Synchronicity. Two interesting posts from 10:48 this morning:
TSA: when the abnormal becomes normal by Lisa Simeone at TSA News, and Be Thankful And Fearful And Know Your Place, Citizen by Ken at Popehat.
Things that were once unthinkable become accepted, both by the people doing them and by those on the receiving end.
This slow habituation is often called conditioning, or grooming. It’s not a new concept, it’s not a difficult concept, and people have no problem understanding it in lots of situations.
She’s talking about TSA’s crimes. “People are being conditioned, and they’re accepting — nay, embracing — that conditioning. I don’t know how else to put it but that they’re getting exactly what they asked for.”
Ken explains, in a slightly different context (the story of the man who, walking hand-in-hand with his young daughter, is accosted by a police officer because some Mrs. Grundy “saw something and said something”) some of the hows and whys of the grooming that we’re asking for:
There’s a few problematical trends going on here. The first is the sick culture of fear, encouraged by the media (because fear is lucrative, and accurate contextual reporting is hard) and by law enforcement and politicians (because fear leads to more power for them). That culture has led us to accept, uncritically, the existence of an ever-growing level of danger to ourselves and our children, even if actual evidence supports the opposite. The second problematical trend is the culture of self-esteem and self-congratulation — the notion that our feelings (including feelings of irrational fear and suspicion) are to be coddled and celebrated and treated as legitimate whether or not they are premised on fact. Law enforcement and politicians deliberately harness this phenomenon through the “if you see something, say something” campaign, which explicitly encourages people to indulge in flights of fancy about how innocent and innocuous events might be sinister. The third problematical trend is the “Think of the Children!” mentality, the regrettably widely accepted premise that things done to protect children ought not be questioned, even if the things are utterly irrational and have no actual salutary effect on the well-being of children. Finally, the fourth problematical trend is the culture of entitlement among cops — the feeling that mere civilians ought to take what they dish out, shut up, and like it.
“I think,” writes Ken, “that we have been terrified into a lamentably cringing and servile condition.”
I suspect that he is correct. If you believe TSA Deputy Administrator John Halinski, everything is peachy and nobody is complaining (Philip Weber at TSA News).
My kids would like to be able to hop on a plane and go somewhere. I would like them to be able to. My refusal to allow them to submit to TSA’s authority is frustrating to them. “Dad, you’re like one of those crazy guys who talks about aliens.” (I think “conspiracy theorists” was what she was trying to get at.)
I don’t know if it does any good for me to refuse to fly out of US airports. It may make no difference whatsoever. But if everyone followed suit, the airlines would grow some backbone and back TSA down, so the categorical imperative requires me to do it.
The next alternative—“I’ll fly, but if they want to scope or grope any of us we’ll turn around and leave”—strikes me as amoral at best, and potentially immoral. Most people don’t get assaulted by TSA; even if the odds are that we never will, we have a moral obligation to stand up for those who might be.
While I have little sympathy for parents whose kids are abused by TSA because the parents chose to fly, my own refusal to cooperate with TSA is not so much about potential assaults on my loved ones—refusal to fly is probably not a rational response to that particular risk (“purity / sanctity” is not a strong moral foundation with me, and odds are that we would never have any problems, so the impact and probability of the risk are both small)—as about the actual assault on our liberty and our children’s liberty and their children’s liberty.
It’s about trying to stop the grooming, and at the very least not cooperating with it.
It’s about continuing to warn people, any way I can, that they are being groomed, turned from citizens into subjects of whom is expected “unquestioning compliance.”
It’s about just maybe staving off disaster for a little longer.