They Fought the Law
They Fought the Law
© 2011 Ross Williams
My most recent airport encounter with the blue-shirted Brown Shirts was uneventful. In some ways this is disappointing. If it ever comes down to it, I am an opt-outer. And a bump-n-grinder. The whole process is phenomenally offensive, insulting, degrading and humiliating anyway, what’s better than a little one on one time to return the favor?
My wife, also an opt-outer but not one for such public spectacle, believes it would be more effective if I were to break down and scream “No Father Dan! That’s a bad touch!” much like the woman in Phoenix recently did. But in the ensuing investigation of the matter, not even the feckless feds would be fooled for long with my latter-day priest molestation trauma bubbling up to the surface. I am not Catholic – not even lapsed – and I wouldn’t be able to hold together the backstory.
But I have a phenomenally perverted mind, and I’m highly profane, and so a lewd pole dance complete with x-rated sound track is completely in my character. It is, in fact, difficult for me to not be profane, and I printed out the “Civil Rights For Passengers” page from the official TSA.gov propaganda page in case anything were to occur necessitating my unfettered use of my First Amendment while TSA was in the process of obliterating my Fourth. Go with your strength, always, and cover your bases.
The strength of Texas is their independence. But they caved in at the first signs of pressure. Cowards.
Texas was in the process – so common in recent years among states sick and tired of feds not doing what they’re required to do and leaving states holding the bag, and states fed up with the feds doing, instead, what they are not allowed to do and infuriating everyone – of passing a pointless law that would have no real effect except to inform the federal government, “Yo! Assholes! We’re watching you and we do not like what we see, not even a little bit!”
What they had started doing was to work on a Texas state law that would prohibit a TSA agent from “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” touching the junk of an airline passenger without probable cause.
The bill passed the Texas House unanimously, and was set for the Texas Senate where it would face a similar reception, only to have the craven Lt Governor request a delay in the vote to await a letter being written by the US Attorney’s office responsible for their US Federal Court district.
It’s an interesting thing about this bill and what it would prohibit. It would prohibit what TSA vehemently denies their agents ever, ever do ... if anyone else were to do them, it would be considered sexual molestation. But a federal agent who is, often, little more than a high school graduate with a few days of training, it is “security”. ...and yet, TSA denies flatly that their agents ever do what the Texas law would prohibit. It would be a waste of legislation according to every claim made by TSA, its DHS handlers, and the entire rest of the federal government. TSA does not touch junk. Period.
So TSA, DHS and the rest of the feds should have no problem with Texas making TSA junk-touching a misdemeanor, should they? They don’t have a problem with laws already on the books that make TSA agents using their authorities to open luggage as an opportunity to steal property – which has happened a few thousand times. Stealing is not part of TSA’s mandate; neither is sexual molestation. TSA should have no problem with any state outlawing what TSA doesn’t do.
If TSA doesn’t murder passengers, they should have no problem with Texas prohibiting TSA from murdering passengers.
It would be a pointless law, passed for the purpose of Making a Statement®.
Furthermore, if, by some wild stretch of a fevered imagination, some TSA agent in Texas were to, say, cop a feel of what they never, ever feel and Texas Rangers were to arrest that agent, it wouldn’t be two hours before a federal judge would void the arrest and the agent would be free as a bird. He’d be back at work on his next shift as smug as ever; smugger, if it were possible. Where else can a putz with a GED grope complete strangers with impunity? and in public?
...keeping in mind that they never, ever grope, of course.
It’s a whole lot of nuthin. No problem.
Well, the letter from the US Attorney arrived. It was petulant and sneering as everyone familiar with loyyers on the government payroll might have expected. It was disagreeable as everyone might have expected. And it also made farcical claims as everyone might have expected, but as some of us continue to be disappointed with.
It claimed that the Texas law – if it passed and was signed – would “interfere” with the duties of TSA agents. This is preposterous. First, as TSA itself says: TSA does not do what the Texas law would have prohibited. Second, even if an agent were to do what was proscribed and was arrested for it, the arrest would be nullified by the first federal judge available and in as little time as it would take to fax a motion to the Federal District Court, and fax back a signed order. In the end, it would be business as usual for the TSA and the Texas law would have nothing to say to it.
