Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Week in Insanity*

In an effort to combat crime stemming from cross-border drug traffic, the Arizona State Department of Repetitious Redundancy has passed a law making it illegal to do something that was, well, already illegal: specifically, immigrate to this country illegally. The law directs police to investigate immigration status if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an illegal immigrant. Now police in a state that's in the top ten for criminal activity can spend less time on silliness like rapes and car thefts and investigate people who are doing things like picking produce, working in restaurants, listening to loud Latino hip-hop or speaking English poorly.*

In other news, the Recording Industry Association of America would like to scan every computer hard drive in the country. The idea is to use programs modeled on antivirus software. Instead of a message that says, "We've detected malware, click here to initiate a full system scan), you'll be getting messages that say, "We've detected a copy of Laura Viers' July Flame in your 'Music' folder. We're erasing it this very moment."

Presumably no one is dumb enough to voluntarily install such software (although if Oprah told her fans to do it, they probably would), but strangely the RIAA thinks people will. Here's a quote from their proposal on the Electronic Frontier Foundation blog Deeplinks:

There are several technologies and methods that can be used by network administrators and providers...these include [consumer] tools for managing copyright infringement from the home (based on tools used to protect consumers from viruses and malware).

And then there's this beauty:

points of entry into the United States are underused venues for educating the public about the threat to our economy (and to public safety) posed by counterfeit and pirate products. Customs forms should be amended to require the disclosure of pirate or counterfeit items being brought into the United States.

So ideally (from the RIAA's point of view), when we return from trips abroad customs lines will be even longer and slower as officials ask us if we burned songs to our iPods while we were out of the country, or check our luggage for DVDs and books that aren't licensed for U.S. distribution.

Since I buy books on almost all my trips, I'll have to make sure the next time I go to Mexico my return flight isn't routed through Tucson: with reading material in Spanish in my luggage, they might just assume I'm an illegal immigrant.

*Apologies to Salon for the similarity to "The Week in Crazy," but no other title fit. Seriously.

**Is it just a coincidence that Sarah Palin has no scheduled speaking engagements in Arizona for the rest of the year?

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