Monday, January 30, 2012

Excuse me DHS, I speak Brit....

One of my favorite stories to tell is when a friend from England came over to visit.  I was doing some laundry and offered to throw his pants into the wash with my jeans.  Only after I saw his look of horror did I realize that we were having a language disconnect and corrected myself saying "I mean your trousers, not your pants.", since pants = underwear in the land across the Pond.  I can't imagine what he thought of the brazen Yank wanting his underwear in those, ahem, ...brief... seconds before I understood there was a problem.

Apparently the Department of Homeland Security isn't aware that even in Britain, there is slang and that it doesn't necessarily coincide with American English colloquialisms.  Via Drudge a story that's disturbing on a couple of levels, a pair of British tourists were denied entry into the US for two Twitter posts:  one that read:   'Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America" and the other  "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!", which is apparently a quote from the animated show The Family Guy (an American show, BTW).  Not only did they arrest the couple and hold them overnight (apparently with some 'alleged' drug dealers from below the US' southern border), they sent them right back to England after going through their luggage searching for shovels and spades (presumably the Feds thought they'd bring their digging instruments with them in order to desecrate Marilyn Monroe's gravesite).  Even after they tried to explain that 'destroyed' in British slang means 'get drunk and party' they were booted back home.

So there are a couple of issues here:  1) that with all of the lip-service to cultural sensitivity in regards to certain ethnic groups, the DHS can't be bothered with slang terms from other countries; and 2) that the DHS is apparently monitoring twitter feeds of people coming to the US.

But there's the problem with literal-thinking/unthinking bureaucracies.  No nuance, no context, no repercussions for stupidity.   Now all you have to do is not tweet quotes from American television shows, and apparently you'll have fewer issues at Customs.  

And, by the way DHS--you're a bunch of wankers.


Old NFO said...

Yep, DHS is keeping us safe (and insulting our defense partners)... And whatinthehell are they following twitter for???

Midwest Chick said...

NFO--good point. Let's bend over backwards for the folks who want to kill us and piss off our allies. And the twitter thing was quite problematic too. Guess it's a good reason to stay off of twitter.