Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Transit Security: NOW, I AM SCARED!

I just visited a blog that I read from time to time, that concerns itself with the Chicago Transit Authority, the CTA. Much of it is fun, some of it is insightful. But checking out some of the comments concerning random searches made my blood run much cooler.

First, there are comments from CTA users when the chance that searches such as those done in New York City would be done in Chicago. There is some talk about Fourth Amendment Rights here, as well as some points made that sound like a discussion in a college level philosophy class. You know, the "how many angels can dance on a head of a pin" stuff.

Then there are more comments. There is even a site already up and running that is not only dedicated to resisting these searches, but also giving full instruction on how to do it!

One of the more salient comments made at the CTA site was that the Fourth Amendment prohibits "unreasonable search and seizure". Consideration must be given to that. But I wonder about the fuzzy line between "Right" and "Privilege". People talk all the time about having the right to drive a car. Clearly, driving is not a right, but a privilege.

Right now, I am leaning toward the concept that stepping onto a Transit Vehicle is not a right, either.

Ironically, that concept is supported in the Flex Your Rights website itself. You will find that the instructions tell you to assert that you choose not to be searched and that you are leaving the station. That implies participating in a privilege and not exercising a right.

Finally, just by the tone of some of the writers, I am guessing that these writers would not be so quick to defend Amendment Two of the Constitution.

So why am I scared? These transit security discussions are cute, but to resist search in the name of "rights" is foolish. In psycobabble, it is called a "boundary" issue. Rights are important, but they are not absolute. The boundaries of your rights must be balanced against mine. I want the Agency-owner of any transit vehicle I ride to do as much as possible to see that I don't die in a bomb blast. It's OK with me if they look through my bookbag. A smll price to pay, indeed. My rights are not threatened.

If, God forbid, a terrorist bomb goes off in one of our transit vehicles, I wonder who will be the first to say that our Transit Agencies did not do enough to stop it from happening.

See also this.


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