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July 24, 2005

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Alex

Whats wrong with having your bag searched? It's better than just saying "nobody with a bag over a certain size / weight will be allowed on mass transit" or something equally stupid. It's either that, or you just wait for someone to set a bomb off.

And what about sniffer dogs? Isn't that an invasion of privacy because they can smell so well? The goverment might decide to target people who happen to take indian food to eat at work or something.

Your being a sloppy thinking liberal, as if this practice really did impinge on your freedom of speach or anything vaguely important. There are *much* larger and more significant infringements on our civil liberties than random bag searches on mass transit systems. Get some perspective.

Krys O.

I travelled through Grand Central Terminal yesterday (7/24) as I often do to visit my family and I noticed no bag searches at all. The announcements were made that random searches were being conducted but the hour and ten minutes that I was in the Terminal saw no such searches. I was all ready to have my bag searched too!

What I did notice is that Asian commuters/passengers with luggage were getting funny looks from some Caucasians. No racial profiling, please.

listener dave from n'hampsha

I don't know where you're reading a liberal protestation of the decline of freedom of speech into this. She wants her 4th amendment (perhaps you need a primer? does "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" ring a bell?) rights to be respected. I thought conservatives were supposed to be against bigger government, for stricter interpretations of the constitution and all that jazz. Apparently not.
As long as you're appointing yourself arbiter of Amendments That Matter, could you let us know what other rights we really don't need or deserve and should just cede away because something bad happened somewhere? I'm sure there are plenty of other freedoms you can enumerate that can be stripped away that won't improve anyone's security a damn.
Am I being a sloppy-thinking conservative here?

Matt

Regarding the subway searches, Flex Your Rights Foundation has an excellent Citizen's Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches detailing how to reject a potential search while entering the subway. Thought you might be interested.

dr. colby

I'm with you Bronwyn C! This bag searching business is akin to the old taking-off-your-shoes-at-the-airport trick. I'd feel a lot more secure if I COULD HEAR ANNOUNCEMENTS in the subway for crying out loud.

Ben Franklin said this: They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

And Ted Koppel said this on 14 May 2004, and I believe this has DEFINITELY COME TO PASS:
There is a direct correlation between the perception of threats to America's security and the contraction of our rights and freedoms. We need to critically examine the nature and scope of those threats; and where they exist, we must be prepared to calibrate our rights and freedoms. If we fail to do that now, at a time of relative sanity, when it is still possible for voices of moderation to be heard, then we will have condemned ourselves to having those choices made in a climate of national hysteria.

DMcK

Coming back from a weekend on Long Island, I had my bag searched at the 34th Street N/R/B/F/Q/V etc. etc. stop. No big deal, really, it was over with in seconds. I'm pretty sure I was singled out solely because of the size of my bag (I'm a blonde haired white guy). But in these situations, it's hard to resist the temptation to think along the lines of, "what if I actually WAS contemplating the mass murder of infidels today?" With that in mind, a couple of things immediately occurred to me:

A) The search was so cursory and half-hearted, I could have been (theoretically, for the purposes of this little thought experiment) concealing a sawed-off 12 guage in my bag and no-one would've be the wiser.
B) What's to stop me from setting off my (theoretical, imaginary) bomb right there on the little search table? After all, the area where the searches were being conducted -- that is, the space between the token booth and turnstyles, for crying out loud -- was sufficiently target-rich to secure my place among the holiest of martyrs (and I don't even like raisins).

What did I conclude from this experience? While I hardly found it to be harrassing or even inconvenient, these stupid bag searches serve no other purpose than to give the appearance that "something is being done". I am absolutely convinced they will have zero effect as far as improving safety or security; in fact, as I mentioned, these little checkpoints actually make inviting targets. Personally, I find the most irksome and offensive thing about this practice is the implicit assumption that we're just stupid enough to be mollified by this useless and wasteful gesture.

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