A few days ago the Washington Times had an editorial about the new random bag search policy their police are using on the Metro subways. It was mentioned in Flex Your Rights email message I just received, and while I normally don’t jump at stories this old, the cluelessness is so astonishing I had to say something.
The group Flex Your Rights is not only opposed to the searches, but is encouraging the riding public to exercise its 4th Amendment right against “unreasonable search” by refusing to be searched.
We, too, have concerns about Big Brother’s overreach…but this doesn’t qualify as over-reaching.
I guess the Times editorial board thinks that searching someone’s bags without any reason for suspicion is reasonable?
We understand reasonable requirements must be enacted at times to preserve public safety. Random search programs have become necessary since Sept. 11. We’ve become accustomed to searches at airports, and public rail systems seem to be a next logical step.
That’s kind of the problem. Government can encroach on our liberties one “logical step” at at time until there aren’t any liberties left. This is why I have a Creeping Totalitarianism department at Windypundit.
Such programs have already been instituted – with limited disruption – in New York, New Jersey and Boston. To take an extra 10 seconds to open your bag when asked is not unreasonable.
It’s not really about the time that it takes, it’s about the invasion of privacy.
Metro, which has jurisdiction and arrest powers throughout the 1,500-square-mile transit zone, is not only well within its right to conduct the operation but insists each search takes no more than 8-15 seconds to conduct – posing minimal impact on riders who have nothing to hide and want to easily get on to their destination.
There’s every privacy thief’s favorite phrase, “nothing to hide.”
I could point out, as usual, that it’s not about whether or not I have anything to hide, it’s about my Constitutionally guaranteed rights as a United States citizen. But the fact is, also, that I do have something to hide: I want to hide my private stuff from people I don’t know. This is why we have—or at least should have—a right to privacy.
But what Flex is encouraging has the potential to create major disruptions for commuters (imagine if, say, every 10th person decided he or she wasn’t going to be searched).
That’s such a police-state view of the problem. Until about three weeks ago, 100% of the people weren’t being searched, and that didn’t cause any disruptions, did it? But once the Metro police enact their intrusive search policy, the bootlickers at the Washington Times start complaining about those annoying people who want to keep their rights.
Their tactics also could pose undue health and safety risks to passengers and transit police.
It’s hard to see how. We’re talking about people turning around and leaving the station. People entering and leaving a train station is not a dangerous activity. Or if it is, then Metro has a lot more important things to worry about than the contents of people’s bags.
If Flex Your Rights members don’t want to be searched, they should ride Metrobus instead of Metrorail.
And I guess that in the 50’s the Washington Times advised black people who didn’t want to ride in the back of the bus to take a walk? (Come to think of it, that worked out pretty well, but you know what I mean.)
Metrorail is a public service paid for by public money, and it should be operated with respect for the rights of the public.