If you don't like it, vote!

A post by Clayton Cramer confirms my longterm suspicion that we are being ruled by near-total idiots. (I said "near total" only because they are intelligent enough to implement this zero-tolerance-based nonsense.)

A friend works for TSA, and tells me that under certain conditions, TSA screeners will be taking actions that ordinarily involve dinner and a movie first--including patdowns to the genital area for explosive devices hidden there. He is not thrilled at this prospect--actually, he is absolutely horrified.

I have several reactions:

1. Please explain why such an intimate search is preferable to ethnic profiling.

2. If this is response to the underwear bomber, why is it taking so long to get implemented? That was ten months ago.

3. If it is not in response to the underwear bomber (there were the Chechen women with explosive bras who took down Russian airliners), why now? Is there something that they aren't telling us?

All good questions, and I have been speculating about this stuff for some time. When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow himself up here in the air over the Detroit area, I asked a similar question:
If we're going to talk about giving up some rights for the safety of everybody, doesn't it seem logical that the fewer people who have to give up rights, the better?

Instead, there seems to be growing tacit acceptance of an absurd proposition -- that it is better to let people who want to blow themselves up fly and look up everyone's butthole than look up the buttholes only of people who want to blow themselves up.

I might as well ask this again too:
What am I missing here?

Is the goal to move toward a world where people who believe in religious suicide have a right to fly, and to better facilitate this we will all bend over to accommodate them?

Whose country is this, anyway? A country that kowtows to the sensitivities of people who are sympathetic to suicide bombers?

The worst aspect of this, is that if you are in any position of responsibility, you're not allowed to say what I just said.

As a perfect example, Juan Williams was fired by NPR today simply for speaking his mind. A tyrannical but vocal minority of people who are sympathetic to suicide bombers demanded and got his head. It's an outrage, and NPR's web traffic is overwhelmed by angry commenters.

We are being tyrannized. It is an outrage.

Fortunately, there is still time to express that outrage at the polls.

UPDATE: Thank you, Glenn Reynolds for linking this post and a warm welcome to all.

As Sarah's comments below caused me to write a new post about free speech, I thought I should mention it here.

Also, I see that Glenn has purchased Fangs for the Mammaries, which includes Sarah's writing. (I'm very proud to be able to call Sarah a co-blogger.)

I just ordered a copy, and with Halloween approaching, it's a good time for anyone to buy Fangs!

posted by Eric on 10.21.10 at 07:48 PM


And SF Writer Elizabeth Moon got disinvited as guest of honor from Wiscon for saying that while of course the muslims have a constitutional right to have a mosque at ground zero, perhaps it is not the best thing for them to do. (I think she said something about being sensitive to us.) She's now called a racist and islamophobic, which is funny since until she expressed that opinion I always considered her fairly conventional left. Heck, I still do. This is not incompatible with being fairly conventional left.
Interesting times. It's like several groups and companies (seems to be a group thing) are having nervous breakdowns.

Sarah   ·  October 21, 2010 10:09 PM

Unfortunately that kind of bully -- NPR, Wiscon -- can't be voted out. They can, however, be starved for money.

Sarah   ·  October 21, 2010 10:11 PM

I wonder sometimes if people who aren't committed leftists will wake up and realize that there is another side to the debate.

Take the 04 election.
Most leftists I knew (personally) were angrily sure that Bush was going to institute the draft. There was even a bill before Congress doing just that!!!! (from a Dem of course).

After the election, when Bush won and no draft was instituted, what did they think to themselves? Were they embarassed? Angry at being misled?
As nearly as I can tell, "It never happened" was the reaction. Down the memory hole.

When so much of your self-worth is tied up in your political views, can you admit even (especially?) to yourself that you were wrong?

And that's why I think this is really an end of civilization.
We have a group of people, many in positions of power, who cannot admit they were wrong because they've been so smugly and superiorly rude about being right.

When a society is rich enough, many people can survive even as they ignore reality.

But what happens when the "leaders" believe a distorted reality? One where "Islam means peace", "Christians are worse than fundamentalist Moslems", "socialism works", "Cuba's healthcare is a model for the US", "People hate America because of how we act" (and not because they're dicators who need an enemy), and many, many more.

