Pubdate: Wed, 21 May 2008
Source: Pique Newsmagazine (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Pique Publishing Inc.
Author: G. D. Maxwell
Column: Maxed out


When the only tool you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a
nail. We all have hammers. Some of us keep them in our toolboxes. Some
of us keep them in our head. Some of us live our hammers so fully,
they're the filter through which we see the world. For this latter
group, the whole world is a nail.

It's easy to get caught up in our hammers. Psychiatrists themselves
get shrunk by other psychiatrists. There are a couple of reasons for
that. Know thyself is a pretty good rule when your life's work is
helping other people get in touch with themselves. It also helps keep
you from thinking the entire world is crazy just because the slice of
it you work with every day arguably is.

Cops see perps, accountants see debits and credits, columnists see
story ideas, mogul skiers see bumps, developers see opportunity on
undeveloped land, lawyers see whatever they're paid to see. The wheels
go 'round and 'round.

So why is it not surprising when a security consultant sees threats,
conspiracies and violence everywhere he looks?

In the biggest self-promoting, scare tactic to trail along behind - in
front of - the 2010 Olympics, a security consultant has rung the alarm
bells and called for an all out effort to infiltrate social activist
groups lest we be overrun by organized anarchists.

Organized anarchists?

Kind of reminds me of the time a colleague, in the throes of an early
Alzheimer's moment, shouted out, "Hey, how do you spell anarchist?"

"Anyway you want," I replied.

Organized or not, anarchists or social activists, they seem to all be
violent terrorists to Thomas Quiggin. Security is his hammer and
everyone who doesn't lead a placid, Stepford-like existence seems to
be his nails. And boy, are those nails ever getting their act together
for the Olympics.

Not unlike Olympic athletes, who are training obsessively to best
their opponents, activist groups as diverse as anti-poverty groups,
native rights groups, extreme environmentalists, anti-globalization
advocates and yes, even anarchists, are perfecting their
"network-centric warfare" in anticipation of the world stage rolling
over Vancouver and Whistler in 2010.

Network-centric warfare?

Sniff, sniff. sounds like consultant-speak to me. Not surprising for
someone who can enumerate no less than 19 violent attacks in Canada to
date perpetrated by Olympic protestors. Not surprising for someone who
believes tagging the Olympic countdown clock in Vancouver with spray
paint constitutes a violent act. And exactly what is a paint bomb? A
hurled balloon full of paint?

Having set the stage for the very scary Olympics to come, Quiggin
issues his call to action, action being something he believes VANOC is
both too short of and too late off the mark. "Two years before, a
year-and-a-half before, you shouldn't be planning, you should be
doing," he said. "You should have sources in the field, you should
have agents in the field."

Agents in the field?

Oh, spies, infiltrators, agents provocateurs. Maybe someone with
counterterrorism training who can slip unnoticed into otherwise
peaceful protest groups and teach them how to make real bombs instead
of paint bombs so something can go kablooie, creating more work for
security consultants, escalating the war that needn't be.

Not that it's any real solace but at least this time VANOC seems to be
- - thus far - dancing on the side of the angels. They claim to be
working, openly as opposed to covertly, with groups planning to
protest. at least those planning peaceful protests. Of course, the
real security people and RCMP are planning to plant so many CCTV
cameras around Tiny Town we'll all be able to star in our own reality

Not unlike the war on drugs, the war on protestors, viewed through the
lens of crackpots who seem to believe there is no such thing as
peaceful protests in an orderly, secure society, is an ever-escalating
one. And not unlike the war on drugs, the solution doesn't lie in more
policing, more covert infiltration, more monitoring and more oppression.

The current budget for Olympic security is $175 million bucks. Like
most Olympic budgets, the security budget is more likely to get bigger
than smaller as the Games draw near. Vancouver is a security
nightmare. It has multiple points of entry, a largish population,
waterfront, tall buildings and street people likely to scare the pants
off even the Southern Baptists who swoop down to save them.

Whistler on the other hand, is a security consultant's dream. One road
in, one road out, no airstrips, no tall buildings, no street people,
damn few anarchists, organized or otherwise, and an indigenous
population so used to hosting large numbers of people we're almost
blase about it. Or at least we are when security personnel don't go
all apeshit on us and run around with guns drawn and flak jackets
buttoned up.

We need to find a better way, people. We need to smoke a peace pipe.

Therein lies the solution to security, at least in Whistler. Just as
the Olympics imposes mandatory drug testing on its athletes, the
Whistler arm of the Olympics should impose mandatory drug taking on
spectators. You wanna come to the events in Whistler? Then see 'em
like a local - get high, stay high.

Using just a small fraction of the security budget, we could
temporarily convert peace officers into pot officers, stopping traffic
up and down the highway - instead of right in the village as they've
taken to doing - and issuing everyone coming to the Olympics their
mandatory drug taking kit: two joints, a BIC lighter and an Official
Olympic roachclip.

Rallying around the unofficial Whistler 2010 Olympic mascot, BC Bud -
described as a tall, lanky, white fella with an amazing mop of green
dreadlocks - security personnel would mingle with the crowd, making
sure everyone is doing their drugs, "Smoke 'em; I now you got 'em."
and replenishing supplies for anyone showing telltale signs of
straightening out too early.

The benefits are manifold and obvious. British Columbia gets to
highlight its second or third largest industry, one that stands to
give tourism a run for its money with high gas prices and low currency
value keeping Americans home in droves and looking for something to
take their minds off of high gas prices and a weakened dollar.
Everybody has a good time and leaves with foggy but happy memories of
their time in Canada. Food sales go through the roof, "Quick, we need
to airlift emergency supplies of potato chips to Whistler!" And there
isn't a speck of violence or a single paint bomb to be found.

Not to mention I get to start up a whole new consultancy practice,
Security Through Stoning. with nary a rock in sight.
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MAP posted-by: Derek