La Cage aux Folles

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In what is either an overzealous attempt to stave off an attack or an overzealous attempt to protect the privacy rights of birds, U.S. officials are cracking down on suspicious ornithologists. The Guardian reports:

Birdwatchers in certain areas are being forced to provide photographic identification, submit themselves to background checks, and even pay for a police escort….Law enforcement officials say that because the birdwatchers have equipment such as binoculars, telescopes and cameras, they have the potential to commit acts of espionage.

Via Sploid.

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  1. What about astronomers? Am I going to need a permit to observe Mars?

  2. i’ve got a dick, so technically, i’ve got the potential to commit sodomy. time to flee the country.

  3. Imagine we have mouths, and the potential problems we could cause with ’em.

    Oh, wait, I’m coming up with an infinite number here.

  4. Jeff: Surrender your telescope or I will vaporize you!

  5. I’m curious what VA officials think an off-duty cop is going to do. If terrorists are out to commit mass murder, are they going to stop because an off-duty cop is around, or will they just plug him, too?

  6. Maybe the government is just trying to look like it is doing something.

  7. POTENTIAL???

    Binoculars, telescopes and cameras are now enough to arouse suspicion of espionage?

    Just lookin fer some good news, HitandRun, just a little bit. Throw me a bone here.

  8. I’m with Evan, make something up, even. Something.

  9. my major advisor and I were accosted by the campus gendarmes once and had to show ID. our crime: standing in the woods, next to a tree, with a clipboard, writing on a piece of paper. also, my advisor was standing on a stepladder.

    we were about 25 feet past a sign that read “ecological research area”

    they don’t give cops badges and guns based on intellectual merit

  10. Old news. There have been reports floating around the internet about this sort of thing going on three years now. Usually it involves photography hobbyists.

  11. Just lookin fer some good news, HitandRun, just a little bit. Throw me a bone here.

    How about this:
    The sooner the whole thing devolves into a neo-medieval police state, the sooner people can start over building a new society that doesn’t suck.

  12. i’ve got a dick, so technically, i’ve got the potential to commit sodomy. time to flee the country.

    Comment by: zach at July 11, 2005 05:03 PM

    That is covered under the Digital Millenium Rape Act:

    WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials today began rounding up men for alleged violation of the new Digital Millennium Rape Act.

    The law, which went into effect June 30, bans “possession of any item or device that makes it possible to commit the crime of rape.” It was approved last month by a narrow margin in both the House of Representatives and the Senate following intense negotiations during which a provision was added which excempts government employees, including senators and representatives, from the new law. The legislation was necessary to bring the U.S. into compliance with a treaty negotiated in Japan two years ago by the Clinton administration, but thusfar unsigned by any country. International pressure on the U.S. to sign the accord was intense, however, coming especially from the European Union and many non-European third-world nations. The treaty specifies actions that the United States must take, making no mention of other nations.

    “This landmark legislation serves notice on all would-be rapists: If you’ve got the equipment, we’ll lock you up,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), immediately after its passage.

    Critics of the bill argued at the time that mere ability to commit a crime should not itself be a crime, but were overwhelmed by an intense public relations campaign mounted by proponents. Among the existing laws cited in defense of the bill were federal gun regulations and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which make possession of firearms and software, respectively, illegal.

    “If you can do the crime, you will do the time,” said Boxer. ” This is a crime prevention measure — by the time someone has actually committed an offense, it’s too late.”

  13. “The sooner the whole thing devolves into a neo-medieval police state, the sooner people can start over building a new society that doesn’t suck.”

    I’m not sure how Evan and wellfellow feel, but that does little to cheer me up.

  14. Those bird-watchers are fanatics all right, they’re just not political. They’ve got information on where just about every unusual bird in the country is at, it’s really unbelievable. I used to work with one of these characters, and he would get emails from fellow orni-freaks about how many golden eagles had been seen flying over which ridges, where the latest weird bird sitings had been, etc.

    The goverment really ought to try to get these folks to add terrorist spotting to what they already do–it seems like a natural to me, anyway.

  15. As a birder (check my tag) I knew this day would come. But I at least am cheered by the prospect of mediageek’s future/past society. MG, will it be a toga and sandal type place and can I bring my Swarovskis?

  16. saw-whet, with any luck maybe it’ll resemble Ferengi society?

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