This is amusing, perhaps a little frustrating to some, and evidence of arrogance or stupidity to others. I don't know where I come down on it other than I agree with the author's reasons, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to adopt his methods.
Paul Lukacs is a writer. When he returned from a trip to China he was asked the familiar point of entry questions we are all subjected to when returning from abroad. Paul however, refused to answer the questions, and as is the case in many citizen-police encounters, when the citizen refuses to cooperate the experience rarely is a fun one for the citizen. From the post:
“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.
“None of your business,” I said.
Her eyes widened in disbelief.
“Excuse me?” she asked.
“I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.
This did not go over well. She asked a series of questions, such as how long I had been in China, whether I was there on personal business or commercial business, etc. I stood silently. She said that her questions were mandated by Congress and that I should complain to Congress instead of refusing to cooperate with her.
She asked me to take one of my small bags off her counter. I complied.
She picked up the phone and told someone I “was refusing to cooperate at all.” This was incorrect. I had presented her with proof of citizenship (a U.S. passport) and had moved the bag when she asked. What I was refusing to do was answer her questions.
A male Customs and Border Protection officer appeared to escort me to “Secondary.” He tried the good cop routine, cajoling me to just answer a few questions so that I could be on my way. I repeated that I refused to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country.
“Am I free to go?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
The officer asked for state-issued ID. I gave him my California Identification Card. I probably didn’t have to, but giving him the ID was in line with my principle that I will comply with an officer’s reasonable physical requests (stand here, go there, hand over this) but I will not answer questions about my business abroad.
The officer led me into a waiting room with about thirty chairs. Six other people were waiting.
The officer changed tack to bad cop. “Let this guy sit until he cools down,” the officer loudly said to a colleague. “It could be two, three, four hours. He’s gonna sit there until he cools down.”
I asked to speak to his superior and was told to wait.
I read a book about Chinese celebrities for about 15 minutes.
An older, rougher officer came out and called my name. “We’ve had problems with you refusing to answer questions before,” he said. “You think there’s some law that says you don’t have to answer our questions.”
You'll have to head over to Paul's blog to read the rest of the story. Obviously he made it out of the airport, but not without a series of hassles. Was it worth the fight? Do you think the author has the law right?