Security “problem”—Formal Complaint pt. 4

An e-mail, unsent. As of now.

John Sherren,

I have decided to be the bigger person and let it go. However, should I be accosted and accused of “illegal activity” again, I will not be as forgiving.

I do have a question or two to ask: since when does covering one’s face make one “suspicious?” If you’re serious about “criminal activity,” I suggest you pay a little more attention to the business, corporate, and political world—criminals of the highest order who rarely, if ever, cover their faces. Seriously.

If covering one’s face is indicative of criminality, would you accost and accuse say, a Muslim woman, of being a criminal, a thief, for simply walking down your halls?

I do expect answers to these questions, if you would be so kind.

And, finally, just for your information, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was simply leaving the school doctor’s office about to go home for lunch. If your “interest,” as you put it, is “protecting the students and employees of the College,” you certainly failed at that by alienating me, making me feel like a criminal in my own school. Do you really think someone seriously interested in committing theft, or any other “illegal activity,” would walk right by the security booth? This is a rhetorical question, but answer it if you can. Believe me: the school has nothing that I would be even remotely interested in stealing.

Do forward my previous message, and this one if you like, to the school principal. The ignorance and stupidity of your security staff should be a concern to the administration of the school.


P.S. You misspelled “bandanna.”


2 responses to “Security “problem”—Formal Complaint pt. 4

  1. Hm… frankly, I don’t think this has been the best way to deal with this situation. I’d say let the issue drop and don’t send this latest email. You’ve already voiced your concerns and opinions in your first email (to Ms. Keating).

    It seems to me that this whole incident started with another student asking if you were going to do something criminal. Perhaps it might have been better to have simply spoken with the other student and (nicely and friendly) told him why you were dressed the way you were? Then, perhaps you could have explained to the other student that society makes too many judgments based on a person’s appearance. Perhaps the other student may have ended up agreeing with you, or at the very least been given something to think about. And perhaps, that student may have told the Ms. Pogany that he was mistaken and there wasn’t anyone trying to steal anything.

    That being said, I realize you can’t change your past actions, but you can assess the past and decide how to deal with other situations in the future. It is often better to try to “defuse” a tough situation rather than let it explode.

    I don’t think Ms. Pogany was wrong to try to assess what was happening when the other student was accusing someone (even if he was wrongfully accusing you – in regards to this, have you talked to this other student since??) If you think about this carefully, it is the other student who was accusing you, and Ms. Pogany was only trying to ascertain what the situation was; hence, her asking “Is there a problem?” rather than “What are you doing?!” You also can’t blame her for thinking “someone was stealing something” if she overheard the other student yelling “Are you going to rob…” If I heard someone on the street yelling that, I might be looking around to see what was going on and if someone was really going to rob (a store or whatever). Better still, if someone yelled on the street, “He’s got a gun!” wouldn’t you be looking around and trying to assess the situation too?

    Regarding this issue of appearance and negative associations, it is indeed an issue that has come up as of late. Have you heard of SlutWalk? It was started in response to a comment by a police officer stating that a woman could avoid being victimized if she didn’t “dress like a slut”. Another example is the bans on face veils that seems to be the trend in Europe now. I strongly disagree with the face veil bans because it does nothing except to further stigmatize Muslim women. The bans don’t solve the issue of the “Muslim threat” (whatever that really is), they only make things comfortable for those who are afraid of Muslims.

    While I understand your issue regarding judgments based on people’s appearance, I do think that your energies here are misplaced. I’d say keep your focus on this issue of appearance and negative associations and try to educate others about it.

    By the way, according to Wikipedia, it can be “bandanna” or “bandana”. (See The word comes from Hindi so it would be transliterated into English, so I would say either spelling is correct.

    • Thank you Fey.

      I would not have taken exception to any of this, excepting the following:

      1) I was simply walking through school hallways. If someone speaks, they do it on purpose. Now, would you say to someone just walking (with nobody yelling or shouting anything, e.g. “He’s got a gun!”), who happened to be wearing a bandanna over their face, without knowing or recognizing person at all, something as stupid as, “Are you going to rob a store?” If you know the person, and you are on a certain level of comfort with that person, e.g. the level at which a type of slightly offensive comment or joke can be made (a racial slur, or other similar profanity), and you say something stupidly to them—I, for one, would be okay with it.

      The other student, whatever his intentions, acted too familiar with me. I don’t appreciate low-level speech from people I know not. He wanted my attention, he got it. He could have simply said, “Hi!” and everything would have gone down differently. As it was, his ignorance (i.e. his lack of knowing me) and his stupidity (i.e. his speaking to me as if he knew me), almost got him knocked out. I walked right up to him and said, “Care to repeat that?” Luckily for him, he was scared and timidly said, “It was just a joke man. I was just kidding.” To which I responded, “Fucking right you are. Learn to keep your mouth shut.” It sucks to have to dole out discipline and lay down wisdom, but sometimes people can be so dumb. I really don’t like to have to discipline adults. Or children for that matter.

      2) The fact that a school official is tracking me, following me, speaking to me about “criminal / illegal activity” offends my dignity as a law-biding citizen. Plenty of people cover their face and commit crime; plenty of people cover their face and commit no crime. (The reverse is also true in this case.) What I want to know exactly: bandanna aside, what was i wrong doing? Seeing a doctor? Being in a class? Walking through a hall? Unlocking my bike? If anything: I have been the victim of theft and of violence. (Although the figures mentioned in this correspondence are not responsible for that. Or are they?)

      3) The etymology of all words are from other languages; there is no UR. Or, as Lacan might say, “There is no state anterior to language, but there is something like a metalanguage.” Differences in “correct” spelling are ideological; take the difference between American and Canadian English, for example. That is, they are essentially “class” differences. Spelling “bandanna” with only one “n” is indicative of a certain type of (unconscious?) thought. (A Freudian “slip-of-the-pen,” perhaps?) All I can say is that “bandanna” with only one “n” seems to be missing something … Not caring for how a word is spelled, i.e. accepting all possible “correct spelling” as correct, is also an ideological choice (symptomatic of liberalism in general).

      4) I only used “Muslim woman” as a possible example of a person who might cover their face. Even if the person is a card-carrying member of the fucking black-bloc—if they aren’t doing anything but walking, what reason is there to accuse them of being a criminal? (I don’t recall an international summit being held that day at school.) Unless a confrontation is what said person is looking for, I don’t really see any reason to speak to a person who covers their face. Unless, of course, it is to compliment their facial attire (for which I have pretty high dollar-store standards).

      I really don’t have any interest or sympathy for the crusades of Muslim women to wear the veil, except that I think they should be able to. Same goes for women who deliberately wear the uniforms of prostitutes, except that I don’t think that they are “asking” for anything in particular, but are after a certain kind of “attention.” A man is fully within his rights to ask if she would be willing to accept money for sex, but nothing beyond that. She is fully within her rights to refuse his offer.

      But you are entirely correct. I will not be pursuing this matter any further, unless prompted to do so by unforeseen circumstances and events.

      By the way: if someone yelled out “He’s got a gun,” who says the person isn’t already in my field of vision? If they are, and they do, I get cover. If they aren’t, and shots don’t squeeze off—whatever. Nine times out of ten it’s a false alarm, a plastic toy made overseas. But I guess that’s the point: the simulation is more real than the real thing from the point of view of the system, the boredom of any system.

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