Deleting The Constitution

Steven Greenhut: It’s one thing to be insulted, harassed and treated like subjects in a dystopian movie as we head to the airport to fly somewhere. We’ve all become accustomed to such overly intrusive and generally nonproductive nonsense since 9-11. But it’s quite another thing to have these types of security procedures permeate themselves throughout society. At the downtown Sacramento Post Office, one is subject to an x-ray screening simply to mail a letter because the Post Office is located in a federal building.

I went to mail a letter yesterday and one of the two guards complained that my cell phone wasn’t on (it was, but he couldn’t figure out how it worked) and closely examined my keys. I made a slightly annoyed comment, which gained the attention of someone else waiting in line. This man took me over to a display in the lovely old building of the Constitution and some other historical documents. He liked the display and took out his cell phone to take a picture of it, which, he said, drew the immediate angry attention of the guards. They insisted that he delete the picture from his phone while they watched.

I found this action to be emblematic. Two clueless government security guards who spend the day searching people who want to mail letters insist that a photograph of the U.S. Constitution is a security breach. The man deleted the Constitution’s image, but I keep getting the sneaking feeling that more than its image has been removed from our society.



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