Fear Not.


Synchronicity. Two interesting posts from 10:48 this morning:

TSA: when the abnormal becomes normal by Lisa Simeone at TSA News, and Be Thankful And Fearful And Know Your Place, Citizen by Ken at Popehat.

Here’s Simeone:

Things that were once unthinkable become accepted, both by the people doing them and by those on the receiving end.

This slow habituation is often called conditioning, or grooming. It’s not a new concept, it’s not a difficult concept, and people have no problem understanding it in lots of situations.

She’s talking about TSA’s crimes. “People are being conditioned, and they’re accepting — nay, embracing — that conditioning. I don’t know how else to put it but that they’re getting exactly what they asked for.”

Ken explains, in a slightly different context (the story of the man who, walking hand-in-hand with his young daughter, is accosted by a police officer because some Mrs. Grundy “saw something and said something”) some of the hows and whys of the grooming that we’re asking for:

There’s a few problematical trends going on here. The first is the sick culture of fear, encouraged by the media (because fear is lucrative, and accurate contextual reporting is hard) and by law enforcement and politicians (because fear leads to more power for them). That culture has led us to accept, uncritically, the existence of an ever-growing level of danger to ourselves and our children, even if actual evidence supports the opposite. The second problematical trend is the culture of self-esteem and self-congratulation — the notion that our feelings (including feelings of irrational fear and suspicion) are to be coddled and celebrated and treated as legitimate whether or not they are premised on fact. Law enforcement and politicians deliberately harness this phenomenon through the “if you see something, say something” campaign, which explicitly encourages people to indulge in flights of fancy about how innocent and innocuous events might be sinister. The third problematical trend is the “Think of the Children!” mentality, the regrettably widely accepted premise that things done to protect children ought not be questioned, even if the things are utterly irrational and have no actual salutary effect on the well-being of children. Finally, the fourth problematical trend is the culture of entitlement among cops — the feeling that mere civilians ought to take what they dish out, shut up, and like it.

“I think,” writes Ken, “that we have been terrified into a lamentably cringing and servile condition.”

I suspect that he is correct. If you believe TSA Deputy Administrator John Halinski, everything is peachy and nobody is complaining (Philip Weber at TSA News).

My kids would like to be able to hop on a plane and go somewhere. I would like them to be able to. My refusal to allow them to submit to TSA’s authority is frustrating to them. “Dad, you’re like one of those crazy guys who talks about aliens.” (I think “conspiracy theorists” was what she was trying to get at.)

I don’t know if it does any good for me to refuse to fly out of US airports. It may make no difference whatsoever. But if everyone followed suit, the airlines would grow some backbone and back TSA down, so the categorical imperative requires me to do it.

The next alternative—”I’ll fly, but if they want to scope or grope any of us we’ll turn around and leave”—strikes me as amoral at best, and potentially immoral. Most people don’t get assaulted by TSA; even if the odds are that we never will, we have a moral obligation to stand up for those who might be.

While I have little sympathy for parents whose kids are abused by TSA because the parents chose to fly, my own refusal to cooperate with TSA is not so much about potential assaults on my loved ones—refusal to fly is probably not a rational response to that particular risk (“purity / sanctity” is not a strong moral foundation with me, and odds are that we would never have any problems, so the impact and probability of the risk are both small)—as about the actual assault on our liberty and our children’s liberty and their children’s liberty.

It’s about trying to stop the grooming, and at the very least not cooperating with it.

It’s about continuing to warn people, any way I can, that they are being groomed, turned from citizens into subjects of whom is expected “unquestioning compliance.”

It’s about just maybe staving off disaster for a little longer.


5 responses to “Fear Not.”

  1. I don’t think you can turn around and leave. From everything I’ve heard and read, once you get to the screening, you WILL be screened, if it requires 3 guys to hold you down while the fourth gropes and wands you.

  2. Ross, not true; you CAN refuse to be screened. Read Sommer Gentry’s account of doing so and leaving the airport rather than be sexually assaulted. It’s at TSA News Blog (dot com) and is titled “How to stand up to the TSA and say ‘no’.” Written November 21, 2011.

    Mark, I, too, have stopped flying. Took the last flight of my life in September 2010, just before the Reign of Molestation was implemented nationwide. I’ve been urging a boycott of the airlines till I’m blue in the face, and I won’t shut up about it, no matter how many know-nothings want me to.

    Economic boycotts works. The civil rights movement wouldn’t have succeeded without them. Marches and protests and beatings alone wouldn’t do it. MLK, et. al. knew that. (So did Gandhi.) If all those of us who can stop flying would do so, we’d bring the airlines to their knees in a matter of months. Then things would change. The airlines are complicit in the TSA’s abuse. They’re getting special treatment for their own employees while telling their customers, in so many words, “Tough sh*t. We don’t care if you get abused, because we know you’ll take it and keep buying tickets.” Passengers are being played for suckers.

    But too many Americans don’t have the courage of their professed convictions. They’re fine with the abuse — as long as it happens to someone else.

  3. @Ross, I also turned around and left with no ramifications: Dallas-Fort Worth, 2/14/2005. I was a frequent flyer but am no more, since October 2010. @Mark, thank you for your support. I wear an artificial leg, and so cannot – ABSOLUTELY cannot – fly without being incredibly invaded on and about my person. Even after dozens of flights I found I was treated as a criminal – each time, every time. If you want to read my personal comedy of errors it can be found at http://tsanewsblog.com/586/news/tsa-abuse-has-been-going-on-for-years-heres-my-story/.

  4. Great choice of video! Thanks! It explains much…

    Now if I tell you that you suffer from delusions
    You pay your analyst to reach the same conclusions
    You live your life like a canary in a coalmine
    You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line
    Canary in a coalmine
    Canary in a coalmine
    Canary in a coalmine

    Yup, that sums it up! Ric

  5. I never thought of myself as amoral; tough to judge. I think I have more *principle* than 99% of 501c(3)-church-going Christians–and those principles include at their core non-aggression.

    At its heart, the NAP leads nicely to what could be characterized as moral behavior.

    So: *had* the TSA taken a shine to us on that fateful morning a few months ago when we flew to Mexico, I would have protested, and the four of us would have left.

    That act of protest–and seeing us leave–would no doubt have gob-smacked the slack-jawed masses milling around the security-theater. Would it have made any converts? I don’t know.

    Meantime–we got what we wanted, and I scowled at three TSA thugs.

    My only regret is having financially supported the airlines. I will say, however–it was Aero Mexico, not a domestic.

    You’ll be heartened to know I had your number spooled up on the cell phone, ready for a single click to connect.

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