Back in the ’90s I wrote an occasional political satire column for a monthly called The Comic Press News. I remember during the run up to the ’98 Governors election there was a three way race on the Democratic side leading up to the primary between Gray Davis, Kathleen Brown and Tom Hayden. Davis and Brown were about even in the polls with Hayden trailing them both by about ten points, if I recall correctly. It was still very much anybody’s race. One major gaffe could easily swing everything.
Gray Davis had made a speech in which he made a statement that sounded like a promise to institute random locker searches in the schools as part of an anti-drug policy. I had heard talk about a new proposed bill to institute random urine testing in schools in the Capitol building elevator a few days earlier. I called up his press liaison introduced myself and asked for a clarification on the candidate’s statement.
There was a pause…”You’re going to write a satire on us, aren’t you?”
“That depends on what I find out.”
“Can I have your fax number? I’ll send you some material explaining our position. Please read it carefully before you go after us.” (Or words to that effect. It has been a while.)
Almost immediately pages started coming out of the fax machine. After reading the text, and reading between the lines, it seemed likely that Mr. Davis was trying to kill the urine test bill by proposing something weaker as an alternative and siphoning enough votes away from it to his own…which might very well not pass either. A clever maneuver and one frequently used. If you are around politics much you see it fairly often.
The problem is, to people who don’t deal with politics and politicians it looks like a real attempt to start searching our children’s property at school. When someone who seems fairly progressive seems to support something like that it looks a little less odious the next time and then one day it actually becomes law because everybody does subtle maneuvers and all too few speak out for principles.
And so we go from searching your kid’s locker to you peeing in a cup to get a job…any job. Then before you know it we all get scanned and groped before we can get on a plane. It all comes about because nobody wants to look soft on crime, and so they settle for just a little infringement of our rights and dignity and the Bill Of Rights dies the death of a thousand paper cuts.