We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Telling irate Americans they are childish is not smart

Following on from Brian Micklethwait’s posting on the TSA issue below on this blog, I was surfing the news pages via the RealClear Politics site and came across a piece of condescending nonsense from Ruth Marcus:

“The uproar over the new procedures is overblown and immature. The marginal invasion of privacy is small relative to the potential benefit of averting a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, some of the loudest howls of outrage emanate from those who would be quickest to blame the Obama administration for not doing enough to protect us if a bomber did slip through.”

This is pretty desperate stuff from the pro-Obama side. It manages to treat the appalling incidents at US airports as minor issues (they are certainly not); it also gives the false impression that the TSA methods are effective in deterring terrorists. But that seems far-fetched. Terrorists invariably change their choice of target to stay one step ahead of the game, as they see it. Instead of blowing up aircraft, they might be more likely to attack the airports as such; with all these passengers milling around waiting to be processed, that creates a pretty tempting target.

And as the author of the piece ought to know, it is things like good intelligence gathering and capture of terrorist backers and operatives that gives the real edge over these barbarians. For all the talk prior to the 2008 presidential elections, I very much doubt that anti-terrorism activities have changed all that much under Obama than was the case under Bush. The Patriot Act is still law; the Department of Homeland Security still exists, and is bigger and better staffed than ever; the DoD is still firing drones at targets over Afghanistan and who-knows-where-else; Gitmo is still standing, and indefinite detention of terror suspects remains a fact of US life. Funnily enough, both Republicans and Democrats are pretty easy with most of this, apart perhaps from some of the more independent minded ones, such as Rand Paul.

The TSA search procedures have outraged people who perhaps have not been as angry as they should have been about the growth of the database state in the US. At least this issue seems to be really pissing Americans off, just as the ID card issue annoyed a significant number of Brits. And that is a good thing for libertarians; it sometimes feels as if so many of our fellow citizens don’t give a flying expletive deleted about liberty any more. Well, it appears that quite a lot of them do, actually.

By the way, last night, I spoke to PJ O’Rourke – who I can attest is a thoroughly nice guy – and he reckons the TSA search procedures will have to change to reflect the public mood. Talking to Americans as if they are hysterical teenagers is part of why the Democrats got “shellacked” a few weeks ago, remember.

86 comments to Telling irate Americans they are childish is not smart

  • Well actually, er, at the risk of inciting general opprobrium, er, I do think people are somewhat overdoing it. It’s a fine stick to beat the State with, sure. In that regard, great stuff, carry on, keep up the good work.

    But I can’t help but feel there’s a significant degree of the oversensitive terminally offended culture going on here. After all, it basically boils down to “somebody touched my wee-wee”.

    People learn their sensitivities, broadly speaking. These cultural values change over time. There is no doubt for instance that the approved reaction these days to having one’s bottom pinched is about ten zillion times what it was a few decades ago before PC and terminally offended feminism became hegemonic. There’s no “right” reaction to these things, no “natural” human reaction. They are learned responses. And if you’re hysterical about your wee-wee, you’re going to end up with post traumatic stress disorder if somebody touches it and if you’re not so hysterical you’re going to think it’s not much of a big deal.

    So yeah, really, I appreciate the political advantage of throwing fits about having your wee-wee touched by a bored bureaucrat, but in the wider perspective I think it’s indicative of a society that has descended into getting ludicrously offended about everything these days. Which on the whole I don’t think is very healthy. At a gut level, I’m inclined to say, “okay, somebody touched your wee-wee. Get over it.”

  • Ian has a point, and I had a similar thought: if it wasn’t about this, er, physical intrusion, we wouldn’t have seen nearly as much outrage as we are seeing. And also, a lot of the outrage is not about liberty, but about inconvenience. Still, as Ian said, stick to beat with and all that.

  • Actually, I am not sure how much of these sensitivities are down to culture (although it obviously plays a role). They might be down to very personal reasons in some cases (perhaps suffering from abuse in the past, just being particularly physically sensitive in certain regions). I think that is why libertarianism takes the inviolability of the body so seriously – it is quite difficult to predict how people will feel when touched unexpectedly or without consent.

    There needs to be a balance when considering the seriousness of some physical intrusion, but I don’t think that makes it acceptable.

  • Sure Nick, and FWIW, I never argued that it was acceptable. My point is that too many people will take all kinds of abuses on their liberty, as long as they don’t physically feel them and they don’t inconvenience them too much.

  • llamas

    Nick has the exact right way of it.

    It’s your body, and nobody else has any right to tell you how you should or should not feel about it.

    Because some people feel that these procedures are ‘no big deal’, doesn’t mean that everybody should simply accept that judgement. This is not being ‘hysterical’, or ‘over-sensitive’ or ‘terminally-offended’ – this is asserting sovereignty over one’s own body.

    Violating that sovereignty is a serious bsuiness which should not be done lightly. There had better be a very damned good reason for an officer of the state to lay hands on a citizen in any manner whatever. The farcical mummery that is airport security does not even come close to meeting that standard, and so the default position should be ‘leave the citizen’s person alone.’ How the next citizen in line feels about being manhandled by an officer of the state is simply immaterial. Some people like to be beaten and humiliated, and actively seek to be treated this way – that does not mean that it’s OK for the state to beat and humiliate each citizen it comes across.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Ian B, I take it you’re fortunate enough never to have been sexually molested or otherwise violated. Good for you, but do fuck off with your “Get over it” line.

  • Well, it’s more down to the vexing question of what is a “reasonable” response to a particular violation. I was just watching a video of some of our culturally enriching new friends who think that merely touching a woman’s hijab is deserving of the death penalty.

    So the thing is, the degree of arousal/reaction to violations is entirely a thing of the mind. You can’t make an objective measure. And that is largely influenced by cultural values. As I said in my original comment, anglo society has had the degree of arousal on this matter hugely increased over the past few decades. A well-brought up lady in, say, 1950, who had her bottom pinched would no doubt have been grossly offended. Nowadays you go down with post-traumatic stress disorder and need a year off work on full pay to deal with your issues, and lots of compensation please. This TSA narrative very much incoporates that new model of psychological distress/disorder, as indeed does Nick’s comment. And that’s quite interesting to me, because it simply didn’t exist in, say, 1950. People got offended and angry, they didn’t get “traumatised”. To stick in my new datum of 1950, I would say that a man weeping about somebody “touching his junk” would have just got laughed at as a sissy. He might have got offended and violent if the touch was of a gay nature but, oh, wait, that’s a psychological disorder called homophobia now, so that’s not allowed. Consider also how back then every man had to have his junk closely inspected

    army doctor grabs hold and tells him to cough in Ealing comedy

    as part of his induction to compulsory National Service, the indignities of which from a Libertarian position abound, but which our fathers and grandfathers routinely took in their stride.

    So these things are very much cultural. It’s not a matter of self-ownership as such, the issue is what is a rational response to violations of that self ownership. What is “reasonable”.

    As it goes, not quite the same thing, but I remember a strange incident at secondary school. We had had football and were in the changing rooms afterwards with the communal showers, as is the norm. And one of the boys said to the teacher he refused to take his shorts off and shower naked. He had done it the previous week, but suddenly gotten shy. And then, one of his friends said he wouldn’t either, and the whole thing took off and everyone refused to while the hapless teacher tried to reason with them. And me, being the awkward one, I said it was stupid and I wasn’t wearing my shorts in the shower. At which point I was denounced by the mob as being clearly gay.

    So, as the teacher looked on bemused, everybody duly trooped into the showers modestly clad in their shorts.

    I’m not sure what this anecdote means, but I’m sure it means something. Cultural values are rather abitrary. Or something,

  • Jackie D, I posted my last response before yours appeared.

    In answer to you, I can only say that’s a rather classic “don’t talk about the issue rationally, just throw out an hysterical denunciation” response which is very typical of the hyper-offended Lefties who have made our society so miserable.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ian B, I would not be quite so dismissive; Jackie is making a point that for some people – and this is not just hysterical leftists – it is a pretty major deal for some government agent to carry out the equivalent of a strip search and examine various orifices simply so that such a person – such as an 80-year-old granny – can get on board an aircraft to go and see her grandkids. This is a fucking joke.

    And this would have been seen as a joke in 1950, 1850 or today, and by most different cultures. And in any event, I am not sure I like the cultural relativism involved here: are we saying that in our modern, let-it-all-hang-out age that the kind of stuff going on is acceptable?

