Friday, July 22, 2005

It feels good, but is it?

Here's the situation. The NYPD is conducting random searches of the bags of would-be subway riders at selected stations. Those riders who choose not to submit to the search may leave the station, but may not board the train.

Let me see if I've got this right. Tom Terrorist is entering a subway station in Manhattan, and is stopped by a police officer who asks to look in his bag. Well aware he's carrying an explosive, Tom refuses. The nice officer asks Tom to leave, and Tom does so. He then walks five blocks uptown and boards the same train via an unguarded station, bomb at the ready.

How does this make anyone safer? Seems to me the only terrorists this screening will catch are those who wish to be caught, or who are foolish enough to attempt to force entry to a station. I don't claim these searches are unconstitutional, but I have to question their value. In fact, I could say the same of many of the security measures instituted since 9/11/01, except for the not-being-unconstitutional part. I sense that these steps are taken not to actually decrease the threat of terrorism, but to make we, the taxpayers, feel as though our government has things in hand. Truth be told, I'm more worried about what the government has firmly in hand (banning gay marriage, giving tax breaks to the wealthy, making the world safe for big business), than what it doesn't.

You know, I used to believe in the power of federal government to improve lives and make things fairer. After five-plus years of Republican power abuse, I'm now starting to believe in limited federal power and greater state control, because if I don't like what Pennsylvania does I can move across the mighty Delaware for relief. It's alot harder to move across the mighty Atlantic, you know?


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