Home of the Somewhat Occassional Rant Home Gallery Contact

Pictures!

Most Recent:
Verizon sucks
Verizon sucks
09/08/14

America: Love It or Leave It!America: Love It or Leave It!
06/15/05

Land of the Free, <i>iterum</i>Land of the Free, iterum
04/18/05

Land of the Free, Home of the BraveLand of the Free, Home of the Brave
03/19/05

The Slashdot EffectThe Slashdot Effect
02/13/05

Blackout! 2003 - Photos by Manny E. FarberBlackout! 2003 - Photos by Manny E. Farber
08/18/03

A book in hand is worth two in Bush'sA book in hand is worth two in Bush's
10/12/02


Land of the Free, iterum

Customs From 6059B (11/02), reverse
Customs From 6059B (11/02), reverse
(Click to view)

I just returned home to the States from vacation abroad. This is the reverse side of the Customs Declaration form each arriving traveler must fill out. Note that "obscene articles" are generally prohibited entry, and are on par with controlled substances and toxic substances.

Toxic and controlled substances are fairly unambiguous, but the best definition we have of obscene articles is, "I know it when I see it" (Justice Stewart, JACOBELLIS v. OHIO), which certainly gives pretty wide latitude to the customs agent. And the courts are firm in the determination that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment (ROTH v. UNITED STATES, MILLER v. CALIFORNIA).

I often wonder at the impression visitors must get of the real United States when the actually enter this country. The obligatory hassle of having to fill out these bureaucratic forms on the plane, what the forms actually say, the scary, no-mans-land, police-state atmosphere of the immigration line, with the prohibition on the use of phones and the use of cameras, and the officious, monolingual shouting uniformed personnel herding the yearning masses along. (The actual immigration agents themselves tend to be nice enough, but I wonder if that's just in relief to the ominous buildup...) Where is the Sweet Land of Liberty proclaimed in all the Hollywood propaganda and advertising?

This time through my wife had to go to the scary back room where they can disappear people, because her name set off some flag. They wouldn't tell her what exactly it was, of course, and they won't guarantee that it has been cleared up by them seeing her; in fact, quite the opposite: they seemed to insinuate that this will be a continuing hassle for her every time she enters the country. Why this couldn't be settled by them seeing her, determining that she wasn't the person they were looking for, and noting her passport number in the system so that she wouldn't be bothered in future, is one of those mysteries of Security that we mere laymen are not able to understand. I wonder if the Brazilian super model who shares my wife's name is getting the same hassle? Or maybe she's the one they're looking for...?

(view pictures)

Past Rants

NJ Board of Public Utilities sucks! (ditto Verizon)
09/09/14


An Irreverent Guide to the Portuguese Language
04/13/13


Penalties of Stealing vs. Infringing: UPDATED
10/05/07


Twelve Days of Reruns
01/03/07


How Much is that TV Show Worth?
04/14/06


Time to Find a New Online Bank....
12/02/05


The Failure of Homeland Security
09/02/05


"America - Love It or Leave It"
06/14/05


My Favorite Things, v. 1.0
03/16/05


A Modest Proposal: CRACK DOWN on Criticism!
02/17/05


[...]
(Show all)

Subscribe via RSS .91