Don’t stop the backlash against the TSA. The fight is part of something bigger.

Yesterday protesters held what they called an “Opt-Out” day, where air travelers who were selected to submit to a full body scanner would opt-out of the screening process. The protest has been called a flop, since most travelers opted out of the protests instead of the scanners, leading the TSA to feel as if the public has already spoken.

But just because most people didn’t protest doesn’t mean they are happy about it. It just means most people will shut up and take the abuse if it means reaching their destination on time.

And as disappointing as these protests may have been, a positive note is how this latest erosion of civil liberties garnered at least some outpouring of dissent.

See, the idea of strangers seeing my naked body or having my groin area searched isn’t my concern, although without a happy ending it does seem like something’s missing.  No, this latest clash against the TSA is part of an even greater battle: the fight against totalitarianism.

Totalitarianism is one of the biggest threats facing humankind today. If we aren’t careful, our entire world could end up enslaved to a system designed to protect us. When people have no rights and dictatorship reigns, entire segments of the population are left to suffer (see Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, or today’s North Korea.)

Body scanners aren’t the problem. Face recognition cameras on every street corner aren’t the problem. Having an orbiting satellite that can read all of our thoughts directly wouldn’t be a problem, so long as the control over said device was left open to the public. In this fight against totalitarianism, technology isn’t to blame.

The real issues emerge when we have government agencies imposing regulations with little to no accountability to the public.

If the TSA were enforcing democratically agreed upon measures, then they wouldn’t be cause for concern. Just like if the information gleaned from all the wiretapping and ubiquitous surveillance were made freely available in the public commons, then we wouldn’t be at risk of losing our freedoms.

Instead, so long as organizations like the TSA go unchallenged,  we are heading towards living under shadowy overlords ruling our every waking moment.

Modern technology can already be used quite readily be used for enslavement, putting entire populations under the control of a tiny minority. As many alarmists will attest, certain forces are working diligently to strip humankind of power with each passing moment.

Our new technology can also be a great liberator, especially when it channels the will of the people. And this is precisely what we will need to do to fight totalitarianism:

Harness the community building power of the Internet, coordinate at the speed of instant messaging, and take the power away from these secretive defense agencies and place it back squarely in the hands of the general public.

Power to the People!

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7 Responses to “Don’t stop the backlash against the TSA. The fight is part of something bigger.”

  1. suzy says:


  2. Andrew says:

    After listening to my parents tell me honestly that they would carry papers like the soviet union if it meant they would be safe from the terrorists I seriously doubt that this country can ever right itself.

  3. Eric says:

    If it really is totalitarianism we’re struggling against, protests aren’t going to be what wins the fight. Even if that isn’t the sort of fight everyone is looking to fuss-up. Just trying to keep the perspective a bit realistic.

  4. Keven says:

    Maybe protests don’t help as much in the late stages of a totalitarian state – they tend to be suicidal gestures. But in the beginning, or in the middle, especially against certain kinds of state, protests work very well. But protests do cause problems even for mature totalitarian governments.

    Don’t let anyone make you believe your protests don’t count. Totalitarians love to deny the importance of protests. They know that it discourages the protesters, making them feel ineffective.

    If protests didn’t matter, why would totalitarians suppress them so violently and so completely?

    Protests do count. And it is best to protest before the totalitarians gain enough power to suppress them openly and violently.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marc Parent, xenophrenia. xenophrenia said: @jeffjarvis – 2 articles about why being against these 'pat-downs' is important – […]

  6. Chanelle says:

    Wicked piece, thanks for sharing you have a way with words!

    Where do I find out more about the writer?

    (The Vaping Queen)

  7. kt says:

    Wikileaks’ Julian Assange has said he’s close to exposing a bank – don’t expect him to live much longer.


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