AT CLAIRE BERLINSKI’S about airport security and the manifestly fucked-up street theater that is the TSA.
Me, I think the core problem is the same mistake that government makes over and over again — they are searching for contraband rather than looking at people.
Forget about rights, but focus on function for a moment.
Why does the government need to worry about drugs or guns? Does the presence or absence of either have any effect on the function of government or public safety? No. It is only the uses to which people put these things that matter. When a person is intoxicated and incapacitated thereby, he may do harm to his fellows. A person who holds a gun without the proper moral framework informing his actions may do harm to his fellows.
So, it is seen as proper for government, when such harm does eventuate, to sanction that behavior which causes the harm. (I argue that, unless and until the harm occurs, the government has no business meddling in matters, but many people argue that threat should be sufficient reason for the state to attempt to restrain threatening behavior. Me, I see that as a fool’s errand, but whatever.
But the actual physical object is irrelevant. It’s the human behavior that matters.
But governments, time and again, waste time, money, and energy chasing the elusive notion that, by banning contraband, it can control people’s behavior.
Here’s another thing: does the government have the need to know who you are? I argue not. All agents of the state need to know is that you are not a threat to either your fellows or to the agents of the state — although, far too much is made of the latter condition. It appears we have a lot of pussies in government service if dissing a cop can get you tasered or shot.
So, why check ID’s at the airport? All they need to know is that you are trustworthy — that you are NOT going to blow up the airplane. How does checking your driver’s license serve that? Of course, it doesn’t.
One of the commenters at Ricochet came close to the correct notion when he said we should intensely profile and interrogate everybody once, and then let those who pass slide through a less-intrusinve security check in the future. It seems to me that there is a wonderful business opportunity, here, if a way can be figured to check, certify, and attest to the trustworthiness of individuals, and that said certificates be made counterfeit resistant and bear secure biometrics as a check. The whole system could even be anonymous, thus getting around the 4th Amendment problems.
And, I should point out, this solution was offered in the hours after the 9/11 atrocities, while the smoke still billowed from lower Manhattan. To my mind, this demonstrates more clearly than anything else could that the intention of the tribunes of the people in Washington in creating the whole DHS edifice was not to enhance national security, but to bind tens of thousands more unionized government workers to the ruling class. As I said at the time.
Nothing that has occurred in the intervening decade has persuaded me otherwise.