Welcome to Paranoid America post 9/11 where reading a printout while standing in line can possibly get your ass in trouble. Down in Atlanta Marc Schultz got a visit from the FBI for reading the wrong thing in public and having a scary beard.
Trippi’s partner speaks up: “Any reading material? Papers?” I don’t think so. Then Trippi decides to level with me: “I’ll tell you what, Marc. Someone in the shop that day saw you reading something, and thought it looked suspicious enough to call us about. So that’s why we’re here, just checking it out. Like I said, there’s no problem. We’d just like to get to the bottom of this. Now if we can’t, then you may have a problem. And you don’t want that.”
You don’t want that? Have I just been threatened by the FBI? Confusion and a light dusting of panic conspire to keep me speechless. Was I reading something that morning? Something that would constitute a problem?
What was this terribly suspicious printout Marc was reading that had garnered the attention of the FBI? It was an article titled Weapons of Mass Stupidity (be careful not to read it in public) published by The Weekly Planet in Tampa. The article itself is a rant on how corporate interests have ruined the media in this country yet the title of the article being read by someone standing in line in a store was enough of a concern for someone to call the FBI and have this guy investigated and for the FBI to take it seriously. Perhaps if he were standing there reading a copy of the Anarchist’s Cookbook (hi FBI guys*) I could see some cause for concern, but Weapons of Mass Stupidity sounds like it would be more of a humor column than a book on how to commit terrorism. With a title like that would you trust it even if it was about how to commit terrorism?
*If the FBI hasn’t stopped by to check out this site before now then I’m sure my mentioning of the ACB will set off all sorts of flags in the near future. Uh oh, I have a scary beard too!