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Man goes to college costume party “dressed as a ninja”. Someone decides that this is “acting suspicious” and calls the authorities. Man is jumped and detained by ATF agents.
Of course, there’s a thousand and one jokes one can make about this, but that’s not where I’m going. It wasn’t like this guy was dressed up like a terrorist (yeah, I know “what does a terrorist look like?”) or running around saying he had a bomb. If you look at the article, he wasn’t even really dressed like a ninja: “black sweatpants and an athletic T-shirt with one red bandanna covering the bottom half of his face and another covering the top of his head”. So what you had was a case of a guy wearing a bandana over his face, and this caused some hysterical student to call the cops (not exactly sure how the department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms got involved).
What bothers me in all this is that our country is in a mode where “unusual” means “suspicious”, “suspicious” means “call the cops”, and then you’ve got men with guns and authority who equate “unusual” and “guilty.” We’ve seen this play out a hundred times since 9/11, students with anti-Bush posters get visits from the FBI, men speaking in Arabic at a restaurant being held in custody while cops sweep local highways for bombs they didn’t plant, eccentric artists being misunderstood and facing charges, and now people being detained for attending costume parties.
These actions and this atmosphere gives rise to a fear of standing, a feeling that one needs to conform to the norm to avoid having terrible understandings take place. The idea that you need to watch what you say and do. The idea that it’s not just dangerous to be a dissident, but to be different at all.
As a lifelong weirdo, I find those sort of developments creepy.
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