    In any event, if this sort of thing does make people wake up to the extent of government intrusiveness (CCTV, the database state, etc, etc), then maybe this particular issue will have achieved some good after all. With any luck, the US population are not going to “get over it”.

  • “A well-brought up lady in, say, 1950, who had her bottom pinched would no doubt have been grossly offended. Nowadays you go down with post-traumatic stress disorder and need a year off work on full pay to deal with your issues, and lots of compensation please. This TSA narrative very much incoporates that new model of psychological distress/disorder, as indeed does Nick’s comment. And that’s quite interesting to me, because it simply didn’t exist in, say, 1950. People got offended and angry, they didn’t get “traumatised”. ”

    Not so fast. Lets say you shout at someone in a non-specifically threatening way. They keel over and die of a heart attack. All you did was shout at them, but you were also causally implicated in their death. You didn’t intend to cause that level of harm, but you are still in quite a lot of trouble (whether litigated criminally or civily).

    Pinch someone’s bottom and cause them severe psychological distress (as is, in fact, possible) and you can still be in quite a lot of trouble. You did something you shouldn’t have done and something bad but unpredictable happened as a consequence.

  • Well, it comes back to shifting norms, or what is the norm. Shouting at somebody, and they have a heart attack, that’s unfortunate. But most people wouldn’t count it as premeditated murder; it’s an unexpected unfortunate consequence of a normally less dangerous act. I doubt that if you and I had a heated argument and the excitement of it all set off your dodgy ticker I’d be on a murder charge, or even manslaughter; because under most normal circumstances, arguments don’t kill people.

    So it’s sort of a question of whether severe psychological trauma is a normal or abnormal response to somebody touching your wee-wee. 60 years ago, that would have been considered abnormal. The worrying thing for me is that nowadays, due to the Survivor Narrative’s success, it is considered a normal response. It is quite a significant change in the norms of our society.

    What I was saying about the reaction in 1950 is that back then the reason for the unacceptability of the act was quite different. I wasn’t suggesting that in 1950 you could go around grabbing peoples’ private bits willy nilly.

  • Johnathan, I haven’t read anywhere of people actually being strip searched. Is that really occurring? So far as I’ve read they’re just being groped, fully clothed.

  • Sam Duncan

    Woah, hold on there, Ian. An army MO is a doctor. I’m quite sure (knowing quite a few people who were adults in the ’50s, went through the National Service induction process, and didn’t like it one bit) that people back then would have been just as offended – if not more so – had, say, a policeman started fiddling about with their privates.

    I’m not saying you don’t have a point, but it’s important to bear in mind that this is not only about what is being done; it’s about who is doing it.

  • Oh absolutely Sam. The point I’m sort of trying to make though is that in 1950 somebody would have been offended, but I don’t think they’d have been traumatised. It’s this whole trauma narrative that I find disturbing.

    For instance there’s this whole thing with toddlers throwing screaming fits and whatnot. The narrative is quite clearly that they are being harmed, abused, what have you. But being a young child is all about being manhandled; they’re only just out of the nappy stage for heaven’s sake. I find the idea that a child would be traumatised by being touched bizarre.

  • llamas

    +1 Sam Duncan

    ‘ . . .I’m not saying you don’t have a point, but it’s important to bear in mind that this is not only about what is being done; it’s about who is doing it . . . ‘

    and why.

    As I said higher along, there had better be a damned good reason for a state officer to lay hands on a citizen without their consent.

    Nobody is going to quibble if a EMT lays hands on a citizen after hauling their bloodied body form a car wreck – that’s a damned good reason.

    Nobody is going to quibble if a LEO lays hands on a citizen who is being arrested – that’s a damned good reason.

    The reason that so many people are so up-in-arms about the TSA theater is that it’s becoming transparently plain to a very large number of people that there isn’t a damned good reason for doing this, and that, in fact, the introduction of this nonsense is actually helping those very people it is supposed to be hindering, and furthering their aims instead of frustrating them. The alleged cure is, in many ways, a lot worse that the disease.

    It’s not that the TSO touched your wee-wee – it’s that he touched your wee-wee without having any good reason to do so.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Verity

    You met P J O’Rourke?

    I am impressed. I read everything the man writes. I don’t care whether he’s nice or not. He’s a wonderful read.

    Re airport nazi-ry, I’m with llamas.

  • Llamas, I refer you to Alisa’s first comment.

  • See, I think part of my problem with all this focus on wee-wees is that all you’re likely to ultimately get outn of it is some regulatory restriction on the TSA touching your unmentionables. It doesn’t really address the bigger question of state intrusion in any way.

    For my money- and I accept that this is purely my personal feelings here- I feel more upset by officials going through my bags or pockets and having me empty them out in front of them. If somebody gets a momentary thrill from locating my wizened genital remnant, well

    *shrugs*

    but that’s just me.

    I just don’t really seeing this thing, in its current narrative form, going any further than “TSA told not to touch junk and children”, which is perhaps a small win for liberty, but not much in the grand scheme of things.

  • Sorry- I came early. Should have carried on-

    …and in the process you’ve turned up the dial on the whole abuse/survivor/trauma narrative another notch, which just ends up further empowering our enemies in the Proggie Network a bit more.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Johnathan, I haven’t read anywhere of people actually being strip searched. Is that really occurring? So far as I’ve read they’re just being groped, fully clothed.

    Well there is also the option of being put through a screen that is the equivalent of having no clothes on. The pervert’s dream!

    What Llamas said.

    Verity: agree that niceness is not necessary, but his being nice was, well, nice!

    He gets better with age. And I am glad to see he’s gotten over cancer and seems in great spirits.

  • Fiddling with privates, eh?

    Ian B is bang wrong. This is an appalling intrusion and it is utterly worthless. That means the likes of me wonder why it’s done. It is done because a bunch of over-promoted arseholes who in a sane world wouldn’t be seen fit to shovel shit from one place to another get to have their “jollies” by groping tax-payers at tax-payers expense. That is all it is about. A self-prepostering bunch of preverts costing us money and feeling our arses to no discernible gain apart from sating their own depraved and pathetic desires. Let’s get this one straight. I have never met a TSA operative (and I’ve met a few) who realistically could get a date with anyone more attractive than Susan Boyle or Eddie Large. It’s as simple as this. They either wank themselves raw via the internet or they grope people in airport terminals.

    This is not an issue of cultural relativism or anything like that. It isn’t even really about physical violation (though that does annoy) but the assumption that, until proven otherwise, you are an enemy. The last time I was in the USA I was on a three week long holiday. This meant (a) obviously I liked the USA and (b) I was going to drop a fair few bucks there and whilst pretty much every American I met in “real America” was polite, helpful and nice they seemed to have herded the otherwise unemployable frothing dip-shit preverts into the departure lounges. It is not being precious about someone touching your “wee wee” but about autonomy. And yes, at some level it is about treating a guest as a guest and not assuming they are a potential mas-murderer unless you have bloody good evidence.

    Or put it this way. Much though I love the USA I ain’t going there ’till this nonsense stops. Their loss (and mine) because I know the average John Q American doesn’t like it either. Give the TSA their due they aren’t xenophobes because they enjoy copping a feel of all nationalities equally.

    Moreover AQ need not set off as much as a fucking sparkler because the TSA has done their job so much more thoroughly than they could imagine in their wildest goat-molesting dreams.

  • Ian B, you clearly don’t know a damn thing about trauma. So perhaps you should refrain from commenting about what it is and what it isn’t, how it should be regarded and how it should be dismissed.

  • Jerry

    I have to agree with Llamas.
    These ‘people’ are doing things, especially, with children that would get you arrested, charged and JAILED in almost ANY other situation except some life threatening emergency.
    In addition, it is becoming increasingly clear, at least to some including myself, that these procedures really accomplish nothing. It is a was of avoiding, GASP, profiling/questioning !!
    But then generals ( aka gov’t and TSA ) are always fighting the previous/last war ( or attack as the case may be !! ).

  • IanB makes a point, but it is not the best point he has ever made.

    The main reason for these searches is that a new x-ray machine has been invented, and certain people want to sell them and certain others want to buy them. But x-rays might be dangerous, so we have to be threatened with something more unpleasant, otherwise we won’t use them, perhaps by not flying so much – and then people will start doubting whether the selling and buying was worthwhile.

