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Droning Away

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"Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a...drone?"

Like a lot of kids my age, many an afternoon after school meant required viewing of Superman. Having grown up in the shadow of the Empire State Building, we wondered why the Man of Steel would waste his time leaping over the puny LA City Hall building. Nonetheless, we were thrilled to believe that Superman was our American Hero and that one day we really would see him soaring overhead in search of bad guys.

Now it's drones.

The recent announcement by the US Customs Bureau that predator drones will soon be scouring the skies along the US/Mexico border in search of illegal immigrants makes me wonder. If they can't find Osama bin Laden with these modern missiles, why do they think they can outwit illegal immigrants determined to cross the border any way possible, including elevator-equipped underground tunnels? And, besides, why aren't those drones flying over Afghanistan looking for Taliban who want to kill us instead of pinpointing prospective kitchen workers and fruit pickers and gardeners and nannies?

Excuse me while I drone on a bit further.

Last week the Los Angeles Times ran a piece on Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris' plan to hire an actual human to fly a small prop plane over the Antelope Valley to catch burglars and other criminals in the act. It's an interesting idea and one that might throw the fear of jail time into a few prospective purloiners.

I have always found the notion of "Eyes in the Sky" intriguing as a way of fighting wars and crime, but it has also made me a little nervous about who and what else might be caught on camera. Assignations, pot smoking, one just short of one too many for the road, couples' confrontations on a street corner, and other indiscretions not quite illegal but sufficiently embarrassing to cause concern suddenly make the private, public.

Is this good policy or good politics or just public relations? Should Superman be spying on the good guys as well as the bad?

It's not for me to say, I would just advise people to think twice before buying a convertible. You never know when Superman might be flying faster than a speeding bullet over your head.