About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

my favorite rant, for after the holidays

My client Jim C. Hines has a new post on TSA policies and procedures here

http://www.jimchines.com/2010/11/responding-to-the-tsa/

which I highly recommend.

It has links to an ACLU petition, to the e-mail address to contact the TSA with your thoughts, links to a round-up of approving "shut up and take your body scan" editorials, and much, much more.

I'm getting more involved with this than with just about anything else. I've dashed off letters to the NY Times, which suggested in an editorial last week that profiling was a civil liberties issue that was to be avoided by subjecting all of us to full body screening. Um, isn't that a civil liberties issue as well? I've been very clear that I don't consider profiling to be a solution because terrorists are adaptive. Please see the film The Battle for Algiers, if you want to advocate profiling.

I've dashed off an e-mail to Ruth Marcus, who suggested in a Washington Post op-ed column that it was immature of people to not just happily get patted down. I pointed out one clear factual error, that she seems to think if you agree to the full-body scanner you can't also get a patdown, while in fact the TSA can still select you randomly or on account of an anomaly. More important, I thought I was immature when I was two years old or six years old and had to do things my parents wanted to "because I said so." I think there's nothing at all immature about saying that the 4th amendment entitles us to be secure both in our homes and against unreasonable search and seizure.

And an e-mail to Dana Milbank at the Post, who suggests that Republicans are now making noises about TSA procedures out of the same general obstructionism that motives their anti-START message. I usually like Republicans much less than Dana Milbank, but not here. Libertarianism has deep roots in the Republican party. Full body scans of everyone buying an airplane ticket are not so deeply rooted in American history, while Republican presidents and cabinet secretaries have supported treaties with Russia for several decades.

I find myself contemplating civil disobedience more strongly than ever before in my life.

I lived through 9/11. I woke up on the morning of 9/11 with plans to cut out of work maybe an hour early and stroll down over the Williamsburg Bridge to visit the Borders at the World Trade Center. I am more frightened by what the government and private sector ask me to do now, on a day-in day-out basis to protect my security, than I was taking the subway back on the 12th from a memorial service at my synagogue. I was antsy, I'm human after all. I was antsy for three or four weeks to the point where the puckish side of my sense of humor was nowhere to be found. But now I get to spend the rest of my life being antsy about patdowns at the airport, patdowns at the ballgame, Rudin Management scanning my drivers license entering an office building (what is a real estate company doing with thousands of scanned photo IDs?).

1 comment:

Maria said...

I wrote to my senators. One replied. The gist was, "We understand your concerns. Too bad for you, we're going to do it anyway."

At times I'm more upset with the ATTITUDE than the machines, although both are disturbing.

(P.S. I know one person who has been through the scanner so far--she was also forced to have a pat down after the scan. You're right, it isn't either/or. Sometimes it's both.)