Bill of Rights
Author: Kimberly S. Jones | Published: Friday, January 01, 2010
Prior to a recent flight, I was “randomly selected” for a “pat down” by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) at Dulles Airport. Despite the fact that there was no need to suspect I was dangerous, I was patted down. Really? When I asked why (as any reasonable person would), I was told it was “procedure.” Seriously? When I asked about an alternative to some stranger touching me, I was offered the opportunity to be touched in private. To add insult to injury, the TSA agent then proceeded to grab me like a mugger.
I went from annoyed to amazed when the supervisor told me that when I purchased my ticket, I agreed to subject myself to searches, such as the one I just had. Really? I don’t remember that offer or my acceptance of it. There was something vaguely unconstitutional about all of it that I couldn’t see through the red haze of my anger. After a few weeks, it hit me. There’s this pesky little thing called the BILL OF RIGHTS in the US Constitution. The Fourth Amendment, which I’m paraphrasing here, prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, unless there is probable cause. I know about “compelling state interests,” but here’s the thing, from 2001 to 2008, whether you were aware or not, many of our civil rights and liberties protected by the Constitution were simply taken away. In recently declassified legal opinions and memos from the Bush Justice Department, the President was told he had the ability to ignore the First Amendment, any other provision of the Constitution, or properly enacted law he found inconvenient. Seriously?
On Long Island, September 11th is an especially serious matter. Many lives were irreparably harmed that day. But that tragedy should make us more resolute about protecting every civil liberty and civil right the law allows. We shouldn’t allow those, at home or abroad, who would use terror to frighten us into giving away a significant part of what makes America so amazing. My incident was admittedly unimportant, but it made me remember unauthorized wiretapping of Americans or torture or the acts done allegedly to keep us safe. But what we really must remember is that our strength and safety also comes from guarding our civil liberties. Seriously.
Read more articles in Social Studies