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

Badge of ‘suspected terrorist’

A fascinating story. John Gilmore is incensed about the requirement of showing identification to fly. And he is furious about something that happened to him recently, when a lapel button landed him and his travelling companion on the tarmac.

My sweetheart Annie and I tried to fly to London today (Friday) on British Airways. We started at SFO, showed our passports and got through all the rigamarole, and were seated on the plane while it taxied out toward takeoff. Suddenly a flight steward, Cabin Service Director Khaleel Miyan, loomed in front of me and demanded that I remove a small 1″ button pinned to my left lapel. I declined, saying that it was a political statement and that he had no right to censor passengers’ political speech. The button, which was created by political activist Emi Koyama, says “Suspected Terrorist”. Large images of the button and I appear in the cover story of Reason Magazine this month, and the story is entitled “Suspected Terrorist”.

The narrative is good and the point made brilliantly. You can just picture the Station Manager who had to deal with the ‘unruly’ individuals, we all met her type at one time or another. The truth is that it is people at the ground level, so to speak, that help to impose the rules of a potential police state in the name of convenience and other peoples’ well-being. Without them even the most oppressive government would not last long…

Via Cassel: Civil Liberties Watch

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4 comments to Badge of ‘suspected terrorist’

  • ernest young

    A fascinating story?. I would not know who John Gilmore is, but I assume he was on day leave from the asylum when the incident happened.

    Another one of those ‘fifteen year old, going on forty’ types, who just can not resist being a smartass, to make a ‘supposeed political statement’.

    I would wager that he is in higher education, or some other dronish form of employment, the type who has nothing better to do than to try and look clever at others expense, and gets peevish when pulled up for his obvious stupidty.

    Just what political staement was he trying to make?, he seems more proud of the button being made by some designer button-maker, than in making any sort of political statement, a bit like a child with his first Mickey Mouse pin.

    The saying that comes to mind – “Little things please little minds…!”.
    What a waste of space he must be.

  • e young

    I have just taken the time to read the article on Cassel: Civil Liberty Watch.

    It confirms my original opinion that the fellow is just another egotistical, pompous jackass, with a very inflated opinion of himself.

    To suggest that he gets searched every time he flies, ‘because of his articles’, is comedic in the assumption that anyone else would know of him, or his adolescent articles. I and a lot of other folk get searched every time we fly, not because of our infamy, but because we have triggered the ‘wand’ for some reason, such as metal pins in limbs etc.

    Maybe he just looks suspicious, a good enough reason to be searched in my book, but then I do not think that profiling is wrong.

    I am sure his companion could have travelled without him, but maybe she felt that he should not be let out alone.

  • Given a world with, or without, John Gilmore – I would certainly opt for the former.

    He’s not exactly been a minor figure in these circles for the past several decades. You would do well to know your history a little bit more. Try researching him a little bit. If you still disagree with his actions that’s fine – but personal attacks on someone you obviously know nothing about isn’t the way to disagree.

    Now shouting ‘Fire’ in a crowded area is on the black side of The Line and The Line has a lot of grey areas. But I would hope that wearing a small button would always be well on the white side. I think that Mr Gilmore’s point is well made.

    I see far more offensive things printed on T-shirts every day. I smile when I see them because it’s good that those people are free do make fools of themselves.


  • e young

    Took your advice, and did a little research. I still feel my comments were valid, and the fact that I did not know all about Mr. Gilmore only adds validity to my comments, – I had no axe to grind, and my impression on reading his original article was as I commented.
    I would hardly laud his efforts by calling them ‘historic’, unless of course, you call being a semi-professional trouble maker a calling of merit.
    Such petty, small minded ‘nit-picking’, does more harm than good to the libertarian cause. Any fool can go around provoking and aggravating officialdom, after all, it is an easy target, and the folk who are in the front line probably do not have the benefit of the sort of eucation that JG had.
    It is just that this whingeing, slightly ‘whacky’, type of article, gives more ammunition to people who already think of Libertarians as strange.
    Having said all of that, good luck to him, (and you, for your stout defense), but if you do not want critisism, do not go public, or if you do, have the grace to allow me my ounce of critisism.