Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
“Open up! FBI!”
The cry, accompanied by a pounding on his front door, awakened Howard Bashford at 3 a.m.
“Who’s there?” he called sleepily.
“FBI!” came the voice again. “Open up or we’ll break it down!”
Howard swung his feet onto the floor, hitched up his pajama bottoms and staggered to the door, which he opened a crack with the safety chain in place. He turned on the porch light and saw two men dressed in suits and neckties. They flashed authentic FBI badges and ID.
“Open up,” said the first. “We need to ask you a few questions.”
Reluctantly, Howard shut the door, removed the chain and opened it again.
“Can I get you some coffee?” he said hospitably. “What time is it anyway?”
“Time is unimportant, because we never sleep,” said the second, younger agent, drawing a scowl from the first, who said, “Coffee would be nice.”
He identified himself as “Special Agent J. Edgar Edgar” and the younger man as “Special Agent J. Hoover Edwards.”
“Must be fun keeping that straight,” chuckled Howard. “What’s this all about?”
“It’s no joking matter,” said Edgar. “We’re here to talk to you about your Facebook page.”
“My … Facebook page?” said Howard, perplexed.
“Don’t play dumb,” said Edwards. “We have it on good authority that you have failed to post incriminating and embarrassing personal information on your page. This includes embarrassing photographs of yourself with … others.”
“I don’t have any incriminating personal information to post,” said Bashford, becoming fully awake, “and I certainly don’t have any embarrassing photographs – of myself or myself with others.”
“Can you prove that?” said Edgar. “Agent Edwards said we have this information on good authority.”
“What good authority?” demanded Howard.
“We can’t disclose that,” said the senior agent, “but it’s good authority, nevertheless. Why haven’t you posted it on Facebook, or perhaps MySpace or another social networking site?”
“Even if I had such material, I wouldn’t post it,” said Howard, “and …”
“So you want to make our work more difficult,” said Edwards truculently. “That could be obstruction of justice.”
“Obstruction of … Wait just a minute,” said Howard. “Are you accusing me of a crime?”
“What evidence do you have that you haven’t committed a crime?” said Edgar smoothly.
“I don’t have any such evidence,” said Howard. “In fact – come to think of it – I don’t even have a Facebook page.”
“So you admit it!” shouted Edwards. “Not maintaining evidence of your innocence is a crime under Executive Order 13333-23b, and not maintaining a social network Web page containing embarrassing information and/or embarrassing photographs of yourself is a violation of whatever executive order came after that one.
“Put your hands behind your back!”
Howard, desperate, backed against a wall and cried, “Why are you going after people like me instead of, uh, David Axelrod, after all he’s done?”
“Hold it, Edwards,” said Edgar. “Why go after the little fish when we might bag somebody like a presidential adviser?”
To Howard he said, “Just what have you got on Axelrod?”
Howard’s frantic imagination spoke for him: “He … uh … he had a compromising relationship with a … with a … uh … with a goat. That’s it. And … uh … he has photographs of his … uh … shall we say, animal husbandry.”
“Can you prove this?” Edgar asked solemnly.
“Can he prove he didn’t?” Howard responded.
“Let’s go,” Edgar addressed Edwards. “We can roust Axelrod before sunup.”
As he closed the door, the elder agent told Howard, “Get that Facebook page on line. Do you want to be the only American not to post inappropriate stuff on the Internet?”
“That would be as stupid,” thought Howard, “as demanding evidence that some fantasy didn’t happen.”
Lame-duck watch list: Don’t be surprised if the lame-duck congressional railroad passes a bill giving the federal government the authority to decide which jobs are of equivalent value to an employer. It will fall under the rubric of “equal pay for equal work” and revive the old plaint that “male gardeners earn more than female secretaries.”
One must ask why we would want the feds deciding what jobs are equivalent.