It's a recipe for disaster and it's been brewing hard for nearly 40 years.

Rome didn't fall in a day.

Veeshir   ·  October 22, 2010 10:43 AM

And Elizabeth Moon was beating the anti-Bush drum back prior to the 2004 election, posting screeds on her website claiming Bush's military service -- flying one one the most dangerous supersonic jets ever fielded by the USAF (or USANG) was "not legitimate."

Never apologized for it, either. So somehow I find it difficult to really feel much pity for what happened to her at Wiscon. Once an eagle and all that.

Mark L   ·  October 22, 2010 10:57 AM

Actually NPR uses Muslims as a shield to fire Juan Williams, the scapegoat. His real offense was "disrepectful of Mrs. Dear Leader".


"NPR's chief executive, Vivian Schiller, said "... He famously said last year something about Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael. [The quote on Fox News early last year: 'Michelle Obama, you know, she's got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going' and that she'll be an 'albatross' for President Obama.]."

Seems someone is very touchy when things hit too close to home, no? Bush remains BusHitler, Californians are likely to elect the husband of a "whoremonger", but a black man is flogged (metaphorically, of course) for criticizing the wife of his thin skinned mass'ar.

ic   ·  October 22, 2010 11:11 AM
M. Simon   ·  October 22, 2010 11:24 AM

As for voting: done!

Brett   ·  October 22, 2010 12:53 PM

Well, Wiscon is basically, as far as I can tell, a lesbian-oriented SF/F con, and it's getting more attention than it deserves.

I was considering buying more of here books until I read a bit more, then I decided, "meh. it's a dustup in the Lefty Corral. Who cares."

Here is a report from the Wiscon a couple of years ago. I don't know if it's terribly funny or horribly sad or what, but it's certainly different.

It's also not for the squeamish. Be forewarned.


jorgxmckie   ·  October 22, 2010 1:01 PM

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In 20 years, and with the help of a whole lot of historical legwork and the successor of Alan Gura, it'll be discovered that the 4th amendment actually means that you need a warrant, and that one won't be issued unless its reasonable to do so.

Then, finally, we'll be able to tell these jackasses to either get a warrant, or get out of our way.

gwa.45   ·  October 22, 2010 1:43 PM

I can attest to the full pat down of the genital area. Not only is it done, it is done in public. I was returning from Heathrow after a cruise to England. When we got to Newark, we had to clear customs and leave the secure area. Because I have a pacemaker, I was treated to this full genital search.

It makes me exceedingly angry that if I kicked the guy when he was playing with me, I would go to jail. That type of pat down did not occur in England or on the cruise ship. Napolitano needs to be forced to fly commercial and undergo a pat down each time. I suspect things would change, then.

Now an infrequent flyer   ·  October 22, 2010 2:56 PM


Circa 2006, crossing the nearby college campus, I passed a huddle of the obligatory superannuated anti-war protestors. Their signs, ranging from "No blood for oil" to "US out of North America" made me realize exactly that "We are in a society wealthy and tolerant enough that some people are COMPLETELY estranged from reality and I doubt even catastrophe will bring them back.

Sarah   ·  October 22, 2010 3:18 PM

Mark L

I get in knock out drag out fights with E. Moon everytime we are on the same panel or in the same email list or, heck, the same room. She got in a knock out drag out fight on a panel with my -- then -- sixteen year old son and lost (though it might not have been obvious to her.)

THAT was part of the reason I found this newsworthy. a) That she would say this at all. Most -- a friend of mine calls them "interchangeable feminists" of SF/F -- women of the left in my field (and that's almost all of them) never THINK anything outside the group, much less say it. (That's actually what I find most trying about their work. I'll take offensive over boring any day) b) the fury in going after her when they KNOW she's one of them, and a fairly active, vocal, prominent one of them.

I've always been aware of the dangers of voicing my opinions (90% of which are garanteed to offend all sides and dogma. But they're hard-fought-for and I like them) in situations where it can affect my career, but this fury shocked even me.

