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Rights, limits, and not getting blown up

Have you heard the latest holiday trend? If you choose to fly this year, the TSA will either irradiate and take a naked picture of you OR perform an invasive physical exam where every part of your body, or your child’s body, is touched and prodded. Merry Christmas!

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So, some people are, um, upset with this, including me. Others say that, while not pleasant, it’s the cost we pay to not get blown up. (Some are thrilled about the new procedures, but I prefer to pretend those people don’t exist.) One of the most prominent arguments is articulated by Jazz Shaw who says we have no right to fly, and this is necessary for security.
To the first argument: Do we have a right to fly? Yes and no. We have a right to engage in commercial transactions and to travel if we can provide the means for ourselves. But, no, we don’t have a right specifically to fly. Otherwise people who can’t afford to buy a ticket be eligible for “plane stamps.” (Oh, great. I hope I didn’t just give somebody a bright idea.) No one has a right to fly. Not nuns, not three-year-olds, not even Penn Jillette.
However, the appropriate question isn’t “Do we have a ‘right’ to fly,” but rather, “What are the limits of government?”
The pro-grope position is: since we don’t have a “right” to fly, our Fourth Amendment rights aren’t valid. The government subjecting us to radiation, taking naked pictures taken of us and/or being feeling us up all violate the 4th amendment which limits governments ability to search and seize (and grope) our persons and property. It doesn’t matter if some people are okay with naked pictures or being groped by a stranger, it violates the 4th amendment. That’s the line the government doesn’t get to cross.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
The key word here is “unreasonable.” If we say the 4th amendment doesn’t apply to these invasive procedures, then really there is no limit to what the government can do to us in an airport. “We need this to protect us, so I’m okay with naked pictures and being felt up.” What happens when we cross the line of what you aren’t okay with? Strip searches? Tossing your bags? Detention? Does that violation of your rights change things, or is there no limit to the governments power to debase and humiliate travelers?
The second argument is we need to surrender our rights and our dignity to keep us safe, but that’s not what is happening. Randomly searching people is like the firefighters picking an address out of the phone book and hoping there’s a fire when they get there. We’re surrendering our rights and our dignity so government officials can cover their butts by exposing ours. No terrorist have been apprehended in TSA examinations. If they had been, TSA would have big ol’ billboards in front of every airport proclaiming that fact. Terrorists have been stopped via security agencies here and abroad and through passengers now forced to surrender their dignity with their ticket purchase, but not the TSA.
If we do indeed lose our constitutional rights in order to procure our security upon entering an airport, then we should demand actions that actually make us more secure. Ditch random checks of persons and bags by technology that can or will soon be circumvented and adopt the Israeli method of profiling behavior or other risk-based approaches. Oh, but we can’t do that because it violates civil rights. So let’s violate your civil rights by virtual strip searches and groping everyone from toddlers to the nuns. Do ya see the problem there?
Very simply, if we do not have a right to fly without our rights being violated, then at least “violate” our rights to some purpose. Although I disagree that profiling passengers behavior, origin, and destination violates anyone’s rights. And, at the very least, those “violations” would be far more likely to stop terrorists than manhandling three-year-olds and nuns.

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