give ‘em the little finger, and you’ve given them both hands.

Oleg has an image up that references the new full-body scanners they have at some airports.  He ponders the dangers of incrementalism, and asks how long it will be until we see those scanners outside of airports as well.

This is one of the things that have frustrated me about the supposedly pro-liberty leaning conservative crowd since 9/11: the inability to see the inevitable consequences of granting such “limited” government power.

The problem here is not one of incrementalism, it’s one of principle.  Understand this: every time you grant the government a power that’s restricted in its scope or duration, you grant them that power indefinitely and universally.  When you give them the power to use those body scanners at airports to keep us all safe from them thar terr’ists, you have acquiesced the principle of the thing.  If it’s not an infringement of Suzy Q. Homemaker’s privacy to get a full body scan at O’Hare, it’s not an infringement of her privacy to get one at the corner of Main and State, or when walking into her local Federal building to get her passport renewed, or even when ending up in a traffic stop or midnight sobriety checkpoint.  They say it’s “only against Group XYZ”, and “only limited in duration/scope”, but the nature of the beast is that those powers always end up being used pretty much any way the authorities want to use them.

(Don’t believe me?  Look up “asset forfeiture abuses”, or the creeping expansion of RICO, a set of laws that was only supposed to be used against organized crime racketeering.  Hell, if you want to have a good example of the Fed’s tendency to fashion any even remotely vague Constitutional phrase into a universal adapter for applying Federal authority, just read up on the history of the Amazing Expanding Interstate Commerce Clause.)

When you hand the Feds a shiny new power under the condition that it only be used against “those people”, they’ll waste very little time either expanding the definition of “those people”, or taking the Supreme Court out for a beer and having them rule that the restriction on that shiny power isn’t valid, anyway.  And they’re right, of course, because when you’ve already conceded the bedrock of principle, you’re standing on the quicksand of expediency.

Never, ever consent to giving the government a power you do not want to see used against yourself—because sooner or later, it will apply to you as well.  If you’re all for full-body scanners at O’Hare and Dulles, I don’t want to hear a single fucking word out of you when they go up at State and Main, or when every cop car in the country has a portable Nude-O-Vision mounted on the front dash.


31 thoughts on “give ‘em the little finger, and you’ve given them both hands.

  1. Aaron says:

    As if a virtual strip search weren’t bad enough, is doesn’t take a great deal of skill in mayhem and chaos for a potential suicide bomber to circumvent. Not only are there already moldable explosives of roughly the same density as human flesh that one could make appear to simply be a small gut, half the people getting on airplanes these days do so with electronic devices with high density batteries. Wouldn’t take much of an electrical engineer to detonate the stored energy contained therein.

    So we’ve, once again, sacrificed our privacy and our DIGNITY for an illusion of security.

  2. Heath J says:

    Well said, sir.

  3. anonymous says:

    Right but wrong, imo.

    No one could argue with a straight face that all of the measures taken to prevent foreign attack, whether external or internal, are well-advised or even sensical, or that many of them don’t end up being used to inconvenience or even harass those that they are intended to protect.

    But keeping us safe from “them thar terr’ists” is exactly what we and the Framers hired and empowered .gov to do. While it might seem so, expansion and abuse of granted powers is certainly not inevitable. And that is where Oleg is exactly right and you are exactly wrong; it is absolutely a function of incrementalism and not basic principle, that powers intended to protect from real threat from without segue into abuse within. And to the degree that the Supremes are bribed or seduced into complicity, we, all of us, are responsible for the blurring of the lines between the branches.

    And much of your argument is erroneous on the face of it and perhaps disingenuous at the heart of it…all of your parenthetical examples (forfeiture, RICO, interstate commerce) pertain to questionable policies of domestic enforcement and have little or nothing to do with foreign threat…apples and oranges.

    Never, ever consent to allowing the government a power to perform its (arguably singular) Constitutional function out of fear that *incrementalism* will find that same power being used against its citizens? That is to say that the Army, Air Force, and Marines may be called up to attack any of us at any time for any perceived infraction of domestic law.

