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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

The e-scooter crisis, the aftermath and the rise of the security state

The Ministry of Transportation has spoken. After a long 126 days, the Personal Electric Vehicles Bureau of Investigation has concluded that electric scooters, the single largest threat to state security, must be universally banned. The State has unequivocally proven, once again, that Her bureaucratic prerogatives in no way subvert the voices of Her citizens or pervert the core values, upon which the State was originally established in 1842. For this, I am a skeptic. 

For the past eight years, the scourge of electric scooters has been infecting the pedestrian character of the campus. It threatens the status quo for “walkpeople” by proposing a radical alternative mode of transportation, one that is ridiculously time-efficient, foot traffic-reducing and convenient. The incumbent mode of transportation, that is walking, is not only friendlier to the pedestrian and the carpet of Residence Halls, but it is also friendly with the State. For eight years, “scootpeople” were deadlocked in battle with the “walkpeople.” It was fought with many vehicular injuries: scraps, bruises, external and internal bleeding. The State never pursued or cared to pursue comprehensive common sense e-scooter laws to protect either person before deciding to ban the e-scooters. For eight long years, the State watched in silence while we injured ourselves day by day with a weapon, dangerous and complex beyond any of our understanding. 

The Ministry of Transportation declared this ban in a coy email citing their reportto court the public with a pretense that the Ministry always acts in people’s best interest. As a result, public opinion was divided into three political parties: the supporter, opponent and abstainer. The “Supporter” consists of numerous operatives and informants of the State; the “Supporter” is the alleged “common folk.” However, their opinion is of the State. Their action is of the State. These agents are indistinguishable from those who work directly under the Golden Dome. The “Opponent” is an organization of majority student-athletes, whose labor is extracted by the State. They are the ones most affected, seemingly targeted by the directive; however, their cries of opposition are met with fierce public skepticism on account of their isolation from the “common folk.” As for the last party of the “Abstainer,” they are the most dangerous to the common person, for in their inability to question what appears to be so and to articulate that opinion, they are easy prey for manipulation by the State. 

I argue that the majority of citizens fall into the parties of “Supporter” and “Abstainer,” as they are either complicit or complacent with the State. Thus, this is one-half of the aftermath of the scooter crisis, an emergence of political parties that cement the status quo of public opinion. The second half of the aftermath is the introduction of the Victory Campaign. The Hammes State Bookstore will become the sole provider of mechanical transportation on campus via the new line of Victory bikes. Other products might include Victory shoes, Victory socks, Victory helmets, Victory foot-propelled scooters. These State-issued items will have each of its users eagerly “marching onward to Victory.” 

As for the Rise of the Security State, I will start from the beginning. The Security State is a multi-ministry collection of intelligence and defense agencies, whose charge is to discredit, silence and eliminate all forms of public dissidence that challenge the status quo of the State. For instance, the Personal Electric Vehicles Bureau of Investigation (PEVBI) primarily operates within the Ministry of Transportation but will occasionally collaborate with the Ministry of Academic Freedom and the Ministry of Truth. The two pillars of the status quo are the pedestrian character of campus and academic freedom. The agents of the Security State will do whatever it takes to preserve these pillars even if it means silencing those who purport that the State should place some religion at the forefront of its identity. 

During the e-scooter crisis, the Security State was instrumental in enforcing the flaccid law governing e-scooter storage, charging and operation. If it were not for the swift, decisive actions by the Security State to shift public blame on personal electric vehicles rather than a mere accidental malfunction, we would have lost Mendoza! Subsequently, the Ministry of Truth standardized the story that we believe now. 

After the scooter crisis, the Security State has initiated a quasi-buyback program for personal electric vehicles. Citizens can entrust their possessions in the hands of the very agents who enforce the State’s ban. That makes sense. Moreover, I predict that the State will launch a novel initiative called the HERE Campaign. HERE is the rationale. 

HERE, we walk on campus. 

HERE, we walk in single-file lines both in class and in life. 

HERE, we bow down to authority, never questioning its apparent inconsistencies or hypocrisy.

I express concern not about the content of the ban, but rather the principle, that is its development, implementation and public reception. Do five members of the State represent the voice of an entire student population? How will this ban be enforced without increased action on the part of the entity I have called the Security State? Why does no one truly question, not even oppose, the ban that radically changes how we interact with the campus? Not even a word? A thought? 

It appears that the spinelessness of the student population has been emboldening the University to recklessly undertake initiatives and manners of action that are neither in the best interest of its students nor in accordance with the values of the University. I see a misplacement of priorities and an addiction to capitulating to the demands of the illusory mob. It is an endless yo-yo of care and carelessness. To the “Supporter,” I have no words. To the “Opponent,” I commend your conviction and martyrdom. To the “Abstainer,” you are inadvertent agents of the State; your pathetically apathetic disposition guarantees yourself eternal affection from evil incarnate. As for the University, not even a new president will be enough. 

And to close, I have never been or will ever be desirous of transferring universities. 

Jonah Tran is a sophomore at Notre Dame double majoring in finance and classics with a minor in Constitutional studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and his home — the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah by email at jtran5@nd.edu.


Jonah Tran

Jonah Tran is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying finance, classics and constitutional studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and his home — the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah at jtran5@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.