If you live in Texas and need to evacuate, I hope you kept your nose clean.

21 December 2007

One Jack Colley of the state of Texas is starting up a program which will require criminal record checks of people attempting to evacuate in the event of a natural disaster; the idea is that they want to weed out convicted felons to ensure that they can't prey upon anyone else trying to get to safety. Everyone attempting to board the evacuation buses will be issued a wristband with information encoded on it that will be used to identify people getting onto and later off of the buses. The data would be transmitted to the University of Texas Space Research Center for analysis.

Colley as written about seems to be missing the point: If a hurricane hits part of Texas most everyone in their right mind, felon and otherwise, are going to have one goal: Getting the hell out of there. Where the rubber meets the road, when all hell's breaking loose no one's going to have time for any wrongdoing. They're going to have survival first and foremost on their minds, and anything beyond that is going to come after they've gotten settled in, as proven by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. It's entirely possible that he's being taken out of context to make it seem that way.

The article continues: By culling people like convicted sex offenders from the mass of people trying to get to safety, they say they're going to help them evacuate. I don't know about anyone else, but this strikes me as poorly concealed doublespeak.

Colley refused to discuss the background checks and their thoroughness, as well as the procedures that they'd be following. This is actually pretty standard for the policies and procedures of any company or agency. Unless you need to know, they won't tell you. As for the background checks, they're usually subcontracted out to other groups, and the units higher up probably won't even know what'll be done. By and large background checks are like black boxes: You put requests in, you get some results back, and from those results you make your decision. The what and wherefore usually aren't sent with the results. The really interesting stuff happens at the level of the people running queries and doing the legwork.

Call me crazy, but something's not sitting right here. The article spins Colley as a dismissive authoritarian of the sort that the people on the far right love to raise hue and cry over and I'm willing to be that it'll make it onto Coast to Coast AM soon if it hasn't already. The way it's written makes it look far too paranoid, with a liberally applied icing of "keep looking over your shoulder" all over it.

There's just one thing about looking over your shoulder all the time - it means that you aren't looking anywhere else.