    The problems with the current TSA seaches, and also those in the UK and elsewhere, is that:

    (i) The searches are an unwarranted search of the innocent (around 99.99999% I guess). The only reason that more targetted search is not used is that governments are scared of ‘discrimination’: for this, ‘thanks’ should be given to the discrimination industry.

    (ii) The searches are a waste of the taxpayers’ money. Even on counter-terrorism WRT aircraft, that money could be spent more productively, like by not mixing unaccompanied freight with passengers, or ensuring proper investigation of that unaccompanied freight – perhaps by x-raying more of it, sniffing more of it, and opening more of it. I’ve yet to hear even an MSM report of a package or crate complaining that it was either groped or x-rayed.

    (iii) In fact, the only ‘valuable’ aspect of these searches of passengers is that it creates the impression that government is doing something, while what they are actually doing, that is productive, is a secret (quite rightly). This is government of the image, not government of the substance – and it is very intrusive and really quite expensive (especially when one considers queuing time and mislaid possessions).

    By way of support, anecdotal though it is, I offer the following. I recently visited the USA; that was very pleasant except for one incident. I took an internal flight and was was stopped through alarm of the metal detector. This was despite having already stripped off every piece of metal that I remembered. Unfortunately, I was wearing a Velcro knee support, and did not remember this fast enough; I could have taken it off (difficult but not impossible without dropping my trousers) and had it x-rayed, but by the time I realised, it was too late. So I got the grope. The young man who did it spent several minutes explaining how he would do it to minimise my embarrassment (did you know they only use the backs of their hands): he did this well, but it was totally unnecessary. In addition, my hands and knee support were swabbed and checked (presumably for explosive residue – lucky I’m not a gun user) and came up negative.

    One particular thing that was not checked was whether the metal in the knee support was the only metal I was carrying. I never went through the metal detector without it and there was no check with a more localised metal detector to see that I was clean elsewhere. No check was made on how knee-support-like was the metal in the knee support – it could easily have been a scalpel from the size – perhaps just not an explosive one.

    Hurray for the effectiveness of the whole process, including grope. Having told you all that, it will be interesting to see how I get on with my next set of pre-flight searches.

    The grope is, of itself to most males at least, as IanB says, not the primary issue. It is surely though, the straw that may well break the camel’s back – that together with the money having run out for much of Western government owing to such sorts of waste.

    [Also, our wait for the flight home was enlivened by a PA announcement indicating someone had picked up the wrong IBM Thinkpad from the x-ray conveyor: and would (s)he please bring it back for swapping. Let's hope it had an encrypted hard disc - and contained no secrets: government or otherwise.]

    Best regards

  • llamas

    On one thing, IanB and I can agree – the TSA response to this will be just another hard-and-fast, inviolable rule that focuses on their primary goal, which is having hard-and-fast, inviolable rules.

    I just wish that their primary goal was catching /dissuading terrorists – which is not a goal achieved by concentrating on hard-and-fast rules.

    These numbskulls seem to be more concerned with creating a smooth-running government agency than they are with catching terrorists. They have not yet grasped (and maybe never will) that (as Edwin Luttwak wrote) war is different, and all of the bureaucratic and political cr*p about Consistency, and Reviewed Policies, and Chains of Command, and Agreed Timelines, are about as much use in the face of a (re)active enemy as a football bat.

    Myself, I’m firmly convinced that the morass of waste, ineffectiveness and chaos that is ‘airport security’ is actually what our enemies are striving to produce. They have millions of Americans wasting millions of hours of productivity and time every day in the ‘security dance’. It would be like having a weapon that can simply neutralize whole divisions of your opponent’s forces, at no cost to you. Al they have to do, every few months, is throw some other passenger-vectored threat at us, and the more amazingly-improbable, the better. PETN in his skivvies? That’s a movie plot, not a serious attempt to bring down an airliner. But it’s enough to make us jerk on the end of our string, and spend millions of hours and billions of dollars making sure that they don’t try that again!

    llater,

    llamas

  • In any event, if this sort of thing does make people wake up to the extent of government intrusiveness (CCTV, the database state, etc, etc), then maybe this particular issue will have achieved some good after all. With any luck, the US population are not going to “get over it”.

    Couldn’t agree more: the fascists seem to have turned the heat up too much too fast, and the frogs are noticing.

  • Jackie D, your latest response confirms what I said earlier. Your response is the classic “shut down the debate by denouncing your opponent” method developed by the New Left.

  • llamas

    Nidel Sedgewick’s first -person account illustartes exactly how this is going to go.

    Because the TSA system (as presently practised) is inevitably going to produce a huge volume of false-positives, the system is going to morph (as government systems invariably do) into an efficient system for processing false positives.

    Running in a beard – something you want them to find, so as to cover up something you don’t want them to find – is a classic technique of the covert operator. The example given shows that they fell for it, HL&S – it confirmed their already-normative model (it’s a false positive), and so that became the default mindset. He’s got metal in his knee brace – let’s get his knee brace passed clean so we can get him out of here.

    Given that many TSOs are not what you’d call the sharpest knives in the drawer, and couple that with their rigid, Post-Office like adherence to the rules, come hell or high water, and you get a system that’s actually laughhably easy to beat. They’re always looking for their car keys under the street light.

    I also love their talsimanic adherence to things like the swabs that supposedly detect explosive residues. These things are notorious for producing false positives. It reminds me of the slack-jawed teen at the convenience store who ritualistically swipes a $50 bill with a magic pen that’s supposed to detect counterfeits – but not the 4x $20s that are with it.

    US illusionist and TV personality Penn Jillette has had his run-ins with the TSA in the past. I would like very much to see him apply his skills as an illusionist and sleight-of-hand artist on the TSA. I would take a medium-sized wager that he could get a live armadillo through a TSA checkpoint without anyone finding it. And these are simple, open-hand skills that anyone can be taught.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Laird

    In his typically literate way, Ian B has diverted the discussion onto a red herring. Because his fundamental premise is simply wrong: the broad-based opposition to TSA “gate rape” isn’t mere over-sensitivity or even (how he got here I can’t fathom) “trauma”. Llamas has it right; we willingly submit to personal indignities when there is a rational purpose to them (my annual physical exam comes to mind), but not when they are so transparently pointless. It’s not “oversensitivity”; it’s thoroughly justifiable and appropriate outrage. There is a difference.

    Where I disagree with Johnathan is that, unpleasant as it is to admit, I don’t believe that this flap about overly-intrusive airport screenings suggests that Americans are re-discovering their love of liberty. Far too many of us are of the opinion that “anything which protects us against terrorism” is justified. Watch any TV news report about the backlash and you will hear the obligatory bleats from some mindless sheep who defends the procedure because it’s “for our own protection.” No, these screenings are deemed “over the line” only because we can see no real benefit to them. I’m hearing widespread opposition to these scans and pat-downs, but not to the entirety of airport “security theater”, which is now generally accepted as a necessary evil.

    Outside of places like Samizdata I’m not hearing calls for the abolition of the TSA. We seem to be perfectly happy to “give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety” (in Franklin’s felicitous phrase), but we will end up with neither. Unless some court puts a stop to this on 4th Amendment grounds (the violation of which should be patently obvious, but perhaps not to a federal judge) my fear is that the TSA will ride out the storm, perhaps make a few cosmetic adjustments to their procedures, and in a few months we’ll have forgotten all about it and submit without question. The ratchet will have moved one more notch.

  • ragingnick

    thanks but I will take the minor inconvenience of being searched at airport security over being blown up by a islamokazi becuase a few whiny leftists dont like having their pecker touched.

  • Sunfish

    I’d pay real money to see that. Everything that Penn does is cool.

    Ian B:
    It doesn’t matter whether Jackie D is being a puppet of the grievance industry or not. What matters is that harm is being done to people who have done nothing wrong, and with no hope of accomplishing any legitimate good. Whether or not you think being grabbed in the “junk” is harmful…great, you don’t, and you have a lot of sack for trying to speak for anyone else.

    I don’t know what it would be for me. Airport screening might be the best sex I’ve had in years. But some people will be harmed by it. When we’re talking about real people, psychological harm is real enough.

    (War story time. I recommend that all readers pour another cup of coffee (in US time zones) or whiskey (in UK time zones) and see what they’re doing over at CCiZ or the Rott while I babble and ramble.)

