Friday, November 19

Who Asked For It?

IF there's anything that'll turn my congenital but wholly defensible dyspepsic outlook on American culture, or "culture", damn near homicidal quicker'n a David Brooks column on how iPhones prove our innate superiority, it's those times when Americans get all pissy about Rights.

Well, let's rephrase that in recognition of another gleaming facet of our junk culture: I hate it when the Press tells me that Americans are getting all pissy about Rights, since in the present case CBS also tells me that 80% of Americans support body scanners in airports, and only 15% oppose them. You can add to that the fact that half of all Americans don't fly at all in any given year, and another 30% fly once or twice, and the "groundswell" begins to look like it consists of disgruntled network executives.

Of course no consideration of Rights would be complete without hypocrisy and ignorance, the ubiquitous garden gnomes of the American political landscape; Americans are a lot more ambivalent about defending the rights of others than they are about insisting on their own, and those rights are often Actually Something Else. Smokers' rights. The rights of the Unborn. The Right of the Bush Twins to Use a Fake ID to Get Roaring Drunk on Mojitos Just Like Everybody Else Did in College. (And this is distinct from the utterly convenient pop-confusion over what actual Rights actually are, as in "The First Amendment gives me the right to teach Creationism in public schools.")

All of this is directly traceable to the rightwing reaction to the post-war judicial trend emphasizing personal over property rights, with the Civil Rights movement being the most glaring example. But there's also the school prayer decisions, and Miranda, which the Right's rabid reaction to, much like the National Review's history on race, we're all now supposed to ignore, have forgotten, or never learned of the first place. The American Right was outraged when the Court ruled that police power did not include the right to shine a light in your face for 87 hours and beat you with a garden hose until you signed a confession. Outraged. This is the genesis of the Law N' Order campaign that brought us Richard M. Nixon.

Of course if you're old enough to remember this, and not so old that you've forgotten, or if you're independent of mind enough to have learned about it yourself in the interim--since they weren't going to teach it that way in history class--you know there was an odd reversal of sorts that occurred once it became obvious that Jim Crow was a lost cause; enforcing someone else's rights ("judicial activism") itself became a violation of your rights, and shortly after ("reverse discrimination") you granted yourself the right to pretend that enforcement was the right, and you were entitled to your share. It's not hard to trace from there to the complete linguistic confusion that attends matters today.

So, forgive me, but I'm not joining in until you choose one: America's right to beshit itself about Homeland Security, or America's right to gripe like a sleep-deprived eight-year-old every time it is personally inconvenienced. You gave the fucking Cheney administration carte blanche on domestic spying, and now you're outraged at a service charge. The lot'a ya ought to be strip-searched every time you go out in public, by poorly-trained, mentally defective, roided-up inverts, until you agree to think things through in the future.

Which doesn't mean I'm taking the side of the fucking TSA, or DHS on this, especially with that whole "flying is a privilege, not a right" routine:
49 U.S.C. § 40103 : US Code - Section 40103: Sovereignty and use of airspace

(a) (2) A citizen of the United States has a public right of transit through the navigable airspace. To further that right, the
Secretary of Transportation shall consult with the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board established under
section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 792) before prescribing a regulation or issuing an order or procedure
that will have a significant impact on the accessibility of commercial airports or commercial air transportation for
handicapped individuals.

I guarantee you, anybody sticking his latexed fingers up the fundament of some Forbes 500 CEO before he gets on his private jet is getting paid a lot more than minimum wage.

It's driving which is a privilege. And driving while yammering on a cellphone which is a right. Try to keep this shit straight.


John said...

It's funny, half a million dark-hued New Yorkers are stopped and frisked every year, but that doesn't seem to rise to the same level of outrage.

Anonymous said...

Hey Doghouse: it's a write like Bobo contest.

Kathy said...

I doubt very much if the scanner polls are actually taken at airports. The percentages would be very different if they were.

Brock said...

Of course the "80% in favor" poll was conducted before any of the publicity explaining what the new policy would entail. It would be very interesting to track that number over time...especially after so many people gain first-hand experience over the Thanksgiving travel season.

Once some folks see the amazing detail rendered by the 'porn scanners', or see the video of gramma or little sis getting felt up, even if they don't fly themselves, they may just reconsider their indifference.

I dunno, I have to think it's possible that some people upset about this may be fully supportive of civil rights, opposed to Cheney's carte blanche, etc. There are hypocrites galore, but that doesn't mean there isn't substance there.

If it takes the latex glove treatment to make some people see that things have gone off the deep end and get them shouting, then lube 'em up. Maybe we can get some broader evaluation of the whole mess. Overreaction *is* our stock-in-trade, so hacking back the stranglevine may not be too much to try for.

scripto said...

Nest time I fly I'm going to threaten to have the screener arrested if he doesn't touch my junk. Better safe than sorry.

Weird Dave said...

I'm just gonna fly naked.