What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
The following is an op-ed I wrote that was published in the Salt Lake Tribune today:
The report of an encounter between the Transportation Security Administration and a man named John Tyner inside the San Diego Airport went viral last week.
Tyner refused to comply with the TSA’s new “enhanced” pat down, decided instead to leave the airport, and was threatened by a TSA agent with a $10,000 civil suit for refusing to endure the security screening.
During the ordeal, the TSA agent tasked with manhandling Tyner reportedly stated that by purchasing his ticket, Tyner had given up “a lot of his rights.” Perhaps this is a recent development; I don’t recall seeing any fine print about voluntarily surrendering my constitutional rights when I last purchased an airline ticket.
To the contrary: Nobody has to give up their rights, including “the right of the people to be secure … against unreasonable searches and seizures,” by engaging in a commercial transaction with an airline. The federal government, with no probable cause, has seen fit to intervene in this voluntary relationship and impose its onerous mandates on all travelers — and on top of that, has the audacity to refer to them as “customers.”
This right to be free from searches and seizures is deeply rooted in the American experience. In colonial times, the English claimed an unrestrained, oft-abused power to search one’s property or person at any time, for any reason (or no reason). The ensuing resistance to such an egregious assault on the privacy of innocent individuals was, according to John Adams, “the spark in which originated the American Revolution.”
That spark’s kindling was ultimately the Declaration of Independence, a document in which Thomas Jefferson and his co-authors noted that “all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
Suffice it to say that in the past decade, Americans have become accustomed to the increasing demands of the Transportation Security Administration.
They have chosen to quietly suffer, rather than “right themselves.”
The past few weeks have changed this attitude, however, with the introduction of new “enhanced” pat-down methods which, quite literally, are a form of molestation in which a stranger runs his or her hands over your body with the palms touching genitalia, in full view of other travelers. What would clearly be illegal for any other person has become sanctioned by law for a worker with a badge.
The American public has now been given a set of two options by its own government if one wishes to fly: either step into a machine which bathes you in radiation and, with that radiation, takes a nude picture of your body; or submit to a “freedom frisk” — the pejorative, popularized term for the aforementioned molestation.
Children and seniors are not exempt, nor are disabled persons, former victims of rape or sexual abuse, or cancer survivors whose radiation intake has already reached a maximum. All must submit to the TSA’s invasions.
So much for liberty. America, once the land of the free and home of the brave, is now an elaborate system where rights are dictated into oblivion by federal bureaucrats, and individuals are not permitted to engage in commerce without either being turned into pornography or groped by a stranger.
Tyner threatened his assigned TSA agent with arrest for “touching [his] junk.” It’s time the rest of us likewise assert our rights to be free from such searches, and abolish “the forms to which [we] are accustomed.”