I was browsing the Inauguration 2009 website this morning, which is the official website for Barack Obama’s inauguration. While reading through some sections on ‘Ceremony’ and ‘Parade’, I came across a section called “A New Birth of Freedom”, which is the theme of the 2009 Inauguration and commemorates the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. This section sits right next to an enormous webpage all about ‘Prohibited Items’, things you’re not allowed to take to the Inauguration, and I had to laugh. Since 9/11, America has been anything but free and Americans freedoms are being taken away little by little, year by year. This is highlighted very nicely with the list of Prohibited Items, and shows how little choice Americans have any more in what they’re allowed to take with them in many public places. Look at the following Prohibited Items for Inauguration 2009 and look back only a few years ago, when many of these items were allowed anywhere.
Firearms and Ammunition – Okay, so that’s pretty much common sense. There are very few democratic countries that would allow you to bring a firearm to the swearing-in of their head of state.
Explosives (including fireworks) – Make sure the Chinese know they’re not allowed to bring fireworks. Setting off fireworks for any special occasion is pretty normal in China.
Knives, Blades or Sharp Objects – Knives and blades, okay, but who decides if an object is sharp or not. Technically a pen or pencil is sharp. Are those being taken away too?
Mace and Pepper Spray – Let’s hope you don’t get attacked on the way home from the Inauguration. I guess though, you could sue the City of Washington DC if you were.
Sticks or Poles – Does that include walking sticks? A lot of older people and some people with injuries use walking sticks. Will my 80 year old grandfather get to the Inauguration site and have his walking stick taken away from him, because he might hit someone over the head with it?
Pocket or Hand Tools – Well your pocket knife has already been taken away from you, so those handy little pocket tools have gone with it.
Packages – Don’t wrap anything. Even if it’s something you’ve just bought. Make sure it’s not wrapped. The police might think you’re planning on blowing somebody up with your Gap sweatshirt and detonate your package.
Backpacks, Duffel Bags and Large Bags – Me and most of my friends would be screwed. My guy friends carry backpacks or duffel bags with them everywhere, and my purse is always a ‘large bag’. And, again, who decides what’s a large bag and what’s a small one?
Suitcases – If you’re going to the airport afterwards, you’ll have to go home first. Even a small suitcase will make sure you’re turned away from the Inauguration route.
Thermoses – For some people, you’ll be camping out overnight on the Inauguration route but don’t think you’ll be allowed coffee. That’s never going to happen, not for the ‘New Birth of Freedom’ Inauguration. I guess the new birth means you’ll actually have less freedom than you did before. So no poisoning people with your coffee, even if it is just because it’s made badly.
Strollers – Don’t take your kids for this historical inauguration. At least that’s what the police are saying. And, if you do, don’t expect to be able to keep them in a stroller. It’s much safer for your 3 year old kid, and everyone else, if you hold them by the hand in an enormous crowd. There’s no chance of them being swept away and trampled on, right?
Umbrellas – It rains very often on Inauguration Day. Plan on getting soaking wet because umbrellas are a deadly weapon. They’re pointy, ya know!
Laser Points – You could put somebody’s eye out with one of those things.
Signs and Posters – No freedom of speech here. So don’t plan on congratulating Obama in writing. Ain’t gonna happen.
Alcoholic Beverages – Coming from a country where alcoholic beverages are allowed pretty much anywhere and now living in a country where you can drink anywhere, I’ve always been bemused by the ‘no alcoholic beverages’ rules in the US.
Other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event as determined by and at the discretion of the security screeners – Now, this is the fun one. Basically any item that one of the 19,000 police officers or National Guard thinks might pose a threat to security can be taken away from you. Well your freedom has already been taken away from you, so they might as well take everything else.
Barack Obama ran a campaign based on the idea of “Yes, We Can”. Um, No, Actually, You Can’t. Welcome to 2009 in America. The land of the free and the home of the brave. Yeah, right.