This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 3, 2010 8:15 PM. The previous post in this blog was Oh, really? You don't say!. The next post in this blog is Luckiest guy in America. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, May 3, 2010

America, the gated community

It's a shame what's happened to the entrances of our nation's landmarks. Forget having a normal person ever walk through the front door of the White House. Nowadays you almost have to crawl through a tunnel on the side of the building to get in to see the small fraction of the complex to which the public has access.

Today it was announced that the Supreme Court will be the same way. The sign over the front door says "Equal Justice Under Law," but the fine print will now read "Go around to the side door -- we're not sure we are going to let you in."

It's kind of like the Pioneer Courthouse here in Portland -- once a busy federal building with congressional and federal agency offices and a working post office branch in addition to court functions, but now a forbidding bunker in which the judges seem to be hiding. Why have the judges go to a courthouse at all? Maybe they should just stay home with a Secret Service agent at the front door, and do their work on the internet.

The Supreme Court justices don't want cameras in the courtroom, and they won't even release same-day audio of their oral arguments -- maybe their pictures shouldn't be on the internet. Or maybe they should wear black hoods over their faces.

Maybe we shouldn't even know their names.

Comments (8)

Yeah, nothing like officially making "justice" a government black project. Soon they will be cloning the members of that priestly class. Giving "life appointment" a whole new interpretation. And maybe they'll all have to change their last names on "elevation" to one of these: White, Red, Black, Khloros.

It's not just government that has sunk to this bunker mentality. When I worked at the Oregonian way way back in the 60s and 70s, you could walk right in to the building, go up the elevator and go directly to a reporter's desk--and even catch an editor on the fly. For the past couple of decades, you now have to go through a security check.

I also remember walking right in to Senator's and Congressmen's offices.

Now they may be afraid of some crazy bomber on gunman, but I think they just want to freeze out the people who otherwise don't have access. You certainly eliminate a lot of pains in the butt that way (I spent many hours listening to the kind of people who wear tinfoil hats), but you also miss out on that one big story.

It's undemocratic and represents the extreme stratification of our society. The people inside those bunkers feel they are too important to be bothered by lesser folk.

Once I tried to get into the law library in the Federal court house. No way. It's for Federal Judges only. The library in the Multnomah Court House, last time I was there, had an unfriendly sign on the door but they wouldn't stop you from going in and studying. Very little help of course. Lewis and Clark's law library is a bit better, Washington Countie's, in Hillsboro is somewhat more helpful.

Some things do work, surprisingly, like Social Security payments. But too often the Federal Government in particular doesn't belong to us.

While sad, I can't see the Pioneer Courthouse as a similarity.

True, you have to go through security - just like an airport, metal detector and X-ray machine for your personal belongings. But I once walked in just to tour the place and was welcomed by the security officers on post that day, and they gave me a few brochures and pretty much told me I can go anywhere inside the building except for a couple rooms in which the doors were closed (Judges' quarters). And virtually the entire building WAS open, including up to the cupola.

It's intimidating at first but it's actually quite an impressive building and worthy of a tour if you have 30 minutes or so (or more!) downtown. Granted court was not in session the day I went in (in which case access is a little more restricted simply due to the number of people working inside) but it was still interesting to see the various historic photographs, furniture, the architecture, and everything else inside the historic building.

Now, the federal buildings up on N.W. Broadway (the Customs House and the old Post Office)...they are another story.

This post reminds me of a knawing irritation I've had with the Multnomah Courthouse for some time.

Walk into the courthouse, and you're faced with one of the most disgusting affronts to aesthetics and civility ever seen in Portland. Architecturally, the entry vestibule is quite welcoming and pleasant. But now that they've added all that miitary-grade security, it's a whole new world: A world in which paranoid philistenes dictate our inhumane surroundings. Those surroundings say to us, "welcome to Multnomah County, scumbag. Get in line, and don't even think about smelling the roses, because there aren't any, so deal!"

And the robes go with the curtains.

Remember, Security Theater is for YOUR protection! Because, if you annoy people enough while making a pretense of security, some people will feel more secure -- and, more important, some companies will be very well fed.

Cameras, audio equipment, streaming video, unlimited free press and public access with overflow in a fully equipped nearby auditorium. That's what our first amendment requires.

Clicky Web Analytics