That’s Kind of the Point

Eugene Volokh linked to this criticism of National Opt-Out Day:

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest airport day of the year.  The airport is full of families, many of whom are not frequent fliers, going home to see Grandma for the holidays.  People who fly long distances between non-hub airports generally have to make connections.  When you have a connection, a delay is not just a delay.  It may mean not making it to your destination at all.  Most families planning to travel tomorrow have nonrefundable tickets.  Canceling is not an option.

I am sympathetic to the overall argument, but I would point Kent Scheidegger and Professor Volokh to Ilya Somin’s excellent body of work on the problem of political ignorance. That Opt-Out day is going to cause disruption to people who may only interact with TSA once a year is entirely the point. The point is to make them understand what their government is doing, instead of just quietly passing through security, blissfully unaware that a government agent in a remote room is looking at naked pictures of their children. They will see out in the open and clear as day what the government we voted for is doing, and what the consequences of it are.

So yes, it sucks that this is going to be a serious problem for some people. But we didn’t create this system. TSA did. And I don’t see that any American has any obligation to play along with their game for the sake of efficiency or expediency. To cause any social change you have to raise awareness first. That’s the first rule of activism. In this sense, National Opt-Out Day is a good idea.

I find it difficult to accept that there are people who value freedom out there suggesting that everyone should submit to a virtual strip search for the sake of everyone else’s convenience. The choice is now between that and groping. There’s no longer an option to just go through under the old procedures. It seems we have to endure quite a lot of hardship for the sake of freedom. Many have died for it. Missing grandma’s mashed potatoes seems a small price to pay in comparison.

9 thoughts on “That’s Kind of the Point”

  1. I heartily concur. For those traveling who are willing to succumb to the evil, “sorry about that,” and maybe you should change your tickets to Tuesday. It’ll also give you another day at grandma’s. Or, send the family ahead on Tuesday, change your ticket to refundable and head to the gropefest Wednesday.

    Harken back to some of the “corrective demonstrations” in America’s past, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s efforts come to mind: non-violent, fairly polite, inconvenient and disruptive to the general public and damn effective over time.

    We might have to hold an opt-out day more often that once a year to get this done, but smile, be polite and friendly, wear a cup (and, yes, they do make those for females, and hard-shell protective bras for female boxers and karate students as well), and make them work for it. I suspect there will be quite a few nearly empty planes in the air Wednesday, and mass confusion at ticket counters as travelers wrangle with airlines to get flights changed. Probably more than a couple of political arrests, too.

    Stay the course and we’ll win this one; it’ll be the first of many victories.

  2. “They will see out in the open and clear as day what the government we voted for is doing, and what the consequences of it are.”

    The uninformed travelers will see nothing of the sort. They’ll see a slow security line, for sure. MAYBE they’ll see a bunch of folks opting out of the nudie-scanner. They’ll have no idea that the opt-out is a protest, and if they do, they’ll see the protest as selfish crank-ism. The rumors in the slow security line might mention infringement of liberty, but may just as likely be that the opt-out people are afraid of a little radiation, (but happily risk brain cancer yakking on their cellphones) or that they’re too embarrased about their endowments.

    A real protest would involve actually communicating the message. This is just throwing a sabot in the works.

  3. @MicroBalrog: The choice is not between profiling and gropescanning.

    What is the choice that you see, if any?

  4. Reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, worrying about how your refusal to submit my inconvenience somebody else.

  5. Unfortunately, I think johnnysquire is probably right. The average citizen today wanders around in Condition White, blocking out the outside world with the ubiquitous iPod while texting/tweeting/facebooking about the latest episode of American Idol, rather than paying attention to their surroundings. They seem to almost intentionally and aggressively remain in an oblivious haze about current events and politics.

    I’m afraid most Americans today don’t understand the idea of a protest without picket lines and signs. The ones that do realize it’s a protest at all will probably get their conclusions about it from liberal MSM sources and thus dismiss it as “right-wing tea party extremism”.

  6. And if a slow security line is enough to make someone wake the fuck up to what their government is doing, if slow security is their button that gets them on our side, then so be it. I’m relatively unconcerned what motivates people, as long as they share the goal of ending this intrusion.

    Plus, while I agree the radiation issue is probably overblown, there’s a light year of difference between regular electromagnetic radiation (from microwaves, cell phones, etc) to ionizing radiation (x-rays, gamma rays, and cosmic rays). I would also point out that these scanners were classified as a medical device, there’s no way they could have been deployed as fast as they have been. FDA would have demanded quite a lot of testing. As it is, they aren’t medical devices, so they’ve just been assumed safe.

  7. And if a slow security line is enough to make someone wake the fuck up to what their government is doing, if slow security is their button that gets them on our side, then so be it.

    I agree, 100%. I’m just skeptical about how well it’s going to work, and how widespread the effect will be.

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