The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
This amendment is one of the hooks upon which "the right to privacy" hangs. The others are the Third Amendment (civilians do not have to quarter soldiers if they don't want to, even if there's a war going on), Amendment Five (you can't take away someone's liberty without giving them their day in court and the government can't just take your crap without paying you for it), and Amendment Nine (the government can't ever assume that they've got the right to mess with basic human rights — then known as "liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness" — even if the Constitution doesn't strictly say the government can't do that).
Yesterday, word finally got out that residents of those states that refuse to comply with the Real ID Act of 2005 will have to start carrying their international passports around if they want to enter federal buildings, national parks, or take domestic airline flights. (More on it here).
And by the way, most states are fighting it tooth and nail. And we're not just talking the Blue States, like, oh, the People's Republic of Massachusetts. If you look at that map, you'll see that it's almost every state in the U.S. have come down on the side of being refuseniks.
Part of the resistance is because the states are going to be stuck footing most of the bill for this boondoggle of a program. Quite a few people have pretty much figured out that Real ID isn't going to do a damn bit of good stopping any crime at all, be it the big scary people with really long last names that are spelled funny and Mean Us Harm, or the big scary Brown People sneaking into the worker's paradise that is the U.S. of A., or the big scary Bicycle Thief making off with junior's tricycle in the dead of night.
Another part of the resistance is because the program is a massive, massive invasion of privacy perpetrated on the citizenry for no good reason at all. Well, that's not entirely true. Some good will come out of this. It'll now be so much easier for someone to steal your identity, for a start. It'll also be a hell of a lot easier for the feds to track your sorry ass, so that'll be good for the feds. It'll also be an absolute boon to people selling fake IDs since they'll be making a shitload more money.
So, there it is. The U.S. is slowly, but surely, entering into a phase where residents of refusenik states will be forced to carry an international passport like we're visiting from the U.K....or Mars. If we want to fly from Massachusetts to California (and back again); if we need to visit our local social security office in that federal building just downtown; or even if we want to visit Yellowstone National Park, we have to make damn sure we have our papers because otherwise, comrade, we won't be allowed to do any of that.
And, is it me or does anyone else find it insulting that the U.S. government has decided that its own citizens have to carry what is basically the modern of equivalent of "our papers" to prove that we're not Terrorists Who Hate Ourselves for Our Freedom? Talk about fear of your own citizenry, hunh? All I know is that when governments start acting like this, it is most definitely Not A Good Sign.
And here's another thought: I practically live in the middle of a National Park. Half of Salem and a good chunk of Boston fall under the National Park Service. These are fairly populous areas. Isn't it going to be, y'know, impossible to enforce? I mean, Boston is just freakin' huge, and it's a Global City.
So how is this supposed to work?
I mean, do you have any idea what's going to happen if they try to enforce this Real-ID-where's-your-papers-comrade crap in Boston?
Just imagine your typical working-class Southie family entertaining guests from out of town by doing the whole Freedom Trail (all of which is under the National Park Service). Hey, most of those sites are free, so it's far more likely than you think.
Now, just imagine a Park Ranger asking the Southie family for their "papers" as they're about to walk onto, say, Bunker Hill.
The resulting blow-up will make the Boston Massacre look like a kindergarten brawl. And that's before the entire weight of the Massachusetts Political Machine, neighborhood shit-stirrers, the Irish Mob, and civil libertarians get involved.
The other thing that has me riled is this: a passport in the U.S. costs $97, not including the cost of the photo. Therefore, if you live in a refusenik state and you plan to ever get on an airplane, go to a national park, or walk into a federal building, you gotta put up almost $100...per person. And you've got one year to comply.
Good luck, poor people! Hope you don't gotta travel anywhere...or have a burning need to visit the Social Security Office, because if you don't have that international passport starting next year you are boned.
Let me be clear: I blame the feds for this crap, and I'm totally on the refusenik state's side.
Real ID is intrusive. Real ID is an invasion of privacy. Real ID basically puts all your personal information (Social Security numbers, birth certificates, birthdays...in short, every data point that exists about you) into one handy-dandy document for easy access by both the federal government and identity thieves.
Frankly, I don't feel like making it that easy for the federal government to stick its snoot into my business. And I don't like the assumption that unless I'm willing to open my entire life for inspection that I must be hiding something Evil and Bad.
Fuck you. It's my life. It's my business. And I'm not giving it up because someone, somewhere is wetting the bed over People with Funny Names, Brown People with Foreign Names, and Liberals with Weird Ideas About Personal Freedom.
[For more on the problems with Real ID, this Web site from the American Civil Liberties Union is fairly comprehensive.]
X-posted to IJ and GJ