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Sunday, December 22, 2002

Bushport Heroic Defenders Of The Heimland

From: Liz Michael
Subject: [Fwd: What's a husband and father to do?]
Date sent: Sun, 22 Dec 2002 11:48:20 -0700
Send reply to:
Organization: Analon, Inc.

Can anybody say "candidates for hemp neckties"?
Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife's Breasts Before Throwing
You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There?
December 21, 2002
by Nicholas Monahan
This morning I'll be escorting my wife to the hospital, where the doctors
will perform a caesarean section to remove our first child. She didn't want
to do it this way � neither of us did � but sometimes the Fates decide
otherwise. The Fates or, in our case, government employees.
On the morning of October 26th Mary and I entered Portland International
Airport, en route to the Las Vegas wedding of one of my best friends.
Although we live in Los Angeles, we'd been in Oregon working on a film, and
up to that point had had nothing but praise to shower on the city of
Portland, a refreshing change of pace from our own suffocating metropolis.
At the security checkpoint I was led aside for the "inspection" that's all
the rage at airports these days. My shoes were removed. I was told to take
off my sweater, then to fold over the waistband of my pants. My baseball
hat, hastily jammed on my head at 5 AM, was removed and assiduously
examined ("Anything could be in here, sir," I was told, after I asked what
I could hide in a baseball hat. Yeah. Anything.) Soon I was standing on one
foot, my arms stretched out, the other leg sticking out in front of me �la
a DUI test. I began to get pissed off, as most normal people would. My
anger increased when I realized that the newly knighted federal employees
weren't just examining me, but my 7�months pregnant wife as well. I'd
originally thought that I'd simply been randomly selected for the more
excessive than normal search. You know, Number 50 or whatever. Apparently
not though � it was both of us. These are your new threats, America:
pregnant accountants and their sleepy husbands flying to weddings.
After some more grumbling on my part they eventually finished with me and I
went to retrieve our luggage from the x-ray machine. Upon returning I found
my wife sitting in a chair, crying. Mary rarely cries, and certainly not in
public. When I asked her what was the matter, she tried to quell her tears
and sobbed, "I'm's...they touched my breasts...and..." That's
all I heard. I marched up to the woman who'd been examining her and
shouted, "What did you do to her?" Later I found out that in addition to
touching her swollen breasts � to protect the American citizenry � the
employee had asked that she lift up her shirt. Not behind a screen, not off
to the side � no, right there, directly in front of the hundred or so
passengers standing in line. And for you women who've been pregnant and
worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look. "I felt
like a clown," my wife told me later. "On display for all these people,
with the cotton panel on my pants and my stomach sticking out. When I sat
down I just lost my composure and began to cry. That's when you walked up."
Of course when I say she "told me later," it's because she wasn't able to
tell me at the time, because as soon as I demanded to know what the federal
employee had done to make her cry, I was swarmed by Portland police
officers. Instantly. Three of them, cinching my arms, locking me in
handcuffs, and telling me I was under arrest. Now my wife really began to
cry. As they led me away and she ran alongside, I implored her to calm
down, to think of the baby, promising her that everything would turn out
all right. She faded into the distance and I was shoved into an elevator, a
cop holding each arm. After making me face the corner, the head honcho told
that I was under arrest and that I wouldn't be flying that day � that I was
in fact a "menace."
It took me a while to regain my composure. I felt like I was one of those
guys in The Gulag Archipelago who, because the proceedings all seem so
unreal, doesn't fully realize that he is in fact being arrested in a public
place in front of crowds of people for...for what? I didn't know what the
crime was. Didn't matter. Once upstairs, the officers made me remove my
shoes and my hat and tossed me into a cell. Yes, your airports have prison
cells, just like your amusement parks, train stations, universities, and
national forests. Let freedom reign.
After a short time I received a visit from the arresting officer. "Mr.
Monahan," he started, "Are you on drugs?"
Was this even real? "No, I'm not on drugs."
"Should you be?"
"What do you mean?"
"Should you be on any type of medication?"
"Then why'd you react that way back there?"
You see the thinking? You see what passes for reasoning among your domestic
shock troops these days? Only "whackos" get angry over seeing the woman
they've been with for ten years in tears because someone has touched her
breasts. That kind of reaction � love, protection � it's mind-boggling!
"Mr. Monahan, are you on drugs?" His snide words rang inside my head. This
is my wife, finally pregnant with our first child after months of failed
attempts, after the depressing shock of the miscarriage last year, my wife
who'd been walking on a cloud over having the opportunity to be a
mother...and my anger is simply unfathomable to the guy standing in front
of me, the guy who earns a living thanks to my taxes, the guy whose family
I feed through my labor. What I did wasn't normal. No, I reacted like a
drug addict would've. I was so disgusted I felt like vomiting. But that was
just the beginning.
An hour later, after I'd been gallantly assured by the officer that I
wouldn't be attending my friend's wedding that day, I heard Mary's voice
outside my cell. The officer was speaking loudly, letting her know that he
was planning on doing me a favor... which everyone knows is never a real
favor. He wasn't going to come over and help me work on my car or move some
furniture. No, his "favor" was this: He'd decided not to charge me with a
