Sad Decisions

I used to enjoy baseball games.

In the 1990s, when life was calmer, I went to perhaps a half-dozen Mets games a year.  (Not the Yankees: rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Apple.)  One year, I had bought a Sunday ticket package, and went to see a World Series game.

For all its shortcomings, I remember Shea Stadium fondly.  More recently, I went to Citi Field, and was not impressed.  OK: the seats were nicer, and I had maybe an inch more legroom.  But it’s still a baseball game.

Alas, this may be my last year.

Major League Baseball has determined that, effective 2015, all attendees at baseball games will have to submit to metal detector screening.  I’ve put up with the bag checks that started after 2001, but one can avoid those by simply not carrying a bag.  I’m also OK with getting frisked: it takes only a few seconds, and I don’t have to empty my pockets.

But I draw the line at the full airport treatment to watch a baseball game.  I accept it at airports because there are many things that one might carry on an airplane that can  be dangerous: the practical need for airport security is broader than just looking out for terrorists.  And I don’t just jump on a plane and fly somewhere without a good reason.

But baseball is supposed to be an entertainment.  It’s supposed to be fun.  It’s supposed to be a respite from many of the other annoyances of life.  It’s not supposed to be an empty-your-pockets moment (except perhaps at the concession stand).

For much the same reason, I’ve given up on the Monday night summer movies at Bryant Park.  They don’t have metal detectors, but your bags are subject to inspection.  The inspection seems pointless: the mind boggles at the things that I could stuff into my briefcase and sneak through.

But a real inspection isn’t the point: it’s to cover the organizers of the event if anything goes wrong.  Beyond that, it’s yet another instance of security theatre so that we all get accustomed to having our stuff searched.

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Next week, I’ll have been married for 13 years.  My wife is not a citizen, but has been a permanent resident for most of that time, and would be eligible to be a citizen now if we filed the papers.

The subject came up at lunch today.

If we had met each other, say, ten years earlier, it wouldn’t have gotten a second thought: of course she would become a citizen.  And if she felt strongly about it now, and wanted to become a citizen, I wouldn’t be writing about it now: it would simply get done.

But, now, neither of us can see any point in it.

I used to be proud of my country.  But now, I’m just waiting for the hammer to drop.

4 thoughts on “Sad Decisions”

  1. A possible benefit of having your wife retain her citizenship is the ability to relocate to her home country should you wish to do so at a future date. A colleague of mine is from Germany, and became a naturalized citizen some years ago. However, she has told me that she could get her German citizenship back fairly easily. Perhaps her mother retained her German citizenship. She claims to have relatives in Germany, so that ought to help.

    Another former colleague is of Filipino descent, and he planned to retire in the Philippines (and did). Whether he is a natural or naturalized citizen, I don’t know, but he still had family there who would make the return easier.

    I have long disliked the chest-beating “Love It or Leave It” view that goes back to at least the Vietnam Era. All that attempted to do is to coerce conformity to a point of view, or at least encourage you to keep your mouth shut. Adding to the “If you see something, say something” mindset is the new “Insider Threat” training. Thank you, Nidal Hasan. I would wish him long life and a permanent urinary tract infection from his indwelling catheter, but its existence probably reduces the burning from the infection. Everything is a knee-jerk reaction, locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.

    Security theater will not go away anytime soon because there is too much money to be made at it.

    I believe that the French played the greatest practical joke in history by giving us the Statue of Liberty.

  2. Yes, security theatre is pointless and stupid, but if they stopped doing it, we’d have yet more hordes of unemployed.

    I pride myself on being able to see the humor in almost anything, but I can’t quite understand how the Statue of Liberty would be a practical joke. Please enlighten me.

  3. The joke has more to do with how history unfolded than the intent of the French, which I believe to have been to commemorate our centennial as a nation. For much of our nation’s history, we had quotas on the types of immigrants who we would accept. I am old enough to recall the commercials where aliens were instructed to register with the post office every January. I am not quite sure how and when this came to be viewed as unacceptable, but the policy ended sometime around 1970. We are seeing a modest return to this sort of policy through the program recently introduced to defer the deportation of children who were brought here illegally by their parents.

  4. I’m still not sure about the ‘practical joke’ part: I’m not sure that people 130 years ago would have believed what would befall us now. It would have especially astonished them to learn that, for the most part, we did it to ourselves.

    On a strict accounting, the US has had some kind of law restricting immigration for most of its history. But more practically, considering that immigrants came from all over, the immigration law regime that we would recognize today didn’t really exist until the 1920s.

    I, too, remember the commercials reminding aliens to register at the Post Office. I looked it up: the program ended in 1981, basically because the government couldn’t be bothered, and not, as far as I can tell, from any sense of political correctness.

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