    We get a call of an in-progress domestic one night, a few years ago. Not my beat, so I’m mostly ignoring it, up until the part where the dispatcher announces that the female half just left the house with a gun, driving a (well, not really important to the story.) This part of the story came originally from the male half talking to officers on scene.

    About five minutes later, I saw that car.

    I hit the lights-and-music. She stops, and I go into felony-stop mode. This isn’t the traffic stop that most of you guys have experienced, where Clancy Wiggum half-swaggers and half-waddles up to your window and says, “You in a whole heap of trouble, boy. You know why I stopped you?” Oh, no, it ain’t.

    Without getting into specific TTPs, this is the kind that involves lots of screaming and pointing guns at people and everyone in the car being ordered out and laying on the pavement (at gunpoint) and then handcuffed before being allowed back up. If you ever watch “Cops” on FOX, you’ll see it done wrong and in an overly-theatrical manner at least once in every episode.[1]

    Anyway, she’s alone in the car. After cover gets there and she’s out and prone, I sling my carbine and go to handcuff. Once she’s on her feet, I search her.[2]

    She’s a rape victim from a few years prior. And frankly, it f***ed with her head a little.[3] So I’m searching her after she’s been handcuffed, in the manner specified by reams and reams of case law, and she vapor-locks. Thousand-yard stare, damn near completely catatonic by the time I’m done, and this is with me trying to be a lot more calming and reassuring than I’ve EVER seen from a TSA mouth-breather. Were she not restrained I think she’d have tried to kill herself at some point that night.

    A brief word about our search techniques: we NEVER “cup” our hands or use our palms when checking breasts or groin. Ever. There is no need for it in the field. Any check in that part of the body AT ALL only happens to arrestees- people who we have some good reason to think they’ve committed a crime. And making a smart comment to (or in earshot of) a person being searched is good for a few days off and forget your next promotion, ever, and a newb in his probationary period will probably get the “This isn’t going to work out” speech.

    Anyway, the gun got tossed. I’m a little hazy as to how the suppression hearing on the gun went: wasn’t my case. She pled out to something or another- I think the attempted murder got knocked down to menacing or some such but it’s not really relevant here. None of it changes the fact that touching her -in a less-intrusive manner than happens at airports to people who have done nothing wrong, in a case where I had very good reason to do so- probably fucked her up.

    [1] Cops is heavily edited and I suspect that they pair camera crews with the biggest drama queens on the departments, but oh, well…

    [2] Remember, this is an arrest for a violent crime, just occurred and immediate flight from, in which a deadly weapon may have been used. Hell, this is the small part of the “fleeing-felon” rule that did survive TN v. Garner. A certain amount of intrusion is legally justified here.

    [3] No, I’m not blaming her for it. I don’t think I could blame her for it. Between my job and having gone to college and lived on campus for part of it, I have had occasion to know a few victims of rape. I have never known a victim who was the same person after as before. There’s a reason why rape is used as a means of mass-coercion. David Grossman LtC USA (Ret.) addresses this a bit in the chapter on “Atrocity” in his book “On Killing.” BTW, anybody who carries a gun, ever, should read it.

  • Sunfish

    Laird:

    Unless some court puts a stop to this on 4th Amendment grounds (the violation of which should be patently obvious, but perhaps not to a federal judge)

    Don’t hold your breath. There’s been case law that border, customs, and other “administrative” searches don’t invoke the 4th Amendment because they don’t intrude into realms where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy and are for some non-criminal-justice purpose.

    We had this fight here about a year ago, where some sf writer got into it with the Border Patrol near Mogaidishu West, er, Detroit.

    Also, even when the 4th is violated, the “remedy” is suppression of any evidence seized as a result of the illegal search. Not really useful hear.

    Ragingnick:
    Who the fuck are you to decide that other people need to submit to whatever so that you can feel safe from those eeevil eeevil Muslims?

  • Laird

    “thanks but I will take the minor inconvenience of being searched at airport security over being blown up by a islamokazi becuase a few whiny leftists dont like having their pecker touched.”

    See? The inevitable bleating of a mindless sheep.

    Sunfish, customs and border patrol aren’t quite the same as internal airport screenings. Not that I’m saying that your analysis is wrong, merely that I can distinguish between the different scenarios for any judge willing to listen. And in any event, don’t you just love the tautology? We don’t have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” because that privacy is routinely violated, so ipso facto any objection to it is “unreasonable”. Yup, that would work for most federal judges (especially those in the 9th Circuit, who apparently write the drafts of their opinions in crayon).

  • Sunfish

    Laird:

    Sunfish, customs and border patrol aren’t quite the same as internal airport screenings. Not that I’m saying that your analysis is wrong, merely that I can distinguish between the different scenarios for any judge willing to listen.

    That ship has already sailed, in 1973. A Federal court held that, since the idea was to deter bad people with bad things and bad intentions from trying to board at all, otherwise-unacceptable airport searches were okay.

    US. v. Davis 482 F.2d 893 (1973), and yes, it did come from the Ninth Circus.

    In view of the right giving us eight years of security hysteria and the current administration’s fanboys insistent that neither The Most Holy, The One, The Obamessiah (PBUH) nor his TSA flankies can do any wrong, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for courts to pull their heads out of their asses any time soon.

  • llamas

    ragingnick wrote:

    ‘thanks but I will take the minor inconvenience of being searched at airport security over being blown up by a islamokazi becuase a few whiny leftists dont like having their pecker touched.’

    Well, I’ll be more polite than my oppo from CO.

    a) You present this as an either-or. Search me, or the plane gets it! But there’s absolutely zero evidence that it is, in fact, and either-or, and plenty of evidence – masses of evidence, in fact – that searching every passenger to this extent has no positive effect at all. In repeated tests, year after year, the TSA has been laughably ineffective at preventing bad things from getting onto airplanes. Thousands of innocent passengers each day carry prohibited items onto airplane unwittingly. Nobody from the TSA is ever disciplined for these failures

    b) You fall into the logical trap, carefully laid for you by the talking heads and apologists for the TSA, that every air traveller has the exact same probability of being a dangerous terrorist, and that therefore, we are fully justified in treating every air traveller excatly the same – which is to say, very badly.

    By this logic, the police should be permitted to shoot citizens at random, because every citizen has an exactly-equal probability of being a felon on his way to commit another murder, and the police should shoot murderers to prevent the commission of the act.

    c) Once again, it’s not about ‘a few whiny leftists don’t like having their pecker touched.’ It’s about the state doing these things at random and for no demonstrably-good reason. If you think that’s OK, then let me ask you this:

    Would you submit to a full cavity search as a condition of boarding an airplane? Should a 4-year-old child be subjected to such a search?

    What would you NOT be OK with the state doing to you, on an entirely random basis, in the name of ‘security’?

    d) This is often presented as a choice – would you fly on a plane full of passengers who have not been ‘screened’? And my answer is – yes, of course I would. So long as they are randomly selected – which is, after all, the basis for TSA’s procedures. The chance of ther being a terrorist in that group is far less than the chance of the plane crashing for (any other reason). And – given the fact that the TSA couldn’t catch a cold – there’s statistically no difference in the risk of a terrorist having made it onto a plane that has been ‘screened’ vs a plane that hasn’t.

    Now, would you like to actually think about this, instead of just parroting the yearbook answer?

    llater,

    llamas

  • llamas

    TV personality Adam Savage is subjected to full pr*n-O-scanner treatment by TSA – which neglects to spot the 2 12″ long razor blades he had in his pocket.

    Warning – language definitely NSFW

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/11/adam-savage-tsa-saw-my-junk-missed-12-razor-blades.ars

    llater,

    llamas

  • ragingnick: You’d rather be made a target while standing in line for screening?

    Anybody see the similarities and differences here with Heinlein’s “The Puppet Masters”?

  • Tedd

    [I]t sometimes feels as if so many of our fellow citizens don’t give a flying expletive deleted about liberty any more. Well, it appears that quite a lot of them do, actually.

    The things is, though, that it doesn’t really count if people only get exercised when their own liberty is threatened. For liberty to survive you need a sizable sub-set of people to be concerned with other people’s liberty, and with liberty in the abstract, not just their own, personal liberty.

  • to be concerned with other people’s liberty

    What exactly does this mean? What if these other people don’t want liberty? Shouldn’t they have the, well, liberty to forgo liberty? And what exactly is ‘liberty in the abstract’?

