Subway Safety Tips

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The Flex Your Rights Foundation has a six-step Citizen's Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches, which can be summarized as: "Refuse search. Exit subway." Also, this warning:

If you refuse to be searched and run into the station, you could be shot to death.

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  1. I give thee, 2 reasons why the terrorists have won:

    1)If you refuse to be searched and run into the station, you could be shot to death.

    2)If you’re approached by anyone suspicious in the subway, walk to the nearest uniformed officer for help — but don’t run away.

    Wow, this is what democracy looks like now.

  2. No, this is what Fascism looks like.

  3. s.a.m.:

    Looks to me like it’s the statists who are winning, and not the terrorists. Try not to confuse the two.

    You’ll know that the terrorists have won when Americans are being arrested for failing to pray 5 times each day.

    I think the terrorist team is still 99 yards away from the end zone.

  4. It is as bad as I thought. As costly as the searches are in terms of privacy, potential for arrest for non-terrorism related crimes etc. the only minuscule benefit was the chance (virtually non-existent as it was) to deter a terrorist. But if, as the police commissioner says, you can simply refuse and leave the station, then the entire thing is a patently worthless farce with absolutely no deterrent effect and zero chance of catching a terrorist. WTF is going on with people in this country that they accept this kind of nonsense? Never mind, that’s a rhetorical question.

  5. Looks to me like it’s the statists who are winning, and not the terrorists.

    Russ-
    Its more like the statists are defeating America while handing the terrorists a symbolic win with the loss of our civil liberties and perversion of the constitution. And the war on drugs spotted them 1st and goal on our 5 yard line while our defensive line keeps running into each other! The only way to defeat them at this point is to hope they fumble away the chance, otherwise, we maybe stuck with a draw at best for the next several years! And when you are trying to be the top team, a draw is just as bad as a loss.

    Yeah, I watch football too.

  6. Not to defend the asinine “random search” policy, but how is it fascistic/statist/a victory for the terrorists, if we prevent people from running onto the subway? Is that a new libertarian sport?

    My first thought was, “Another good reason to read the news!” It could save your life!

  7. Assume: The terrorists hate us for our freedom.
    Fact: We are slowly losing our freedoms in the name of security.
    Therefore: Does it follow that the terrorists hate us less now?

    Discuss

  8. Not to defend the asinine “random search” policy, but how is it fascistic/statist/a victory for the terrorists, if we prevent people from running onto the subway? Is that a new libertarian sport?

    I guess you have never been late for your ride, always on time. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have had to run to catch the bus, subway, flight, train, etc. Sometimes as a result of a long, ineffective security line.

  9. Shelby,
    I am going to assume you’ve never been late for any appointment and needed to run to catch the subway?

  10. No, I’ve been late for the subway plenty of times. Though that hasn’t led me to vault the turnstile. Eventually, though, I learned that the subway never runs on time — or if it does, the correlation between subway and schedule is random. Thus, there’s rarely much benefit to hurrying.

    This held true in NY in 89-91 and in SF more recently. Your mileage and subway efficiency may vary.

  11. Mo – maybe that’s OBL’s plan…get the US used to authoritarian rule and then bring in the Sharia.

    But I don’t think that would work, either.

    I mean, regardless, the terrorists are not going to win. But the authoritarians sure seem to be kicking some ass.

    If I put on my tinfoil hat, I can almost think long enough to realise that OBL is part of the Grand Global Conspiracy. 🙂

  12. Is walking kind of fast still allowed? How about skipping?

  13. Shelby,
    Since when does run = vault the turnstile?

  14. “Looks to me like it’s the statists who are winning, and not the terrorists. “

    Terrorists are statists at the audition stage.

    RWBIMT — Running While Brown in Mass Transit is a capital offense, or at least Running While Brazilian.

    There is a libertarian solution — privatize transportation and let private owners enforce it, as discriminatory and arbitrary as they wish.

  15. Mo,

    I don’t claim to know exactly why the terrorists hate us, I largely assume it’s a little different for each terrorist. But let’s address arguments at their best, not their worst, shall we? In other words, the “they hate us for our freedoms” argument is, at its best, shorthand for they hate us for our infidel lifestyle that is allowed and enabled by a liberal political system and culture that they would never accept. It has nothing to do with our freedom to get onto subways without being searched. If this is any “victory” for them, it is simply because of the glee they derive from making us scared and from deluding themselves into thinking they are somehow closer to making us pray five times a day.

  16. fyodor,
    I know, it was my [failed] attempt at being funny by pointing out the contradiction of people who support restricting freedom are also the ones that say terrorists hate us for our freedom. Though in fairness, a significant number of people who say “they hate us for our freedom” aren’t too wild about our infidel lifestyles either (see: Janet Jackson response).

    By the way, it’s good to see you posting again, haven’t seen ya’ around these parts for a while.

  17. I don’t remember which poster it is who always says I shouldn’t be so pessimistic about the future of this country, but I wonder if he still thinks that.

    I usually take taxis when I’m in New York, but if I ever do have to take the subway I’m filling my purse with Ziploc bags containing legal but utterly disgusting contents. Dirty diapers, used feminine products, the remains of the milk gravy that’s been in my freezer for so long I don’t remember making it. . . . in all seriousness, if enough people did this sort of civil disobedience, I’ll bet these bag searches would stop soon enough.

  18. You know how they say that if you plunge a sleeping person’s hand into cold water he’ll wet the bed? What about a wide-awake cop who plunges his hand into a purseful of lukewarm farina?

