You don't forfeit your rights at the airport gate

November 23, 2010

Surely if the police in West Baltimore tried to strip search or randomly pat down passers-by, every judge would find against it and The Sun would loudly and eloquently condemn the loss of civil liberties, regardless of the number of felons and dangerous weapons such drastic measures might uncover, and the lives that might be saved by so doing. And yet the Transportation Security Administration, which may never in its career find a dangerous weapon at BWI, finds it has authority to treat honest citizens in exactly this fashion.

Why? I suppose to reduce the odds of danger in aviation from microscopic to positively infinitesimal, but TSA's (and The Sun's) main assertion ("'Don't touch my junk,'" Nov. 22) is that one loses rights by buying an airplane ticket. Really? How about taking the cross-town bus? Do we have any rights there? As any judge will tell you, your rights against unreasonable searches go with you no matter where you are.

People continue to abandon hard-earned liberties in pursuit of tiny increments of security, and The Sun, as usual on such issues, advocates for greater governmental authority, and less authority for citizens. TSA is using scare tactics and grossly unnecessary security measures to obtain obedience from citizens and expand its control, and The Sun, which should be speaking "for" its readers, once again undertakes to speak "to" them.

John Heasley, Ellicott City

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