Monday, July 25, 2005

Addendum to: Another One Bites the Dust

I've gotten into a couple of discussions with individuals of the "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear" sort, with regard to government warrantless searches. The refrain goes a little bit like this: "Do ya wanna get blown up? Hah?"

To approximate a quote of Benjamin Franklin: "Those who will trade Liberty for security, deserve neither."

Cheap joke.....Didja hear the one about the Polish terrorist?
He tried to blow up a car, but he just burnt his mouth on the tailpipe.
(Ar, ar!)

There are actually two major factors here: the philosophical and the practical. I'll take the philosophical factors first, since they're more important.

As noted in the previous entry, the Fourth Amendment affirms the right of the individual to privacy in his person, property and effects, forbidding unreasonable searches and seizures. Can a search be termed reasonable as a condition of use of a privately-owned public conveyance? Yes. The individual is about to enter the property of another (the airline) and may do so only under the terms set by that owner. If the airline deems that searches of its passengers will render the conveyance safe, he may impose that term.

Other airlines may choose other methods of assuring security, and their clientele is free to choose the airline whose methods are regarded most likely thorough.

The freedom-loving individual should have no trouble with this. Various carriers are free to exercise whatever methods and whatever technology they see fit; to be as intrusive or as unintrusive as they think they should, and their customers are free to choose among the carriers and make their decisions based upon the degree of security provided (in combination with all the other factors that make travel comfortable and/or economical.

Government enters the picture, and immediately all choice is taken away.

According to the 4th Amendment, rational analysis and the personal preference of most thinking people, government's one-size-fits-all methodology, designed to inflict the most possible inconvenience to both the passengers and the airlines, is exactly the wrong way to increase airline security morally. It eliminated the property rights of both the airlines and the passengers by playing havoc with schedules, by confiscating of private property and by invasion of personal privacy.

Now, they're starting to do the same thing at terminals of surface carriers.

Since the surface carriers that are thus afflicted so far are government-owned, we can add an additional violation: government agents are scrutinizing and making decisions regarding an individual's right to travel. I guess, the only solution to this situation would be to privatize the New York Transit Authority and make the new owner answerable to its clientele.

As for the practical, this is really simple. Government's one-size-fits-all checkpoint system will not work against a determined terrorist. In the New York subway, a suicide terrorist with a bomb under his coat may or may not get by the checkpoint. If he does, he blows up the train. If he doesn't, he'll do what they do in Iraq. Hit the detonator at the checkpoint and wipe it out, along with everyone on line and anyone who happens to be nearby. To him, probably a good second choice.

As I've mentioned in previous entries, the best bet is to 1) privatize and 2) trust free Americans to learn to be vigilant and 3) observe the admonitions of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights to the letter, giving all Americans far more freedom to make their own decisions regarding their own security.

Trying to force free Americans to endure government scrutiny and to toe various irrational lines to get approval to travel about in a free country is just another step towards an American police state, a condition which seems nearer every day.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


Matt said...

Nice post. Regarding the subway searches, Flex Your Rights Foundation has an excellent Citizen's Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches detailing how to reject a potential search while entering the subway. Thought you might be interested.

Ol' BC said...

Good stuff Colonel. Add one thing. While we give up some level of our 4th amendment rights,(not all that much though since we're going to them and they are not coming to us to search) be a little less politically correct and do what the authorities do when they are looking for serial killers and other violent criminals - profile.
Some will squeal, I'm sure.

Col. Hogan said...

Matt, I checked out the site and it makes good sense. The best thing to do is quietly walk away.

The problem will be when they make it a crime to turn away from a checkpoint.


Col. Hogan said...

BC, Thanks fo the kind words.

The 4th Amendment says what it says, and the only ambiguous word in it is "unreasonable." What's reasonable needs to be decided by a judge on a case by case basis. The subways are public property, and thus must remain accessibe to all.

Were they privately owned, the owner would be making security decisions.

I don't give up one iota of my 4th Amendment or any other rights. If I lose them, it'll be because they were taken by brute force by thugs, public or private.