The view from down here

The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be infringed

November 24, 2010

I know that it's probably trite to review the Fourth Amendment. There are plenty of court precedents and I'm sure that the TSA airport screening procedures have all been nicely arranged legally.

Still, it matters what we all think about it. Here it is.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The question that we must all consider is: What is unreasonable?

The words of the fourth amendment, and of all the others, will continue to hold meaning only as long as we uphold them and honor them.

I am concerned that the TSA is a wedge, a mechanism for training us to accept a transition from the rule of law to rule by sovereign edict.

Both the TSA employees and the citizens they treat as criminals are engaged in a dance not of their design with a purpose that can only be explained by utterly irrational paranoia, or by a very rational intent to change our relationship with our government and with our own sense of liberty.

Let us remember the pledge to defend our nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

If this feels somehow wrong to you, you are certainly not alone. No single person can change the premise of society, but remember that society is nothing but the combination of all our beliefs and expectations. Only by believing in honor and liberty and freedom can these ideas hope to endure.

We are not criminals, nor are we alone. We are citizens of the United States of America. We are born free. The heritage of our freedom moves through us as waves move through water. We are the medium and the caretakers of our liberty. To be a free people we must not simply enjoy freedom, but we must expect freedom, and be dismayed and bewildered, even angered, at its diminishment. We must believe ourselves to be worthy of freedom, and we must act in ways that show that we both expect and deserve our liberties.

It matters what we believe.

We are the people, and it is ultimately our responsibility. If we do nothing, say nothing, and live as though we are not free, government command and control will continue to seep in like cold water through the cracks in our collective character.

Imagine that there were no security stations. No metal detectors. Nothing. Imagine that we could carry onto a plane whatever we are allowed to carry in a park. Imagine the worst -- possible violence - shootings on planes -- and you will still not come anywhere near the number of deaths every year on the highway.

Would TSA checkpoints, random searches, and warrantless detainment be reasonable concessions to allow us to drive on the highways?

That depends on what you find reasonable. It depends on whether you think they will cross that line, or the line into your home. If we allow them to set the parameters, then they will.

The men and women wearing the dark blue shirts are no doubt doing what they believe is a service to their country, and I can respect that. But they are not the ones who worry me.

I am not even worried by government and other power interests that might be trying to convince us to give up our freedom in exchange for their version of safety.

I'm mostly worried that We The People might simply nod and let them.

Know in your heart that you deserve freedom. You deserve to be presumed innocent, and that merely flying is not probable cause to subject you to warrantless searches, and certainly does not entitle government officials to look at intrusive body scans of you and your family.

Know that the law is a consequence of our beliefs and of our actions, and not the other way around.

Google. Bing. Search. Discuss. Find a place where your voice can be added to others.

Your voice matters. Your belief matters. This may very well be a moment for which history will judge us. Think carefully and look beyond the easy answers.

Copyright 2010 Daniel LaFavers