  • jdm

    I would just like to say that my contribution to this topic was taken aside hours ago for fondling and then not allowed to participate having, apparently, been deemed unworthy.

    Or perhaps harmful.

    But when I was asked to write it by that nice young man, he seemed so nice and sincere. I guess you never know… ;-)

  • Ian B, you can try to dismiss my point by claiming it’s similar to what scumbag leftists do (hey, I also breathe and walk with two feet like they do – guess I’m JUST LIKE THEM). The fact remains that you know jack shit about trauma yet are telling people who have suffered vile, life-altering violation that they should “get over it”. This is not me trying to shut down debate; it’s me telling you that you’re a tosser.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    If I may, I will come in alongside Sunfish, perhaps from a slightly different set of angles. I am a retired Peace Officer, from a different part of the state.

    For our Brit friends, you have to understand that our Constitution is not an amorphous collection of documents scattered over centuries, modified or voided by usage and pretty much ignored by the powers that be. It is a specific document, that we swear “to preserve, protect, and defend against all enemies, foreign or domestic”.

    Any American can point to specific clauses that apply to a situation, if they so choose, and our system in theory makes the Constitution superior to any law or regulation that a government may wish to impose. While the issue is increasingly in doubt, the concept still holds and Americans are fighting to maintain it.

    We are in love with our system of government; at the same time that we distrust and dislike the Kakistocracy that governs us, from both major parties. And we are raised to be rude, crude, and socially unacceptable if necessary in pursuit of the defense of the Constitution, and our independence.

    I have watched Britain from a distance, and have had family and friends live there. Y’all don’t fight back. You turn over control of every small aspect of your lives; not only to government and party drones, but also to what you call quangos. You don’t protest, you don’t stand up, you don’t throw them out when they go too far. Indeed, one wonders if there is a point that Brits would say was too far for government to reach.

    Americans, not all but a goodly number, will bark back. If the local schools do something stupid or wildly offensive to the residents, the next school board meeting will be very full of irate parents AND next election there will probably be a new school board. I am not anyone special, but I have the home phone numbers of my state senator and representative as does anyone who wants it. When US Congressmen or Senators appear in public, they have to answer for their conduct in most districts; recently much to their discomfiture.

    Sunfish is right about the case law on 4th Amendment searches, but there are two points. Lawyers and Judges may have one view of the law, but the people may have another, and in the long run courts can be forced to change their minds or the law can be changed along with the politicians. Second, the TSA searches are so egregious, that they may not fall under that specific case law, or it may be that there will be means other than litigation that will settle the matter.

    Ian B,:
    Well, it comes back to shifting norms, or what is the norm.

    For better or worse, our norms are not your norms. Starting with the differing fact that traditionally here, laying hands on someone without permission is considered an attack that requires redress, we are somewhat pickier about what government and law enforcement [Which TSA is not. They do not carry police commissions, and for cripes sakes they are a barely above minimum wage job that is advertised on delivery pizza boxes ( no, that is not a joke, link available on request).] is allowed to do to the individual and under what circumstances. Add to that the detail that for the last couple of decades there has been a society wide panic about child sexual abuse, and we have deliberately taught a couple of generations that anyone who touches a child in the ‘private parts’ other than parents or medical caretakers is committing rape and children are taught [and parents believe it necessary] to flee if they can, and fight if they can’t; all the while screaming for help. That is our norm. And for a lot of us [not all], it is the norm to step in and protect the weak who need defending. Admittedly, I am surprised that there are not more …. damaged … TSA pukes. Our norms are not your norms, and vice-versa. For which we are both probably profoundly grateful.

    Another norm. I have personal experience in the operation of an Administrative Segregation – Maximum Security criminal detention facility. Even for the purpose of keeping drugs, weapons, and escape paraphernalia out of the hands of the most dangerous incarcerated felons; we could not legally use either those scanners or the methods of hand search that have occurred, without immediate punitive intervention by the Federal courts and revocation of the American Correctional Association’s certification to operate the facility. And the ACLU would be suing on behalf of the violations of the inmates’ civil rights; and winning huge awards.

    The Americans who are exposed to this via experience or the news, may not know the exact case law involved, or which ACA standards are involved; but they know that we would not be able to do this to convicts, and yet they are expected as free citizens to endure not only this, but also any further impositions that government whim comes up with. It does not require one to be a “whiny Leftist” to be opposed to this security theater that does absolutely nothing to protect anyone but the bureaucrats in TSA who can say that they are “doing something”. I will admit that this is the first time I have been so described. My nom d’ Blog is in fact based on my being described by a former Captain as being to the Right of Jenghiz Khan.

    Subotai Bahadur

  • Dale Amon

    Oversensitivity? I think not. If someone walked up to me on the street and grabbed my nuts I’d kick their face in and use their head for a street cleaner.

    I can’t do that to the TitSnAss so I intend to do everything I possibly can short of being arrested to make them thoroughly a laughingstock, and if possible make them feel like scum of the Earth. Because they are. If they really were decent people they’d have told their boss to go do it him or herself and quit by now. Their acceptance of the unacceptable makes them fully guilty in my eyes.

  • Dishman

    At a gut level, I’m inclined to say, “okay, somebody touched your wee-wee. Get over it.”

    “Now baby don’t be sad, in my opinion you weren’t half bad.”

    It’s just sex, get over it, bitch.

    Your consent is not relevant.

  • Ivan

    Subotai Bahadur:

    For our Brit friends, you have to understand that our [U.S.] Constitution is not an amorphous collection of documents scattered over centuries, modified or voided by usage and pretty much ignored by the powers that be.

    Um, that’s exactly what it is. The original 1787 document has in the meantime been modified not only by the official 27 amendments, but also by a whole library of judicial precedents that have liberally eliminated large parts of it, invented some new ones out of whole cloth, and given a whole new spin on many others. In the de facto constitution of the modern-day U.S., judicial decisions scattered over more than two centuries such as Marbury v. Madison, Texas v. White, the Legal Tender Cases, West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, Footnote Four, Wickard v. Filburn, Brandenburg v. Ohio, Roe v. Wade, Chevron v. NRDC, South Dakota v. Dole, etc., etc. are no less significant than any parts of the officially worshiped big-C “Constitution.” This despite the fact that even politics buffs have typically never heard of most of them.

    Not to even mention various landmark federal statues and the immense layers of judicial precedent and bureaucratic interpretation that have grown around them, many of which have solidified to the point where they are, for all practical purposes, a fundamental part of the modern de facto U.S. constitution.

  • The fact remains that you know jack shit about trauma yet are telling people who have suffered vile, life-altering violation that they should “get over it”

    …while you, Jackie D, are saying that they shouldn’t, right?

    What you’re promoting here is a narrative in which every woman who suffers a rape or sexual assault is certainly damaged beyond salvation by it. It’s the “rape is the worst thing in the world” narrative. And anyone who dares suggest that maybe it’s not quite that bad doesn’t care, they’re a tosser, they don’t understand, they’re a monster. Right?

    Yep, that’s the narrative developed by the hard left radical feminist movement, and you are walking and quacking like a duck.

    There are all sorts of potential awful experiences in life. Rape is not unique. Men are at constant risk of violence which women generally aren’t; women may suffer sexual violence (but so may men) but every man risks getting his head kicked in by random thugs. That’s pretty bad too. I’d ask you, if you had the choice, which would you rather experience- being raped, or lying on the ground while a gang use your head as a football? Broken bones, disfigurement, perhaps permanent disability, maybe brain damage. Which is the most traumatic?

    Millions of men have, frequently against their will, gone to war. They get shot at, bombs drop on them, they get limbs blown off, they get embedded with shrapnel, they see their friends blown to stew in front of their eyes. Everyone would agree that anyone who experiences that is changed by it.

    Now the thing is, most men who go through that get over it. They demobilise, and enter back into normal life. Some are more traumatised by it. Some will have nightmares and flashbacks. Some will suffer severe disturbance- post traumatic stress disorder/”shell shock”. Some are so badly damaged they are ruined psychologically for life.

    But most are not. It would be a gross distortion of reality to declare that every soldier is damaged beyond repair by their experiences. The severely damaged are over on the far right of the bell curve.

    Is it wrong to say that? Is that truth unacceptable? Should we instead declare that every soldier will suffer such a reaction? Should we declare every soldier- that would be most of the males of the 1940s for instance- is a permanently damaged “survivor”?

