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Immigration questions

Last night I cleared US Immigration in the Montreal airport. I was the only traveler in the hall. The immigration officer was about thirty-five.

IO: What’s that button on your jacket?

Me: It’s for OneWebDay

IO: What’s that?

Me: It’s like Earth Day for the Web. It celebrates the value of the Web.

IO: Like free speech?

Me: (Getting nervous about where this is going) Yes, that’s one important value of the Web.

IO: The Internet is great for free speech.

Me: Absolutely. But now there are threats that might limit it.

IO: Limit free speech on the Net?

Me: Well, track and identify people by what they write, which, especially in other countries, could be used to crack down on dissidents.

IO: (stamping my papers) Ok, you’re all set. Keep the Internet free.

Me: A whole bunch of people are working on it. Thanks.

This was a charming conversation, and it’s great to have a face emerge from a bureaucratic process. But I have to wonder: If my button had said “Out of Iraq!” or “Legalize pot!” or “Impeach Bush!,” would the conversation have felt so innocent? [Tags:]

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3 Responses to “Immigration questions”

  1. An aquaintance of mine was on a domestic flight in Canada (I think Edmonton to Calgary) and was wearing a “Smash the State” button. That was enough. He was lead aside and they, among other things, leafed through his journal which he was carrying. It was Christmas time and he had an Arms And Armour type book he was going to give to his uncle, that had pictures of guns on the cover…

    As if terrorists are going to wear black, sport “Smash the State” buttons and carry journals full of incriminating evidence and books about modern warfare.

    And yet these are the triggers that activate our flight security. Jeez.

  2. We would have visited you in jail and brought cake.

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