  19. Jeniffer,

    If you purposely fill up your purse with dirty diapers, used feminie products, etc. just to piss off the authoritarians, then the terrorists have won.

  20. Russ-
    So long as they remain in sealed Ziploc bags, I’m willing to make that sacrifice. If I do the farina gambit it will be with an ugly old purse that I haven’t thrown away only because I am a procrastinator.

  21. “I usually take taxis when I’m in New York, but if I ever do have to take the subway I’m filling my purse with Ziploc bags containing legal but utterly disgusting contents. Dirty diapers, used feminine products, the remains of the milk gravy that’s been in my freezer for so long I don’t remember making it …. ”

    LOL!

    But unfortunately, I’m willing to bet the police state would charge you with some kind of hazardous waste endangerment charge for soiled diapers. They’ll also probably try to accuse you of manufacturing biological weapons for carrying moldy fruitcake in a baggie.

  22. I don’t remember which poster it is who always says I shouldn’t be so pessimistic about the future of this country,

    gaius?

  23. BAI–

    I’ve already thought about it. For the diapers and used you-know-whats, it is a well-known fact that such items CANNOT be flushed down toilets without causing serious plumbing damage, so if you’re, say, visiting someone’s home and don’t want to fill up their trash cans with stinking garbage then the proper thing to do is seal such items in airtight bags and dispose of them later.

    The milk gravy might be harder to justify, though, so I think I’ll just stick with the first two. I am completely serious. I can get the diapers from some new-parent friends of mine, and I can get the latter stuff on my own. Actually, instead of baby diapers, which might be suspicious since I am myself childless, I’d be willing to seriously soil a pair of my own underwear, and put THAT in the Ziploc bag. If the cop asks, I’ll say I had an accident and need to take them home to be washed.

    I just need to explain to my boyfriend why I’m storing such items in Tupperware containers in the freezer.

    Seriously, guys–this could work! Civil disobedience! I’m not kidding. Does anyone have any better ideas?

  24. RC-
    No, not gaius. He agrees with me, except that he blames it on democracy and I blame it on the opposite.

  25. “I’d be willing to seriously soil a pair of my own underwear, and put THAT in the Ziploc bag”

    Watch out Jennifer. This is New York after all. The cop might get off on that. No need letting him get off on a power trip and a soiled undies fetish at the same time.

  26. Good point, Mo. But I still think this is my best bet for civil disobedience. If Martin Luther King could face down police dogs and fire hoses, I can carry some icky stuff around for awhile. Especially since I have no sense of smell.

  27. I just need to explain to my boyfriend why I’m storing such items in Tupperware containers in the freezer.

    Doesn’t he read this forum? Just refer him to this thread.

  28. Mo,

    I’ve been missed? Yow. I’ve been concentrating a bit more on work, plus my upcoming tour through Nebraska, Des Moines and Chicago. See http://myspace.com/littlefyodorbabushka for details!

    Anyway, sorry for misunderstanding you. I thought you were mocking the “they hate us for our freedoms” thing. Yep, we certainly do have our own infidel haters here. Luckily they’re wimps by comparison….

  29. Thoreau-

    I think he has legitimate work to do today. Also, he’d roll his eyes so hard they’d fall out and land somewhere in Rhode Island. For a libertarian, Jeff’s awfully sanguine about the way things are going in this country.

  30. I don’t remember which poster it is who always says I shouldn’t be so pessimistic about the future of this country

    I think we are all a bit pessimistic, me moreso than others, accept for the “speakers” that attend the Republican/democrat party conventions before election.

  31. Jennifer,

    I thought civil disobedience meant that you were ready, willing, and able to go to jail/prison for the cause you’re working for. Uggh. My wife would hate me if that happened.

  32. Shawn-
    Well, if they want to arrest me for carrying dirty underwear or used feminine hygiene products in airtight bags inside my purse in the subway, they’re welcome to do so. Much as I like my job, I also wouldn’t mind suing the bastards and becoming independently wealthy. (Better yet, win a huge settlement and tell the city they can keep every penny–IF they fire the officers involved.)

  33. And for the record, I am not “sanguine” about the state of the country. I find it roughly no more or less worse than it has been for most of my adult life. The main difference now is that it is impacting folks on the street.

  34. “No worse than before” = “no particular reason to worry” = sanguine.

  35. Actually I take sanguine to mean “optimistic,” which I’m not. That is not mutually exclusive to the fact that I’m not particularly worried.

  36. Don’t be such a worry wart Jen. They changed the slogan!

    For some reason I’m thinking of Nero and fiddles.

  37. You’re right, Jeff. I was confusing “sanguine” with “phlegmatic.”

    I need another espresso.

    Mo–
    Yeah, I saw that in the New York Times and made an obnoxious comment about it on some other thread. The “Global struggle against violent extremism,” huh? No way THAT can be construed as mission creep.

    And I assume it won’t apply to the violent American extremists who view all Iraqis as “hajis” and make ample use of their shoot-to-kill capabilities.

    But I’m getting off-topic. I seriously think we should all fill our purses and backpacks with super-icky but legal stuff and go ride the subway.

  38. Also, as mentioned on Firefly (Thanks to Akira for turning me on to that show) sanguine means “bloody.”

    And Jennifer, next time I’m in the subway, I’ll fill my European Carryall with my old wrestling workout clothes. That’ll freak out any kind of detection dog!