    Most people who suffer these severe traumas do “get over it”. Some don’t. Some need psychological help. Some are rendered beyond help. They deserve all our sympathy and whatever succour we can render. But there is a huge vested interest- we might call it the “rape industry”- committed to fostering the belief that every rape victim is in that latter category. It furthers political ends. It creates jobs for activists, for psychologists, for therapists. It raises the society’s arousal level to rape to ever higher degrees, fostering an hysterical climate desired by those committed campaigners. It shuts down honest discussion and debate. The sympathy generated is used as a crowbar for ever more hysterical gender biased legislation (e.g. a drunk woman cannot consent, but a drunk man has no defence, incorporated into English and other nations’ laws).

    So it’s a big thing this, and it’s a bad thing. Because it isn’t the truth. It is a narrative developed for political reasons, and it is necessary for people to keep pointing that out, even at the terrible risk of being called, er, tossers.

  • Subotai-

    Add to that the detail that for the last couple of decades there has been a society wide panic about child sexual abuse, and we have deliberately taught a couple of generations that anyone who touches a child in the ‘private parts’ other than parents or medical caretakers is committing rape and children are taught [and parents believe it necessary] to flee if they can, and fight if they can’t; all the while screaming for help. That is our norm.

    Indeed, and that’s the point I’m making. I quite clearly haven’t claimed that anyone else feels the way I do- but then I’m a Libertarian so I’m used to that. My point is surely quite clearly one of questioning the norm that has developed over the past few decades in our society.

    It is the norm in some muslim societies for women to not show their faces. In saying that is extreme, I am clearly not claiming that that is not the norm in their societies. I am questioning the normative value itself. And I would also note that this normative value has been spreading over the past few decades; muslim societies that did not in, say, 1950, require face covering now do. So that would be to note a social change, and to question the wisdom of it. “That is our norm, and that’s that” doesn’t really answer the point. It’s just a statement of fact.

    The interesting thing for me is that most of the commenters here arguing against my point aren’t deploying any kind of defence of the normative value I’m challenging at all. They’re just stating it, over and over. This is no different to other people saying (and they often do) “we like a big welfare state, and that’s how we are”. It doesn’t discuss the issue. It just restates it.

    Most people think that their own moral values- however weird to others- are so normal as to be beyond challenge. But I find it interesting that libertarians, people who spend their lives challenging the received wisdom on so many issues, lapse into this “that’s that, and that’s the end of it” defensiveness when asked to discuss this particular received wisdom. Even when, as you have in the quote, they recognise that this normative value is rather recently developed. To me, it is demonstrative of how immensely successful the activist forces have been when even Libertarians- supposedly diametrically opposed- are rendered incapable of rational discussion of the issue.

  • But Ian, what you are in fact doing is also nothing more than restating your moral/normative value. OK, we get it: you don’t see sex as anything special, and our “private” parts as any more private than the rest of our bodies. I happen to share your feelings on this, for the most part, but so what? Can you tell us why in a societal context this alternative norm is any better than the existing one? I’m not sure it is. I just see it as a personal preference – or, as rather is the case, indifference, and that’s it. And the whole meaning of this value being personal is it being subjective. What it means is that you can’t impose it on other people, which means you can’t tell other people to get over it. You sure can suggest they’d be better off getting over it and offer help, but that is not quite the same as being as dismissive as you are about it. And I do willingly grant you the point of the “victim industry”. But that trend is by no means unique to sex issues, so again, what is your point?

  • BTW, by ‘you can’t tell’ I didn’t mean any societal norm, only that there is no point in telling, because of the issue being entirely subjective.

  • Well Alisa, as with challenging any normative value, it’s in the vain hope of encouraging others to reconsider it from a fresh angle. It’s like, if it were 1960 and the commenters in some imaginary 1960s internet were all saying gays should be thrown in jail, and I said, “well maybe gay people aren’t so bad, can you justify your reaction to gay people?” you might say the same thing; disliking gays is how people feel, and they’re happy that way, and why would tolerating gays be any better? Either of those views is a personal preference. All moral values are.

    Why would my alternative norm be any better? “Better” is itself subjective. But from a liberal position, I take the view that the more sensitive people are on this matter, the more statism and illiberalism we end up with, so as a libertarian I am against that. I gave the example of draconian and unbalanced rape laws, but there are many effects in society that are generally recognised. Adults are increasingly scared to interact with children. Kindergarten teachers cannot hug an upset child, for fear of accusations. My sister works in a garden centre and they have a Santa’s Grotto; the corporate rules expressly forbid any staff from even talking to children; only to their parents. (My sister mentioned this to me as she’s rather upset by the implications of such a rule). Everyone these days is in fear of accusations of sexual harrassment. One off-colour comment could land you at an industrial tribunal.

    An oversensitised society is full of fear, and that fear translates into more and more illiberal rules. That makes this issue important, I think.

    As Laird agreed, this is not a general objection to security protocols and is not the start of a general return to liberty and accepting the concomittant risk. It is all just (over?)sensitivity to “junk touching” and being seen everso briefly- shock horror- in a sort of a bit nude if you narrow your eyes kind of a way on a scanner by a bored security guard who just saw a thousand previous people the same way and is looking forward to his lunchbreak.

    So I think it’s worthwhile to raise the possibility that we’ve all gotten somewhat neurotic and might like to consider calming down a bit.

  • From a libertarian point of view Ian, throwing people in jail is not at all the same as objecting to intrusion into one’s private territory. The former is objective, the latter is subjective.

    I take the view that the more sensitive people are on this matter, the more statism and illiberalism we end up with, so as a libertarian I am against that.

    How’s that, exactly? It’s not their sensitivity that leads to more statism, it’s some people imposing such sensitivities (as well as a score of other personal values) on others that is the essence of statism. Just like you are doing by steering any discussion of virtually anything towards your personal sensitivities. Get over it, Ian, it’s not all about sex, you know;-)

  • Well in this case Alisa, it largely is, isn’t it? People don’t pick their genitalia out for special consideration at random.

    It’s not their sensitivity that leads to more statism, it’s some people imposing such sensitivities (as well as a score of other personal values) on others that is the essence of statism.

    One thing leads to the other, I’m afraid. This is how the Progressivist State is built; activists raise arousal to some issue, a demand for State action can then be guaranteed. I would argue very strongly that a liberal society requires a liberal population, and that such a population is characterised by low levels of sensitivity. That is, by people who are not prone to hysteria and over-reaction.

    People who are hypersensitive will demand something to protect them, because doing nothing is simply intolerable to them. That thing will be either the State, or something that will grow into a State.

    It is the core of our problem. It is how western states have grown. What H L Mencken called, “hobgoblins”.

  • I would argue very strongly that a liberal society requires a liberal population

    Yep, reeducation time.

  • Meaning, let’s create the Übermensch, with none of those messy sensitivities.

  • Oh, Alisa. I was hoping you weren’t implying that. But you were.

    I was merely stating that people who are not liberal in nature will not create liberal societies. If we want a liberal society, we must find ways to persuade our fellows of the virtues of liberalism. That is all.

  • Lack of sensitivities being one of the virtues of liberalism?

  • In general, yes. Or rather, one of the prerequisites. It’s a matter of degree, obviously. The more sensitive people are, the less liberty their society will exhibit, as a rule of thumb. Obvious example: Islam.

  • Sunfish

    Last week it was state-mandated genitalia inspections of teenage Muslim girls.

    This week, it’s for the rest of us as well.

    Dude, what is it with you and having the state touch people’s junk?

  • The more sensitive people are, the less liberty their society will exhibit, as a rule of thumb.

    So by that logic, a society of robots would be the most liberal?

  • Sorry Sunfish, it was State mandated inspections of girls, and boys, in general, not just Muslimas. Sorry I wasn’t clear on that. It’s the same issue as with airport security; either you check everybody, or your system is useless.

    I said at the time that point (10) was illiberal. It was an admittedly, openly, authoritarian reaction to Islamisation, which I offered as an additional thing one might do as a practical, if ideologically unsound, measure. It would probably be unnecessary if the rest of my points were adopted (if they are correct) but may help speed things up a bit in terms of neutering the religion of peace, which was the stated intention of the 15 points from the outset.

    OTOH, it was at least a bit more liberal than Laird’s “deport them all” plan. How he intends to figure out who is a muslim and who isn’t I have no idea; which is the same problem faced by airport security strategies, in fact.

