“Free Country Hypothesis” Data Begins Rolling In

I recently claimed that,

The Republican national convention and the protests it inpires seem like a decent field test of the hypothesis that it’s still a free country. I am mildly confident that thanks to the the work of the NYCLU and other groups like it, we will again fail to invalidate this hypothesis.

Well, here's our first two data points.

First, D&D book reader on ferry hassled by security morons

A BB reader sez: “Thanks to the RNC, there are manditory bag searches happening on the NJ-NY Ferry. This fellow first got hassled with a re-search for carrying The Player's Guide to Faerun a D&D book, and then the next day, security tried to confiscate his copy of Exalted: The Abyssals as 'inappropriate.'”

This morning, they're doing bag searches again to get on the ferry. And the guy doing the searches pulls me aside and says, “Sir, I feel that I need to confiscate this book.”

I pause and say, in that tone of voice that most people would recognize as meaning, “have you lost your grip completely, chuckles?”: “You need to confiscate… a book.”

“Yes. I feel it's inappropriate for the other people on the ferry to be exposed to it.”

He gets all pissy at me and says, “Don't you understand this is for your safety?”

And, second, the followup:

Greg Costikyan: Just spoke with people from New York Waterway, who say:

1. They're trying to track down mephron (the original poster) to get more detailed information from him—e.g., time and ferry route.

2. If the story is true, it is not only a violation of company policy, but also of martime regulations, and if it is true, they wish to correct the situation as quickly as possible.

3. Anyone with further information about it are invited to contact them directly.

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2 Responses to “Free Country Hypothesis” Data Begins Rolling In

  1. Chris says:

    On a related note on the free country hypothesis, how about the loyalty oaths one has to sign in order to see a presidential candidate? See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31019-2004Jul31.html

    While I can appreciate that candidates don’t like being heckled, or whatever, the oaths seem counterproductive besides being anti-democratic. To use an analogy, I remember looking with contempt on the scene of Iraqis–every one of them–clapping and smiling in exactly the same way around Saddam Hussein, and knowing that it was all contrived on the order of a dictator and that it fooled no one. “Bring me fans, he commanded! And the minions asked, how many and how well should they show their love to you?” The only difference is that over here, as far as the news revealed to me, attendance was not coerced. Nevertheless, undecideds who show up are compelled to betray their consciences and sign a loyalty oath just to see a candidate they have yet to make a decision on. And their is no opportunity to convert opponents, let alone to understand how to serve them. The message sent is that opponents will indeed be served, but not in a way they would like.

    These oaths also communicate to me that Bush and his campaign are skittish, if not truly scared, of what they might find if they really went out among the people. Whether he intended it or not, the requirement of loyalty oaths simply to be admitted to a speech is hardly the action of a “strong” leader of a free people.

  2. I have to go tangential and out of NYC, but I think I can prove once and for all its not a free country anymore.

    Am I the only one who saw the story from St. Louis about the Health Department shutting down two small girls’ lemonade stand for lacking a permit? No, I’m not making this up. Look here:


    Now. Who exactly told you this was a free country. I’m sure I’m required to report that to someone…

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