It’s been a couple of months and a few major holidays since the Occupy Nashville fracas. Just in case you need a memory refresher, the governor created a new law out of the blue which made it illegal to protest on state property after hours. He then employed the TN State Police to arrest and detain members of Occupy Nashville while theatre patrons on the same property at the same time were allowed to move freely. During the arrests of protesters a journalist who identified himself as a member of the press corps was also arrested and detained. There were several days of this imbroglio and mountains of violations of the Bill of Rights. Most people were rightly incensed. Okay, many people. Because there were a few who felt that the Occupiers were such a scourge that the sacrifice of all our rights was completely justifiable. Needless to say I think those people are horribly wrong.
Anyway, fast forward to now. Rand Paul went through the BNA airport screening system that I hate so much. I cried when facing it for the first time last September and still shudder to think about it. All the lines and standing in the scanner with your arms above your head in the classic position of surrender while your (albeit blurry) naked image is piped to another room so that they can be absolutely sure you aren’t going to blow anything up.
Well, Rand Paul set off the scanner. When that happens, the standard procedure is to have a pat-down of your entire body–breasts and crotch included. It’s humiliating and violating and as much a violation of the Constitution as anything that happened in Legislative Plaza last November. Rand Paul* refused the pat down and was, like the members of ON, detained.
I keep reading on Twitter and Facebook that the general mood is that Rand Paul is a privileged d**khead who is whining about being treated like regular people. I read this from the same people who elevated Occupy Nashville detainees as heroes.
Frankly, I don’t see a bit of difference between what Rand Paul did and what the Occupy Nashville people did. Characterising one as a whiny son of priviledge and the others as crusading wunderkinds for the First Amendment is intellectually dishonest and tribalist thinking. “Rand Paul isn’t on our team so we can’t let him claim a place in the battlefront.” This type of position will do nothing but contribute to the rapid erosion of Civil Liberties for all sides of the political cube.
* Not only is the airport scanning a violation of the Fourth Amendment, it is also a violation of Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution which opens with this:
They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same;
The thinking behind that is to prohibit folks on the other side of the representative’s position from creating actual roadblocks that would prevent the elected official from exercising his or her duty. So those who complain that Paul is just whining “Do you know who I am?” are actually missing the point. Yes he’s making a point that he’s a Senator. He’s making that point because he has the Constitutionally-protected right to travel without arrest or detention to AND FROM the Senate.