    Anyway, in both cases I guess I come back to my general argument that there’s no particular reason to be offended by either examination, unless you’re hysterical about your dirty parts.

  • Alisa, that doesn’t really follow. I’m just saying that people who are highly sensitised seek illiberal societies. As with my above example- I am rather hysterical about Islam, and as a result start thinking up all kinds of nasty authoritarian reactions against it. I really ought to calm down a bit.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “Anyway, in both cases I guess I come back to my general argument that there’s no particular reason to be offended by either examination, unless you’re hysterical about your dirty parts.”

    I guess most of the folk on this board will not share you approach, Ian, but I don’t want to go on further. However, I have a couple of other points.

    The key issue, as Laird stated very nicely way up this board, is who is authorised to do this, why, and within what constraints. That is why he gave the example of a person having his or her parts examined by their GP and the same being done by a security guard. The two situations, including the implied consent involved and the issue of privacy, are radically different.

    You raised the example, for instance, of the men forced to do military service and who had to undergo the usual medical examinations. But a conscript is coerced; he or she does not choose to be there. Conscripts in the 1950s may have got hardened to having their privacy destroyed; that does not make it right. After all, Ian, I remember you and I having a fair old barney with the now-banned Gabriel who would often defend various outrageous state intrusions into the private sphere and cite various traditions and cultural “norms”, and I remember you giving him fairly short shrift for so doing.

    What we are seeing is the use of ever more intrusive searches on people going about their daily, lawful, civilian business. Some of the complaints may be over the top, but in general, I am as a libertarian rather encouraged that so many people are getting irritated by this. I’d be far more worried if everyone shrugged their shoulders.

  • It’s not their sensitivity that leads to more statism, it’s some people imposing such sensitivities (as well as a score of other personal values) on others that is the essence of statism.

    I simply don’t agree Johnathan. I think people are just upset about having their junk touched, and are tending to grasp at any argumentational straw they can clutch. Libertarians might be casting this as a liberty issue, but it isn’t to the general body of complainants. They just care about their junk, I’m afraid. Stop the junk touching and they’ll be happy as lambs.

    And regarding the Libertarian discourse on it; let’s imagine the airlines had entirely privately, without State involvement, introduced some such regime. What would the Libertarian community be saying? I wonder. My guess is, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly”.

  • Dishman

    Anyway, in both cases I guess I come back to my general argument that there’s no particular reason to be offended by either examination, unless you’re hysterical about your dirty parts.

    I am hysterical about my private property. Neither you nor anyone else has a right to grope, fondle or otherwise claim ownership of it.

    You can say what you want, and I’ll openly disagree with you.

    Touch my ‘nads, and I’ll change your mind with your septum.

  • Er, somehow I failed to paste in the right quote there Johnathan. Should have been-

    The key issue, as Laird stated very nicely way up this board, is who is authorised to do this, why, and within what constraints.

  • Dishman, nobody so far as I can tell, least of all myself, is claiming a right to grope you. They’re saying that if you want to fly on my aeroplane, you need to give me permission to check you for explosive genitalia. That’s actually a different thing.

    You can say, the TSA is a state organisation, but they’re basically acting on behalf of the airlines as security staff. I’m doubtful anyone one be happier with private guards doing the checks. Indeed, considering the complaints that the checkers are variously lower class, stupid, ugly, can’t get a girlfriend etc, maybe the complaint would evaporate if the TSA simply employed attractive Classics graduates to do the fondling and ogling. I bet even “don’t touch my junk” man himself would’ve kept quiet if his fondler had been a hot nineteen year old in a wet tee-shirt quoting Virgil.

    Maybe we could all be made happy then, just by a bit of discrimination in the recruitment of the instruments of our oppression.

  • Dishman

    You can say, the TSA is a state organisation, but they’re basically acting on behalf of the airlines as security staff.

    TSA is also speaking of a need to apply it to other forms of travel as well.

    They’re saying that if you want to fly on my aeroplane, you need to give me permission to check you for explosive genitalia.

    That was not part of the terms when they sold me an airline ticket a month ago. I did not find out about the changed terms until I was already committed, and even then I did not learn from the airline.

    I only had full knowledge of the change of terms after I had passed through the nudie scanner and a large goon looked at me and adjusted his rubber gloves.

    I bet even “don’t touch my junk” man himself would’ve kept quiet if his fondler had been a hot nineteen year old in a wet tee-shirt quoting Virgil.

    Those go for a couple thousand bucks an hour. I really don’t want to be paying for one to fondle some other guy. Do you? What’s worse, doing so would severely distort the market and ruin what’s left of my sex life.

  • Well this of course could be where the free market would solve the problem. Richer people could go through one channel where you get fondled by a hottie quoting Homer, while the rest of us plebs go through another where you get fondled by Homer Simpson.

  • Dishman

    So, how is it I’m not supposed to be upset when The State alters an existing contract to include shoving a hand down my pants?

    Should I pray they do not alter it further?

    I should get over that?

    Screw you.

  • Dishman

    So, how is it I’m not supposed to be upset when The State alters an existing contract to include shoving a hand down my pants?

    Should I pray they do not alter it further?

    I should get over that?

    Screw you.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    Dale Amon at November 25, 2010 03:52 AM

    Bloody right!

    It comes down to this. In a free country, you have freedom of choice. But you never have freedom of consequences for those choices.

    Many on the Left here are whinging [I think that is the correct Brit term] about how the TSA Kapos are “only following orders” and if they did not they would lose their jobs in our abysmal economy [the same economy, by the way, that at other times they claim has recovered].

    They have made their choice. They can quit, and take their chances on finding a more ethically acceptable job, such as fluffer in a porn flick. Or they stay, and by their actions, and tolerance of the actions of others, they become complicit in every intrusion, assault, and molestation. In which case one of their unavoidable consequences is the hatred and contempt of Americans. Which emotions, Americans are not slow to express in creative ways.

    By the nature of my former career, I know a lot of people in the field. This includes some from DHS. I avoid them as much as possible, because they are consistently and insufferably arrogant [insert epithet of choice] who will explicitly tell you that their Federal badge places them above the law, the Constitution, and all American citizens not so blessed. This especially applies to those in ICE, who really don’t care about illegal immigration, but are really into demonstrating a huge case of a disease we call “big badge” against American citizens.

    I cannot “unmeet” the DHS types. I don’t currently know anyone from their TSA branch, but if I should find myself in contact with one, they will have no doubt that I believe that they belong in that facility I mentioned above, and why, with their fellow sex offenders. And if I find that someone I have business dealings with is TSA, or immediate family of TSA, the transaction is over. I believe there is another Brit term about sending someone to Coventry.

    Subotai Bahadur

  • Well screw you too Dishman, for what it’s worth. Congratulations on your utter inability to engage in a rational discussion. Most progressive of you.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    IanB, in your comment back to me of 04:21, you cite a quote that I did not make.

    Oh yes, the old “if you don’t like being groped, don’t fly response”. Well, nuts to that. We don’t have a genuine free market in air travel, since the aviation firms have to comply with government rules, although to be fair a lot of them seem keen to suck up to the various governments and get favours out of them.

    It would be nice to imagine that if airlines ran as real commercial businesses and the airports ditto, the issue of screening passengers would be left to the ebb and flow of the market. Saying something such as “if you don’t like this shit, then take a bus”, seems dismissive to the point of arrogance.

  • Dishman

    Ian B,

    calling me a “progressive” is pretty hilarious.

    You apparently didn’t read the whole of what I posted.

    TSA ‘amended’ the terms of my ticket without my knowledge as a matter of deliberate policy. I did not have full knowledge of that change until someone was preparing to shove his hand down my pants.

    That is no longer a contract. That is assault.

  • Then 1 minute later I posted an erratum, because I’d failed to copy and thus failed in my pasting. And then failed in my proofreading. :)

    Johnathan, the point I’m trying to make amid this hailstorm of righteous moral outrage is the question of “why get upset about this thing rather than that thing?”.

    Security checks are not new. Random checks by policemen are not new; to be anecdotal, I was stopped and searched several times in the 80s heading home from work (late, theatre work back then); required to empty my pockets in the streets for the delight of police on fishing expeditions. That was introduced by the Thatcher government. What were the libertarians doing then? Oh yeah, rushing to the polls to vote for it.