Think about that for a second. Rapes, car-jackings, murders, arsons � those
are felonies. So is yelling in an airport now, apparently. I hadn't
realized, though I should have. Luckily, I was getting a favor, though. I
was merely going to be slapped with a misdemeanor.
"Here's your court date," he said as I was released from my cell. In
addition, I was banned from Portland International for 90 days, and just in
case I was thinking of coming over and hanging out around its perimeter,
the officer gave me a map with the boundaries highlighted, sternly warning
me against trespassing. Then he and a second officer escorted us off the
grounds. Mary and I hurriedly drove two and a half hours in the rain to
Seattle, where we eventually caught a flight to Vegas. But the officer was
true to his word � we missed my friend's wedding. The fact that he'd been
in my own wedding party, the fact that a once in a lifetime event was
stolen from us � well, who cares, right?
Upon our return to Portland (I'd had to fly into Seattle and drive back
down), we immediately began contacting attorneys. We aren't litigious
people � we wanted no money. I'm not even sure what we fully wanted. An
apology? A reprimand? I don't know. It doesn't matter though, because we
couldn't afford a lawyer, it turned out. $4,000 was the average figure
bandied about as a retaining fee. Sorry, but I've got a new baby on the
way. So we called the ACLU, figuring they existed for just such incidents
as these. And they do apparently...but only if we were minorities. That's
what they told us.
In the meantime, I'd appealed my suspension from PDX. A week or so later I
got a response from the Director of Aviation. After telling me how, in the
aftermath of 9/11, most passengers not only accept additional airport
screening but welcome it, he cut to the chase:
"After a review of the police report and my discussions with police staff,
as well as a review of the TSA's report on this incident, I concur with the
officer's decision to take you into custody and to issue a citation to you
for disorderly conduct. That being said, because I also understand that you
were upset and acted on your emotions, I am willing to lift the Airport
Exclusion Order...."
Attached to this letter was the report the officer had filled out. I'd like
to say I couldn't believe it, but in a way, I could. It's seemingly
becoming the norm in America � lies and deliberate distortions on the part
of those in power, no matter how much or how little power they actually wield.
The gist of his report was this: From the get go I wasn't following the
screener's directions. I was "squinting my eyes" and talking to my wife in
a "low, forced voice" while "excitedly swinging my arms." Twice I began to
walk away from the screener, inhaling and exhaling forcefully. When I'd
completed the physical exam, I walked to the luggage screening area, where
a second screener took a pair of scissors from my suitcase. At this point I
yelled, "What the %*&$% is going on? This is &*#&$%!" The officer, who'd
already been called over by one of the screeners, became afraid for the TSA
staff and the many travelers. He required the assistance of a second
officer as he "struggled" to get me into handcuffs, then for "cover" called
over a third as well. It was only at this point that my wife began to cry
There was nothing poetic in my reaction to the arrest report. I didn't
crumple it in my fist and swear that justice would be served, promising to
sacrifice my resources and time to see that it would. I simply stared.
Clearly the officer didn't have the guts to write down what had really
happened. It might not look too good to see that stuff about the pregnant
woman in tears because she'd been humiliated. Instead this was the official
scenario being presented for the permanent record. It doesn't even matter
that it's the most implausible sounding situation you can think of. "Hey,
what the...godammit, they're taking our scissors, honey!" Why didn't he
write in anything about a monkey wearing a fez?
True, the TSA staff had expropriated a pair of scissors from our toiletries
kit � the story wasn't entirely made up. Except that I'd been locked in
airport jail at the time. I didn't know anything about any scissors until
Mary told me on our drive up to Seattle. They'd questioned her about them
while I was in the bowels of the airport sitting in my cell.
So I wrote back, indignation and disgust flooding my brain.
"[W]hile I'm not sure, I'd guess that the entire incident is captured on
video. Memory is imperfect on everyone's part, but the footage won't lie. I
realize it might be procedurally difficult for you to view this, but if you
could, I'd appreciate it. There's no willful disregard of screening
directions. No explosion over the discovery of a pair of scissors in a
suitcase. No struggle to put handcuffs on. There's a tired man, early in
the morning, unhappily going through a rigorous procedure and then reacting
to the tears of his pregnant wife."
Eventually we heard back from a different person, the guy in charge of the
TSA airport screeners. One of his employees had made the damning statement
about me exploding over her scissor discovery, and the officer had deftly
incorporated that statement into his report. We asked the guy if he could
find out why she'd said this � couldn't she possibly be mistaken? "Oh,
can't do that, my hands are tied. It's kind of like leading a witness � I
could get in trouble, heh heh." Then what about the videotape? Why not
watch that? That would exonerate me. "Oh, we destroy all video after three
Sure you do.
A few days later we heard from him again. He just wanted to inform us that
he'd received corroboration of the officer's report from the officer's
superior, a name we didn't recognize. "But...he wasn't even there," my wife
"Yeah, well, uh, he's corroborated it though."
That's how it works.
"Oh, and we did look at the videotape. Inconclusive."
But I thought it was destroyed?
On and on it went. Due to the tenacity of my wife in making phone calls and
speaking with relevant persons, the "crime" was eventually lowered to a
