Hello Steve and all other DECON Agents,

I'm usually quite cautious (er... shy) about submitting writing that may be
reproduced/redistributed but I figure that its something I'd better just get
over, so feel free to use my name if you decide to use any of what I've
written below.  If you *do* decide to use any of the below, could you let me
know, just for sake of curiosity? I'd appreciate it very much.

I hope the few paragraphs below are helpful - if you'd like me to elaborate
on anything, just ask -)

Thanks again for organizing DECONference - it certainly was an experience
with a lasting effect.  I hope you'll keep my email address on your
distribution list for future events as I would certainly like to attend.



"We went voluntarily thinking that it might be fun, or weird, or interesting
or at least something to talk about later over a beer.  DECONference was
certainly all of the above but in particular it was an opportunity to
remember that freedom of choice is not something to be taken for granted. It
was easy to view the DECON experience lightly while we participated because
we knew that (if we really needed to) we could leave at any time.  The DECON
Officers certainly worked to establish a sense of a legitimately controlled
environment but we knew that everything, as strange as it seemed, was just a

But what if we didn't have the choice to stay or to go?  Someone in the
decontrabanding room exclaimed: "Hey! At least we'll know what to expect if
this happens in real life".  I thought to myself: if this ever happens in
real life, you'll find me racing the hell out of the city to seek security
in a cave!  Had that DECON experience been real there is no doubt in my mind
that it would have been viciously humiliating rather than only somewhat
humiliating, and that it would have been fiercely uncomfortable rather than
only oddly uncomfortable.  And we wouldn't have had a choice.

At the end of the experience, over much enjoyed (and much deserved)
refreshments, those of use who were "decontaminated" discussed our
experiences almost forgetting entirely that we were not the only ones
subjected to an awkward circumstance --- the DECON Officers too were placed in
roles that were difficult to accept.  We pondered the amount of brainwashing
an individual would have to endure in order to subject fellow human beings
to the physically and psychologically offensive process of decontamination.
We questioned how any human being could possibly consider these actions as
necessary for the "public good". We wondered why more people weren't cynical
about the motivations and actions of governments and other power-based,
power-hungry organizations.  We suggested that perhaps every single person
needed this sort of reality check and we worried that an education into the
politics of power may not happen soon enough."

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Mann [mailto:mann@eecg.toronto.edu]
Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2002 9:49 PM
To: < attendee list >
Cc: mann@eecg.toronto.edu
Subject: Freedom from the possibility of carrying contraband or contamination

Dear DECONference Attendee,

Thank you for taking part in last week's DECONference.  We hope that you
found the evening thought-provoking.  To continue our role in probing the
underlying conditions that the issues surrounding mass-decontamination
highlight, we are seeking your impressions of the DECONference experience.
Obtaining your feedback is an important part of the research aspect of
this event, as we are currently compiling feedback on the event, as
well as any other thoughts and ideas pertaining to mass decontamination,
mass evacuation, relocation, etc., that you might wish to share with us.

Please send any comments to , with a subject line of
"DECONference Feedback".  If you do not wish to have your comments
attributed to you personally, please include the word "ANONYMOUS" in
the subject line and at the end of your email text.

A short essay (with illustrations) has been written by our Assistant
Filing Clerk Trainee, EXISTech employee number 9432, and appears in

Stay tuned for further updates, text with illustrations, etc.,
coming soon to .

Best regards,

DECONsortium member 9432