    And while that can happen -has happened-…it is a function of illegal abuse of power (and incrementalism) that we allow to occur, and not one of the principle of governmental duty to protect the USA and its citizens from foreign terrorism and attack, whether from despotic nations or demonic groups.

    Al Terego

    • Marko Kloos says:

      I don’t need the fucking government to defend me from the Jihadis, Al. I need it to patrol the coasts, pick up the trash, and stop keeping me from defending *myself*. The War on Terror is another perfect example of the government’s tendency to break the legs of its citizens, and then hand them crutches, and say, “See? Without us, you wouldn’t be able to walk!”

      Terrorism is a law enforcement issue much more than a military issue. Any measure you approve to fight Jihadis will by definition be used against domestic lawbreakers. If that’s cool with you, then enjoy the ride, because I guarantee you that you’ve just gotten a bit of a preview. You can’t ever totally eliminate the threat of some wackadoos shooting up a mall or hijacking some public transportation, so the ratchet is going to keep on cranking, until we’re all treated as potential wackadoos everywhere we go.

      • Dave says:

        Speak for yourself. I don’t even need them to pick up the trash–I have a private contractor to do that for me.

        Otherwise, you’re right on the mark. And just think how much “protecting” they’re going to do now to “protect their interest” in your health!

    • ATLien says:

      Sorry, my man. The Framers were quite wary of a professional army.

      “What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. . . .Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.”
      —- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, VP of the United States 1813-1814, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, August 17, 1789.

      • Anonymous says:

        The founders probably would have considered our various modern police forces to be standing armies as well.

  4. Might want to look into what happened after they passed the “USA Fascism Patriot Act several years ago. The FBI immediately began using their shiny new tools on on-terrorism investigations. They haven’t just been using those thousands of National Security Letters to find terrorists.

    • Mo says:

      Exactly. Now that we are well on our way to becoming the USSA (United Socialist States of America) there is little doubt that those of us who prefer to make our own way without the aid of the nanny state will be viewed as subversive. Giving the political elite the power to detain without trial, restrict my travel or defend myself without being formally accused or having a method of recourse and/or vindication. It is too much power for anyone, regardless of political ilk.

  5. Heath J says:

    Khrushchev is laughing his ass off, wherever he is..

  6. anonymous says:

    Don’t know why the hell you need fedgov to pick up your trash, but more to the point why you want the coasts patrolled if it’s not to intercept potential foreign threats; wouldn’t they just instead jack you up for taking lobster out of season?

    “…the ratchet is going to keep on cranking, until we’re all treated as potential wackadoos everywhere we go.”

    Last time I saw that ratchet metaphor it was to reinforce the notion of “government by sedimentation”…incrementalism. And denying that was the point of the post, yes?

    That’s why I used the term disingenuous before; it seemed to me that your real point was to rail against the effort -any effort- to intercept “jihadis”. While the measures taken so far would be largely laughable if it weren’t for their misuse against our own citizens, much of that has been to avoid accusations of profiling, but profiling is exactly what is most effective and most needed; maybe then the doofi that man the airports wouldn’t be forced to electronically stripsearch my grandmother.

    You may feel yourself quite capable of defending yourself from jihadis or even jedi who’ve crossed to the dark side, but I’m not sure how you expect to deal with Iran or N. Korea if and when they send in their operatives. And like it or not, at least in my fairly strict interpretation of libertarianism, it is the one and only job of federal government to do exactly that.

    Of course an expanded definition of your allowable function to patrol borders is essentially what is being half-assed done right now at the airports isn’t it? We just need to quit the namby-pamby p.c. bullshit and unapologetically target the real wackadoos.

    And that, sir, was *my* point.


  7. Rusty P. Bucket says:

    Hi all ~Well written Munchkin and entirely true. It is a excellent example of how a feller can b e completely right and still be entirely wrong.

