Mainstream Press Seems To Think Fighting For Civil Liberties Is Childish

from the oh-grow-up dept

We’ve already pointed out how many mainstream newspapers and magazines have been mocking the concerns of people who are upset by the TSA’s new search procedures. And, of course, the latest is that the press has decided this story is over because not enough people (in their estimation) opted out of the naked scans last week. NYU professor Jay Rosen notes a related, but disturbing, trend in the mainstream press coverage, with multiple publications suggesting that it was somehow childish to suggest these machines invade privacy with little actual security benefit. The common theme in all of these reports? “Grow up.”

I find this incredibly disturbing. No, perhaps, being scanned or felt up in this manner isn’t a huge deal to some people, but is it really so crazy that some people are actually concerned about their civil rights? That some people are actually concerned about the efficacy of these scanners? That some people are actually concerned about where this leads to next? That doesn’t strike me as being childish or immature. It strikes me as exactly the opposite: it’s about adults recognizing that rights are being eroded and that it’s happening with little evidence that the reasons given make much sense. Simply giving in and submitting to authority because of some bogeyman claims certainly seems a lot more childish than asking “why”?

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Comments on “Mainstream Press Seems To Think Fighting For Civil Liberties Is Childish”

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Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

The problem doesn't begin with the press...

it begins with the people. The people of this country are too quick to let government decide what is best for them. This is just another example what they are willing to give up to feel a bit safer. I am surprised everyday with how dumb and oblivious most american people are to the important things.

As long as they can see their favorite show and take a week vacation every year and drive a new car they could careless.

I have worked to get my wife whom I love to see the crap that is going on and she is now more aware. She is a liberal and voted for Obama, but even she was up-in-arms after hearing about the crazy level they are going to in the airports. She said “Isn’t that unlawful search and seizure? They are treating us as guilty first!”

The stupid Homeland Security Act was passed by Bush during a time of great anger and fear, but I had hoped that Obama quietly, in the background would soften the implementation of it. He only made it worse.

I am sad because we are going to become a police state and no one with notice.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The problem doesn't begin with the press...

I so agree with you that this does not begin with the press. I have been working at making my friends and family aware of how quickly our civil liberties are evaporating. Every thing from the TSA gropefest to the DHS/ICE being lackeys for the Entertainment industry.
In fairness to the American Sheeple, many of these things are under reported and are rather subtle on the face of it.
I mean, how many people thought that the Happy Meal debacle in S.F. sounded like a good idea at first?
Some times I feel like a crazy voice in the wind. People just don’t seem to understand the importance of what’s happening to them, one degree at a time.

Joe Shepherd says:

Re: Re: A motion

I suggest that people of good conscience no longer use the word “Sheeple”:

A. It came from loonies. The primary use of “sheeple” comes from conspiracy theorist types, like Birthers, and 9/11 Truthers. I regard them as the sort of folks I don’t think any of us want to be associated with, and only provides ammunition to those who oppose our opinion.

B. It is insulting. If we truly seek to share with peoplet the slow, but unrelenting erosion of our civil liberties for the sake of the illusion of security, it makes sense not to treat them like morons. Most of the people we wish to influence are, at the worst, people who haven’t heard about what is going on, or need a different point of view to better understand the situation.

C. It’s arrogant. Every time I hear or read the word, I have to stifle the urge to mark the source as a jerk out of hand. See point B.

Gwiz says:

Re: Re: Re: A motion

Fair enough. I see your point.

I use the term to describe the “not wanting to be enlightened people with blinders on that think everything is hunky dory” not the “people who haven’t heard about what is going on, or need a different point of view to better understand the situation.

What term should I use?

Joe Shepherd says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A motion


I think it sums it up well. It may not be seen a very complementary, but it is to the point without seeming so smug.

*Interestingly, sometimes I see apathy as a positive thing, some things just aren’t worth getting upset about. Then again I see what’s going on now as worthy of everyone’s concern. However,like I’m thinking you’re saying, some folks just don’t care, and nothing is going to make them care.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Re: Re: Re: A motion (a movement? of the bowel variety?)

Wow. So, we are to take from this that you never use arrogant or insulting terms? Like “Loonies” perhaps? Right, you’re above that of course.

What you think about what any of “us” want to be associated with has nothing to do with “us”, necessarily…wouldn’t you agree?

