Wednesday, June 15, 2005

BlogSmack: Pick your allies wisely ... if you can


If history demonstrates anything, it's that every lasting victory which the cause of liberty ever achieved was won for it by radicals. Every humiliation it ever suffered was inflicted, not by kings, dictators, or opposing parties, but by its own moderates and gradualists. -- L. Neil Smith


McQ at Questions and Observations steps in it with both feet this morning ... enough so that a detailed reply is necessary and then some. First, a disclaimer: It's entirely possible (even likely) that rather than taking a close look at the matter, McQ just browsed a couple of "mainstream media" accounts and took them without the requisite grain of salt. If so, well ... so? You should know better, McQ.

In the spotlight: The arrest of New Hampshire libertarian Russell Kanning for declining to display his internal passport to, and submit to a warrantless search by, the Travel Direktorat of Abteilung der Heimatsicherheit before boarding an aircraft.

"[F]irst," says McQ, "you don't have a 'right' to transportation. Transportation is provided privately and when you buy a ticket on an aircraft, for instance, you agree to the conditions of that sale, one of them being the requirement to show some form of identification and, if necessary, be searched in your person for weapons and contraband. If you buy a ticket knowing the conditions of sale and then refuse to comply with those conditions, the transportation company has every right to refuse you service."

All well and good -- and all irrelevant. It wasn't the transportation company that imposed the conditions. It wasn't the transportation company that demanded identification. It wasn't the transportation company that asserted the right to conduct a warrantless search. It wasn't the transportation company that "refused [Keene] service." And it wasn't the transportation company that arrested Russell Kanning. It was the US government in all of the foregoing except with respect to the actual arrest, and it was the county government in the last instance.

Continues McQ: "Now if you don't want to do such things, well, drive. ... No one will ask you for identification (unless you're caught breaking a traffic law), no one will search you."

I have to wonder if McQ has traveled by automobile in the last decade or more (and, if so, where he lives). I don't drive that much any more, but I've personally been pulled over, had identification demanded from me, and had my vehicle visually searched numerous times without any accusation that I had broken any law. As a matter of fact, once it was on the final stretch of road leading to an airport (Lambert Field in St. Louis), when some yahoos -- not military, presumably "TSA," casually pointing M16s at me -- demanded to see "my papers, please" at a roadblock. Try driving anywhere in southern California without being expected to constantly prove that you're not (gasp!) a Mexican (one time, I was on a US Marine Corps bus, full of US Marines ... and we were stopped just outside of San Diego and ordered to display our ID cards for CHP and the Border Patrol). I've been pulled over at random roadblocks and required to prove that I wasn't driving drunk. I've been pulled over at random roadblocks and required to prove that I wasn't carrying a bale of marijuana in the trunk. And, in my neighborhood, I can sit on my front porch and watch the police pull over, question and search "suspects" all day long for the "offense" of Driving While Black.

A brief segue into reader comments on McQ's post: "From what I understand, he was arrested for trespassing because he refused to leave private property," writes JWG. "... His wife makes it sound like he was arrested because he refused to be searched. Obviously, he had the right to refuse the search and just leave."

Well, no, he had a right to refuse the search and board the airplane.

Kanning wasn't arrested for trespassing because he was on, or refused to leave, private property -- Manchester airport is government-operated (there may some kind of "public-private partnership" of the type pioneered by Hitler involved, but job applicants are directed to City Hall). He was arrested for "trespassing" because charging him with the actual "offense" he's accused of committing would be problematic. There, um, may or may not be any law covering the ID requirement, and the search requirement is clearly and unambiguously unconstitutional.

The airlines and the government keep trying to blame each other for the fact that virtually every airport in America is crawling with government employees pawing the passengers, demanding their wallets and shoes, and stealing their stuff. The airlines say the government is forcing the requirements on them. The government says there aren't any such requirements and that it's the airlines doing it ... but when you get to the airport, it isn't a stewardess patting you down while she offers you a bag of peanuts, it's a thug flashing a federal government badge and drawing a federal government paycheck. That pretty much answers that question.

Fact time: 9/11 would never have happened -- could never have happened -- if it hadn't been for the precursor of these very policies, namely the US government's illegal and unconstitutional suppression of the right of the people (including, but not limited to, airline passengers) to keep and bear arms. No asshole jihadist would have even considered boarding those planes given reasonable odds that, as soon as he stood up and started waving a boxcutter and bloviating about Allah, he'd find himself looking down the snouts of several .357s. It was 19 terrorists who committed the atrocity, but the FAA was an accomplice before the fact. And the "solution?" More of the same idiocy that left hundreds of airline passengers (and thousands of victims on the ground) armed with nothing but cell phones (which they are now, by the way, legally forbidden to use in the air).

Back to McQ for the wrapup: "Its another in a long line of examples of self-declared libertarians shooting themselves in the foot." Yes, McQ, it is. You might want to call your podiatrist and have that thing looked at ... or maybe reconsider your self-declaration. The shoe doesn't seem to fit very well right now, with or without that .45 caliber sized hole you just put through it.

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