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Secret Service guy: "Hospital or jail?" Me: "Jail!"

By       Message Jane Stillwater       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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To see photos of the Ole Miss statue commemorating James Meridith for his stance against injustice, the cops at the checkpoint looking at my ID and me in the hospital getting tests, go to my blog.


My youngest daughter Ashley just sent a text message to her friend Frankie. "I just got a phone call from my mother and you are not going to believe what happened to her! She's currently in the hospital -- or jail -- in Oxford Mississippi. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around, where the kid is supposed to be the one in jail and the mom is supposed to be the one to come and bail the kid out? What kind of mother do I have!"

Want to know what happened? Here's the whole story.

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Last week I attended the McCain-Obama debate in Oxford, Mississippi. The Commission on Presidential Debates did a wonderful job of organizing the debate and the people working their tables down at Ole Miss were also very helpful, not only giving me my media credential badge but also throwing in a fabulous southern-style breakfast. I was good to go.

Equipped with an official media badge, I then wandered over to the checkpoint that you gotta go through in order to get to the media filing room next to the debate venue. It was a rather hot day, I hadn't slept for 24 hours and I was carrying a whole bunch of luggage -- but other than that, I was in hog heaven. I had my CPD badge and I was about to go out and score a hot new story! Life was good.

But then I got more of a story than I had anticipated.

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When I got to the checkpoint I flashed my badge to the officer manning the gate -- but then I just couldn't keep my mouth shut and started to brag. "See that photo on the badge? That was taken in Iraq when I was an embedded journalist," I pointed with pride. Wrong thing to do! The guard took a closer look -- of the photo of me on the streets of Iraq, wearing a headscarf! Holy crap!

You could just SEE what was going through that guy's mind. Maybe he'd just got done watching that racist and defamatory DVD called "Obsession" being distributed to voters by McCain fans and was thinking to himself, "Lordy, we got us here a genuine Islamic terrorist!" You might have been able to see that -- but not me. I was totally naive, only just wanting to brag about one of the most meaningful experiences of my journalistic life. Not only that, but the photo had been taken by a Marine officer too. Humph.

The checkpoint guard consulted his superior. The superior wasn't one of those Mississippians who were famous for their hospitality. This superior was a hard-boiled COP. "You can't use that ID here," he snarled. "You can't see your face."

"But the CPD gave it to me. See. There's my name! And here's my CPIC military ID. And here's my drivers license. See? My name. My picture. That's me." So I asked to see HIS superior. By this time I was polite, patient and Pissed Off. "This is discrimination! You are discriminating against me because I'm wearing a Muslim headscarf!"

"Am not."

"Are so."

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Then another guy showed up, wearing civilian clothes. What was I thinking! Just because he'd taken off his black jacket because of the heat, that still didn't mean that he wasn't Secret Service! "I'm taking your badge," he told me. No southern hospitality here either.

"Give me back my badge," I replied politely. "The CPD gave it to me. They approved it. It's mine. Give it back." So we stood out there in the hot sun and me carrying all this luggage and me haven't slept for 24 hours and he wouldn't give me back my badge. And then I got sunstroke and sat down.

"If you don't get up right now, I'll have you arrested," growled the Secret Service guy. But I just couldn't get up. I really honestly couldn't.

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Stillwater is a freelance writer who hates injustice and corruption in any form but especially injustice and corruption paid for by American taxpayers. She has recently published a book entitled, "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips For Touring (more...)

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