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Don’t Let the Authorities Down!


“Peace Begins With YOU!” says the bold faced type of the subway station billboard in Boston’s Back Bay station.

“What’s this?” I ask myself. “Have local peace groups scraped together their measly resources to purchase a billboard exhorting subway riders to work for peace?”

Upon closer inspection, I notice that the billboard features a woman talking on her cell phone. That’s strange. Granted, peace groups have various strategies, but I’ve never noticed any of them giving particular prominence to cell phone usage as a tactic.

Even closer inspection makes it all clear. The small type instructs us to watch out for suspicious behavior and to report *anything at all* to the authorities.

I am so glad for this opportunity because I have been noticing a lot of suspicious activities lately. Thanks to the Mayor of Boston and the Office of Homeland Security for reminding the public to stop glossing over all the truly suspicious things that happen around us and to get on that cell phone and let the authorities know about it!

Just today, for example, I saw a worrisome sight, and I considered getting on my cell phone immediately. A black, armored truck came barreling through my neighborhood. This urban tank on wheels has a front end that looks like a cross between a bumper and a bulldozer. Arriving on the scene just days before the Democratic National Convention, it appears to be taking its place in the arsenal of other security measures meant to rout out suspicious behaviors: scores of mounted, remote-controlled video cameras; thousands of extra police, secret service, and National Guard; police-controlled cages for protestors; random bag searches on the subway; and all the latest in riot gear and crowd control favorites.

I personally don’t see how you could notice too much about the intricacies of behavior if you’re behind all that riot gear or inside one of those armored tanks. That must be why they are calling on citizens, who are less encumbered by the latest in bullet-proof fashions, to turn each other in.

I say: don’t let the authorities down. They need our input. Indeed, you cannot even ride public transportation these days without being reminded by some important city official that potential threats are lurking everywhere. So, look around you carefully. Anything appear a little *off*? It can be large or small, remember, as long as it is *not quite right.*

Some cynical people I know think that this pre-DNC round of inducements to snitch causes paranoia and instills fear in the population — making us less thoughtful citizens and more accepting of domestic repression. But I see it as an opportunity. How often, after all, have the authorities asked us about what we thought wasn’t quite right? How often have they provided direct access numbers so that we can share our feelings and hunches about things we think could use a little adjustment — things that, if we fixed them, would lead to a more peaceful world.

And I’m not talking about things a terrorist might do. I bet the public pretty much uniformly agrees that if you see someone planting a bomb, a call to 911 is the appropriate course of action. I’m talking about all the other suspicious behaviors — the ones we see everyday, and have never before had the opportunity to report.

It’s been quite a long while, for example, that I have been wanting to let someone in charge know that everywhere I look I see billboards featuring women’s sexualized body parts. The graphic for the new Catwoman movie, shows Halle Barre proffering her ass, looking more like a cat in heat than a superhero.

And there’s that one that promotes a melon-flavored liqueur by filling up the space with a voluptuous woman’s breasts — skimpily clad in a melon-green bikini top — suggesting — what? — that melons and breasts have something in common? The former are typically picked and consumed. The latter have various uses and pleasures associated with them, but that’s up to the woman who carries them around and whomever she decides to share them with. Right? Wrong.

At least not according to the mass media. I believe we have something very suspicious going on here. When a female hero has to pose in the “fuck me” position and melons and breasts are considered interchangeable, we have a situation on our hands! Where’s my cell phone? Get me the authorities!

Now that I’m thinking about it, I have other strange behaviors to report.

Perhaps you have noticed it as well. On a daily basis, I see some people regularly picking through the trash for returnable bottles. This appears to be their only income. Meanwhile, I see others standing by in expensive suits catching the commuter rail out to expensive homes. Large numbers of other people are standing around nonchalantly, giving the appearance that they think this is normal! This is highly suspicious behavior, suggestive of a society that tolerates extreme inequality, and in so doing creates extremely insecure conditions for many. Surely the Office of Homeland Security would want to know about this immediately!

And once I get them on the line, I’ll have to share some additional observations. People on the subway cars are reading the New York Times. They rarely smirk or throw the paper down in disgust or laugh out loud, and this makes me concerned that they might actually be believing what they read.

Isn’t it suspicious for educated citizens of a democracy to appear to be uncritically consuming corporate-controlled propaganda? You would think so.

I’ll be using a lot of cell phone minutes by this time, but I’ll need to keep the authorities on the line for just a little longer. They’ll want to know, I’m sure, that I have observed only brown-skinned people doing the cleaning jobs. And I have noticed that to get to African American and Latino neighborhoods, you have to take several buses and a couple of trains, but white neighborhoods are serviced by a direct ride on the subway.

Probably others have already reported this, but I don’t want to shirk my responsibility as I work hand in hand with the subway police, the Boston cops, and the FBI to make our world more secure.

Join me. Call in your suspicions to any of the following. Don’t worry about tying up the line. Remember: Peace begins with YOU.

? Thomas Menino– Mayor of Boston–mayor@ci.boston.ma.us fax: 617-635-3416 phone: 617-635-4500

? Department of Homeland Security– phone: 202-282-8600

? Boston Police Boston Police Superintendent, Robert Dunford– Fax: 617 343 4481 Phone: 617 343-4200

? Chief of MBTA police, Joseph Carter — chiefofpolice@mbta.com phone: 617-222-1100.

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