  39. Dovetailing with Jennifer’s idea, why not try dog poop? I mean, you’re required to bag that up anyway…should be easy to get a hold of, and you’d look like an extremely good, if annoying, citizen!

  40. I am certainly phlegmatic. Or at least phlegmy.

    And I think there are laws on the books about performing acts that waste police time. They’ve been around for decades, and primarily deal with pretending you’re going to jump off a building as a distraction to a robbery and things like that. I don’t know the exact wording of the law (or even it’s exact name) but I bet it would apply.

  41. If you are not so angry that
    you cannot move,
    you cannot eat,
    you cannot sleep,
    you can just barely growl,
    bound so tightly with tension and anger
    you approach a state of rigor mortis,

    then you are not paying attention.

  42. Ya’ll are gettin’ yur humours mixed up:

    “SANGUINE” – amorous, happy, generous – Blood
    “CHOLERIC” – violent, vengeful – Yellow Bile
    “PHLEGMATIC” – dull, pale, cowardly – PHLEGM
    “MELANCHOLIC” – gluttonous, lazy, sentimental – BLACK BILE

    Luckily we don’t have subways here in Phoenix, so I don’t worry about this shit. We just have a nuclear power plant and an air force base.

    But I really am not too worried about a buch of violent extremists. Shit, I know some. 🙂

  43. I don’t think sanguine’s a humour… I thought they were:
    Phlegmatic, melancholic, choleric, bilious
    lion, homunculus, ox, eagle
    Mark, Luke, John, Paul

    medievalism is fun!

  44. Lowdog,

    The founding fathers were violent extremists.

  45. Jeff-
    I’m not a lawyer, but I’m not wasting a cop’s time if I’m just walking along in the subway, minding my own business, with icky stuff in my purse. The cop won’t even KNOW unless he CHOOSES to search me. I mean, if Linguist waves his bad of dog poop while yelling “Guess what I have in here!” or I do the same with my purseful o’yuckiness, that’s a different story.

    And say I DO get arrested. No way would it stick. I mean, what can they do–require all women to flush their tampons down the toilets? THAT would be an act of mass terrorism, to be sure, destroying the plumbing of Manhattan. Make it illegal to have an accident in your pants and then take them home to wash them?

    I’ve never pulled this stunt on you, Jeff, but rest assured–as a Southern woman I DAMN sure know how to cry on demand. (They don’t let you graduate high school without this skill. I can even do it without messing up my eye makeup.) So imagine–some poor sweet cute little Southern lady trying to handle an embarrassing personal problem with an iota of dignity, but then that mean ol’ Yankee cop forced me to announce my embarrassing personal problems to them mean Noo Yawkuhs?

    Ha. I pity the damnfool cop who tries it.

  46. And I LOVE Linguist’s dogpoop idea. I hope a lot of subway riders are reading this thread.

  47. Jennifer, all the cop is going to do if he has to look at your dirty underwear in your purse is roll his eyes & tell his buddies at the bar after his shift that he ran into another looloo at work that day.

    Strike another blow for freedom, babe.

  48. Doug-
    You are clearly not familiar with the awesome vastness of my purse. I could keep that pig busy for well over an hour.

  49. First off, the bad guys here aren’t the cops or the transit authority, but the policy makers. Pulling smug stunts to teach the cops a lesson (that they won’t get) is pretty puerile.

    Sorry, bad mood today.

  50. Jeff-
    In any situation where the authorities are oppressing the populace, it’s not the policy makers who are doing the actual oppression. By that standard, pretty much any act of civil disobedience is puerile. It wasn’t Southern diner owners who made segregation the law of the South, but it’s the diner owners who had to deal with the sit-ins. The British army guys in India had nothing to do with British colonial policy, but Gandhi bugged ’em anyway.

    How can I bother Bloomberg personally without going to jail?

    And in all seriousness to Manhattanites: one or two gross-out bag searches wouldn’t do a thing, but if you get enough you reach critical mass. But if anybody has any better ideas, I’m more than ready to listen.

  51. Jennifer writes: I could keep that pig busy for well over an hour.

    This site has degenerated into a caricature of libertarians that will amply sustain those who argue we are all hedonistic assholes who care only about gratifying our own base, adolescent instincts and who despise any authority at all, finding none of it legitimate.

    The NYPD is replete with hard-working men and women whose city was subjected to severe trauma a few years back. That city remains nervous. Its cops are not pigs. I lived in Manhattan from 97-00 and frequently took the subway. (And two cops were friends of mine, one a detective who agrees the war on drugs is moronic.)Yeah, being stopped and my briefcase searched would slow me down, but I am willing to pay that price if it contributes to a communal sense that “they” are “doing something.” They are us. Fellow American citizens whose city is a primary target for murderous fanatics. This policy won’t be around long, and in any event, it is not the fault of the individual cops.

    Maybe this random bag-checking outside subways is ineffectual, except as a means of providing assurance to the public that the cops are doing something to keep them safe. Perhaps. But those cops do not deserve to plunge their hands into a bloody Kotex pad or other disgusting substances simply for doing their jobs. What the fuck do so many of you find entertaining about exposing decent men and women in the NYPD to such noxious behavior?

    Pigs? Pigs, Jennifer? Like the pigs who died trying to save folks on September 11, 2001? This is not the Reason I signed up for in ’80. That its blog hosts such malicious drivel, and no one else seems to object to it, is deeply disturbing.

  52. “This is not the Reason I signed up for in ’80. That its blog hosts such malicious drivel, and no one else seems to object to it, is deeply disturbing.”