mere citation. Only she could have done that. I would've simply accepted
what was being thrown at me, trumped up charges and all, simply because I'm
wholly inadequate at performing the kowtow. There's no way I could have
contacted all the people Mary did and somehow pretend to be contrite.
Besides, I speak in a low, forced voice, which doesn't elicit sympathy.
Just police suspicion.
Weeks later at the courthouse I listened to a young DA awkwardly read the
charges against me � "Mr. Monahan...umm...shouted obscenities at the
airport staff...umm... umm...oh, they took some scissors from his suitcase
and he became...umm...abusive at this point." If I was reading about it in
Kafka I might have found something vaguely amusing in all of it. But I
wasn't. I was there. Living it.
I entered a plea of nolo contendere, explaining to the judge that if I'd
been a resident of Oregon, I would have definitely pled "Not Guilty."
However, when that happens, your case automatically goes to a jury trial,
and since I lived a thousand miles away, and was slated to return home in
seven days, with a newborn due in a matter of get the picture.
"No Contest" it was. Judgment: $250 fine.
Did I feel happy? Only $250, right? No, I wasn't happy. I don't care if
it's twelve cents, that's money pulled right out of my baby's mouth and fed
to a disgusting legal system that will use it to propagate more incidents
like this. But at the very least it was over, right? Wrong.
When we returned to Los Angeles there was an envelope waiting for me from
the court. Inside wasn't a receipt for the money we'd paid. No, it was a
letter telling me that what I actually owed was $309 � state assessed court
costs, you know. Wouldn't you think your taxes pay for that � the state
putting you on trial? No, taxes are used to hire more cops like the
officer, because with our rising criminal population � people like me �
hey, your average citizen demands more and more "security."
Finally I reach the piece de resistance. The week before we'd gone to the
airport my wife had had her regular pre-natal checkup. The child had
settled into the proper head down position for birth, continuing the
remarkable pregnancy she'd been having. We returned to Portland on Sunday.
On Mary's Monday appointment she was suddenly told, "Looks like your baby's
gone breech." When she later spoke with her midwives in Los Angeles, they
wanted to know if she'd experienced any type of trauma recently, as this
often makes a child flip. "As a matter of fact..." she began, recounting
the story, explaining how the child inside of her was going absolutely
crazy when she was crying as the police were leading me away through the
My wife had been planning a natural childbirth. She'd read dozens of books,
meticulously researched everything, and had finally decided that this was
the way for her. No drugs, no numbing of sensations � just that ultimate
combination of brute pain and sheer joy that belongs exclusively to
mothers. But my wife is also a first-time mother, so she has what is called
an "untested" pelvis. Essentially this means that a breech birth is too
dangerous to attempt, for both mother and child. Therefore, she's now
relegated to a c-section � hospital stay, epidural, catheter, fetal
monitoring, stitches � everything she didn't want. Her natural birth has
become a surgery.
We've tried everything to turn that baby. Acupuncture, chiropractic
techniques, underwater handstands, elephant walking, moxibustion, bending
backwards over pillows, herbs, external manipulation � all to no avail.
When I walked into the living room the other night and saw her plaintively
cooing with a flashlight turned onto her stomach, yet another suggested
technique, my heart almost broke. It's breaking now as I write these words.
I can never prove that my child went breech because of what happened to us
at the airport. But I'll always believe it. Wrongly or rightly, I'll
forever think of how this man, the personification of this system, has
affected the lives of my family and me. When my wife is sliced open, I'll
be thinking of him. When they remove her uterus from her abdomen and lay it
on her stomach, I'll be thinking of him. When I visit her and my child in
the hospital instead of having them with me here in our home, I'll be
thinking of him. When I assist her to the bathroom while the incision heals
internally, I'll be thinking of him.
There are plenty of stories like this these days. I don't know how many
I've read where the writer describes some breach of civil liberties by
employees of the state, then wraps it all up with a dire warning about what
we as a nation are becoming, and how if we don't put an end to it now, then
we're in for heaps of trouble. Well you know what? Nothing's going to stop
the inevitable. There's no policy change that's going to save us. There's
no election that's going to put a halt to the onslaught of tyranny. It's
here already � this country has changed for the worse and will continue to
change for the worse. There is now a division between the citizenry and the
state. When that state is used as a tool against me, there is no longer any
reason why I should owe any allegiance to that state.
And that's the first thing that child of ours is going to learn.
December 21, 2002
Nick Monahan works in the film industry. He writes out of Los Angeles where
he lives with his wife and as of December 18th, his beautiful new son.
Copyright � 2002 "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent,
it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful
liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within
limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not
add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but
the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right
of an individual." --- Thomas Jefferson The Philosophy of Liberty: Want to know what the Western Libertarian Alliance is about? If you are a libertarian
and you are buying or selling a property in Maricopa
County, Arizona, Then you should be using a
libertarian Real Estate Agent.
www.donnahancock.comis my favorite :)

posted by Vetzine


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