Thursday, August 19, 2004

The people of Louisiana, despite their tendency to elect multiple corrupt politicians to state office and to tolerate drunk driving and the emission of large amounts of toxic waste, are generally polite and sensible when it comes to their treatment of each other.

Not so in Mandeville last Friday, when a woman, on her daily Lake Pontchartrain commute to New Orleans, took some photos of the lake. She held a tiny camera on her shoulder with one hand and kept her eyes on the Causeway, not caring that the photos would be of blurs and streaks. Photography is one of her major interests, and she wanted to try out her new digital camera.

Suddenly, a Causeway police car, lights flashing, was behind her. The officer told her that another commuter had found her "suspicious," and that as a member of law enforcement, she had to pull the woman over. "After all, we are at war," the officer said.

We should be at war--with a government that chips away at our freedom day by day, and that encourages citizens to make McCarthyesque phone calls to police officers who should be looking out for the actual safety of commuters. The driver of the car had no business driving with one hand on the wheel and another on her shoulder--that is a safety hazard. But it was "taking pictures of the bridge" that got her reported.

As she pointed out, it is easy to find pictures of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in books and on the Web; it would hardly be necessary for a commuting terrorist to shoot several dozen extremely blurry images.

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