Thursday, November 18, 2010

Freedom or Security?

We have, in this nation alone among the nations of the world, the unique opportunity to experience and maintain freedom. The thing of it is, that: "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." ~ Thomas Paine
It is our time to undergo the fatigues of supporting freedom. It is our time to insure that our soldiers do not come home to find that they are significantly less free then they were when they left.

One of the ways we support freedom is by resisting legislation that make us less free.

Legislation like S 510. The Food Modernization and Safety act which, while touting safety, may remove our ability to garden or buy food from local producers at farmer's markets and the like. The problem is not that people do not want their food to be safe, but rather that we believe ourselves able to make our own judgements regarding the safety of food from our gardens and local producers.

Legislation like the repeal of the military personnel eligibility act of 1993. This was unanimously approved by Congress less than ten years ago. Has our military or the world changed so significantly during those few years that this is a reasonable move? The bottom line is what will best serve the needs of our military, not what one special interest group, no matter how organized, wants. I rather imagine that there are groups within this nation that, were they organized, would constitute a larger segment of the population than this group, yet they are not organizing and demanding to be included in a military whose standards exempt them from service. Our military as it stands is the finest fighting force on this planet. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

One of the other ways we do our civic duty is to vote for our elected representatives. We are to vote for people who represent our values and who are of strong character. People who will not be swayed by political correctness or bribery or any thing other than what is best for our nation.(Or whatever level of government to which we are electing them.)

These examples show the ordinary actions needed to maintain our nation and it's freedoms. You call your elected representatives and let them know what you think. It's easy. It can be done with a minimum of fuss and time. Just a few minutes and you've done your duty. Voting takes a few hours out of every year to actually cast a vote and a minimum of research to decide for whom that vote should be cast. This is when it is easy to fulfill your duty as a citizen of this, most free of all nations.

This next example is about when it is not so easy. The TSA was established as a reaction to a terrible attack on our nation. The goal of the TSA is to prevent another such incident from taking place. However, the TSA has overstepped it's bounds by quite a bit. The authority of a federal agency may not exceed the Constitutional limits put upon the federal government itself and the TSA has done so.

In initiating these new screening procedures, as well as some that are probably not so new, by my count, the TSA has violated no less than three Constitutional amendments when they elect to put someone through the more stringent screening. Here is what I understand the procedure to entail.

  1. The TSA selects an individual to go through extra screening, for a variety of reasons, all of which involve some degree of profiling. (Everything from "the metal detector beeped" to They were wearing a competing team's football Jersey" to "she was good looking" are among the reasons I have heard and I'm sure there are others.)
  2. That individual is taken aside and asked to either go through a machine which will perform a virtual strip search or be subjected to an "enhanced" pat-down which includes the TSA agent touching intimate body parts, or possibly both. Possibly in full view of their fellow passengers.
  3. Once an individual has been moved into the special screening area, they are subject to a fine of up to $10,000 if they leave before submitting to these procedures.

Now let's look at the amendments which, in my opinion, are broken by this procedure.

Amendment IV
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.

I don't believe that a virtual strip search or intimate groping are reasonable searches when the only reason for the search is that the individual has chosen to travel by a form of mass transit rather in their personal vehicle. Nor have I seen or heard of any accounts where the TSA produced a warrant to search anyone.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

I think hijacking an airliner or attempting to do so would constitute a capital or otherwise infamous crime. If an individual is not allowed to leave the screening area without being subject to a fine, that demonstrates that the individual so selected has been presumed guilty. This is without a trial of any sort. Forcing an individual to go through this sort of invasive screening is also the equivalent to forcing the individual to testify against themselves if they cannot afford the fine for leaving.
(In addition, the definition of sexual assault in many states is something along the lines of unwanted touching under coercion or threat of force. I think the threat of a $10,000 fine qualifies as coercion in my book.)

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

$10,000 dollars for refusing to fly if you must subject yourself to these screening procedures and leave the screening area before they have been inflicted on you. You have not been tried, nor convicted of a crime, merely decided not to have your privacy invaded for the convenience of flying. This fine, in my opinion, is excessive. It demonstrates as well that the government considers you to be guilty of a crime for merely entering an airport and deciding not to fly. We are not under martial law here. There is no epidemic that would restrict people from traveling wherever they want, so there is no justification for these procedures.

Oh some may argue that we are in a time of public danger. I assert that we have never had a time when terrorists did not have the ability or inclination to attack us. Indeed, there have been many attacks before the tragedy of 9/11 against this nation both abroad and on US soil. Why are these procedures more necessary/acceptable now? Simply because that was a spectacular event? Or simply because we are more aware of a threat that has always existed? I submit that it is the second and further, that these procedures do not make us any more safe than we were before they were implemented. We the People need to demonstrate that a free people does not give up their unalienable rights over such threats. That we are willing and able to stand against terrorism of any sort. And that we can defend ourselves without resorting to a police state.

It is our duty, our civic duty, as American citizens, to stand up to the TSA and refuse to allow them to violate our Constitutional rights. You do not give them up when you purchase a ticket or walk into the airport. They are unalienable. Yes, this will be scary and inconvenient. Blood has been shed to protect these very freedoms. We owe those who shed that blood the duty of being inconvenienced to protect what they have paid so dearly to provide for us.

The choice is ours: Freedom or Security?
Bear in mind that no one is really safe if they are not free.

"And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. "~ Acts 22:28


DR said...

If only more Americans thought like you. I will never understand why so many Conservatives will voluntarily give away their freedom as long as it is during a wartime.

I have become more and more Libertarian over the years because I have noticed that in the name of national security the Republicans are just as guilty of assaulting our liberties as the Liberals during peacetime. Great article as usual.

Call Me Mom said...

Thanks DR.
Our freedom is so precious.
My blog may be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but I will continue to be an irate, tireless minority, so long as God is willing to allow me that role.