Photo from the Christian Science Monitor
On our day out, I realized that our comfort level with being searched--for no reason--has risen in America. As we attempted to leave Fry's Electronics with our purchases, we had to wait in a long line to get out of the store. Why? Because security guards had to go through every shopper's bags, and check their purchases against their receipts.
It used to be this only happened at stores like Costco or Sam's Club. There, we put up with the practice because we were members of their "club." You cannot shop at these stores without having a membership card, so the search seemed like one of the rules you had to follow. But more and more, this is becoming standard practice at non-membership stores.
You cannot leave Fry's, Best Buy, Circuit City, or many other stores without going through the same procedure. Why is this OK? Why do I have to get in line to leave a store? I'm not a thief, and I don't appreciate being treated like one.
Chalk it up to "everything changed after 9/11." We go through pointless "security" measures at the airport, so that we feel like we're safer. We remove shoes, belts, watches, empty our pockets, allow our bags to be ransacked, even allow pat-downs. And we've gotten so used to it, that we start to agree to the same sort of treatment at chain stores. How long until we're stopped on the street with the demand, "show me your papers?"
On a tangential, but related note, I heard a discussion on local Las Vegas talk radio the other day that gave me the creeps. Apparently, a student was suspended for refusing to participate in, or stand silently during the pledge of allegiance. The talk hosts asserted (and callers agreed) that the student should be forced to at least stand silently "out of respect" during the pledge, to learn what this country is really about. Hmmm. I thought we were about being a free country. But I guess we should force people to agree with that. Sheesh.