Watch what you read

So this article is really interesting--and one of the freakier things I've heard lately. A bookstore employee had the FBI turn up and grill him about what he'd been reading earlier that week in a coffee shop. (It was a left-leaning article criticizing the post-9-11 media.) Apparently someone else in the coffee shop thought this guy was a threat to national security. You know, because he was reading.

Crazy times we live in. Kind of makes me want to go read Al-Qaeda propaganda in an airport, since this is A FREE COUNTRY AND THAT IS MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

pic from the The Institute for Public Affairs


kristen said... [reply]

I'm sure this was all harmless (and I'm sure this story was sensationalized), but I for one am grateful for a vigilant FBI. Sorry, but we live in dangerous times.

I find it ironic that most people are willing to be strip searched at an airport, but heaven forbid we should investigate how someone spends their time (suspicious individuals at that). We may live in a free country, but it's a country that people want to destroy; one where there are terrorists in sleeper cells as we speak.

On a brighter note....I think you should go to the airport w/ Al-Quaeda reading material; at least to watch the reactions of passer-by's.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Kristen, the word that comes to my mind is "vigilante" rather than vigilant.

Scully said... [reply]

But the book was about media coverage, wasn't it? Not even about the terrorists themselves or the plot, but the way it was covered by the US media, no? That the FBI/Federal Gov't. would consider such reading a threat is very, very frightening. And I for one think that our increasing willingness to exchange civil liberties (esp. ones guaranteed in the Constitution) for 'safety' is ridiculous. If we allow whatever administration is in power at the time to decide what is 'safe' and what is 'dangerous' reading material, we might as well use the Constitution as a place mat in the Congressional dining hall. Ok, I'm stepping down from my soap box now.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Hey, stand up there as long as you want, Scully! I realize that the FBI probably has an obligation to respond when someone calls in with something.

But what's it coming to when we snoop at what the guy in front of us at Starbucks is reading and then call the FBI about it? That is just crazy and will not take us good places.

Th. said... [reply]


Yeah. Maybe I'll see if I can get our Starbucks shut down--maybe if I call every day with ever-more-unAmerican reading reports, they'll do it and we can get, I don't know, a haberdashery or something instead.

In 1953 Senator Joseph McCarthy recited before his subcommittee and the press a list of supposedly pro-communist authors whose works his aide Roy Cohn found in State Department libraries in Europe. The State Department bowed to McCarthy and ordered its overseas librarians to remove from their shelves "material by any controversial persons, Communists, fellow travelers, etc." Some libraries burned the newly-forbidden books. Shortly after this, President Eisenhower urged Americans: "Do not join the book burners. … Do not be afraid to go in your library and read every book."

Jimmy said... [reply]

There is something strange about an agency that will act upon something like this, when it's pretty certain that anyone who is going to act isn't likely to sit reading about it in a public coffee shop. I guess it's better safe than sorry, but, this kind of action leaves so much out there for interpretation.

Fraggle said... [reply]

It is in strange times like these when it can possibly not be better to be safe than sorry.

Anonymous said... [reply]

Okay, off topic, sorry, but I swore I would never patronize a Starbucks, and not only because I'm not cool enough to order using the coffee lingo, (that's how I ended up with a 64 oz. hot chocolate) but anyway, someone gave cooldad a gift card and he never used it, so I was running late for work the other day and succumbed. WOW! They are so friendly here. I love the way they say "See you at the window" all cheery!!! Not like the people at our McDonald's that look like they really shouldn't be allowed to touch something that I'm thinking about putting in my mouth. However, I could do without the quotes on th cups.


Jenny said... [reply]

Wow. What a load of crap. I'm totally in the mood to go sit with you in the airport. If I wanted my reading material monitored I would've thought I had to move to another country. So much for the founding fathers and our constitutional rights eh?

Shawn Econo said... [reply]

Oh, way to go, getting a bunch of library types all worked up about the freedom to read "subversive" material! Ya tryin' to foment some kind of uprising or something, ya crazy radical?

Seriously though, when people ask why I got involved in this line of work, this is the kind of story I need to mention. Or maybe I could mention the long history of censorship and governmental control of the written word in this country and so many others.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Th, love that quote. And good on ya, Dwight!

Jimmy, Word.

Fraggle, I know! Jen and I were ranting on the phone over this and are both feeling like we would rather be blown up by a terrorist than be told what we can or can't read or say. Granted, we are crazy rabid people, but still. There you have it.

Mom, I'm glad you had a nice time at Starbucks. :-)

Jen, you feel me.

What can I say, Shawn? Some of us just aren't happy unless we're at arms about something . . .

Azúcar said... [reply]

See, this is what happens when you incite the populace and ask them to turn in suspicious people. The idiot next to you in line reads not "Weapons of Mass Stupidity" but "Weapons of Mass Destruction" on your manuscript and (because they are stupid) thinks that you are carrying around dangerous materials. Because, as we all know, if you were a terrorist, the first thing you would do would be to print something out and carry it around conspicuously titled.


When you get back from your wedding, er, the wedding which you are attending, you might find this story, Not What I Meant from May 6th 2005. It's a story kind of similar to what this guy went through.

Azúcar said... [reply]

p.s. That was an incomplete thought--you might find that story interesting.

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