    Where has been all the moral outrage about state security powers? Us libertarians have complained about them in general, sure. But nobody else, including most of the people now whining about their unmentionables, has. This isn’t about State power. It’s just junk. Literally.

    It is worth mentioning that most of these physical searches are occurring because these sensitive souls are refusing to walk through a scanner that shows some bored security guard an outline of their body. Presumably they’re people at one or other end of the bell curve who think they’re either going to be ogled or ridiculed by their viewers. Well sorry folks, people do that when you have your clothes on too.

    Unless you’re a muslima, of course.

    So look, I’m just not very impressed by this, I guess. I started off making a minor point and said it would probably incite opprobrium, but I must admit even I’m disappointed by this bunch of big girls’ blouses screaming in the corner about somebody touching their willy and unable to engage in a discussion beyond that point, displaying all the emotional hysteria that the Proggies use over and over again…

    Look at the poor little bunny rabbit! How can you let people do this to a poor little bunny rabbit?!

    Well, this is where I rhetorically exclaim “I give up”. Keep squealing and watch the State grow another smidge to accomodate your ever intensifying sensitivities. But don’t say nobody warned you and I hope none of you folks are ever going to claim to be adherents of the “reason” that is supposed to underpin libertarianism because frankly from where I’m standing all I can see is another bunch of hysterics yelling that tiresome refrain SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!.

  • grog

    Ian, there’s a point which have been discussed here, that unless I mis-read your words you haven’t given much credence to.

    1-the intrusive searches started two years ago, and have been increasing in frequency since they started. This is called conditioning, and those who deem themselves as superior almost invariably perform this in small increments. Ergo, this is why Sec. Napolitano recently announced the possibility of these techniques being implemented at train terminals, et al

    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/130549-next-step-for-body-scanners-could-be-trains-boats-and-the-metro-

    Small steps to herd the sheep.

  • Sorry folks, I lost the plot a bit there. I quite rubbed all the letters off my keyboard.

    Grog, indeed. That’s a very important point. The question is whether there’s a conspiracy to condition the population, or whether it’s simply a response to over-sensitivity to terrorism leading to ever increasing “security”.

    The real problem here is that issue of sensitivity again. If some nutter with a bomb does get on a plane, the immediate hue and cry is why the government had such lax security that allowed it to happen. So they’re really driven to this stuff. Indeed this is my general argument; rather than a Soviet-ish model of a powerful central government, the anglo-socialist model is largely one of a weak government responding to powerful interest groups, who get their way by arousing sensitivity in the populace, or at least among significant opinion formers if not the general masses.

    Who’s doing the herding?

    I’m not actually in favour of any of this security theatre. My point has been why everyone is so sensitive about cock-fondling but not the rest of it. Considering there are apparently some people who may want to blow up planes, and the State will be held responsible if they achieve that, what do we actually expect the State to do, in this real world situation in which it will be held responsible if the terrorists get a result?

  • grog

    Ian, based on analysis of the last 9 years regarding the environment after 11 September, And of the last 30 years of Muslim “activity” in this regard, I suggest that both of your points, “there’s a conspiracy to condition the population, or whether it’s simply a response to over-sensitivity to terrorism”, are the answer. How often has “dialogue” or “conference” been the solution advanced by those in higher office, whether in the UK, America, the UN, etc…… Instead of identifying the core participants and resolving the issues with same? More often than bloody warranted.

    As for this point, “what do we actually expect the State to do, in this real world situation”, that’s an easy answer: focus the passenger review process on those whom are most likely to be the primary instigators.

    Now, the obvious question-would this be considered profiling? Allen West, who recently was elected to a political office in Florida, described this process as “trend analysis”, because there’s a certain demographic section which is the most likely group to attempt this.

    The Israeli process of passenger review, from my perspective, would be more effective at airports around the world instead of the current kabuki theater which recently included a 3 year old boy being scanned with a hand held metal detector. How can this child be justified as a threat to the aircraft he was going to fly on?

  • Laird

    I’m afraid that I can no longer follow whatever point it is that Ian B was trying to make. In the very first post on this thread he concedes that the current public outcry over “gate rape” is “a fine stick to beat the State with”, but worries that it’s not driven by any real desire for freedom but merely by “oversensitivity” to strangers looking at or groping certain “private parts”. By the end, however, he’s accusing us of “squealing and watch[ing] the State grow another smidge to accomodate your ever intensifying sensitivities.” Which is it? Whatever the motivation of any individual protester, be it pure libertarianism or oversensitivity, isn’t the ultimate result an attempt to restrict the growth of the State? Aren’t we all travelling in the same direction? And if we can get more people interested in the concept of personal freedom, even if their starting point is merely an irrational “oversensitivity”, isn’t that a net gain? Where is the downside in all this?

  • Kim du Toit

    I’ll start being less sensitive to the T&A’s fumbling in my groin when I hear about Muslim women in burqas or abayas getting the full T&A treatment (full-body scan / invasive patdown). But that’s never gonna happen, will it?

    Until such time, it’ll be the open road for us — and we are heading to Quebec City in the summer. (That’s about 3,100 miles roundtrip, for the Brits.) Something of a hassle, but more pleasant than having to deal with the Gauleiters at DFW.

    If I do have to fly, I’m going to have a T-shirt printed with the words: “While You’re There, Suck My Dick” on the front, and “While You’re There, Kiss My Ass” on the back. If they’re going to abridge my Fourth Amendment rights so cavalierly, let’s see how they respond when I exercise the First.

  • Laird, my point was, generally, that moral panics don’t generally work for us; they work for the other side. Because moral panics are a good strategy for increasing state regulation, but a poor strategy for decreasing it. Because sensitised persons seek greater protection; and that protection invariably comes by increasing the State, as it is the only available, or at least only presented, means of furnishing such protections.

    In other words, libertarians naively using a moral panic strategy are likely to have it blow up in our faces.

    As an example, enviromentalism increases the State by increasing the population’s sensitivity to pollution. A libertarian attempting to use pollution sensitivity against the State- e.g. a moral panic about government buildings discharging effluents is likely to result merely in more environmental regulation, rather than the removal of the government buildings.

    The sexual puritans- a major group of the Proggie logroll- use sexual sensitivities to introduce all manner of pernicious regulation, particularly intervening in family life, censorship, control of the workplace, sexual harrassment laws, ad nauseam. A moral panic like this based on sexual sensitivity is thus likely to merely strengthen that statist cause, rather than weaken it. We will pay in the end with more regulation. It makes it ever harder to argue against that general body of state regulation of personal interactions when grown men are wailing in the corner about somebody touching their wee-wee. We need to dismantle their narratives, not reinforce them by using them ourselves.

  • Laird

    Well, at least now I understand your point, silly as it is. Thanks.

    You point being along the lines of “if you lie down with dogs you’ll get up with fleas.” Certainly true in some cases, but I’m not convinced so here. If I’m bothered by some strangers fondling my wee-wee ostensibly in the name of “airline security”, and I seek to limit their power to do so, I can’t see how you can twist that into a basis for increased governmental power. Power to limit its own power? Sorry, but I find that nonsensical.

    We might just have reached a tipping point where moral panics actually reverberate on the side of liberty. The heavy hand of the state is weighing more and more oppressively upon us, and people are awakening to that fact. And that’s a good thing, whatever the triggering mechanism.

  • Dishman

    Laird, my point was, generally, that moral panics don’t generally work for us; they work for the other side. Because moral panics are a good strategy for increasing state regulation, but a poor strategy for decreasing it.

    I don’t think it’s entirely a function of the strategy. Part of the advantage the Statists have is that they’re more willing to use strategies in the first place.

    I think it works better for us when the object of the panic is Leviathan itself.

  • Paul Marks

    As many have said….

    Simply ask the pro Obama crowd the following….

    “How would you react if it was BUSH ordering his security thugs to grope you and your family?”

  • Paul Marks

    As for security in general:

    It should be up to the private owners of airports (they should be privately owned) and airlines.

    The TSA should not exist – and nor should the government be telling people what security measures to take on their own private property.

    It should be between the companies and their customers.

    Nor is this really about “security” – it is about demonstrating POWER.

    Barack Obama could not give a toss whether a few hundred Americans are blown up by terrorist bombs or not (newsflash – he HATES Americans and always has, his mother did before him, as did his childhood mentor as did ……..), but he is interested in demonstating power (in getting people used to OBEYING).

    If he thinks he can get away with it.