Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Well, that was a bit of a firestorm


Who knew that suggesting sensible sercurity could set people off like that (see my post below).

First, the statement that I'm a "bigot" can be dealt with swiftly. That sort of response is typical of the PC set--the unintellectual, knee-jerk reaction that the instant you start characterizing anyone by anything other than the moniker "person," you're a racist. No facts. No logic. No attempt to refute anything. No attempt to explain why it makes sense to stop, say, orchestras from bringing their instruments on board (as reported on As It Happens last night) or to search wizzened grandmothers in wheelchairs. No--you just go for the jugular, the person is a bigot. Well, Ottawa Liberal, I breathlessly await an explanation.

And to Kris, who worries about the slippery slope effects, the answer is pretty straightforward: First, we reject slippery slope arguments all the time, notably that allowing gay marriage won't lead to fathers marrying their sons or women marrying their pet dogs. It's one thing entierly to say that in airport sercurity lines we'll be more attuned to risky classes of people. It's something quite entierly different to say we'll start rounding up anyone remotely middle-eastern looking in the streets and intern them.

And second, there's an even bigger hurdle: Constitutional issues. (I'm speaking from my understanding of American law). It is absolutely positively crystal clear that you cannot stop someone in the street just because he's black/gay/arab/muslim/purple. You cannot stop them without individualized reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, and you cannot detain them without individualized probable cause. Race/religion/class do not provide for individualized probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Period. Sure, in specific cases reasonable suspicion can be manufactured, but not on a wholescale.

That is not the case at an airport. At an airport, all passengers consent to searches--they don't have to board the plane and they have no more right to get on a plane without a search than they do to get into my office without my consent: the condition of boarding is that you consent to a search. Constitutional issues are not implicated. Searching can then be tailored. They can give grannies and babies quick searches, and more thorough searches to those who potentially are greater risk.

I know it's not pretty. I know it's not an ideal situation. But to live in the absurd situation we have now, all in the guise of "anyone could be a terrorist," is nonsense.

It's not like the world's dialogue doesn't acknowledge the problem. We aren't fighting against "people who want to blow up planes, irrespective of their religion or nationality." No. To quote from Thomas Friedman (hardly a right-winger), "the biggest threat to open societies today[is] violent, radical Islam." The papers have been full of the phrase "Islamic fascism" or "radical Islam." The groups that keep trying to blow things up aren't called "Tea-cozy grannies" or "United Church Brotherhood" or "Torah Martyrs Brigade."

1 comment:

s.b. said...

Actually, babies should be employed by airport security to search luggage, because they are extremely adept at finding any sharp objects anywhere, even haystacks, with freakish speed and accuracy, then putting it in their mouths.

Just a thought. Oh yeah, I forgot. Married Muslim men are no risk either, just single under 40 Muslim men, even if they have blond hair and blue eyes. aka John whats his name American who was fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan.