We Have Seen The Future, And It Is Slush

Back in 1991, the World Fantasy Convention was held in Tucson, Arizona. I had a little part in that, as editor of an anthology, Copper Star, of Southwestern-themed sf, fantasy & horror that was given out to the membership of the convention (plus extras that were sold to help recoup costs). Not a bad little book, if I say so myself.

I edited Copper Star as an "open market" book, where anyone could submit manuscripts for consideration. ("Open market" vs "invitational" anthologies is a subject for another post.) So I had, as I recall, about 300 stories submitted to go thru and reject, accept, or ask for a rewrite-&-retry.

One of the stories in the slushpile featured a near-future in which the USA's border with Mexico had been lined with a series of highly-automated forts which, whenever Mexicans tried to cross the border into the US, would open up with machine guns, flame throwers, missiles, etc, and slaughter men, women and children alike.

In the story, a female reporter manages to sneak into one of the tightly-sealed forts, where she discovers a human in control of the slaughter-machines. And it turns out that he (and all the other operators in all the other forts) are the worst psychopaths available, drafted from prisons and asylums to perform patriotic (and fun!, by their standards) duties for their country. The fort's operator shows the reporter the facilities, blows some approaching Mexicans into little chunky bits, has rough sex (bordering on rape) with the reporter, and throws her back out of the fort. End of story.

In my rejection letter, I noted (besides the icksome main character) that the story had no explanation why Mexicans would continue to try and cross the border, even in the face of certain death. Civil war? Pandemic disease? The story needed something to justify the actions of the doomed.

So here we are, fifteen years later, and there are people, even Congressmen, seriously suggesting that all 11,000,000 or so illegal immigrants in the US simply be rounded up and thrown back into Mexico. (Never mind that a lot of those eleven million people come from countries other than Mexico.)

What would happen if you actually did that?

Millions of people, suddenly thrust back into Mexican society. Millions of people without jobs. Millions of people now NOT sending substantial portions of the US dollars they earned back home into the Mexican economy.

In that situation, I think the stage will have been set for civil war in Mexico, between the poor and the better-off. In that situation, yeh, you might have human traffic -- refugees fleeing violence, rather than people simply trying to find jobs -- trying to get into the US, even against a heavily-armed border.

But who, besides a psychopath, would think the idea of slaughtering anyone, everyone, who tries to cross the border was morally defensible? Could anyone actually want to see the scenario of that slushpile story made into reality?

Well, pretty damn close. From the comments section of a Defensetech post on "border security theater":
The thing Defense Tech posted just before Bush's speech was about an unmanned gunner thing that mounted on top of a humvee. I think we should have one of those with night vision & infrared & have it be mounted on the top of a 50 foot high metal pole...and have that duplicated. I would have 1 pole per mile...So thats around 3,000 of these. Spend several years to write there software, and have the whole thing automated. So that if an Illegal gets within half a mile of the US border...they get a warning shot fired around 50 feet from them, then have the gun wait like 30 seconds...and if they haven’t begun going backwards (towards Mexico) then another warming shot would be around 15 feet from them...then another 30 seconds...then after that, if they are still walking towards the US border...shoot to kill.

After a week or so, the bodies will be piling up, that will send one hell of a clear message to any illegal citizen...there is no better deterrent then force.

Posted by: Murc at May 15, 2006 11:31 PM

So the good news is that the future will be like science fiction. The bad news is that some people want it to be badly-written science fiction.

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