Thump. Thump. Thump.

In General Information on November 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm

“It was like a level of hell going to jail,” he said. “Nobody would explain to me why this happened. I was terrified.”

Several years ago, I watched a television investigative report on alleged animal abuse by food processors. In one example at a chicken farm, unsuitable chicks were tossed on a conveyor belt that led to an open pit into which the animals fell and were crushed to death by a man using a fence post to pound them into a pulp.

One black chick, seemingly cognizant of its impending fate under the thumping post, ran frantically away from the opening into which its fellow chicks fell by the tens. Finally, inevitably, the little chick slipped and was swept into the pit to be mercilessly crushed under the slamming post.

Quan Tong knows exactly how it feels to be swept up by a similarly ruthless machine.

According to news reports, Tong was arrested and jailed as he delivered food parcels to the homebound. Quan Tong is a Roman Catholic deacon for the Des Moines Archdiocese and part of his duties consists of delivering food to shut-ins.

During recent deliveries, because he was cold, Tong retreated to his parked car to wait for a food recipient to unlock his door. A passing police officer took note of the lone Tong sitting in his car and the officer turned his cruiser around to investigate. The officer pulled in behind Tong, disembarked from his cruiser and demanded that Tong produce his driver’s license. A computer check revealed Tong’s license was revoked. Tong was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail where he was fingerprinted, photographed, stripped, and issued a prison uniform. He was held for six hours until his family could post his bail.

Despite the fact that his license was not actually revoked.

A ‘data entry error’ had occurred at the Iowa Department of Transportation. Tong was innocent.

He has been issued the customary “we apologize for any inconvenience” by the appropriate bureaucrats. However, the clerical error is not the most disturbing aspect of Mr. Tong’s ordeal.

Because we can…

The graver injustice is that, until a member of the costumed Praetorians decided to force Tong to account for himself, Tong was peacefully going about his business. The only provoking aspect leading to his abduction was his presence in the proximity of a Praetorian for the ruling class.

The officer was not investigating a citizen concern. The officer did not indicate that he had any suspicion Tong was criminally bent. Tong was not creating a disturbance, making an outcry, or displaying any items forbidden to commoners. There was nothing to alarm the officer or to make him believe Tong had committed a crime or was about to commit a crime.

The officer simply wanted to force Quan Tong to produce his papers.


Because he could.

That’s wrong. And it was once widely understood in America that such police authority was dangerous and wrong.

It was wrong until the Supreme Court decided the American state had a ‘compelling interest’ or a ‘public safety interest’ in detaining and questioning innocent people as they attempt to crawl along the public way. The principle of reasonable suspicion was swept away and citizens were, just as in every other authoritarian society, required to show papers whenever they are demanded to do so by someone wearing a uniform or driving a car mislabeled “To Serve and Protect” (It should read: “To Control and Coerce”)

Your pay-pahs…are not in oh-da.”

Quan Tong left his home in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and arrived in the United Socialist States of America in 1991. Ironically, the news made special mention that the Vietnam Tong left behind had imprisoned people without trial, charges, or even an explanation to the detainee why they were being abducted.

Of his experiences in his, ‘free’ American home, Tong remembers:

“It was like a level of hell going to jail,” he said. “Nobody would explain to me why this happened. I was terrified.”

Absent of the ‘because we can’ aspects of officers demanding citizens to produce papers, Tong’s license error might have gone unnoticed until he attempted to renew it. He probably would not have been arrested and the error would have been corrected while he waited in a bureaucrat’s office.

And therein, is the danger inherent in the mechanistic state.

Tong was not abducted, crammed into the back of a police cruiser, stripped, searched, and caged because he was Vietnamese, Jewish, Catholic, or because of his political beliefs.

All of those things were done to him with machine-like impartiality and cold, methodical precision. The state, via its goon, had simply taken notice of Tong.

It was simply “Tong’s time” and it was not much different than the fate of the little black chick as it fell to be crushed beneath the thumping post.

The man wielding the post didn’t see the black chick as anything more, or less, than a task to be accomplished. He did his job as efficiently and as professionally as he could.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Just like the officer who abducted the terrified Quan Tong and just like the jailers who later stripped him of his dignity and issued him his prison clothing.


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