    Mona, does this count as your weekly “I’m Canceling My Subscription And Not Coming Back” post?

  53. Mona, does this count as your weekly “I’m Canceling My Subscription And Not Coming Back” post?

    So, do you think this occuping “pigs” with bloody Kotex pads stuff, in the context of a fearful public facing an enemy that has killed a few thousand of them, is amusing? Is that your idea of how serious libertarians present themselves?

  54. Mona-
    I could just as easily ask them why they’re writing down the information on people’s drivers licenses, and just how gently they’re going to riffle through people’s things. And observng a series of sealed Ziploc bags is not the same thing as plunging your hands into unhealthy substances. Unless you choose to make it thus.

    Also, to the best of my knowledge nobody who died on 9-11 is going to be searching my bags anyway, so nothing I do can possibly hurt them. No need to mention them unless you’re going for the emotional sucker-punch. And the existence of good, dedicated cops on the force doesn’t change the fact that a fundamental right–the right to go about your daily business in public without being questioned and searched by the police–is being chipped away, and your primary concern is the sensitive feelings of the ones actually hired to bear the chisels.

    And honestly, I don’t care if any of them spend their off-hours in therapy wondering why they are so disliked when all they’re doing is making it impossible for the average Manhattanite to go about his daily routines without the knowledge that he or she can be searched at the cop’s “discretion.”

    And I don’t think it’ll stop there, either.

  55. Also, I wanted to point out that cancelling your subscription will not affect me at all–I don’t make a dime off of this magazine.

  56. I ask myself three questions:

    1) If I allow the police to search me, thus giving up a right in order to ride the subway, does this make anyone safer? After all, I would only agree if I am not a danger to anyone to begin with.

    2) If many people happened to be carrying a baggy of talcum powder around in their briefcases/bags would that cause a problem? Maybe they get rashes easy. Plus there is no gross stinky mess to deal with. (Bonus they can supply people with jobs in police labs.)

    3) If a cop thinks what he is doing is stupid and wrong and oppressive yet does it anyway, is he my oppressor or just an idiot? Since the victims of 9/11 have been brought up, can I feel free to call such a cop a Nazi?

    Crap! That?s four questions. Now I have to re-think everything.

  57. Talcum powder! Yes!

    You know what’s funny is that I really DO take taxis, not subways, in New York (expense accounts), so I figured that, so far as I personally am concerned, this whole discussions is purely hypothetical. But guess what I just read in the New York Times (presented like it’s GOOD news)–now the New Haven Metro-North is getting searched, too. The train from Connecticut, which of course means the train I take.

    But if I really oppose being stopped and searched and questioned as a regular part of going about my daily business, I can just drive three and a half hours and shell out a hundred bucks to park my car in the city for the day. Until they start searching people who go into parking garages.

    I always thought one of the whole points of living in a free country was that, provided you hurt or disturbed nobody, the government was supposed to leave you alone. Apparently there are those who feel this is obsolete. So what IS the definition of a free country, then?

    And remember that this huge fiasco will not even work at keeping us safe. We’re not even being ordered to surrender rights for safety, but for a cheap and worthless illusion of safety.

  58. Its cops are not pigs.

    In Spain the cops are called “monkeys” according to a friend of mine. A friend from Beijing tells me that the Chinese call their cops “pigs.” Apparently there’s a universal human tendency to denigrate the people who are supposedly protecting you, but somehow manage to spend most of their time messing with you.

    Yes, there are good cops out there. But nobody ever said that invading an innocent person’s privacy should be easy. Sometimes it will be embarassing or disgusting. That’s just the way it is. The cops need to pass the word back up the foodchain that messing with innocent people really sucks.

    Me, I’m thinking of putting a plastic bag of oregano in my bag when I go to NYC…and a tupperware container with pasta. Cop bugs me about my suspicious plant product and I’ll explain that it’s the seasoning for my pasta.

    Anything to screw with their minds.

    Yeah, being stopped and my briefcase searched would slow me down, but I am willing to pay that price if it contributes to a communal sense that “they” are “doing something.”

    So, what if an economic regulation didn’t actually alleviate poverty or protect consumers or whatever, but it did provide the warm fuzzy feeling that “they” are doing something about poverty? What if a gun control law didn’t actually stop crime but contributed to a warm fuzzy feeling that “they” are doing something about crime? What if a video game regulation didn’t make the kids any smarter or healthier or happier or more active or less violent or whatever, but it contributed to a communal feeling that “they” are doing something.

    The problem with security measures is that nobody ever thinks more than one step ahead. They see a problem and they figure that creating hassle will make us more secure. They never bother to ask whether terrorists will evade the measure or simply find another target. As long as this remains an open society we will have vulnerabilities. The only long term solution is to stop them from attacking us. We can debate what the best way is to do that, but squeezing the balloon will merely shift them from one soft spot to another.

    This policy won’t be around long

    Oh? Didn’t the President say that the War on Terror will be a very, very long one? Is the end in sight yet?

  59. Didn’t you hear, Thoreau? As of today, the War on Terror is over. It’s now the Global Struggle against Violent Extremism.

    Not making this up.

  60. Jennifer-

    How long before it’s our Eternal War Against Eurasia and Eastasia?

  61. Thoreau-

    As soon as everybody, even Mona and Fox News, figures out that there will always be at least ONE violent extremist in the world. This war will never end.

