Two non-TSA items caught my eye yesterday:
- News out of Germany of a find of “degenerate art” during an excavation in Berlin. The term derives from Nazis distaste for and banning of modern art as they rose to power. These sculptures seem to have been buried when a building collapsed during an Allied bombing raid, but the story includes some Schindler’s List-type characters and plot. A meaningful story of corruption of the arts when totalitarian governments control expression. Does anyone remember Jesse Helms? Check out the photos.
- And, proving that the federal courts can come to the rescue of those subjected to egregious civil rights violations, a federal District Court judge in Oklahoma has granted a preliminary injunction barring implementation of that stupid Oklahoma state constitution amendment that would forbid Oklahoma courts from using Shariah law in applying state of federal law. The decision was lauded by a NY Times editorial:
Islam-bashing for political gain was a chilling feature of this year’s campaign. The proposed Islamic center and mosque in downtown Manhattan was publicly announced last year, but no one paid much attention until activists began loudly denouncing it in the middle of the midterm election campaign. Right-wing groups then made commercials attacking several Democratic candidates for respecting the First Amendment and saying they had no problems with the project.
It’s bad enough that in its hatred the state amendment singles out a religion’s law for condemnation, in violation of the nation’s Constitution. Or that it forbids a longstanding practice of mentioning the laws of other nations in a legal ruling. It is not even clear what the implications might be if the courts allowed this measure.
Would private contracts or wills drawn up under religious law, a common practice, be unenforceable, or only those drawn up by Muslims? Could a judge refer to the Bible in a ruling, but not the Koran? How about the Book of Mormon or the teachings of Confucius?
The voters of Oklahoma were badly misled by demagogues into passing a profoundly un-American measure. Now it is up to the federal courts to prevent the hatred from spreading further.
Welcome to the Fun House Department
Radley Balko (The Agitator) and I have been tracking TSA’s perfidious activity in sync, him sporadically and me intensely. (He, of course, covers many other topics as well.) Yesterday, in a note entitled “You Are No Longer Free To Move About the Country,” he also remarked on the expectation that TSA will expand its scan-or-grope to cover other modes of transportation, and he included the video I also included yesterday. As usual, he was eloquent in his observations:
It’s not difficult to envision the day where anyone wishing to take mass transportation in this country will have to first submit to a government checkpoint, show ID, and answer questions about any excess cash, prescription medication, or any other items in his possession the government deems suspicious. If and when that happens, freedom of movement will essentially be dead. But it won’t happen overnight. It’ll happen incrementally. And each increment will, when taken in isolation, appear to some to be perfectly reasonable.
Money Where Mouth Is Department
For those who may be interested, here is my open letter to the president of Delta Air Lines expressing my outrage at the new TSA procedures and telling him we will no longer fly. This is probably the most effective step I can take — purely and simply direct (but small) economic impact.
Odds and Ends Department
- In case anyone believed the TSA’s absurd statistic that 99% of people passed through security over the holidays without opting out or having to endure the gropes, that’s largely because the nudie scanners were not operative — even if installed — so people weren’t pulled aside or provided with an opportunity to opt out. See this article by Jacob Sullum:
As more scanners are installed and virtual strip searches become routine, opposition may increase. Then again, Americans have a history, at airports and elsewhere, of getting used to invasions of privacy and infringements of liberty justified in the name of public safety. Requirements that once seemed objectionable—from surrendering your pocket tools and beverages to taking off your shoes, from mandatory seat belt laws to DUI roadblocks, from divulging your Social Security number to showing your papers, from letting police dogs sniff your stuff to signing a registry when you buy allergy medicine—have a way of becoming the new normal.
The statistical part of which was also explored by Nate Silver in the article I pointed to two days ago.
- Two Harvard Law School students have sued TSA claiming the nudie scanners violate their 4th Amendment rights. They apparently do not include the gropes in their lawsuit.
- A telling commentary by Mary Theroux on The Beacon Blog from The Independent Institute asking, “TSA: What Would Rosa Parks Do?.” Seriously, I like the analogy enough that I sincerely recommend you read it — it’s quite brief. For example,
Today, pundits from the left to neocon right argue that airline passengers give up their rights when they “choose” to travel by plane. They would no doubt have argued that Ms. Parks similarly gave up her rights when she “chose” to ride the public bus.
- If you want to read a brief legal analysis from one scholar who thinks the scan-or-grope options may pass constitutional review, read this by Orin Kerr on The Volokh Conspiracy.
- If you remember my “thought experiment” proposing a libertarian approach to security, you may enjoy this humorous take on security-sensitive ticket pricing.
Sometimes We Can Laugh Department
This first one is a bit lewd and crude, but quite funny, and it makes the point.
And, finally, this, which I’d classify as gruesome humor:
Very stark photos from a fun session.