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January 06, 2005

Anarchy in Blue-State Suburbia

Michele at ASV was just wondering if she was an "asshole" for having difficult relations with clerks at stores.

It reminded me of this real-life story, posted on The Perfect World.

For those of you who don't know, a guy calling himself "Fergussen Foont" was quite the angry liberal at Table Talk (at Salon), until he got booted off for violating even their standards. He was fond of signing off his messages with the epigram "Sic Semper Tyrannis," which seemed his wink-and-nod way of endorsing the assassination of a president. (Those were John Wilkes Boothe's words as he lept to the stage after killing Lincoln; it means something like "thus the end to tyrants." Something like that. I don't speak Latin, having never been in Latin America.)

He made a lot of claims, like having seen -- first-hand-- videotape of a coked-up George Bush in a police jail after being busted for possession. And for working for NASA, and for working for Guiliani; few of these claims seem supported by the factual record.

Anyway, the great Nick Kronos kept his eye on Foont, and discovered this Foont freak-out-- reported by Foont himself-- after the November 2002 congressional elections. His brave act of civil disobedience seemed to have something to do with shopping-mart discount cards:

I am having great difficulty bringing myself to read or watch the news these days....

Since the election a couple of weeks ago, every single day brings some new horror on the front page, some snickering, gloating rightwinger extolling the virtues of cruelty, niggardliness, the loss of our precious rights, and war, or some unstoppable outrage against our environment or our liberty.

So I find myself avoiding the press to an increasing extent, simply because whenever I read an article or watch a newscast it makes me too angry to deal with the random happenstances that occur from day to day. In traffic I drive more aggressively, cutting people off and running yellow (and debatably red) lights. I yell at people, often profanely. If someone cuts in front of me in a supermarket queue I am as likely to push them aside physically as just let the matter drop.

For instance, just today I went to a CVS drug store to buy some Diet Coke which they advertised at two 12-packs for $5.00.

I carried them up to the cashier, waited my turn in line, and when she rang it up she asked me for $8.57. I told her that the tax rate for purchases like this was 6.5%, not 65%, and she said that no, the 2/$5.00 price was only for people who had one of those little cards that stores have begun to use to track customer purchases.

She was a young, nice girl, and obviously this wasn't her fault.

But she was standing in the line of fire and I gave it to her with both barrels. I said, loudly enough for everyone in the store to hear, that I will simply never shop there again, because I do not want them, and through them and their "Poindexter Card" the government, tracking my whereabouts and my habits just to save a quarter on a 12-pack of Diet Coke.

I left them on the counter, blocking the small counter space from the people in line behind me and stormed angrily out of the store. I am quite sure everyone in the store thought I was a complete lunatic.

Um, I think everyone will take his word on that.

But I don't care how I look anymore if I can just achieve the goal of making people uncomfortable....\

But I got to thinking how Poindexter's weasels might use the data they collect. There might be purchases we could make as individuals at these stores that fall outside what they establish to be our personal "patterns." These anomalies might raise a red flag in their computerized data collection that would bring our lives under more active scrutiny, and that might result in complications in our lives that we might prefer to do without.

I would suggest that our front line of resistance at this preliminary point might be to refuse, in a most pointed way, these increasingly ubiquitous store cards....

Later, he practiced some more semi-violent resistance. This time, a computer store apparently ran out of their advertised $29 printers:

I was one of the first in the door, and when I asked where were the $29 printers, they told me that they had sold them all at 9:00 that morning, contrary to their advertising and what one of their personnel told me yesterday afternoon.

I got really angry, yelled a lot, was ordered out by a sheriff they always keep in the store (because evidently they get a lot of really pissed-off customers a lot of the time), and he almost arrested me because I wasn't about to back off. I overturned an empty cart.

Politics is fun. Politics is (sometimes, marginally) important.

But politics is often just a sublimation for deep personal and psychological problems. And this is true on the right as well as the left.

If anyone finds themselves behaving in such an anti-human fashion due to the results of an election, please, do yourselves, your families, and your communities a favor and find a new interest.

Nearly psychotic behavior is perfectly accepted at football games, for example.


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posted by Ace at 06:21 PM

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