The letter from the US Attorney also – and what a surprise this was – threatened Texas with decertification of all their airports with scheduled passenger service if the Texas Senate passed the law. Even though this is not in the powers [or authorities] of the US Attorney’s office, it’s not too hard to imagine that the federal ranks would close around the upstart state and DHS would instruct Transportation Department to declare Texas passenger air traffic unsecure, and no one would be allowed to fly into or out of Texas airspace.
Now, I’m certain that the US Attorney, not to mention the clueless pinhead Janet Napolitano, would see this move as Texas’s just desserts with no downside to the official federal position. They couldn’t be more wrong if that’s what they believe.
There would certainly be ramifications for Texas apart from any bureaucratic sanctions placed upon the state by peevish federal wonks. For one, it would annoy a hell of a lot of Texans trying to leave the state. For two, it would annoy a lot of non-Texans trying to enter the state.
For three, it would annoy the airlines who would have to cancel their Texas flights and lose revenue because of it. Not to mention the hotel industry and US tourism in general.
But the official federal position is not so well-received by the American people as federal officials prefer to think it is. The ultimate losers would be the feds. By which I mean TSA.
There are at least four other states currently debating laws similar to the one Texas just scuttled. Utah, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Alaska. A few of those states would look upon the federal strong-arming of Texas as reason enough to follow Texas into the breach. And New Jersey maybe wouldn’t.
I can’t help but be reminded of the federally-imposed 55 mph speed limit dictum in response to the Arab Oil Embargo in the 70s. The federal intention was to make gasoline use more efficient, which is a noble and worthy effort. But it’s not the feds’ job to worry about that, and we are still a constitutional democratic republic – the will of the majority has to count for something.
It was Wyoming then, as I recall, who first bolted. They were willing to forgo the federal highway dollars their participation in the 55 mph limitation gave them; their citizens were simply tired of their long cross-state jaunts taking any longer than they needed to. And one by one, other states followed suit. The Congresscritters and US Senators from those states then put up a bill in Congress to remove the 55 mph maximum thing, and people from the rest of the states then asked, bewildered, “...y’mean we can do that? Just not go along with it? and change the law to allow that?”
Why ... yes we can. The way government works in most of the world is that the government tells people what to do and the people have to do it. The way government is supposed to work here in the US is that the people tell the government what to do, and the government has to do it. We’ve been operating, for most of the last century, the way the rest of the world operates, with a bossy, imperious centralized government. We don’t have to.
If Texas were to pass their law – or if Utah, New Hampshire, New Jersey or Alaska were to pass their own – it wouldn’t matter what the federal government did. If the feds whine and pout and make idle threats to passenger air traffic, more states will follow just to be contrary, and the US legislators from those states will be obliged to act in their states’ interest and the TSA experiment in compulsory sexual molestation of the public will be over. If the feds do nothing, then the rest of the states will absolutely follow suit, and TSA will very very quickly find themselves with a new mission, and one with a very different set of guidelines.
Because here’s the thing, TSA: 99.99999% of everyone who gets on an airplane in the US is simply trying to get from point A to point B; that is even more true of the Americans who fly.
Here’s another thing: 99.9999999% of all the crap you steal from passengers is perfectly innocent.
And the conclusion: it’s one thing for you to be paranoid; it’s a waste of energy, time, federal budget and just about everything else you can name, but it’s acceptable to many people as simply government paranoia – it’s what we’ve come to expect from you. It’s a completely different thing when you act on your paranoias by feeling up whoever you want to, whenever you want to, and for whatever reason you can invent. That is offensive, degrading, humiliating and beneath our [and your, frankly] dignity.
People are tired of it.
Yes, you messed with Texas and they backed down. The next state may back down as well. But eventually there will be a state which won’t and your house of cards will tumble around your heads.
You overplayed your hand and the bluff is done. It’s now just a matter of time.