How Do You Resist?

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The TSA has the guns and they have what is called “law.” How does one resist? Peacefully, that comes first. I really do not know, and I don’t know what will do good and what won’t. And I don’t know what will cause you more trouble than you want to bear. I also think that resistance is a personal matter that depends on your personal circumstances, so that there is no one way to resist.

At a minimum, educate yourself about the right and wrong of this problem. The right to be secure in your person and property from unreasonable searches and seizures goes way, way back. The basic reasons for it, as I see it, are so that you do not live in fear, so that you are not a manipulated and terrorized subject, so that you can conduct your business without being impeded unnecessarily, so that you maintain your privacy and dignity, so that authority cannot use a search as an excuse or means to discover that you have broken some other trumped-up law, and so that the authorities cannot use a widespread and general search to persecute you for other reasons. Searches like these in conjunction with the state’s capacity to seize property can devastate just about anyone. A libertarian would say that it’s wrong because you own your own body and other rights derive from that ownership. If your body can be routinely invaded, then your other rights evaporate too. Pragmatically, these searches are obviously invasive and, if they are viewed as justifiable, it’s not hard to imagine even more invasive searches becoming the norm. It therefore becomes a matter of common sense to resist this.

The biggest problem here is that you do not own the spaces wherein these searches are being conducted. It would seem that the owners of the terminals and buses and airplanes and trains and malls can create the rules. They can call in the TSA, or else the Congress or a city or a state can impose a law based on some notion of public safety. But I’d argue that this is not the central issue because the authorities have the say over these areas of commerce, and that is what is wrong here. The issue here is really that the authorities are using their monopoly powers over what should be private transportation and travel to ratchet up an invasion of freedom. They are levering up their power over transport and travel to gain power over people. They can do the same with currency or any other critical area that they regulate.

This kind of government behavior and power, including these  searches, conflicts with basic rights, as I have just outlined. And it imposes basic disabilities on the normal course of life and human dignity. How is this conflict to be resolved? Whose law is supreme, the state’s or the person’s natural law? Whose dignity is supreme? Do authorities have the law on their side, or do you the person? To me the answer is clear. In the existing system, the authorities — the states, cities, counties that are manipulating the commercial enterprises that provide travel and that are controlling the roads — gain whatever authority they may have from “we the people.” Our rights take precedence. Our rights constrain what the authorities are allowed to do.

It is up to us to enforce those rights when the authorities step over the lines and trample on us and our rights. And therein lies the problem: How are we to do that? If all of our children had been educated concerning their rights and the proper behavior of their governing bodies, could America have come to this pass? Maybe it would have anyway because of our other faults and defects, but I can’t help thinking that poor education about the basics has facilitated the State’s power gain. People actually should be educated to distrust and fear the State. If there is to be a State at all, people should see it as a sword that must be kept under tight control. They certainly should not be taught to be servile. The invasion of rights by the State builds upon public mis-education. Of course, as a panarchist and anarchist, I see this invasion as constituting the core mission of the State and its reason for being. The State is not what it’s advertised to be, but I recognize that most people are unwilling to jettison this monster. If so, then, at the very least, defang it and chain it up and build impregnable walls around it.

Here is what comes to my mind regarding the TSA and the VIPR searches. Use your voice. Use it in writing and audibly. Tell your fellow passengers and others what you think of the search. For example, tell people that the search is wrong. Tell them you dislike it or hate it. Tell them that you are not being protected and don’t feel protected by being searched. Tell them you feel attacked or invaded or embarrassed or disturbed by it. If you see a TSA search being conducted that is discomforting someone, open your mouth right then and there and tell the searcher to stop, or look at what he or she is doing. Tell them it’s stupid. Use your brain and improvise. There were Europeans under the Nazis who improvised help for oppressed people. You can do the same. Tell the TSA people they’re doing wrong. Tell them you don’t want to be searched. Ask to see the manager. Demand to see the law in writing that makes possible such a search. Ask if this search is an arrest. If not, what is it? Write to the companies that are providing travel services and tell them what you think. Write to the mayors or city executives of the places that are doing the searches and tell them. Organize a resistance-to-search organization and create a web presence. Focus on one or two Congressmen that are on the main committees that oversee the apparatus of search. Target them and tell them that you are a single-issue group and that you will vote them out of office. Tell those whom you meet that such searches are wrong and stupid. Most of all, teach your children properly. You are in a struggle for your dignity and that of your children.

5:16 am on November 21, 2011