TSA and America's Misplaced Rage

By Dennis Behreandt

When blogger Jill Filipovic, who writes at Feministe.us, opened her luggage after passing through a TSA checkpoint, she found an unexpected surprise.

Taking to Twitter, she wrote: “Just unpacked my suitcase and found this note from TSA. Guess they discovered a ‘personal item’ in my bag. Wow.”

The note, handwritten on an official TSA baggage check notification slip read: “Get your freak on girl.” Filipovic published a photo of the note on her blog.

According to ABC News, Filipovic, feeling that the note was an invasion of privacy, concluded that it was offensive and said she planned to file a complaint with the agency.

“I hope they do see the complaint, they’ll look into it and remind their staff that going through people’s personal belongings is a responsibility that should be treated with some modicum of professionalism,” Filipovic told ABC.

Unfortunately, this is the wrong response. More unfortunately, it’s the type of response we see over and over again coming from the American people whenever they encounter violations of their constitutional rights.

Consider the response to enhanced security at NFL stadiums this season. Before entering Lambeau Field in Green Bay, for instance, fans are subjected to searches conducted by members of the local police force equipped with metal detecting wands. For the October 2 game, fans were left waiting to enter the stadium even as kickoff was underway. In numerous interviews it was clear that people were very upset by the new security measures, yet local news media was able to find plenty of people who were singing the now familiar refrain: “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Sorry, it’s not for your own good. Because NFL games take place on private property, the Packers and other NFL teams have every right to determine who gets into a game and under what circumstances that admission occurs. Nevertheless, overall the practice corrodes individual constitutional rights by teaching people that they should, as a normal part of life, be prepared to be searched.

Traditionally, this would be viewed as outrageous, and an extreme violation of rights. But post-9/11, it’s the new norm, and it seems that the majority of Americans no longer expect that their rights under the Fourth Amendment will be respected.

Thus we have Filipovic complaining to ABC News not about the fact that she was the victim of a warrentless search, but that when TSA agents conduct their unconstitutional searches, they should do it more professionally.

For reference, since it is regularly ignored by the State and is apparently largely unknown to the American people, here is the text of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As evidenced by the note left in Ms. Filipovic’s luggage, under the TSA, the Fourth Amendment is all but dead.

The State’s ability to search anyone anywhere is a characteristic not of a free republic operating under the rule of law, but of a police state exercising an arbitrary power over the rights of the people.

Returning America to freedom will require that citizens insist that Congress abolish the TSA and reassert the importance of the Fourth Amendment.


The Moral Liberal associate editor, Dennis Behreandt, is the Founder and Editor In Chief of the American Daily Herald, and former long-time contributor, serving both as Senior and Managing Editor, to The New American magazine, writing hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from natural theology to history and from science and technology to philosophy. Mr. Behreandt’s research interests include the period of late antiquity in European history as well as Medieval and Renaissance history.

The Moral Liberal recommends Ezra Taft Benson’s: This Nation Shall Endure