Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Hiccup in the First Amendment

Zirpu and I bought a Honda Fit last week. We've been a one-car household for almost two years, and in the last four months that has become increasingly inconvenient. The Fit won't be available as a hybrid for three or four years, but it's a small car with good (conventional) gas mileage and I'm having hatchback envy.

We went down to the dealership in Fremont to purchase it, because the Honda dealer up the street didn't anticipate having any Fits for a couple months. While I was filling out paperwork, the sales manager explained that while we will get the license plates in just a few weeks, the registration will take much longer because of the slow processing speed at the DMV. Then he looked at my last name and mentioned that it may take even longer because of the PATRIOT Act.

My last name is spelled very similarly to a very common Muslim name. The sales manager said that he's noticed that there often seems to be a holdup in paperwork processing for many of his South Asian customers. "A car could be used as a weapon," he said, "So the PATRIOT Act requires that everyone's name be checked against the list" of suspected terrorists.

We bought the car last weekend and I'm still kind of shocked by this.

1 comment:

Saipan Writer said...

It's quite shocking how much we've let Big Brother intrude on our lives and privacy in the name of protection from terrorism.

Glad you got the car.