Before There Was a TSA There Was MADD

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A hallmark of a totalitarian (or at least, authoritarian) country is the legal impossibility of anonymous, unhassled travel.

“Your papers, please” was synonymous – once upon a time – with countries like NS Germany and, of course, the old Soviet Union.

Not America.

As recently as the late 1980s, one could walk right up to a ticket counter at any major airport and buy a ticket, in cash, without presenting any ID whatsoever. You could arrive at the airport minutes before your flight – and so long as you made it to the gate before they shut the door, you could make your flight. No TSA. No “enhanced body imaging.” No feel-ups of nubile young women – or for that matter, fragile old people forced to get up out of their wheelchairs.

Yes, I know. Then came 9/11 – our new Sacred Word – and the “new realities.”

But the birth of police state treatment of travelers predates 9/11 by more than a decade, at least. Arguably, the camel’s nose under the tent that led to everything we’re up against today – including virtual strip searches so sensitive they can tell whether a man is circumcised (either that, or a rough “pat down” by a TSA goon) – was set in motion by a group of Moms.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that is.

It was MADD, back in the ’80s, that was the motive force behind the imposition of America’s first totalitarian travel laws – in the form of so-called “sobriety checkpoints” – i.e., random, warrantless and probable cause-less “screening” of all the drivers who just happened to be on that stretch of road.

The Supreme Court affirmed it – and much worse, the public has come to accept it, too.

So it’s really no surprise that, with a few noble exceptions, most people also accept the disgusting, demeaning “screening” now imposed by the TSA on air travelers. Rather than decline to fly – using their economic power to force a change for the better – or even taking the lesser step of sending in a letter of complaint – they submit.

It makes the flesh creep, not just for what this tells us about the passivity of Americans, about their willingness to bow their heads and obey whenever the state barks at them – but more so for the future it portends.

What happens when the backscatter X-ray machines and routine, random pat downs are paired with the legal principle already established by random roadblocks and “sobriety checkpoints”?

Surely, “terrorists” travel by car, too.

And it would be a risk to “national security,” would it not, to permit these lurking evildoers to travel undetected?

Yes?

If you haven’t yet made the mental connection, be assured that there are people who have. Mobile backscatter X-ray machines already exist and have already been deployed on our streets to “randomly screen” passing vehicles – and probably people, too. (See here http://www.as-e.com/zbv/ )

There is just too much power – and profit – on the table to leave things lie. This will happen. You will find yourself stopped by the side of the road – for absolutely no reason at all – forced to obey not just a buzz cut cop’s Falluja-esque interrogation and rummaging of your “papers” – but in addition to that, a more thorough “screening” of your vehicle and person, either by mechanical means or the old-fashioned frisk.

All the building blocks are not merely in place – they have been cemented together firmly.

In the past year alone, the courts have affirmed the “right” (in reality, the arbitrary power) of cops to forcibly extract your bodily fluids from you if they “suspect” you may be under the influence of either the licit drug alcohol or illicit drugs, such as marijuana. And “suspect” means very little in the way of tangible, objective reason for such suspicion. Really, it boils down to whether the cop wants to thrw you over the hood of his cruiser and hypodermic you – just like it’s pretty much up to the TSA goon at the airport whether he merely feels you up publicly – or forces you into a quiet room for further “screening.”

Oh yes. It’s true you don’t have to fly, so you can avoid the TSA porno scanners as well as the TSA’s feel-ups…. for the moment.

But what happens when these features of the New American Way are deployed on highways and roads throughout the country, as they surely will be?

What then, friend?

Very few of us can elect not to leave our homes, to park our cars and hunker down in the basement.

We have to drive. Or at least, we have to travel. Whether by foot, car, bus or train.

And the Supreme Court has already decreed that we should accept that we have (according to them) no “expectation of privacy” the moment we cross our property line into the “public” sphere – and “public” areas, such as roads. We have given our “implied consent” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_consent) to be randomly stopped and “screened” – for no specific reason whatsoever.

The general threat – whether it be “drunk drivers” or “terrorists” – justifies it. That is what the courts have said and it is what the Moms at Mothers Against Drunk Driving set in motion back during the Reagan Years, when everyone thought it was morning in America again.