Similarly to your idea of “our opinion”…which opinion is that I wonder…. could it be “your opinion” perhaps?

I think you should rely more on your apathy and not get excited about one word, as it makes you come off as insulting and arrogant. Not that it’s necessarily bad to be insulting or arrogant… hell, I do it all the time…

It’s just douchey to criticize something and then in the same breath, do it.

Just sayin’


vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A motion

“If a word bothers you SO MUCH that you have to write a proposition to beg people off of using it, perhaps you should look inside and ask yourself why you are letting a few letters get under your skin.”

I can just hear you chanting ‘sticks and stones will break my bones..’. I can’t possibly imagine any reason why we shouldn’t let people go around insulting others without challenge. I guess that’s the best way to fight vocal racism, homophobia and sexism, by ignoring them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The problem doesn't begin with the press...

…how dumb and oblivious most american people are…

Actually they are not.
If you read the hundreds of public comments after these opinion articles, you will see that the Comments and their associated Like/Dislike responses run very heavily in favor of preserving our civil liberties. The authors of these articles are severely criticized.
The editors of the LA Times didn’t have the courage to sign their name(s) to their article. Perhaps this was wise after seeing how public opinion treated Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post when she suggested that concern about the TSA was “immature”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The problem doesn't begin with the press...

What I find interesting is that the MSM complained loudly and forever (at least it seemed that way) when GW Bush uttered something to the effect “if you are not with us then you are against us.” They complained that the freedom of Americans to disagree with the Government was under attack. (BTW, I agree that W’s statement was distrubing.) And every time that the GW Bush administration proposed or implemented a new policy, the MSM just piled on more of the same. (Again, I criticized the W administration over almost every one of their policies.)

Now, the MSM is the one attacking citizens if they complain about a policy that clearly unconstitutional.

It is amazing that so many Americans think that Fox News is the only biased new source.

Wow! What a difference a Democrat administration makes.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

The problem with this issue is that the vast majority of people in the US do not fly on a regular basis. At most, the vast majority of people fly once or twice a year, during peak times when the TSA is more concerned with herding than groping.

So you have a minority of people who jet-set around the world complaining about the process, and to the rest of Americans, they’re coming off as whinny babies.

I’m not saying they are whinny babies. I think standing up for our rights is important. I’m just saying that most people don’t see this as an issue because for them, it is not an issue.

nonanonymous says:

Re: Re:

I’m just saying that most people don’t see this as an issue because for them, it is not an issue.

Actually, what you are trying to say is that most people do not understand that it is an issue. This whole thing does not exist in a vacuum and is part of the long slippery slope that effects everyone, but since people are too short sighted to understand, they THINK it’s not an issue.

It’s like saying that CO in your house is not an issue because you can’t smell it.

A Dan (profile) says:

Deferring to authority

Most people defer to authority, thinking people are in positions of authority and make the decisions they do because they know better or have better information.

Some of us believe:
1. People’s ranks do not necessarily represent their decision-making abilities.
2. People in authority do not necessarily share the same goals and interests as the rest of us.
3. Power corrupts.

John Doe says:

We are like frogs in a pot of water

I have heard that if you put frogs in a pot of water then slowly bring it to a boil, they will not jump out because they don’t realize it is getting hot. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it aptly describes the American people. We are slowly but surely getting our rights taken away and we are too asleep to notice. Those that do notice and point it out are shouted down by the every warming masses.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: We are like frogs in a pot of water

I voted you insightful because that is how it ALWAYS works. Government does not take control in an established country with the band-aid approach (rip it off fast) they kill you softly. Or better said; they have you give up a bit of freedom because they say it is necessary to provide you allot of security.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We are like frogs in a pot of water

I forget his name now… It was one of the Russian leaders I think. I think it was Gorbachev but i am not entirely sure.

America will not turn to Communism over night, but one day will wake up and realize they are Communists.

This man… was a very smart man.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: naive or obtuse? neither reflects well on you

Probably; as long as word is coming from Mr. Wizard in the Emerald City, the press will run with it, then spend the rest of the time bashing the other party.

(You know which party I’m talking about. The one that doesn’t care about people, the one that has a history of offending their rights.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: naive or obtuse? neither reflects well on you

The unfortunate truth is that all parties are exactly the same, well the ones that hold office….

