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Destroying Your Passport in Protest
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Add to the list of people in the SF field that I liked and admired but now have a different view of: Iain Banks.

He's apparently so disgusted by the war that he's destroyed his own British passport. (via Charlie Stross.)

Not even in the darkest days of Thatcherdom did my wife and I feel so thoroughly ashamed to be British. Because of this, and for whatever it may be worth, we have destroyed our passports and sent the remains to the prime minister's office.

Now then...Banks is a very bright man (I've read several of his books), but this seems a very counterintuitive way of protesting the war. You're disgusted with your own country, so you effectively limit your ability to travel outside it.

I guess I understand that it's a symbol of your ties to your country, but if you really gave a crap about your country, wouldn't you want to try to change it for the better? Wouldn't becoming more active in the political process make more sense? Perhaps even running for local office? Or joining the campaign staff of a candidate who better represented your views? Then you might actually be making a tangible difference.

When you rip up your passport and mail it in, that just says, "All right, I'm done with you. I don't want to belong to this country anymore." But pragmatically it means you're not free to travel anywhere else.

This reminds me of the human shield leader who revoked his U.S. citizenship, then couldn't cross the Turkish border because he had some flaky pseudo-passport identifying him as a "citizen of the world". Turkey wouldn't recognize it as a legitimate document.

Who knows, though...maybe Banks will now apply for French citizenship.

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