  62. How can I bother Bloomberg personally without going to jail?

    The second comment on this post at Liberty Belles has a telephone number which is purported to be Mayor Bloomberg’s home number.

  63. An anecdote;

    A few years back, during one of those insipid Orange Alerts, I went to a hockey game. The arena was randomly searching patrons as we entered. I got picked, and I refused to be searched. The poor schmuck “just doing his job” refused me entrance. So I left, walked around to one of the other entrances, and got in without being searched.

    That is what is called “window dressing”. Oh, and to make their efforts even more obviously window dressing, I was stopped in mid-conversation with my brother. We were obviously paired, but he was allowed entry and I was stopped for a search. An effective security program would have flagged my brother for further scrutiny when I refused to be searched. But no, this wasn’t about effective security, it was about appearances.

    Now a question: If NYC stops you for a search, and you refuse, how likely are you to gain entry 30 seconds later if you walk outside, count to 30, and walk back in? Would it vary from station to station? If refused entry on the North-bound, could you easily get on the South-bound?

  64. However, please don’t use the number to which I linked in any way that would violate any applicable laws, whether or not it is indeed Mayor Bloomberg’s number.

  65. Jennifer-

    Here’s a thought:

    Mona gets all upset if you want a cop to find your dirty underwear in a sealed bag. But if you put that dirty underwear on the cop’s head and led him around on a leash, other people on this forum would argue that it’s nothing more than a good old fashioned frat prank!

    The lesson? If you want to subject a person to something embarassing or degrading, be sure to take pictures of yourself doing a thumbs up while it happens!

    It might also go over better
    on this forum if the cop is an Arab, or at least a Muslim. Although, if there are Muslims in the NYPD I might have to rethink the notion that most Muslims in the US care only about peace and freedom. 😉

  66. thoreau writes: Apparently there’s a universal human tendency to denigrate the people who are supposedly protecting you, but somehow manage to spend most of their time messing with you.

    I see. So you think it is just fine for Jennifer to refer to the NYPD as “pigs” because they are not really interested in protecting us from terrorists, but only wishing to “mess with us” as in a totalitarian regime like China’s?

    You cannot imagine that maybe, just maybe, there is reason to be concerned that Islamicist suicide bombers have in mind for NYC subways what they have done in London? That there is bona fide worry about this? No, we should dismiss as “pigs” those men and women attempting to address this threat, which isn’t real anyway. I get it now, this is the new face of libertarianism. Why not simply declare: “Off the pigs!” I mean, exposing them to bloody Kotex pads and rotting gravy is mamby-pamby. They are the enemy, so let’s fully treat them as such.

    Yeah, here is a recipe for libertarian success.

  67. Mona gets all upset if you want a cop to find your dirty underwear in a sealed bag. But if you put that dirty underwear on the cop’s head and led him around on a leash, other people on this forum would argue that it’s nothing more than a good old fashioned frat prank!

    Yeah, because the NYPD is no better than Islamacist detainees, and all of those “pigs” should be subjected to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. That would make a fine libertarian, moral symmetry.

    Off the pigs!

  68. No, we should dismiss as “pigs” those men and women attempting to address this threat, which isn’t real anyway.

    If they were doing something useful about it I’d give them more credit. Or if they did something ineffective but at least it didn’t infringe anybody’s privacy.

    But it’s hard for me to respect them when their solution is always to invade privacy but not actually solve the problem. At best they’re squeezing the balloon. At worst they’re not even squeezing.

    Yeah, because the NYPD is no better than Islamacist detainees, and all of those “pigs” should be subjected to the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

    OK, maybe I went over the top there.

    But nobody ever said that unreasonable invasions of privacy would be pleasant.

    On the negative side, if the NYPD gets too freaked out by invasions of privacy, they might go back to some of their other favorite pursuits, such as sodomizing innocent people with toilet plungers and unloading a few dozen bullets into unarmed people on the street.

    If it seems like I cut the cops zero slack, it’s because people with that much authority deserve zero slack.

  69. You cannot imagine that maybe, just maybe, there is reason to be concerned that Islamicist suicide bombers have in mind for NYC subways what they have done in London?

  70. must… learn… HTML…

  71. Oh, and if it seems like I’m comparing our cops to China’s, maybe it’s because our government is acting as though China is a model to be emulated. We already have essentially zero protection against unwarranted and unreasonable searches. Our Dear Leader is claiming the power to hold citizens captured on US soil without trial or charges. Our Attorney General endorses torture (and partisans cheer him on). And 5 of those darn activists on the Supreme Court rolled over and played dead when government officials claimed the power to take your house and give it to a crony on any pretext that they like.

    We aren’t China yet, but some people are bound and determined to push in that direction.

  72. thoreau writes: If they were doing something useful about it I’d give them more credit. Or if they did something ineffective but at least it didn’t infringe anybody’s privacy.

    You are a reasonable person, and so it disturbs me to see how you have argued in this thread. Jennifer repeatedly wrote about her fantasies of plaguing the NYPD “pigs” with bloody feminine hygiene products and other noxious items, and tying them up for “an hour.” She wants to make their job harder, and no one else seems to object to such a goal.

    These officers are charged with preventing religious nutjobs from blowing up civilians on the NYC subways. I don’t know, and neither do you, what intelligence reports they might have indicating that random checks might deter such plots. Maybe these checks are ineffectual measures, I don’t know. I’m no expert, suspect the checks are not helpful, but really don’t know.