Sorry for the rude awakening.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  26 comments for “Before There Was a TSA There Was MADD

  1. Douglas
    October 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Fortunately, at least in Cali(porn)ia, “sobriety” checkpoints have been deemed unlawful. Of course, if a “copper” is determined enough to screw with you, he can fabricate virtually any excuse to pull you over. You’ve already given wise counsel on how to behave when stopped. To that I can only add: when asked if you’ve had anything to drink, respectfully decline. If the doughnut smarter hassles you, stand your ground that you aren’t required to answer that question, and make sure that others can hear (or prop your smartphone up and “roll tape”. In no state can you be arrested for declining to volunteer a potentially incriminating statement. Of course, be CERTAIN that you’re “clean”. No point in drawing a cop’s ire if you’ve been smoking something or wasn’t just doing thirty over the limit. Presumption of innocence is to protect the innocent, not thwart law enforcement and the courts from apprehending and punishing malefactors.

    • Douglas
      October 27, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      And, I add:

      About 20 years ago, some goof started an organization called “DAMM” (Drunks Against MADD Mothers) at first as a joke. Supposedly it evolved into a lucrative business, selling T-shirts and bumper stickers.

  2. td hunt
    September 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Eric,

    This is a couple of years after the fact but why do you even try to reason with assholes like this. They will never see things from your perspective. I have long since ceased futile efforts to enlighten serfs.

    • September 4, 2012 at 1:28 am

      I know, TD – I know!

      I do it for purposes of illustration; it’s a sort of intellectual vivisection of a cancerous corpse.

  3. November 20, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    A cop forcing you to stop and looking into your vehicle and “checking” your person is a search, by definition. When it is done without even the pretext of probable cause, it is an assault on our right to be left in peace; it is by definition unreasonable.

    I have been sticking with the facts; you, on the other hand, are sticking with your opinions – which center on giving police open-ended authority to detain/search random people for no reason whatsoever because you think it’ll help them catch drunk drivers (or whatever) and of course, the cops would never abuse such random, probable cause-less authority because they are there to protect us! They are all sweethearts with nothing but the best of intentions and the laws are always right!

    You seem to believe we owe them immediate, reflexive obedience – no matter what. That whatever orders they bark at us are proper by dint of their being barked at us. Submit! Obey! Or you get what you deserve.Sieg Heil!

    No thanks. It’s mindsets such as yours that lead to the gulag and much worse besides.

    PS: Here’s another “hero” cop not abusing his authority:

    • dom
      September 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      I don’t know if I’d be able to let them do that to me mang!

  4. November 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Your statement is incoherent. ” If you say that police go overbaor looking for people that break the law then if that is the case why enable anyone to be on a PUBLIC highway. “

    What has that got to do with the issue of whether a person who has not given any reason to suspect him of having done something illegal ought to be subjected to a random stop and search?

    This is not a “way out there” argument. It is a simple, logical question. And it is precisely the same as asking whether police should be able to search homes at random since after all, they might catch (among others) child pornographers (who use the public airwaves, to use your terminology).

    The problem here is your inability to think conceptually. To understand how a principle applies to a particular. Or several of them.

    All you see is the “good” of getting drunks off the road – by whatever means. All in a good cause. Well, why not apply the same reasoning to our homes? Or anything else?

    And it’s not a question of cops possibly abusing their authority. They do abuse their authority. The sickening evidence of this is abundant. Did you click on the link I sent you?

    • clover
      November 20, 2010 at 7:38 pm

      Eric now your are talking about searching vehicles. As far as I know that is not a common practice when do a safety check. Since when and where did that start. I have never heard about that or seen it. Stay with the facts not with what you think might happen sometime.

  5. November 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I think you missed the point: I was asking you whether, based on the fact that there are most certainly child pornographers out there, we should have cops randomly searching everyone’s homes? Do you see? This is exactly the issue with regard to “sobriety checkpoints.” They search everyone, for no reason at all – on the basis of the possibility that there might be a drunk out there.

    This is un-American, if “American” means you get to be left in peace until you actually do something to give police some reason for suspecting you’ve either committed a crime or are about to. The fact that you are driving on a public road is no reason to suspect you of drunk driving – hence, forcing you to stop, show your “papers” and answer questions under duress is wrong.

    If you disagree, then you have no basis whatsoever for having a problem with a cop just randomly showing up on your door and demanding to have a look around…. after all, maybe you’re a pornographer.

    It’s depressing that so many Americans have become so servile, so deferential to anyone who has a badge or “the law” on his side.

    Here’s a link with some videos that may enlighten you: http://nothugcops.com/

    • clover
      November 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm

      Eric you miss the point. If you say that police go overbaor looking for people that break the law then if that is the case why enable anyone to be on a PUBLIC highway. We know that there are some that should not be and are going to cause harm to others. Your argument is way out there. Again, all that you say is stopping us from saving hundreds of people is the POSSIBILITY someone might abuse their authority. If that is the case that you are afraid of then you should require the police to video all of the stops, that is unless they already do it.I do not know.

