The Asshole Registry


[Written in response to the passing of the second Patriot Act]

Ring.
Click.
"Name?"
"Joey Paddapucci...asshole."
"Thank you. 45897436987."
Click.

Cross-reference.
Two priors.
Vehemence level, low.
Trace of short-term anger in voice quiver.
No immediate action required.
Stored.

This snitching form of crime battling started simply, however questionable the deeming of various actions as crimes. Sometime back at an imprecisely-determined when, various forms of tattletailing had eventually morphed into an array of unconnected websites on which to rant: leave a name, a supposed crime - any indiscretion, really - and broadcast it to the world. At the time the government could only look on the website with envy and a longing sigh. Soon, however, it worked too well, screamed a little too loudly via chain emails, and then the lawyers entered the picture. They had their day - they always do.

But an appealing idea never rests too long. And this one...well, this one had too much energy to simply self-dissipate. With ever-increasing urbanization, society had become only more unruly with the myriad of human connections and conflict that came with it. Ultimately, the increasing norm of mob rule opened the door, and simply begged for, eventual mob control. One had to hope that help was surely on the way.

And it was, albeit slowly, from a new and as-yet-unheard-of source. 1-800-H-O-W-A-M-I-Driving had cut down on those who had in turn cut off another driver. A tentative marketing ploy against road rage and carelessness for the common good. Yet, an unqualified, though modest, success! And when one well-organized, and even better-connected, Stepford Wife took notice and wonder one day, the soon-to-be-an-avalanche of tattletale ballot initiatives began. Those first votes came in resoundingly after soccer practice.

Indeed, first it was just about kids. In one neighborhood. Conveniently, it started with a leg up: with negligible rights and no voting privileges under the age of 18, resistance was not only futile, but couldn't even find a judge's - not to mention an elected official's - ear. So the 1-800-I-SAW-YOU Spray Paint campaign found itself an instant hit, soon followed by 1-800-NOT-INSChool Today. The equation was made appealingly simple, too: three calls meant guilt, soon carrying the force of law. They were just kids, after all. Nothing serious - just helping out parents, really. Indeed!

But then...what if...? Why not?... Sure! And so it was that felons were targeted next - Who could argue? Who would bother to defend them? They didn't even have the right to vote! Perhaps predictably, misdemeanors were not to be far behind. Three ironclad strikes eventually became three rubbery maybes, which (come on!) was good enough if the history was there. Recidivism was a fact, and one could work with facts - especially those with convincing percentages and related statistics. One could sleep a little better at night. And many did.

For only so long, though. One had to ponder: Where did these criminals come from, anyway? Wouldn't it be better for all if the maybes themselves could be anticipated? Patterns were known to be out there, if there were only enough data to uncover them. What if one could simply report someone else for bad things? No consequences, but just...for the record. Such information could be used, with objective analyses of course, to...help. Can't argue with helpfulness. Right?

And so...Cuts in line. Hits the dog. Yells at the neighbor's kids. NOT a tipper. So much information, so readily shared, and all for the asking. For you just had to ask - it was free of charge, public! But...but...if it could just be compiled and organized properly, some order would surely arise from the statistics. Wouldn't it?

Even if order was not to be found, it was in any case certain that things were not right. Which of course meant that they were wrong. And since wrong isn't right and right is good and good is not bad and, well, something more had to be done. That much was undeniably and certifiably true. And if this something nipped it in the bud, certainly society at large would benefit. And we had that something, finally. Good would triumph!

So updates were made to the system for corrections that were in order, and the behavioral corrections were ultimately customized to order, too. A lead foot? REGULATION: Car purchases could only be made with a speed regulator. Bad breaker-upper? FULL DISCLOSURE: All previous exes could be found on a handy list, complete with problem areas. Public scene-maker? RESTAURANT-BAR RISK SURCHARGE: The black list was not only available, it was required (and lucrative!) reading for the maitre d'! Absent parent? PARENT-CHILD RADIO COLLARS: To insure proper distances and times for bonding, of course. And on it went. Correlated bad tendencies, with targeted remedies! Perfection with maximized computer efficiency!

The air became truly electric with hope: All problems, meet all solutions! For the future was ours, when we used all of the technology and energy available for the betterment of all. And so, one day - one glorious day - we had it all.

The Asshole Registry. At Your Service.

(2005)

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