You have by now seen (National Opt-Out Day is practically over!) the above clip. I’d like to chit-chat about two of Mr. Tyner’s statements as they relate to state power. The first, obviously, is
If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.
And the second is:
It would be if you weren’t the government.
The first statement has a certain desperation to it. This is not how government power works on the frontlines: the police and airport security are on the same side here, ‘checks and balances’ don’t function in real time (I’ve never heard of police being arrested for brutality at the scene of the crime, but if you’ve heard of a case, I’d love to hear about it). So while it might make sense that the police would help you out if you were, you know, the victim of the crime, we all know that’s not what happens in this case, because of Tyner’s second statement above.
This second point is very important. We change the words we use to describe a lot of things – kidnapping, snooping, murder, sexual assault, theft – once the state becomes involved, transforming moral transgressions into legitimate acts. Watching people react to backscatter machines, and ‘enhanced’ pat-downs, the power of this legitimacy is striking; a lot of folks simply seem to think nothing of the creeping surveillance state, and register mild annoyance at the thought of airports slowing to accommodate greater numbers of people opting-out. Hegemony functions through both coercion and consent, and all of that.
For those of you facing the misfortune of flying anywhere, anytime soon, what ever are you to do besides submitting to the magical peep show of those new-fangled scanning machines? Actually, Tyner is on to something with his empty threat. Unless you’re willing to consider doing away to state power (and, uh, maybe you should consider that?), the best way to limit state power is with…more state power! Yes, I’m skeptical too, but sometimes the best you can hope for is to play checks and balances against each other until the wheels of one part of the big ol’ government machine grind to a halt. Or something. Look, no TSA agent is getting arrested over this, but they might not know it, and this issue will end up in the courts. Scare them back. Or, to put it more bullety:
- Ask for names and, if applicable, identifying numbers for all of your, er, ‘handlers.’ Write that shit down in plain view, if you can.
- Do not opt for a private-fondling-suite. The whole point, I think, is to feel the power of the surveillance state on your body (as opposed to walking through a scanner, which registers as much as having your phone tapped), and let/force others to see it as well. Speak truth to power etc ad nauseum. Let that shit see the light of day.
- State (clearly but calmly, do not freak out/start yelling/any of that shit) your opposition to the ‘procedure.’ A little quoting of the 4th amendment couldn’t hurt.
- State that you will file complaints (or lawsuits) if you think you are ‘touched inappropriately,’ or, hell, just cause you feel like it. Suggest you’ll get the police involved for all I care, say you’ve got an uncle who’s a cop or whatever.
- FILE SOME GODDAMN COMPLAINTS/LAWSUITS. If the damn protest actually happened today, instead of folks just suggesting it should happen, and if every day became ‘National Opt-Out Day,’ motherfuckers would cave. This shit is expensive, contributes only dubiously to teh National Securitiez (if you’re into that sort of thing), and ain’t worth losing the damn air-transportation system over.
- ‘Share’ your ‘experience.’ Around a campfire would be nice, but also on all these intertubes and their various social networking time sinks/data miners. This shit is creepy, and Americans, not generally noted for a strong commitment to liberty, are decidedly opposed to icky things like getting fondled by the dude at the airport. Some politician can capitalize on those feelings if they get common enough, and pull the damn plug.
- Enjoy your flight.
It’s worth noting that the above is not legal advice, is not a guide for navigating the airport surveillance apparatus while preserving your dignity, or suggestions on how to begin a family vacation. It’s a proposed outline for inconveniencing yourself and (hopefully) the state. It is one step towards having enough of this bullshit. You are the machine and the monkey wrench, or whatever it is the kids are saying these days.
How was that? Too rambly, incoherent, awesome? I’m new to this tumbl[e]r shit, ok? Christ.