It’s not about rights, it’s about adaption

Posted on Updated on

I remember when I was in college and driving on the University of Maine campus back in the early 90s. Young college students being the unenlightened ideologues they were and are, would often step into the road to cross without looking both ways for oncoming vehicles. I’m sure many of them simply regarded it as their right to cross the road, regardless of the dangers. It was the job of the car drivers to stop for them.

As a cop, I would tell people that “rights” were not force fields set against the laws of physics. Even if a person does have the right of way to cross, it’s still a good idea to look both ways before one steps into the street. Just because the state has given you the right to cross and mandates that a vehicle stop and wait (this is not always the case by the way), doesn’t mean that a .5 ton car will bounce off you in reverence of state law. As such, I consider a pat down the same as looking both ways. A little more time, but it’s worth it, with no material harm done. If the government took cash out of my pocket every time I stepped through security, then I’d have a problem. It seems the right to be un-offended is the only right being violated. And as a cop, I offended many sensibilities, to the point where I didn’t want to tell people what my job was, lest they give me a laundry list of how their rights had been violated by cops in the past.

And I think that this idea applies to pat downs and other security measures taken to minimize the threats of terrorism. Some want to stubbornly stand their ground claiming their right to be free of too much government intervention. But what about all of the people getting on the plane that want to know that no body else is carrying a bomb? Legal rights will not protect them from an explosion.

But as far as I can see, no one’s rights are being violated. People of course can sue the government claiming that search and seizure laws are being violated. If they are, I feel confident that the courts will figure it out. I also suspect they’ll come to the same conclusions as before.  

This also leads me to the second part of this posting, which is that some people want to call this a war, and yet do not want to feel the least inconvenienced by it. In this America and in this war, it is a very small percentage of the people doing the actual fighting and suffering. There’s been no draft, no co-opting of industry by the government, no forced imprisonment of Muslims simply for being Muslim. In fact the the majority of the discomfort experienced by Americans is the ceaseless drum beat of news coverage about the war. Would most people really know there’s a war on if the news didn’t tell them so?

All of these facts stand in stark reality to what Americans of past generations faced in war. Conscription, racially based imprisonment, huge death rates. None of which we face today. And yet a pat down has some saying that the terrorists are winning because we’ve been forced to change something in our day-to-day lives. Well excuse me for thinking that that’s to be expected in a war.

“We’re  only fighting yesterday’s threat”, some say. Yes. But if you didn’t fight yesterday’s threat, it would continue to be today’s threat. If I’m in a gunfight, and I keep shooting enemy soldiers in the chest because they have no body armor, guess where I’ll be aiming in the next fight? The chest–it’s the biggest target with plenty of blood in it. Put body armor on the enemy and suddenly I have to aim for something less lethal or at least smaller, like the head –a notoriously bad gamble in a gun fight. And so it goes with terrorists. Yes we have to constantly adapt. Sometimes that means inconvenience (in the most convenient age in history). When we find our rules too constricting, we, as now, will be forced to consider what we value more: Our rights and convenience or security.


5 thoughts on “It’s not about rights, it’s about adaption

    Royce said:
    November 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    You make several excellent points. For one I am fed up with people’s “right” to not be offended. This “constitutional right” has led the removal of many parts of our culture to our mutual detriment. Easter Vacation has become “Spring Break”, Christmas has become “celebration of the winter solstice”, separation of church and state has been carried to such extremes that even the president claims we are not a “Christian” Nation. But this right to not be offended has morphed into the right of the state to usurp parental rights such as we have schools checking kids lunches making sure they have healthy foods and not some forbidden contraband like a P B &J sandwich. This is justified on “protecting the kids rights” to not be exposed to deadly peanuts or becoming obese. Every one seems focused on their rights while ignoring or at least being indifferent to where those rights came from or how they are being eroded. There are more people up in arms about the racist anti-illegal immigration policies of Arizona than there are about the plight of our military and their dependents. We are becomining a tyranny of the minority.

    Amos Volante said:
    November 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    If you read the fourth amendment, and it seems few have, there is little to make one believe that groping the crotch before boarding a jet aircraft qualifies as a seizure.

    Right on: When we allow the minority to rule and call it democracy, we are truly losing our best interests.

    No democrat or republican can believe in minority rule. Maybe there is a new party afoot. Let’s call it “The Wimp Party”.

    And historically we know what happens to nations that become Wimps.

    Lou said:
    November 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Back in my public school teaching days, I used to warn my students about stepping out in front of cars and expecting them to stop. If the driver ran over the student, the driver might get a ticket or get sued, etc, but the student would be dead. I also warned them about being obedient to police – that a policeman might shoot them and yes, the policeman might get in trouble, but they, the student, would be dead. Still, those students had the attitude that they were untouchable – and they pretty much were untouchable and undisciplined in public school. When I finally realized that the students had more right to disrupt the education system than a student had rights to an education. I pulled my own kids out and homeschooled. It worked for me.

    magus71 responded:
    November 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I’m considering writing a post on the recent Department of Education’s findings that something like on 26% of high school seniors can read at the required level. This is a cultural thing and not entirely the school’s fault, though in part it is.

    I htink being a teacher today would be more difficult than being a soldier.

    […] taken by the TSA are not making you safer. They are only a reaction to yesterday’s threat.  Magus writes that some say we are “only fighting yesterday’s threat” and then goes on to point […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s