A Thought on Civil Rights and the Abilene Paradox

Eisenhower Center grounds, Abilene, Kansas, USA

Welcome to Abilene (the Kansas version). Don't complain about the town, it's your own damn fault you're here. Image via Wikipedia

The easiest way to lose your rights is to voluntarily give them up.

Lately, a lot of folks are screaming about the TSA’s enhanced security measures—from naked pictures of children to a happy ending patdown.

Many of them (most, I suspect) said nothing during the Great Government Power Grab of 2001-02. Why? At the time, they didn’t feel it. No tactile touching occurred. All they felt was fear of what might happen. Taking advantage of this fear by passing new legislation, Congress didn’t put their hands in any crotches, but they provided earmarks for groin grabs in the future. It is a reminder that we should all read the fine print and keep one eye open for slippery slopes.

Brian Tannebaum gets it, as do the fine folks at Simple Justice, Defending People, and Popehat, and I suspect they understood from the beginning. Most others detoured around the dissenters (and those with a critical and free perspective) and drove the long road to Abilene. Whole clans boarded busses to the small town, and none chose to speak-up. That would be inconvenient and uncomfortable. They wanted the fear to go away. They wanted to go with the flow. They wanted safe anonymity……..and smartphones.

You see, whether you like it or not, we are all connected. An injustice to one will always manifest into an injustice upon us all. Taking a stand and, at the least, making one’s views and determination known demands a healthy backbone. Turning away and hoping that everything works itself out requires no calcium at all.

So, when you board that bus down I-20 to Abilene, don’t complain about the boring Texas prairie. Don’t lament the isolation of a small, flat town. Don’t grouse about the heat or the cold or the wind. It’s your own damn fault you’re there.

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5 thoughts on “A Thought on Civil Rights and the Abilene Paradox

  1. Well, of course, anyone that ends up in that cesspool that is Texas has it coming, it does not give the excuse for our government to molest us.

    I feel as safe today as I did on 9/10/01. Anyone who doesn’t is a paranoid freak.

    • I agree that I, too, feel just as safe today (except from roaming TSA hands).

      The point of this post is that we should never be complacent about our civil rights, and that we will always be the first line (and best) defense in support of them. The Abilene, TX reference is to the anecdote used in a study of groupthink.

  2. Thanks for the post on this topic. I’ve been patted down twice so far for refusing to be X-Rayed, or Backscatterd, or scanned, or what ever they call it. I just glare silently at them during the pat down because I haven’t figure out a better tactic for total avoidance that will still let me complete my business trip. I’ve been thinking about having some T-Shirts printed with the word “Pervert” in metallic ink. I’ll then wear them under my other clothing so that I can send a message to the guy who views the scans.

    • I’ll be first in line to purchase one of your t-shirts.

      You touched on another sore spot. John Pistole (TSA chief) continually characterizes air travel as a “privilege.” He acts like it is akin to the privilege to buy ice cream. However, it is not. Air travel is a necessity for individuals for work, family emergencies, and school. Sure, we could always go Greyhound (always a wonderful experience) or Amtrak (always quick and on-time), but those options simply aren’t practical for 99% of business/need-based travelers.

      You had to fly, or lose your situation, and it makes the circumstances even more egregious.

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