Flying The Friendly Skies
Several weeks ago in the airport in Traverse City,
Michigan, my wife, my children of 8, 5, and 3, and I were all "randomly"
selected for a complete search of all our belongings. I have never been subject
to more humiliating treatment in my life. We all—including my three-year-old
son—had to take off our shoes, and hand them over for "inspection." I had to
take off my sport coat and belt as well; and I had to hand over my wallet for it
to be—well, who knows?
I made my usual protest about protections from
unreasonable searches and seizures, but they fell on deaf ears. "We're just
following orders," I was told. That was the defense Nazi war criminals used, I
said. Following orders does not relieve you of responsibility for your own
actions. "Are you calling me a Nazi?" one demanded. "You call me a Nazi again
and you're never getting on that plane!"
Whose orders are you following?
"The FAA's." The FAA has instructed you to detain and search innocent American
citizens and their families? "Where have you been lately, buddy? Haven't you
heard of what happened in New York?" But wasn't that tragedy, like most
terrorist activities against America, perpetrated by people who were not
native-born American citizens, and who were not traveling with their wives and
By this point I was surrounded by approximately half a
dozen security guards and several armed National Guardsmen. I was informed that
if I did not "shut up," I would be made to "go Greyhound the rest of [my] life."
I asked whether I was suspected of a crime. I was informed that asking so many
questions "about the Constitution and all" was making me suspicious. "This is
America now, buddy. You better shut up and get used to it!"
whether they now intended not only to violate my right to be free of arbitrary
searches and seizures, but also my right to free speech. I was then told—through
clenched teeth—that if I said "one more word," they were going to "lock me up"
and make me "go Greyhound the rest of [my] life." "I have that power," one
security guard growled at me ominously.
My children were frightened and
on the verge of tears, and my wife, also growing uneasy, implored me to simply
let them do what they wanted to do. So after a tense moment I stood aside,
escorted by two armed National Guardsmen, while several security guards searched
through our bags. I had to stand by silently while all of our things were taken
out and examined, no doubt with extra thoroughness to punish me for my
impudence. My shirts, pants, and socks were unfolded. A man with no gloves on
rifled through my wife's intimates; he even fingered through her feminine
After some 20 minutes of searching, they finished, and allowed
us to go up the one flight of stairs and walk the 50 feet to our gate, where one
of the very same people who had searched us downstairs now searched us again
before we were allowed to get on the plane. ...
...[T]he new security
measures being adopted, which do not increase security and instead serve only to
inconvenience law-abiding Americans, are quickly stamping out the last vestiges
of reasonableness — not to mention liberty — at our airports. ...
invasive and unconstitutional tactics of such airport security are an alarmingly
large step toward creating just the kind of totalitarian society our enemies
hope to create. We must not let it continue.
Otteson is a professor of philosophy at the University of
Why do we Americans fear
the enemy taking over our country? Well, you say, "If the enemy took us
over, they would take away our freedoms and strip us of our
liberties inherent in being American citizens. The enemy would subject
us to searches and potential seizures of our property at whim as we moved about
our country. Everything we did would be under close scruntiny, and we would be
forced to surrender our privacy at every check-point.
Further, we would be
forced to carry identification papers everywhere we went, and to produce them to
our enemies on demand, or face arrest. No one would feel safe or secure in
the presence of our enemies." Hmmmm, need I say more? Think about what was
just said. Where are our courts when we need them?
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