Border Patrol

I'm physically ill, and it's not the fries.

I am sitting in McDonald's, because we have no food in the house. We've been trying to eat up all our perishable groceries while we get ready for a vacation. And because it's Thursday, therefore Restaurant Day, and nothing dissuades my son from our weekly excursion to Ronald's place.

Our Town's McDonald's has a TV. There are times when I fervently wish it didn't. This time, however, it isn't Fox News that's causing my gallbladder to try to climb up my esophagus.

CNN just carried a story with gruesome images I fervently wish they hadn't shown me, and it's not another bombing in Iraq.

From the soulless cretins who brought you Ethnic Cleansing the Videogame, we now have Border Patrol the Videogame.

Trigger-happy little bastards get to take aim at Mexicans crossing the border and watch them splatter in "amusing" bursts of blood and horrified faces of terror.

Extra points for shooting a "breeder" - a pregnant woman with a child in tow.

Yes, you can shoot the kids too.

Isn't that funny? Isn't it amusing? Isn't that just the neatest thing? After all, Ethnic Cleansing let you kill nonwhite people in the streets of New York City, but this is so much more realistic! And it's free on the internet!

CNN must have run the same clip over and over, showing the little cartoon Mexicans exploding in bloodsmears. It's enough to put you off your Big Mac.

You know, there are times when outrage falls into something sad and forlorn, twisting in your gut, and you despair of the future of the human race. There's a creepy moment in the last season of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, when the captured Cylon tells Captain Adama, "You once said that humanity never asked itself why it deserved to survive. Maybe you don't."

Most of the time, it's easy to disagree with a Cylon.

Other times, I remember why postapocalyptic fiction is my favorite. Take the entire Gordian Knot we've created in five thousand years of bloodshed and bullshit and hack through the motherfucker with a sword. Stephen King said that's why he wrote THE STAND - "I got to scrub the whole human race, and it was fun." And the first thing he wrote in his notes about What It Would Be Like: "no more gas shortages."

The more things change, and all that.

As I write this, a Hispanic man and his two small sons have entered McDonald's. One is a baby just old enough to sit on his father's lap, and the other can be no older than three. They happily sit at their table, the three-year-old in his Spiderman T-shirt sipping his soda while his baby brother tries to steal fries he's too small to eat.

I find myself hoping with all my heart that the Border Patrol segment will not rerun while they're here. If it does, I contemplate crossing to the damn television and shutting it right the hell off. Or begging the teenagers behind the counter to change the channel.

The restaurant is overairconditioned, and suddenly I sneeze three times, rather loudly. The father looks over at me and kindly says, "Bless you."

"Thank you," I reply, and his baby smiles at me, one tiny tooth showing. I'm thanking him for more than his small courtesy. I'm thanking him for temporarily restoring my faith that we don't all deserve to be wiped out by an intergalactic plague or swarm of hostile aliens, or simply by our own stupidity. The latter being the most likely, of course.

It's not enough. But it's a start.