    But subway bombs is not a contrived concern; it is deadly serious and real. People charged with preventing those deaths are not “pigs.” Such prevention is LEGITIMATE. It is not “war on drugs” bullshit.

    Calling police “pigs” invokes 60s radical calls to kill them all, to deny the police any legitimacy, calling for war on the body politic. Stopping jihadists is not illegitimate. It is part of what cops SHOULD do. They are not “pigs” for doing it.Libertarians who disagree should be far above calling cops “pigs” for efforts to stop zealots who want us all dead, zealots who have proven they will blow up subway trains.

  73. It is not “war on drugs” bullshit.

    The hell it isn’t. Don’t be so naive Mona. When have the police ever used any authority to search in a way that wasn’t really about catching druggies? Oh, right, I forgot – when it was about catching alcohol smugglers. It beggars belief to claim that this scheme can do anything at all against terror, so the reasonable conclusion is that the policy is in fact not about terrorism.

    1. The searches cannot reach but a tiny fraction of the riders. This is not disputable I should think. The odds of getting caught with a bomb just from that fact alone is virtually zero.

    2. Add to that the fact that someone willing to blow themselves up is not going to be afraid of a 1 in a 1000 (a very conservative estimate) chance of being caught – so deterrence is out.

    3. Add to that the fact that you can simply refuse the search and go to a different station.
    Thus, for a terrorist, this is simply a farce, not a plan of any merit.

    What you get when you add it all up is not only a policy that is most likely ineffective, but an absolutely, almost childishly, ineffective method of preventing terrorism.

    How much would you like to bet me that the net result is many many drug and/or other non-terrorism related crimes and not a single real terrorist in the group? This is, no matter what they say (or even believe – and I do think many police are sincere in their efforts, but that’s no excuse), much more about incrementally pushing back the boundaries of where and when people can be searched. Such behavior is always accompanied by a rationalization, usually about a “dire situation” that justifies unusual measures and helps to convince the public that it’s for their own good (even to the point of inducing utter inanity in some who volunteer to be searched!). But you know as well as I that any power granted under those conditions (even were it effective for the purported need, which it’s not) is never going to be returned. It will only serves as another step to law enforcement’s ultimate dream of being able to search anyone, anywhere, anytime and for any reason (or none).

  74. Maybe these checks are ineffectual measures, I don’t know. I’m no expert, suspect the checks are not helpful, but really don’t know.

    We physicists have an approach to analyzing situations: You don’t need to be an expert on something, you just need to think a little about what the plausible scenarios are and whether there’s an obvious limitation.

    Everything we’re hearing about these inspections suggests that they’ll be ineffective against any terrorist cell with more than 3 or 4 members. First of all, with several million riders there’s no way they’ll search more than 5% of riders in even the most optimistic scenario. Which means that there’s AT LEAST a 90% chance of a terrorist attack succeeding despite these measures.

    And, if you can indeed refuse a search, all that means is try again later or elsewhere. Now, maybe the cops are really well coordinated, so the surveillance cameras will zoom in on anybody who refuses a search. So the terrorists need buddies who don’t look like exactly like them.

    Also, if the terrorists are suicidal, they can always blow themselves up when the cops approach them on the platform. Sure, a blast on the platform won’t kill as many people as a blast in a tunnel, but if done during a busy time of day, when the platform is crowded, it will still kill a lot of people. And it will sow terror and shut down the mass transit system for a day at least.

    Or, if the inspections occur at the turnstiles, simply set the bomb off there.

    Also, I have never been on a NY subway, but here in DC a lot of the train stations have tunnel-like entrances before the turnstiles. A bomb in one of those entrances during rush hour could have almost as deadly an effect as a bomb in a train car.

    Finally, the most we can do with inspections is squeeze the balloon. A free and open society will always have lots of vulnerable points. Now, maybe mass transit is a particularly crucial part of the balloon, one that should be protected. But let’s at least be honest and realize that:

    1) The most we can do is reduce the probability of an attack in a train car. The stations themselves will always have some sort of vulnerability as long as they are in free and open cities.

    2) Even if these measures protect mass transit, big and open cities will still have their vulnerable points, and the terrorists will exploit that. In the long term, something other than a defensive posture is necessary.

    We can debate what the proper offensive posture is, but let’s not say that ineffective defensive measures are OK if they send the message that “something is being done.” If that “something” accomplishes nothing except to violate privacy, it’s a net negative, not a positive.

  75. Such prevention is LEGITIMATE. It is not “war on drugs” bullshit.

    Mona, you are among the smartest people on this forum (no matter what Gary says), so I’m surprised by this statement. I very much doubt that these searches will thwart any terrorists, but I’m sure the cops will uncover a lot of weed. Whatever the ostensible purpose of these searches, the practical consequence will be more drug convictions.

    And I’m sure the cops know it.

  76. Brian Courts writes: How much would you like to bet me that the net result is many many drug and/or other non-terrorism related crimes and not a single real terrorist in the group

    I won’t take that bet, because I think you are right. Cops will nab drug users/dealers in sweeps to catch suicide bombers. There are no adequate words I can employ to describe how much I hate drug prohibition. Legit searching for subway bombs will put lots of “drug criminals” in prison. But the problem is the prohibition laws, not the need to secure the subways.

  77. Mona, how many bombers do you think this will actually stop?

    If we have no reason to believe that it will stop bombers, but every reason to believe that it will net more drug arrests, should we cut them slack just because they insist that it’s about bombers?