      You keep bringing up the invasion of your house. That is not what this discussion is about and you can create another discussion about that because that has NOTHING to do with this case. If and when they start talking about doing that you can complain about it but I have heard of nothing about it. Stay on the subject.

      • James
        October 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm

        All you say is that stopping people for the POSSIBILITY that they MIGHT cause another harm is ok. . .

        Invasion of your car, invasion of your home – not much difference between the two.

    • clover
      November 20, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      Thanks Eric. I looked at the videos. What is shows if the police trying to stop the people that are abusing them. Are you saying it is fine to hit the police and they can not do anything about it? Those videos were definitely not showing police abuse. They were videos showing police trying to do their jobs and people fighting them and doing it first. The police have the responsibility to protect themselves. When did become acceptable to start hitting police and resist arrest?

      • November 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm

        You mean like this:

        Another “hero” cop in action. Clearly that mom was a real threat to the cop.

        • clover
          November 20, 2010 at 7:44 pm

          Again Eric oyu are showing what happens when you do not follow police instructions. You also only hear the story of the person in the vehicle. You again are not finding good examples. The policeman may or may not have gone too far in that case but he was not way out of line with a person that is fighting with him and his instructions. The policeman has to protect himself and when a person leaves their vehicle and starts to come at him when he told her to stop then he is not way out of line.

          • November 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

            So, whatever police do is right, ipso facto – and we servile serfs just have to submit without question, else we invite being Tasered or beaten or shot?

            That armed male cop was in no way threatened by an unarmed housewife with her kids in the car; she made no aggressive move toward the cop. She was simply arguing over a simple traffic offense. And that asshole bully piece of shit Tasered her for daring to question his Authority. That you would defend such obvious abuse is despicable. Here’s another “hero” cop for you:

  6. clover
    November 20, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Eric from your statements you are saying that police are worse than anyone else. Tell us again what your experience has been? I have not had a bad experience, nobody I know has had a bad experience. Tell us your bad experience. You get off the subject by telling about searching your home. There is one huge difference. You can harm very few from your home. On the roadway drivng drunk you can actully kill many people or maybe worse, disable them for life. That is why we have the laws that we have and the courts say it is ok to stop people on the road to check to see if they are safe for others to be on the road. Again I say a couple of minute stop does not hurt anyone. People like you just like to complain about things they should not be complaining about. Again what was your bad experience at a police stop?

    • November 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      I am saying that police (and governments) can abuse – do abuse – their authority. That’s self-evident, is it not?

      And I am saying that not establishing boundaries on what they may do to a person, absent probable cause, is naive and dangerous and inevitably leads to abuse of authority.

      Oh, and would you say a child pornographer can’t harm too many kids, since he’s doing his thing in the privacy of his own house? Obviously, that’s not so. Yet according to your standard – we have to protect the innocent – we should be happy to let cops do random checks our our homes and computers, since after all, we don’t want to let kid touchers get away scot-free.

      Right?

      I’m not trying to be sarcastic. I’m trying to get you to see the danger of conceding a principle and establishing a precedent.

      There is a wise saying among lawyers: Hard cases make bad law.

      What it means is that it’s easy to get angry about a drunk driver harming or killing some innocent person – and to get emotional and push for laws that affect everyone, not just the people doing wrong.

      Do you see?

      • clover
        November 20, 2010 at 6:56 pm

        Yes Eric I would say that if there waa a convicted child pornographer that you should be able to search his home with a warrent particularly. you forget that drunk drivers kill hundreds or thousands of people each year. How many have policemen killed that were innocent people? You say that police may not stop anyone because they could possibly abuse their authority. Is that not like saying you are guilty without any evidence? You have to come up with something better than that. I do agree that if a policeman or anyone else for that matter does something wrong then you come down on them hard. Other than that I have not heard of any good arguments from you that say they should not be able to check to see if you are safe to be on a PUBLIC roadway.

        • James
          October 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

          But you’re not talking about stopping Convicted Drunk Drivers to check if they may be drunk, you’re condoning Everyone being treated as if they’re already Convicted.

          Why do you allow for a warrant to check on a Convicted Child Pornographer, but not for a *presumed innocent* driver who may be a teetotaler?

          Careful, your ignorance is showing. . .

  7. November 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    There is a middle ground. Police should get involved when a specific person has specifically given reason to suspect he’s done something. If a cop sees a driver driving erratically, by all means, pull him over. And if he’s drunk – book him. I’m all for that.

    What I am opposed to is blanket treatment of all of us as if we have done something wrong, or given reason to – when we haven’t done a single thing to even hint that we may have.