I find it funny that George Washington said never have Political parties. He warned against it, and what was the first thing that happened after he died… yup Political parties.

cc (profile) says:

Re: I couldnt agree more!

Somehow I don’t think voting makes people *more* gullible.

Propaganda spreading through the media, intentional lack of coverage of important issues by the media, inordinately expensive election campaigns that overshadow real choice, disillusionment and apathy because people’s political representatives always ignore their concerns, the economy going down the drain… these are things that turn people into “I don’t care” sheep.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Not physical goods

This is another case where the analysis to physical goods breaks down.

We keep hearing the analogy of seizing drugs or counterfeit items. Those items can be moved or physically destroyed, so they have to be seized by the government to preserve the evidence. If after the seizure tests show that the items were seized improperly then the items can be returned. The company may have had some lost opportunities while the items were held, but if proven innocent the items are returned and the business continues in most cases.

The domains that were seized were not physical goods. They were domain names. They could not be destroyed or moved or hidden. The evidence of crimes would have been on servers and could have been gathered while the domains were working. In fact, that is exactly how the evidence was gathered in the RIAA file sharing cases as well as the infamous Hurt Locker lawsuits. If a case was to be made, it could have been made just as well if the domains were operational. Shutting down the servers effectively put the owners out of business, and that business can never be fully returned to them by restoring the domain names.

rabbit wise (profile) says:

I actually noticed this. More because my local news station makes Jerry Springer look like a nun. They jump on anything. But not this. It recieved a brief mention and only by their cub reporter and even he was rather rude about any criticism of the TSA.

…all I could think was, “Apparently, there’s a golf game this afternoon with the channel owner and representative whatshisname…. .” How sad is that?

Anonymous Coward says:

“For most people, it is NOT an issue.”

That’s because half the population is below average intelligence. You add in people who don’t care about the inconvenience of security and you get “most” people.

Some of us see a very more dangerous issue at hand. That if you don’t draw a line in the sand, TSA will keep taking more and more rights away for little to no benefit. TSA is playing a no-win game and I feel bad for them. But it’s not my fault and I don’t feel like touching my crotch is something they should be able to do for me to get to Boston.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Who is the "mainstream" press these days?

With less and people watching network TV and more and more print media failing, just who is the mainstream media? It seems to me, the news media is very fragmented now. And if this is the case, how can so many different sources be so on the same page? Seriously, I’m hearing many people claim all these stories telling us we should shut-up, grow up and be “safe” by allowing the TSA to grope us; how can they all be on the same page? It seems like there are some talking points reporters are supposed to parrot and they are. With the power of the internet, perhaps someone can find out why the message is so unified. Something is fishy to me here.

Jeff says:

We notice, we just have other issues

I’m sure most of the above statements are applicable to many Americans, but as for me I notice my rights being eroded. However, like many more Americans, I have a lot on my plate as it is. My number one priority is to make sure my family is fed, clothed and housed. So I apologize if I don’t dish out $500 on a plane ticket I don’t need just so I can opt out of a body scan. As for me I have to ration my time and resources and getting all up in arms over pat downs just isn’t high on my list right now. But I know if this isn’t squared away soon I’m sure I’ll be kicking myself for not getting involved sooner. But that is what most Americans are going through. We have to pick what is MOST important right now, rights are a big issue. But as of now, my family’s health and well being are more important.

Bloomman (profile) says:

Complaining is fine, but how about a solution?

I personally have no issue with the scanners or pat downs, that said, I think the process needs to be vetted for effectiveness. At the same time, it seems unfair to say “…it’s happening with little evidence that the reasons given make much sense.” I think between the underwear bomber and shoe bomber it’s safe to assume there is cause to examine the scanners as an option. In the end, the person trying to bomb us will keep looking to find the place we’re not protecting so common sense says eventually, we’d have to look everywhere in order to ensure safety. I would like to see an alternative proposed where we can still prevent the underwear bomb and maintain the privacy. An effective alternative would change minds.

DangerMouse (profile) says:

Re: Complaining is fine, but how about a solution?

Look to the way Israel does security in their airports. You don’t see body scanners, just highly trained security staff from the curb outside the airport, so the ticket agent, to baggage screening to security checkpoints. Israel has at least 7 layers of security, but they pride themselves on speeding travelers through the entire process in under 20 minutes. And they have been secure for several decades now with no bombs, no hijackings, nothing. It all comes from monitoring the crowd for ‘behavioral irregularities’.

bamboozler (profile) says:

Re: Complaining is fine, but how about a solution?