    To put it in perspective, remember when they claimed that alcohol prohibition was for the children? And then remember how they found an illicit distillery on the property of the Senator who wrote the amendment?

  78. thoreau writes: We can debate what the proper offensive posture is, but let’s not say that ineffective defensive measures are OK if they send the message that “something is being done.” If that “something” accomplishes nothing except to violate privacy, it’s a net negative, not a positive.

    Not if it results in people being willing to ride the subways. Terrorists seek to disrupt normal activities, and if random bag checks cause NYers to ride the subways more, we thwart the terrorists. Random checks might deter subway bombers, or not — we lack sufficient data to know. We don’t know what London told D.C. and why they (NYPD) might be doing this. But the London bombs are not an illusion; would you ride a NYC subway train the next day after 7/7 confident that nothing like London was afoot? I wouldn’t.

    The cops on the street checking the bags for explosives are not “pigs.” They ARE NOT PIGS. And it is not funny to plot ways to make their job more difficult.

  79. would you ride a NYC subway train the next day after 7/7 confident that nothing like London was afoot? I wouldn’t.

    I rode a DC subway on 7/7.

    But I see your point: If ineffective measures are necessary to get people to go about their lives, well, maybe we should put the cops on the street to go chase thieves and rapists and murderers, and put shrinks in uniforms on the subways. I mean, it must be psychological, I can’t think of any other way to explain the people who went out of their way and volunteered to be searched. “Oh, I feel so much better knowing that the cop searched innocent me when he could have spent his time dealing with possible criminals.”

  80. thoreau writes: But I see your point: If ineffective measures are necessary to get people to go about their lives, well, maybe we should put the cops on the street to go chase thieves and rapists and murderers, and put shrinks in uniforms on the subways

    Ok. And calling cops “pigs” and contriving to make their jobs more difficult when they are trying to stop subway bombs?

  81. Ok. And calling cops “pigs” and contriving to make their jobs more difficult when they are trying to stop subway bombs?

    Mona, I agree with you that the search policy is not the fault of the officers. The fault lies with Mayor Bloomberg and with the citizens who seem to support him in this endeavor. However, I disagree with your assertion that they are trying to stop subway bombs. This seems to be more about giving passengers the illusion of security, expanding government power over citizens, and catching the occasional drug “offender” than stopping subway bombs.

  82. People, there is a simple libertarian solution to all of these issues: stop subsidising the subways, watch them die off, then use cars instead! See, mass transit kills!

  83. Don’t worry, Mona. After reading the comments here, I’m definitely switching to fake drugs in my bag instead. And if a bomb gets through because the cop is to bust messing with my talcum and oregano, I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I should have been more cooperative–if I’m not too busy pointing out that searching MY bags didn’t do a goddamned thing to keep the bombs out.

    By the way, you didn’t answer my question–since having the government leave you alone is no longer one of the benefits of living in a free country, what is? And when exactly will the government get so intrusive that even you’d admit that the feelings of the ones doing the intruding no longer matter?

    Thoreau–
    In New York the turnstiles are underground, as well. Still a nice, enclosed area for a bomb to do damage. But the New Haven train is boarded on an outdoor platform (though usually a crowded one). YOu have to go through a long metal tunnel to reach it, though.

  84. I’d also like to ask the editors here to please reprint some articles from Reason’s halcyon days, when it was run by REAL libertarians. I’m especially interested in the articles where the REAL libertarians said that the fourth amendment was bullshit, and there’s nothing wrong with having the government stop you and search you any damned time they feel like it.

    By the way, Mona, when I take the train in to NYC to stay overnight, the cops might have to look into my suitcase (to protect your silly, frightened, REAL libertarian self, of course), and they’ll thus learn exactly what kind of underwear and bras I wear, and any and all medications I take, and exactly how many cosmetic tricks I use to maintain my public appearance, and whether or not it’s that Kotex time of the month, and what books I enjoy enough to take them on overnight trips with me. But I can’t get offended by this, because despite all the time they’ll spend obsessing over my talcum powder and oregano, their REAL purpose is to check for bombs. Except that they won’t just let me through when they see my bags are bomb-free–they’ll first have to make sure my drugs are fake.

  85. Was it this thread, or another one, where somebody asked, “If the cops are invading my privacy even though they know damned well it won’t do a thing to make people safer, does this make them my oppressors, or just idiots?” Of course, it’s not an either-or oppressor-idiot dichotomy; they could also just be too lazy or cowardly to speak up. But whether they be oppressive, idiotic, lazy or cowardly, why exactly should I go out of my way to make them happy and comfortable as they invade my privacy and trample all over my rights? “Nine-eleven” is not an answer.

    And as for any cops who are annoyed by whatever I choose to put in my suitcase or purse, just remember: it won’t bother you if you don’t bother me. I’m not going to walk around waviing anything in your faces. And if you actually think that *I* am the one who’s going to blow up the subways, then such pathetically non-existent criminal-detection skills suggest that you’re not that good of a cop anyway.

    How dare I say that? Hey, look over there! A black guy! Quick, shoot him forty-one times and stick a plunger up his ass before any faux libertarians have the chance to say you’re not really protecting anybody! Or if you’re not willing to kill or sodomize anybody, at LEAST maintain the blue wall of silence on behalf of those who do.

