Why Writers Should Not Be Allowed to Fill in Forms

Posted on 11/07/2012 by


Me: I said, Tell me about your rooms that would fit three people. And the hotel website said, How about this one with one king bed?
Arkem: 😛
Me: You have to give them props for the judgement-free approach. “Maybe the three of you only want one bed…” No assumptions.
Arkem: It’s nice to have such liberal business owners.
Me: Is what I’m saying 🙂

It’s not just hotels. So many websites I’ve dealt with lately have been incredibly open-minded. And while this is probably a hiccup in the programming I think it’s delightful. The ESTA (the easiest-visa-that-ever-there-was for touristing in America-land*) website even allows for the possibility that you might have been born in 1887. Of course it still has that female/male binary checkbox so, you know, not as flexible as one might hope.

But then it goes on to ask you a whole series of questions which, honestly, seem directed at giving you ideas.**

Have you ever considered being an adulterous, Satan-worshipping Nazi? Give it some thought.

Okay, that’s my interpretation. Not kidding about the Nazi’s though. That actual question that reads:

“Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved, in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies?”

Come on. Have you committed genocide at any point? Take your time. You can think about your answer.

What I love about this question is the fact that all of those things are included in the same list, as though they are on par with one another. I mean, I have a friend who might have to admit to the espionage one (depending on how you define it) but is definitely not down with genocide. Also, does America really care if you’re say Italian, and are spying on the French?

And the openness of that question is really interesting when you compare it to this one:

“Have you ever detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a U.S. citizen granted custody of the child?”

Apparently they don’t care if you run a kidnapping ring in Guam, just so long as none of the kids are from the US. Which I suppose is reasonable if they’re only worried about things they have jurisdiction over, but if that’s the case what’s the deal with the espionage question?

And then, of course, there’s this:

“Are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?”

We will skip right over the fact that no one is going to mark ‘yes’ to any of these questions and then submit the form, which makes the whole thing a bit pointless. But… ‘immoral’? They’re going to refuse you a visa on immoral grounds? What constitutes immoral activities?

When I said ‘business or pleasure’ and you answered ‘pleasure’, did you mean tempting young people into a life of depravity, or were you just going to hang by the pool?

Which leads straight to my favourite question:

“Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude?”

I really want to know who is getting convicted of moral turpitude. Is this the same as the ‘immoral activities’ in the previous question? And what are we talking about here? Adultery? Gross negligence of goldfish? Writing suggestive poetry?

What I like best about this question is that they don’t ask if you’ve actually committed said crime or offence either. The last question was about intent, and this one is about the result of process, but they’re nowhere asking if you’ve actually done the deed.

Yes, I was once arrested on the charge of witchcraft. I drowned in the questioning, which I think means I was acquitted… Does that count?

(Incidentally, it’s a great relief to me that these forms only have check boxes rather than comments sections. I should not be left alone with comments sections.)


* May not be accurate translation of acronym.

** Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t give you ideas if you were a regular person not, say, a writer who can’t help themselves from asking questions.


Posted in: Kandace