Sunday, November 7, 2010

Public Masters, not Public Servants

If you ever needed proof that the government views us as its subjects, rather than its masters, consider the way the TSA has rolled out its latest security screening procedures:
"While I was in the room for “private screening,” Kathy and other travelers watched in embarrassment and horror as a sweet-faced, white-haired, old woman with an artificial hip and a long skirt (she had the calm and grace of a nun) was subjected to the same treatment from a female TSA agent, who warned her loudly in advance that she was going to touch “breasts” and “genitals.” When offered the “private screening” room, the lady hesitated. Everybody knows that when the government wants to take you into a private room at the airport, it’s not going to be good. So of course the woman chose to be violated and humiliated in public, with witnesses."
In the tradeoff between civil liberties and national security, I tend to generally side with the national security concerns. Reasonable people disagree on these points, and libertarians often make very persuasive cases for protecting civil rights, even if they're less open on what exactly the tradeoff is in terms of security.

But whatever my views are, they are secondary to a more basic principle - the tradeoff between civil liberties and security is one for the people to decide. It is not for bureaucrats to decide on our behalf.

Witness the bald-faced contempt with which the TSA holds you and I. Why would they just announce regulations that force surly, rude TSA rent-a-cops to touch people's genitals in public?

Simple. To force people to instead choose the alternative of having their genitals visible via x-ray to other surly, rude TSA rent-a-cops in another room.

Yes, you read that right. People were objecting to these new devices. The bureaucrat's response? Not modify the devices. Not eliminate them, or hold public hearings to evaluate alternatives and the prospective national security benefits. No, just make the alternatives even worse.

Can you imagine a more open contempt for citizens? It's as if Microsoft were to greet the widespread complaints about Windows Vista by announcing 'Hmm, people don't seem to like Vista, huh? Well, let's forcibly remove all versions of XP and Windows 2000 so their only choices are Windows 3.1 or Vista!'

At some point, enough is enough. I am not interested in granting $10-an-hour cro-magnons powers of genital groping, cavity searches, or electronic strip searches in a dubious furtherance of national security issues, especially when the need for such powers has not even been demonstrated.

Somebody needs to be fired for this. Preferably the whole TSA. Contract it out to people who actually lose money when their customers are outraged, rather than viewing it as an excuse to make things even worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment