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In this case, it is the Secret Service that is without a sense of humor. Or a sense of literary or historical allusion. Or anything better to do than hassle a 19-year-old dry-cleaning worker from Salt Lake County because he had a goofy anti-President Bush sticker on his car.
Our ports are largely unguarded. Our borders are deathtraps for desperate immigrants. We can't find enough customs officers to handle one flight a week from Mexico to Salt Lake City. Thousands of protesters are surrounding the site of the Republican National Convention. Anybody seen Osama bin Laden lately?
Yet two Secret Service agents found an hour, plus whatever time it took to decide he was worth the bother and to write it all up, to grill one Derek Kjar because he had a relatively popular bumper sticker on his car.
Maybe you've seen it. It's the one with an image of a grinning President Bush, a crown jauntily askew upon his head, and the caption, KING GEORGE/OFF WITH HIS HEAD.
OK. Maybe in a day and age when terrorists really are cutting the heads off of people, such an image crosses the line from flippant to bad taste. But bad taste is not a crime. Certainly not a federal crime. And certainly not an even remotely credible threat on the life of the president.
The cry, Off with his head! is, fittingly, best known as something uttered by the mad Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. In this case, madness apparently was answered by madness, and an apparent belief that, when searching for terrorists, by their bumper stickers ye shall know them.
Hyperbolic criticism of our elected officials, even when guys in black suits and dark glasses don't get it, is constitutionally protected free speech, pure and simple. Not only are Secret Service agents abusing their authority by frightening innocent citizens for the mere act of expressing themselves, they are engaged in a serious waste of their time and the taxpayers' money.