Top Ten Reasons You Should Fear the Transit Searches in New York City – Even if You Don't Live There, Never Plan to Visit, and Think New York's Noxious Nuts Are Finally Getting What They Deserve
by Becky Akers
July 25, 2005
1) It's Starting Small. On Thursday, July 21, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that all passengers using New York City's transit system are subject to search by the City's police. So far, only their bags – not their persons – can be violated. Because His Majesty zips about town in a limousine, he had to rely on his imagination to console commuters. "We just live in a world where, sadly, these kinds of security measures are necessary. Are they intrusive? Yes. A little bit."
2) It Began This Way At the Airports. After a couple of skyjackings in the late 1960's, the Federal government decided that it had an "interest" in "protecting" aviation. Congress had so little respect for the Constitution that it simply ignored the Fourth Amendment, rather than formally abolishing it, by decreeing that passengers' bags would be rifled at airports. The judiciary connived and read our minds. Judges solemnly informed us that we consider airport searches not "a resented intrusion on privacy, but, instead, a welcome reassurance of safety." About 25 years passed before ransacking luggage progressed to pawing passengers.
With this precedent easing their way, New York's cops will be feeling up commuters in a matter of weeks, not decades.
There are other eerie parallels. Both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and New York's rulers blame passengers for the delays and harassment that characterize searches. The TSA's website warns, "Taking a few minutes to prepare for security before you pack for your trip can save you and your fellow travelers precious time when you arrive at the airport." Meanwhile, Ray Kelly, New York's Commissioner of Pork, sorry, Police, laments that passengers make searches necessary. "Ideally, people wouldn't carry any backpacks or bulky packages on the transit system." For sure Kelly never does: he's got swarms of underlings who tote things for him.
3) According to the Courts, You Consent To Being Searched By Flying – And Now Riding. I kid you not. Grown adults wearing silly gowns have seriously argued that because we "choose" to fly, we "choose" to be manhandled. Warrantless searches are part of flying. If you dislike them, don't buy a plane ticket.
New York's rulers have already trotted out this blatherskite to justify their rifling of commuters' belongings. Our Man Kelly says, "You have a right to turn around and leave..." rather than submit to the search. But he offered no advice on how secretaries, nurses, and other workers dependent on the subway could get to their jobs. These folks typically live in the outer boroughs, miles from midtown, because of the exorbitant rents Manhattan's landlords charge to cover exorbitant real estate taxes.
4) The Searches Purport To Be Random, But Cops Are Picking on "Suspicious" Folks. They define "suspicious" behavior as making a fist, apparently because that's the preferred method among suicide bombers for clutching detonators. No word on whether babies clasping Cheerios will also be considered threats. People wearing "heavy coats inappropriate for the summer weather" rouse cops' curiosity as well. Someone warn the elderly that if they're cold because of poor circulation, they'd better stay home. And anyone prone to sweating when it's hot should avoid the subways: the NYPD is gunning for such miscreants because terrorists sweat. One fears New York's Brightest will one day realize that terrorists breathe, too, but let's not hold our breath.
5) It's Spreading Like Wildfire. Boston inaugurated transit searches last year at the Democratic National Convention. There was little outrage: few protests, no riots. Rulers in cities across the country perked up. New York's latest adventure in fascism fascinates them as well. They are studying the sheeple's submission. Keenly. Before rush hour had even ended that first evening, New Jersey and Connecticut announced that they, too, would begin ransacking bags.
Transit searches easily translate to suburban and rural areas. They're called "roadblocks."
6) NYC Officials Have Been Scheming About This For 3-1/2 Years. But they were waiting for the right moment to spring it on us, as Ray Kelly confided to the New York Times. "The reality is, you need an event such as London for people to realize this is a procedure put in place for their safety...The issue is what the public will accept. You still need an event to get public support."
I wonder what else they're plotting, what "event" will unleash it on us, and how they'll manipulate public opinion. Yo, guys, those plans for the camps: have you ordered the razor-wire yet?
7) It Has Nothing to do With Security. New York City's transit system is the country's largest. At street level, almost 4500 busses traverse about 2000 route-miles in the five boroughs. Underground (and occasionally above ground, too) there are 468 subway stations with multiple entrances, over 31,000 turnstiles, and 656 miles of track for carrying passengers. About 4.7 million patrons ride the City's mass transit each day.
Our Rulers actually want us to believe that 40,000 New York City cops – not all of whom will be deployed to the transit system: after all, someone has to pester pedestrians and ticket drivers – can identify and intercept a suicide bomber lost in this vastness.
Additionally, the gaps in this "security" yawn so prodigiously that even dumbed-down public-school graduates could exploit them. The cops and their "checkpoints" will rove from subway station to station, depending on the time of day. They will search a certain percentage of passengers.
Let us suppose for sake of argument that suicide bombers are actually waiting to blow commuters sky-high. Let us further grant that these terrorists are of sufficient intelligence to construct a bomb and plot its effective detonation. Yet, when they come upon a search at one entrance to the subway, it will not occur to them to "turn around and leave" so they can hunt a different entrance. And men eager to die for their cause would never consider walking 7 or 8 blocks to the next station.
"The public wants to feel safe, as well as be safe," says William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, "So this has a benefit of perception." Yep. It's also invaluable to Our Rulers for the cover it provides.
8) Your Fellow Citizens Think It's Dandy. Johnny Eggz, 31, exclaimed to The New York Post, "Cool!" Kinda makes you wonder what Johnny does for entertainment of an evening, doesn't it? He continued, "We're at war. What are you going to do – cry about being searched or cry about being blown up?" Michael Schultz at least recognizes that "it's an invasion of privacy," but, as he concluded in The New York Sun, "if you're not carrying anything illegal, you've got nothing to hide." Eve Holbrook, 35, volunteered to be searched. "It gives me a sense of comfort," she told The New York Times. "I went up there of my own free will." We can only hope the terrorists among us are as amenable.
The few sheeple who object do so on PC grounds: they fear "racial profiling," not unConstitutional, general searches. The Times quoted Hani Judeh, 24, a Palestinian-American living in Brooklyn. "They should check bags, but they can't discriminate. You can't tell Indian from Pakistani, you can't tell West Indian from black, you can't tell Arab from Mediterranean."
On the bright side, Gene Russianoff, a lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, understands what's really going on. "Riders being randomly searched is what they do in Communist regimes," he told the Post. Ironically, the article in which his comment appeared began, "Call [the searches] freedom frisks."
9) Contraband Will Get You Arrested. In another parallel with the airports, anyone found with drugs, weapons, or the myriad other things on which Our Rulers frown will be arrested.
10) Larry D. Hiibel, Petitioner v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, Humboldt County, et al. This case, decided last summer by the Supreme Court, held that citizens must identify themselves to cops. Refusal can result in arrest.
At some point, Our Rulers will revoke the "freedom" to leave the transit system rather than be searched. And searching will spread to streetcorners: if one consents to being frisked by riding in planes and busses, one consents as well by stepping onto a sidewalk. Those who don't cooperate, who complain or hesitate or perhaps don't raise their hands overhead as quickly as ordered, will immediately rouse suspicion. Names will be demanded and compared against lists of "protestors." It won't be difficult to join those lists. Writing letters critical of Our Rulers to one's congressman or a newspaper editor will be enough. Having written one probably will be too: computers have long memories. And we all know the patience police states extend to dissidents.
Are you scared yet?