Newspapers Say: Shut Up And Get Scanned And Groped

Mike Masnick, writing for TechDirt:

Matt Welch has a nice post over at Reason, highlighting numerous editorials from some big time newspapers mocking people who are concerned about the TSA's naked scans and/or groping procedures, beginning with the LA Times' perfectly obnoxious shut up and be scanned. Most of the editorials take on the typical apologists' line that "this is what we need to do to be secure." This can be summarized by the claim in the Spokesman-Review, entitled "Discomfort a small price for security on airplanes."

Note the implicit assumption: that being scanned or groped somehow makes the planes safer. The problem here is that no one has presented any evidence to back this up. Instead, TSA head John Pistole says "trust us." Yet, when people ask for evidence, they're told it's a state secret. This country (last we checked) has a 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure, which tends to have a high bar on what is a reasonable search. "Trust us" without any proof doesn't cut it. No one is arguing that we should make planes less secure, as these editorials suggest. We're arguing that security theater without evidence that it does anything valuable does not help anyone.

Similarly, random appeals that we should be scanned and groped for patriotic purposes, rings hollow as well. The Baltimore Sun mocks those who are protesting the procedures by calling those people "short-sighted" and arguing:

Whatever happened to the notion that we need to stick together to overcome extremists? U.S. soldiers are still dying for that cause in Iraq and Afghanistan on a regular basis. Under the circumstances, it seems a small sacrifice for the citizens back home to keep a stiff upper lip and voluntarily agree to measures that experts believe are needed -- at least until better technology and security techniques are developed.

Similarly, the Springfield Republican claims that this is just the cost of war, like rationing food during World War II:

For nearly 10 years the U.S. and its allies have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan to defeat the terrorists. But Americans at home haven't been asked to forego an ounce of sugar in this fight. Let's consider these searches the 21st-century equivalent of a WWII rationing card.

Without even getting into the reasons why the US has soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's incredibly deceitful and disingenuous to claim that because we're fighting a war, we should automatically give up on the basic 4th Amendment principles in the Constitution. Does this mean if we weren't fighting over there we could keep our Constitution as is? And if it's okay to obliterate the 4th Amendment without providing any evidence (beyond "trust us") that it actually helps, why stop with the 4th Amendment? Why not toss out the First. Our soldiers are dying, so the government should ban free speech. After all, speaking up might encourage terrorism.

Blind subservience based on vague "trust us" claims, that don't seem to have much basis in reality, is hardly a reason to give up basic freedoms.