    I oppose random stops (and interrogations) for the same reason I oppose having cops randomly searching pedestrians on the street, inspecting their cell phones/laptops… after all, you might “catch criminals” this way, too. (Maybe we should pass a law to let cops come into our homes whenever they wish, at random…you never know. Someone might be beating his wife or abusing his kids…. )

    One of the things that used to separate America from police states such as the old Soviet Union was that the cops had to have a real, specific reason for stopping a person and inspecting him or his vehicle/home/possessions.

    That so many people are so eager to give up such a basic, vital bulwark against the abuse of authority reveals just how much this country has changed.

    You seem to believe that anyone who works for the government necessarily has “our best interests” at heart and is only “working to keep us safe” and that giving such people unlimited, unchecked authority is a good thing. That they would never abuse their authority.

    I disagree. Because I believe people are not perfect – and often a lot less than perfect – whether they wear an official government costume or not. Indeed, history shows that it is precisely people who wear government costumes who are responsible for the greatest abuses. An individual can only do so much. But government and those who enforce its edicts can destroy people’s lives by the thousands…. or millions.

    Exaggeration?

    Nope. It’s the ugly record of human existence.

    Laws are necessary – but so are checks and balances on those laws and on those who enforce them

  8. November 20, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    How is going after a person shooting a gun through a crowd anything like subjecting random people who have done nothing to even warrant suspicion they might have done something to arbitrary searches?

    Your logic amounts to: If it’s possible that some person might be doing something, then we have to treat everyone as if they are in fact doing something.

    That’s the basis of a police state, not a free society.

    • clover
      November 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      Police state? Would you rather not have police or laws and anything goes? That is stupid. I can guarantee that police checks deter people from driving drunk and I know that is a fact because I have talked to people that are drinkers. I also guarantee that there are drunk drivers on the roadways when the have checks. They I am sure do not stop all of them but it is better to slow them down than to tell them it is ok.

      Why don’t you tell us what mean and bad things that have happened to you during a police check? I would guess you have not had any problems but heard a story once from one person that may have even made it up that they had a problem. I would far rather have a police state as you say rather than have someone like you on the road that breaks all laws on the road that makes it a safer drive on the roadway for the rest of us.

  9. November 20, 2010 at 10:46 am

    The “keeping us safe” rationale is the one used every time they want to take away our basic rights – one of the most basic being the right to be left alone by the law until you, specifically, have done something to give reason for suspicion of wrongdoing. It is called probable cause – and that is an essential element of another thing called the rule of law.

    You seem to have complete faith in human nature – or rather the human nature of people with guns and badges. You seem to think that they can be trusted with essentially unlimited power, in order to “keep us safe.” I find such a view naive and dangerous; much more dangerous than the chance that a drunk driver may escape notice.

    • clover
      November 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Would you say it is fine for a person to shoot a gun through a crowd? That is like letting drunks drive down the road. If you know that there are people that will be shooting their gun through crowds would you allow them to enter without being checked or will you say that they should be let in and maybe grab them after they shoot a few people. That is the same thing as drunk drivers on the road. I have been at what you call traffic screening and there is absolutly no rights violations when they did it. I would be willing to be stopped a thousand times if it saves someone’s life but i guess you can not be bothered for 5 minutes. You say that you violate all laws and that is ok but if someone delays you for a couple of mintues you say you were injured by it and against your rights. You need to go and live in places like the back areas of India where anything goes. No big deal when someone dies there because it happens so often with their anything goes driving.

  10. clover
    November 20, 2010 at 12:25 am

    It is a good thing to not allow people to drive drunk on our roads. No one should have the right to endager others or my kids and family! It is also a good thing to keep terroists from hurting others. I have driven for many years and I have never had any bodily fluids violated as in this article. If you follow the law and do not drink and drive you are safe. Yes, you may be stopped and checked but is it not worth it to be delayed a few minutes once a year or so to keep us all safer? I would say it is and it did not violate me one bit.

    • James
      October 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.” ~ T. Jefferson

      Notice that he didn’t say, “probably injurious,” “possibly injurious,” or even, “almost absolutely certainly injurious.”
      When you’re rousted by the Gestapo because you *might, maybe, possibly, but not certainly* cause harm, the guy doing the rousting is the criminal. As are those who support and condone such behavior.

      If someone drives drunk and *causes actual harm to an actual person or their property*, by all means – throw the entire law library at them – not just the book. But if they cause no harm whatsoever, they are to be left alone, *as required by the Constitution*

      Wahh, wahhh, waaaahhhhhhh!!!

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