I expected them at worst, to pretend she never said it, or bring in whichever behind the scenes group discipline they try to enforce. (How would I know. They never tried it on me. Partly because I'm considered beyond the pale, I think. Something for which, trust me, I've paid.)

And that brings me to why I'm speaking at all now... I could be wrong but my perception is that careerwise I've been "punished" for not echoing the chamber, as it were, and if that's the case, then I'm going to speak. In for a sheep, in for a lamb. I was halfway there when Eric (I still think he didn't know what he was doing, but I'm grateful) offered me the keys to CV and that sort of pushed me over the edge.

Sarah   ·  October 22, 2010 3:26 PM


MOST of the interchangeable feminists in my field are at least SUPPORTIVE of political lesbianism (And that's a form of lesbianism that annoys me. I mean, do it if you enjoy it but not because you're ruled out half of humanity as oppressors.)

I think part of the reason I give them allergic reactions is that I insist that to be victimized you HAVE to allow it. Also that I don't consider having been born female a handicap that makes me vulnerable. I rather enjoy being female and I think by and large we have you guys by the... er... never mind. Mind you, I ENVY the fact that you guys can get better looking as you age while we just look hagged, but that's not your fault.

As I said above what shocked me was that she even said anything outside of left-context AND that she got so violently punished (though perhaps there's nothing worse than an heretic who is otherwise orthodox?) THAT's what makes this whole episode astonishing. I've been in the field for ten years and while I've seen a few "discipline" incidents of this type, never against such a well known/prominent figure.

Sarah   ·  October 22, 2010 3:33 PM

And that was in for a lamb, in for a sheep. Sorry, not enough caffeine in the world.

As for weirdness, sexual and otherwise in my field, there are all sorts. I THINK I explained the mechanics of it in "Gipsies, Tramps and .... socialists?" http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/2010/10/gipsies_tramps.html

It's two part: we attract those who aren't at home anywhere else and also we feel weird and separated and that increases weirdness.

Not sure if this is good or bad, but as far as sf/is concerned I'm practically the "mom from tv sitcom in the fifties" from central casting. This despite the fact that when I find myself in truly normal settings (my people call these settings -- neighborhood barbecues; school visits; local volunteer group of some sort etc -- "mundane" and the people in them "mundanes" terms I never liked though I understand their origin is as "non magical" or "outsider" in this case.) and speak unguardedly people often look at me as though I'd grown a second, evil head.

Sarah   ·  October 22, 2010 3:42 PM

This is an edited excerpt from an essay by security analyst Bruce Schneier
January 7, 2010 http://www.schneier.com/essay-304.html

The more an event is talked about, the more probable we think it is. The more vivid our thoughts about the event are -- again, think television -- the more easily we remember it and the more convincing it is. So when faced with a highly vivid event like the Underwear Bomber, 9/11, or a child kidnapping in a playground, we overreact. We get scared.

And once we're scared, we need to "do something" -- even if that something doesn't make sense and is ineffective. We need to do something directly related to the story that's making us scared. We implement full body scanners at airports. We pass the Patriot Act. We don't let our children go to playgrounds unsupervised. Instead of implementing effective, but more general, security measures to reduce the overall risk, we concentrate on making the fearful story go away. Yes, it's security theater, but it makes us feel safer.

We should focus on the general risk of terrorism, and not the specific threat of airplane bombings using PETN-filled underwear. Focus on the general risk of troubled teens, and not the specific threat of a lone gunman wandering around a school. Ignore the movie-plot threats, and concentrate on the real risks.

Andrew_M_Garland   ·  October 22, 2010 5:25 PM

Do as I do for pat-downs--wear no underwear (I'm a middle-aged female)and be unashamed--it embarrasses the bejesus out of them!

Elmo Roundhead   ·  October 22, 2010 9:43 PM

Please explain why such an intimate search is preferable to ethnic profiling.

Because profiling people based on their appearance can be countered by recruiting terrorists that are white, which is happening in Germany as we speak.

Anonymous   ·  October 23, 2010 8:17 AM

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