J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California                                             July 25, 2005
Flying The Friendly Skies
This Is America?
Published in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty - July 2002
by Professor James R. Otteson

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 small children?

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!"

I asked 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 products.

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. ...

The 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.

James Otteson is a professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama.

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?
-Ron Branson
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