Before There Was A TSA, There Was MADD
A hallmark of a totalitarian (or at least,
authoritarian) country is the legal impossibility
of anonymous, unhassled travel.
was synonymous—once upon a time—with countries like Nazi
Germany and, of course, the old Soviet Union.
As recently as the late 1980s, one could walk right up
to a ticket counter at any major airport and buy a
ticket, in cash, without presenting any ID whatsoever.
You could arrive at the airport minutes before your
flight—and so long as you made it to the gate before
they shut the door, you could make your flight.
Yes, I know. Then came 9/11—our new Sacred Word—and the
But the birth of police state treatment of travelers
predates 9/11 by more than a decade, at least. Arguably,
the camel`s nose under the tent that led to everything
we`re up against today—including virtual strip searches
so sensitive they can tell whether a man is circumcised
(either that, or a rough
"pat down" by
a TSA goon)—was set in motion by a group of…Moms.
Against Drunk Driving, that is.
It was MADD, back in the `80s, that was the motive force
behind the imposition of America`s first totalitarian
travel laws—in the form of so-called
warrantless and probable cause-less
of all the drivers who just happened to be on that
stretch of road.
The Supreme Court affirmed it—in
Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz—and
much worse, the public has come to accept it,
So it`s really no surprise that, with a few noble
exceptions, most people also accept the disgusting,
now imposed by the TSA on air travelers. Rather than decline
to fly—using their economic power to force a change for
the better—or even taking the lesser step of sending in
a letter of complaint—they submit.
It makes the flesh creep, not just for what this tells
us about the passivity of Americans, about their
willingness to bow their heads and obey whenever
the state barks at them—but more so for the future it
What happens when the backscatter X-ray machines and
routine, random pat downs are paired with the legal
principle already established by random roadblocks
"terrorists" travel by car, too.
And it would be a risk to
security", would it not, to permit these lurking
evildoers to travel undetected?
If you haven`t yet made the mental connection, be
assured that there are people who have. Mobile
backscatter X-ray machines already exist and have
already been deployed on our streets to
"randomly screen" passing vehicles—and probably people, too. (See
There is just too much power—and profit—on the
table to leave things lie.
This will happen. You will find yourself
stopped by the side of the road—for absolutely no
reason at all—forced to obey not just a
cop`s Fallujah-esque interrogation and
rummaging of your
"papers"—but in addition to that, a more thorough
person, either by mechanical means or the
All the building blocks are not merely in place—they
have been cemented together firmly.
In the past year alone, the courts have affirmed the
reality, the arbitrary power) of
forcibly extract your bodily fluids
from you if they
"suspect" you may be under the influence of either
the licit drug alcohol or illicit drugs, such as
means very little in the way of tangible, objective
reason for such suspicion. Really, it boils down to
whether the cop wants to throw you over the hood
of his cruiser and hypodermic you—just like it`s pretty
much up to the TSA goon at the airport whether he merely
feels you up publicly—or forces you into a quiet room
Oh yes. It`s true you don`t have to fly, so you
can avoid the TSA porno scanners as well as the TSA`s
feel-ups…. for the moment.
But what happens when these features of the New American
Way are deployed on highways and roads throughout the
country, as they surely will be?
What then, friend?
Very few of us can elect not to leave our homes, to park
our cars and hunker down in the basement.
We have to drive. Or at least, we have to travel.
Whether by foot, car, bus or train.
And the Supreme Court has already decreed that we should
accept that we have (according to them) no
"" the moment
we cross our property line into the
"public" sphere—and "public"
areas, such as roads. We have given our
"implied consent“) to be randomly stopped and
no specific reason whatsoever.
The general threat—whether it be
That is what the courts have said and it is what the
Moms at Mothers Against Drunk Driving set in motion back
during the Reagan Years, when everyone thought it was
morning in America again.
Sorry for the rude awakening.
Eric Peters (email
him is a
The Washington Times, where
he worked as an editorial writer and columnist
during the 1990s. He is currently a freelance car
journalist and runs
He is the author of
his next book,
will be published this fall.