Well, it seems that the Office of Homeland Security has been defending us from religious fanatics to the north one Sunday at a time. A Mr. Richard Albert has been fined $10,000 for crossing the border from Maine (where he is a resident) into Canada to go to church on Sundays. Apparently the checkpoint at this location is un-staffed at nights (9:00pm to 6:00am) and on Sundays, oh but they have surveillance cameras.
Albert’s house, where he lives alone, is just 30 yards from the border, right beside the U.S. Customs office. He has been crossing the U.S.-Canada border at his own discretion for more than 40 years, he said in an interview on Tuesday.
In mid-January, he received two $5,000 fines from the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection for crossing the Quebec border into Maine twice on a Sunday, a day when the local border station is closed.
I know that as an atheist you would not expect me to have much to say in defense of a man who is fined for going to church, but I think that the basic problem here is one of fairness. If you are going to demand that people submit to checkpoints then those checkpoints need to be manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Life does not stop at 9:00pm and begin again at 6:00am, it does not skip Sundays.
And more to the point what good is an unmanned checkpoint? If Osama decided to sneak into the US at 10:00pm Saturday night you can then watch it happening at 6:00am Monday on the surveillance tapes, but then what? You can’t fine him since he does not have an address here and I imagine that he might be able to do some damage in 32 hours. If you can’t be bothered to show enough interest in a checkpoint to keep it fully staffed at all times then drop the pretense that you are trying to defend our borders and quit fining a citizen or two that might want to go to a store, visit family, or yes, even attend church.
You know what would have kept Mr. Albert from breaking the law to go to church? One guy manning the checkpoint. Is it that much to ask?