    The sad fact is that if we allow moslems from countrys that hate us to fly on our airplanes they will blow them up. That is the reality. Or they will fly them into sky scrapers. Even the most peaceful moslem is sworn to defend his faith with blood, and enforce it on others at the blade of a sword aswell.

    Your libertarian values will only work among other libertarians or in civilized society that has a certain amount of respect for the individual. They will not necessarily work among 7th century savages that worship a pedo prophit, treat their women like dirt, and hang queers and adulterers as a spectater sport. The libertarian nonaggression principal g ives their enemies the first shot – which is fatal when dealing with ignorant war like people. That is why there has never been a successsful libertarian state in history! Our enemies respect the individual far less than even the democrats do, they actively promote and practice slavery, racism and deceit in their home countries and they are going to bring that crap here with them – aided largely by well meaning libertarians that don’t understand them and the threat they pose.

    The fact is you libertarians are directly responsible for these damnable machines. Your respect for the individual has us chasing our tails looking for bombs when we should be looking for bombers. Racial profiling is a valid law enforcement tool, and the only real answer is to not let moslems get near our planes at all. It would be racist as hell but it would be far more effective too.

    I say that if you really are about freedom – then flying should not be a right – if my airline doesn’t want to take passengers it thinks may be risky, it shouldn’t have to. If that means keeping smelly morons with rags on their heads off – they can fly on their own airplanes and blow them up to make political points!

    I am fine with the scanners, provided that these goat raping morons have to go through them too. Get Abdul’s seven potato sack clad wives to go through those things and let it all hang out I say! Run the baboons with their drugs shoved up their orifices to go through them too! And if some perv at the airport is getting his jollies looking at the nudies me and the old bitch from down the street will teach him a lesson – look at our naughty old parts and try and keep your lunch down dipchit, Ha ha!!!

    (Sorry for the ghastly mental image that one brings up for the innocent women children and civilians.)

    • Dave says:

      Rusty, I’ve never met anybody with a more appropriate name, and self-chosen to boot!

      Here, let me help you fill that bucket.

    • Tam says:

      Skipped the Metamucil again today, did we, Rusty?

    • Kristopher says:

      Libertarians are somehow responsible for terrorism?


      El Al does it’s own private security. They simply make a point of knowing who their customers are.

      The underwear bomber tried a dry run on an El Al flight … and El Al, although unable to prove anything, parked an armed agent next to him, who spent the entire flight glaring at him.

      When he later tried to blow up an aircraft, he picked one the TSA was in charge of “protecting” instead.

  8. Rusty P. Bucket says:

    Why, I am absolutely fine this morning Tammy! Aging like a fine wine ha ha ha!

    I suppose most of this is a matter of perspective. A young hot tart like you might view being publicly exposed alot differently than a skinny old buzzard like me!

    I’m sorry, I shouldn’t tease the kids. If you kids want to think of this as a rights thing and get all shrill and hissy about i t then try this: as an airline owner I have the right to protect my plane and customers. Part of the way I will do it is with these scanners and other security checks. If you don’t like it, fly with somebody else. Or drive.

    My rights are not violated one iota by your choosing to drive rather than fly. In fact, I am just fine with these things now that I have thoroughly thought the issues through.

    • Tam says:

      It doesn’t bother you that they can see your wrinkly “Do it to Julia!” tattoo?

      If you don’t like it, fly with somebody else. Or drive.

      Been doing that since long before this latest round of nonsense. I refuse to pay money to be treated like cattle. Those of you with no more personal dignity than a whipped cur are free to give your money to whomever you please, of course.

      • Kristopher says:

        I’m taking a vacation on Australia this fall … I’ll be flying from Vancouver BC.

        Yes, I’m will to drive up there to avoid having to deal with the TSA.

        • Jake says:

          have fun with the US border patrol coming back home.

        • Kristopher says:

          ICE agents are far more polite than TSA.

          You have to deal with them when traveling abroad anyway. This way, I only have to deal with the ones protecting us from the evils of Canada.

