When New York City decided to start searching subway goers’ bags after the bombings in London, they did so in the most ineffectual way they could. First, they made the searches random. No preference given on account of age, gender, race, clothing, behavior, or anything that could be used to make their searches more effective. Next, they made the searches voluntary. If you get selected for a random search, just tell them that you don’t want to get searched, and you are free to walk away.
The New York Civil Liberties Union isn’t satisfied. While still recognizing that the searches are ineffectual, the NYCLU is suing, claiming that the random, voluntary searches violate the Constitution.
What don’t they get about “voluntary?” You only get searched if you volunteer to get searched!!
There is no “right to protect yourself from voluntarily relinquishing your rights.” If the cops come by your house, and ask if they can come inside, and you say “yes,” no rights have been trampled. You had the right to refuse, but you chose to take a pass on your rights.
To me, there are two options here:
- Get rid of these pointless searches
- Make the searches mandatory, like at airports
I’m no lawyer, but I would guess that the precedent that allows searches in airports could easily be used to defend searches on subways. If searches are the method that NYC wants to use, they should do it right, or not at all. The searches, as they currently exist, are designed to make stupid people feel safe, while doing nothing to actually make them safe. This is the equivalent of New York City hiring shrinks to ride the subways and say “you don’t need to worry… government is keeping you safe.” Either do something to increase security, or tell people that they ride at their own risk. This “yay, we are safe if we think we are safe” Kumbaya crap is pointless.