Saturday, April 20, 2013
The Black Police Trilogy!
As I watched television and radio reports of the manhunt in Massachusetts yesterday I was put in mind of the handsome volume I received in the mail a week or so ago. The Spider Versus The Empire State by Norvell W. Page is a trio of Spider pulp stories pitting the ultra violent hero against a brutal police state established during World War II in New York City.
While there was certainly a valid public safety factor to consider (isn't there always), the response yesterday to the threat seemed so overly outsized that it gave pause. A literal army of police invaded the outskirts of Boston to ferret out one lone criminal lurking in the shadows. The military nature of the house to house search within these borders while arguably necessary was startling. We saw defacto martial law put into effect to find one man. I'm reminded of Truffaut's adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
The advertising blurb on The Spider volume reads "They said it couldn't happen here." That's not what I believe really, it could happen of course. But it won't be dramatic and sudden as in the Spider stories, it will be incremental and steady and always, always done with the "best" of intentions for the welfare of the populace. Ironically some of those folks who are calling for more police powers are some of the same voices who decry any and all gun restrictions; oddly these latest pronouncements on police authority might just convince me they're right on the gun issue.
The last week or so has startled me a bit at the lack of proportionality of the response to the Boston Marathon event. A truly tragic but admittedly high-profile crime resulting in surprisingly small number of deaths seems to have the potential to trigger a wave of security concerns similar to what we experienced over a decade ago and from which we are only beginning in some measure to recover. The willingness of the people to sacrifice their liberty, to become sadly an all too captive audience, in the name of safety in the face of a threat so remote is not something to be lauded. I wish more voices, reasoned voices were speaking out against some of this eruption of security.
On a lighter note, below are the cautionary covers for the pulps the trio of Spider stories originally appeared in. The story of a Fascist government seizing power in America and rearing up a police state might serve as balm for my troubled spirit in these unusual days. Fiction has that power, the power to free the mind not confine it.