removal from the establishment. If I am entering another country, I should be sure I have the right credentials to do so for the purpose I intend to be there.

Rules, regulations, and laws. They should not be applied subjectively. That’s why they work. In theory, at least.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

20 August 2007 at 3:50 pm

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