I agree we could use a solution. Why hasn’t NASA been tasked with designing a bomb-proof airplane? I’ll bet you could even harden the current planes with something like a kevlar sleve. If personal bombs couldn’t bring flaming planes down over populated areas, terrorists will move on to better targets.

It’s not clear that would cause TSA to ease the “security” at the airports, though. The 9/11-style hijacking was solved when all of the cockpit doors were locked and hardened. (It was really solved on 9/11 when passengers realized they could not allow terrorists to control flight 97.) Nevertheless, I still cannot take my swiss army knife onboard. Sad.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

The larger issue... Apathy

The greater issue is that the masses do not care. The reason for that has already been stated. As long as people receive a regular paycheck and can live an average life, they don’t care about liberties being stripped away, nor do they care about corruption in their government.

The Bush administration was party to overt criminal activity unlike any other administration. Coercing data from the telcos in violation of the 4th Amendment and treason in outing an active CIA director in the field. No one cares that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove were involved in treason but Scooter Libby takes the fall; and Congress has already retroactively granted amnesty for the telco debacle.

The worst part is that all of these things were reported in the news and still no one cared.

Now we have the TSA and ICE. It’s all staring us in the face and still the masses do not care.

Roger says:


I am not sure I agree that the TSA scanners are “ineffective” or even inefficient. If a preventive measure is successful, how does one prove it? If there are no incidents because the scurity measure deters them, how does one document that?
If the George Wills and other TSA critics of this world have an alternative, why don’t they share it?
If the current security measures are relaxed or lifted, and there is a highjacking or other “incident” on an airplane, will the critics be the first to step up and defend the TSA, or the first in line with a noose?

Again, give me an alternative that also defers “terrorists,” and I’ll consider supporting it. Until then, criticisms seem misplaced.

joh6nn says:


they’re being called ineffective because we’ve already seen a number of verifiable reports of people getting things past the scanners, and of security experts saying they don’t think they’re effective (his name escapes me, but a security professional at the israeli international airport was one).

as has been noted in the past, there is no such thing as perfect security. even with intrusive methods like this, there will still be attacks, and some of them will eventually be successful. the correct response is not to try and implement perfect security (an impossibility), but rather to refuse to be terrorized in the first place.

Roger says:

Re: Re: TSA

I guess I haven’t read enough news reports of people “getting things past the scanners,” and I am little impressed with a “security expert” opinion because it is, well, an opinion. As I responded to another commenter:
When the US has trained personnel ready to implement an “Israeli-style” security protocol, I’ll support the implementation. Until then, what do you suggest?

joh6nn says:

Re: Re: Re: TSA

i suggest we stop wasting time and money on crap like this, and get moving on an actually effective protocol, whether that be the israeli system or something else. one that doesn’t violate our 4th ammendment rights. or hell, any of our rights, constitutional or otherwise. that would be nice, right? to not be presumed guilty just because you’re boarding a plane?

darryl says:

It is childish to state something does not work when it does, just because you dont like that thing.

with multiple publications suggesting that it was somehow childish to suggest these machines invade privacy with little actual security benefit.

Its often funny to see how you put a spin on things, this one is a classic.

I think you either have read it wrong or you dont understand the full statement made. Or you do understand the full statement made and this is your spin on it..

Mainstream Press Seems To Think Fighting For Civil Liberties Is Childish

You see how you got your headline from selectively quoting, or misquoting from that statement.

No mainstream media is not saying any such thing as you indicate.

If anything they are saying its childish to state that
1. they invade privacy (it is true they do)

But that is not what the issue is about, as you know mike..

That is childish about that statement is the part about “invade privacy with little actual security benefit.”

Fact is, it is childish to claim something does not work if you have no proof it does not work, and clearly it does work.

It is childish to say that something does not work, when it does, when you are only saying it because you dont like it, or it does not work in a way you would like it to work.

Most people do not take social and personal safety as childish.

and most people like it or not, know that the airlines have a duty of care for their customers, and they have every right to demand conditions to be met before they will do business with you.. No one is forcing them to accept you as a customer.

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