    Oh, but how dare I say that? Nine-eleven! Nine-eleven! What’s wrong with cops stopping and questioning me whenever I try to do my job? Nine-eleven! What’s wrong with letting strangers paw through my underwear and studying the labels on my medicine bottles? Nine-eleven! So what if the cops themselves admit this won’t do a damn thing to prevent any bombing attacks? The important thing is, people like Mona get to say , “Well, at least “they” are trying to do something.” Remember: some cops died on nine-eleven, therefore you must not question the actions or motivations of the cops who did NOT die that day.

  86. Jennifer, this is tangential, but related to security screening. I thought of you when I saw this story this morning: Woman convicted of groping screener

  87. Ok. And calling cops “pigs” and contriving to make their jobs more difficult when they are trying to stop subway bombs?

    Mona, if I thought they were actually going to stop any bombs I’d stay out of their way. But they aren’t, so why not have some fun with them?

    On a related note, I’m never, ever polite to the airport security people. Why? Well, he’s showing the entire world my wife’s underwear collection and medications. A little difficult to be nice to him.

    And I second Jennifer’s request: Let’s see some evidence of this libertarian heyday when Reason ran articles on how the 4th amendment is bullshit, and only lefty terrorist sympathizers care about privacy.

    Oh, and here’s a thought: Mona said that without these ineffective measures people won’t ride the subway. Um, I guess the real libertarians are the ones who want to expend police manpower to encourage more people to ride public transportation?

    Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m no purist. I take the Metro to NIH every day. But I’m not the one who just complained that Reason has fallen from its original state of purist grace. And I’m not the one who followed that up by saying that I’m cool with the government infringing everybody’s privacy “…if it contributes to a communal sense that “they” are “doing something.” (For the children, perhaps?)

    Am I the only one who sees the irony?

    And finally, to repeat an earlier point, all that’s really happening is the NYPD is getting a drug war wish-list fulfilled while claiming it’s to stop terrorism. Things like this are the reason why I frequently forget that “Wag the Dog” was a work of fiction. (It was, wasn’t it? I hope? Please?)

  88. As for me, I’ll continue to fly and put up with the screening bullshit there because I must. I’ll continue to use the subways because they’re often faster than cabs, but I won’t consent to being searched there and I hope others would likewise refuse. Even if it’s as brief and cursory a search as the guards perform at museums with their little sticks and flashlights, it’s going too far without doing enough.

  89. Here’s a thought:

    I’ve said before that if the terrorists really want to strike fear into our hearts, they’ll bomb a suburban strip mall on a busy Saturday morning. There will be no way for people to tell themselves that they’re safe as long as they stay away from high profile targets.

    Mona, what will your response be? Will you call for cops and dogs and metal detectors in every strip mall? Will you stand up and applaud when the scared suburbanites call for martial law? Will you support the suspension of habeas corpus? Will you be OK with giving the cops every remaining item on their drug war wishlist?

    Or will you acknowledge that a free and open society will always have vulnerabilities, and that sacrificing freedom won’t do any good?

  90. Serafina–
    When I made my flights a few weeks ago I got lucky–the Federal Boob Fondlers didn’t single me out. But I’m wondering how to handle it when they do.

    G. Gordon Liddy mentioned in his autobiography that when some school bullies were going to give him an indian burn on his arm, he wrapped his arm in duct tape that had thumbtacks stuck through it. But of course I can’t do that without getting arrested. So should I use sound effects to make it seem like I’m really getting off on being groped by some TSA flunky, or should I pretend to be super-ticklish and spend the whole time squirming and giggling?

    And I consider it my DUTY as a patriotic American to ensure that when the cops do check my bags, they find the whole experience as annoying and time-consuming and embarrassing and uncomfortable as possible. I’m willing to sacrifice some free time and dignity to accomplish that. Besides, if they’re going to be checking my underwear and feeling my breasts, I don’t have much dignity left.

  91. I plan to shout “Allah Akbar” just as the cop is unzipping my backpack.

  92. Just tell the cop that you’re a Christian and “Allahu Akbar” means “God is great!”

    If the cop has a problem with you praising the Lord, that means he hates Christianity.

  93. I do not agree with Mona that defending our civil liberties constitutes “malicious drivel”. The erosion of personal freedoms has a ratchet effect. When the general public acquiesces to ineffective and unecessarily intrusive bag&body searches, they will eventually become the accepted norm. The next assault on our liberty will start from this new baseline.

    I suspect that Mona was more upset with the denigration of the cops. My experience is that this disrespect is well earned. Most cops are not exactly the cream of society. They are typically the schoolyard bullies who never grew out of their lust for power. Our political heros arm them with stupid laws that make the cops the front line soldiers in wars that shouldn’t be fought in the first place. I refuse to cooperate with police because I do not believe that they have my best interests at heart. Instead of trying to protect me and my family from serious harm they are more obsessed with padding their arrest records and enjoying their power trip.

    This is another compelling argument to stop punishing people for victimless crimes. The cops would receive a lot more support. They would no longer be perceived as “the enemy” and “pigs”.

  94. How can you say such horrible things, Crushinator? Nine-eleven! Nine-eleven! Nine-eleven!

  95. These officers are charged with preventing religious nutjobs from blowing up civilians on the NYC subways.

    Maybe that’s the problem: entrusting national security to city cops.

    would you ride a NYC subway train the next day after 7/7 confident that nothing like London was afoot?

    I would, and I did – as did the other fifty percent or so of New Yorkers who don’t have a car. It’s pointless to fear such an everyday activity. For you suburban types, imagine being afraid of getting in your car.

  96. Hey, Rhywun, we’re trying to organize a meeting of NYC Reasonoids. E-mail me if you’re interested.

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