A few weeks ago, requests to “check in” around the Standing Rock protest was circulating Facebook. It presupposes that one shares such information with strangers – perhaps that is the norm. It also presupposes that law enforcement peruses those check-ins. The whole thing reminded me of a discussion of ghosts that I had whilst touring the Bryn Mawr College campus — the student with whom I was walking casually crossed the street, pointed to a house a few houses down on the side of the street that we had been strolling down, and mentioned that the house is supposed to be haunted. Of course, she continued, being a worldy University student she didn’t believe in such things. Just the same, it didn’t actually take effort to walk down the other side of the street … worst case you did something for no reason, best case you avoided the ghosts.
Checking in at Standing Rock sounded pretty much the same to me – didn’t cost me anything, aside from potentially confusing someone who saw my location it didn’t harm anything … may have been a pointless action, or maybe it stopped police from being able to use social media data to research protesters.
I keep seeing a Muslim registry being suggested — in seriousness, not in the Godwin’s Law / serial numbers tattooed on arms sort of way. I wonder how many people who are willing to check-in at Standing Rock would also be willing to volunteer for the additional scrutiny that I’m sure membership in the Muslim registry gets you. The efficacy of the registry is a question of resource allocation — if a few thousand people register nationwide (say, Imams who are already well known), then the resources involved in making their lives miserable are relatively few. If half of the country registers as Muslim … either our new government will solve unemployment (double the national debt in the process, but who cares about a debt ceiling when it’s your party doing the spending?) by hiring a few million people to monitor self-professed Muslims or “additional scrutiny” becomes an increased probability in the IRS audit flag algorithm.