        • Jake says:

          (rats, I have reached the nesting depth limitation – this is a reply to Kristopher, not to myself!)

          in my experience – living near the Mexican border where inland checkpoints are the norm, and driving rented vehicles a lot – the border patrol is a lot nastier and a lot more arbitrary than the TSA.

          there is a sign on interstate 8 proudly counting the annual totals racked up by the local border patrol inland checkpoint, of illegal aliens found, drugs seized, and people on outstanding warrants arrested… precisely one of those three is actually the ICE’s job, and none of those tasks are to be done on solid US soil.

          if they really want a nice high number to tack on their chart, they should start a count for “people harassed in violation of their constitutional rights”.

  9. Mister_V says:

    The technology’s useful out to about 50 yards. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

    • Ken says:

      It’s spooky all right, but don’t let it spook you (I’d allow as to how a prudent concern is warranted). This being a writer’s free ice cream stand, I’ll support my argument with a few lines by one of my favorites, the great John Buchan, in Greenmantle (the speaker is Pieter Pienaar, an Afrikaaner):

      “You see, I have been wicked in my time and know something about the inside of prisons. You may build them like great castles, or they may be like a backveld tronk, only mud and corrugated iron, but there is always a key and a man who keeps it, and that man can be bested.”

      There is always a key and a man who keeps it, and that man can be bested.

    • Heath J says:

      Oldschool limpet mine…

  10. Nathan says:

    “If you kids want to think of this as a rights thing and get all shrill and hissy about i t then try this: as an airline owner I have the right to protect my plane and customers. Part of the way I will do it is with these scanners and other security checks.”

    Yeah, one small problem, though, Rusty. The airline owner doesn’t own the scanners, and doesn’t blacklist you from flying or toss you in the hoosegow for not passing the scan test. The fedgov does. That security station between the main concourse and your gate isn’t run by the airlines for their own protection. It’s run by the feds, and the airlines don’t have a say in the matter.

    If the tech was privately owned and truly used by airlines to protect their investment and their patrons, I’d have a hard time arguing with you; after all, some airlines might choose to go without scanners and allow me to carry with frangible ammunition on their flights instead. I’d frankly feel safer on such a flight. Not that fedgov would let me, but that’s another story.

    As long as the fedgov controls access to private airlines, I fly as infrequently as humanly possible.

  11. staghounds says:

    Actually the “this is a choice” argument is a bit muddled.

    True, you have no “right” to fly. And true, your deal with the air line is a private contract.

    BUT, the TSA stuff is something requires of the airline.

    The fourth amendment issue doesn’t matter on the airport PASSENGER scanner yet. It WILL become an issue at the courthouse steps, and again at Main Street.

  12. staghounds says:

    Two things. First, the Supreme Court has sort of dealt with this issue on broadcast or causeless observations,and it comes down to reasonable expectation of privacy in connection with the device used. Eyeglasses, binoculars, and aircraft in lawfyl airspace (Ciraollo) may be used without constitutional implication, but not heat sensors (Kyllo).

    Second, the issue doesn’t come up on airport passenger scanners, as the passengers choose to submit.

    Actually the “this is a choice” argument is a bit muddled.

    True, you have no “right” to fly. And true, your deal with the air line is a private contract.

    BUT, the TSA stuff is something requires of the airline.

    The fourth amendment issue doesn’t matter on the airport PASSENGER scanner yet. It WILL become an issue at the courthouse steps, and again at Main Street.

    It’s funny. I well remember sitting in law school criminal procedure class twenty years ago discussing the possibility that some sort of gun or drug detection instrument might be developed that could be used on passers by.

    The huge majority believed that it could never happen. A few of us knew it was only a matter of time.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    I value my freedom over my safety.

    And given that TSA or .gov cannot guarantee anyone’s safety at any time, it’s not even a balanced trade off from the start.

    Even if they could, they can sod off. It’s my right to decide my personal level of risk.

  14. Skip says:

    Not anymore.

  15. Larry says:

    Well, if you aren’t doing anything wrong you should have nothing to hide…

Comments are closed.