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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,589

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Concerning Senator Schumer's proposal for a TSA passenger advocate at all airports

In the aftermath of the three elderly women who have complained that they were strip searched at JFK Airport recently, Senator Schumer has called for a passenger advocate to be placed at all airports, who could intervene in cases where passengers felt they were being treated improperly. (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/schumer-calls-for-passenger-advocate-program-to-aid-in-complaints-against-tsa/2011/12/11/gIQA30LNoO_story.html ).

I have no quarrel with Senator Schumer's proposal for a passenger advocate, per se, but I think it falls far short of addressing the core problem that lies at the heart of these latest, as well as many of the prior, complaints concerning TSA abuses/excesses. Indeed, it is the same issue that underlies a number of current areas of concern involving law enforcement and public safety officials, areas of concern including, among others, the widespread militarization of municipal law enforcement agencies, inappropriate use of things like pepper spray and tasers against persons who pose no real threat either to the public or to law enforcement, excessive force against persons engaged in the expression of rights that are supposed to be protected under the Constitution, etc. The root problem in all of these areas is the wrong-headed (and, I believe, unconstitutional) notion that a preemptive concern for public safety necessarily trumps all other concerns, even civil liberties guaranteed under the Constitution.

In the wake of 9/'11, the public's fears, while certainly understandable, were exploited by the powers that then were in order to inculcate the view in the minds of the public that, thenceforth, citizens should and must accept, as a necessary cost attendant to ensuring "public safety," theretofore unacceptable new restrictions and encroachments on civil liberties. At the time, there were civil libertarians who tried to raise the alarm, who tried to warn us that we were putting ourselves on a very slippery slope, but to no avail. Invoking "public safety" became a means by which to foreclose further, and much needed, rational discussion of the issues involved. Unfortunately for the country, too many elected officials, of both parties, bought into that kind of framing.

Now, a full decade on, we begin to see that the tree of "public safety," planted a decade ago, has begun to yield precisely the kind of fruit civil libertarians most feared: the erosion, to the point of eventual evisceration, of the Bill of Rights. Many of the public now seem to have resigned themselves to being treated like criminal suspects, acquiescing to invasive, intrusive and humiliating searches absent any reasonable basis for suspicion on at the hands of persons charged with protecting us. Once we accept the premise that a preemptive concern for public safety overrides all other concerns, there is virtually nothing that cannot be justified based on appeals to such purported "public safety" concerns. At that point, who or what protects the public from its purported "protectors," who are permitted to continue functioning with little or no accountability to the public they purportedly serve?
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 12, 2011, 03:58 AM (1 replies)

Still another Rick Perry/Brokeback parody . . .

. . . from the same friend who put together the very thoughtful video response I posted yesterday. A more light-hearted take this time!

Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Dec 10, 2011, 04:17 AM (1 replies)

A friend's video response to Rick Perry's latest ad...

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Dec 8, 2011, 03:35 AM (5 replies)
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