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Lynn M. Stuter
January 4, 2003

The manner in which Nicholas Monahan and his very pregnant wife were treated at the Portland Airport recently should give us all cause to pause and ask a very important question, "Are the new laws and regulations concerning air travel for our security or do they amount to a government grab of constitutional rights?"

Cicero, in 42 BC, made a very astute observation, one that we would do well to give some serious thought to - more than man wanted rights, he wanted security; in the end, he lost both.

Since January 1st when new regulations concerning carry-on baggage went into effect, the media has paraded before us for our viewing, person after person stating with regard to the new regulations, "inconvenient, but for our security." One has to wonder how many people responded negatively, but whose comments didn't make it on the air, giving the impression that security was more important than rights.

Nicholas Monahan found the search of his person inconvenient, that of his wife undignified, humiliating and upsetting to her. What woman, pregnant or not, wouldn't find what Mrs. Monahan was subjected to undignified, humiliating and upsetting? What husband, concerned for his wife, concerned for his unborn child, wouldn't find the manner in which she was treated unconscionable, wouldn't respond as he did?

When anyone is treated as the Monahans were treated in the name of security, then the government has crossed the line between protecting people and a grab for power over people. The people who treated the Monahans as they did, should find themselves behind bars, looking out. Instead, Mr. Monahan found himself behind bars, facing a charge that never should have been brought, that should have been laughed out of court. Instead, because Mr. Monahan didn't subjugate, did object to his rights and the rights of his wife being walked upon, he was charged and convicted with a crime.

But all of this is being done for our security! Not when it becomes a grab for power over people as it has become since September 11, 2001. Place yourself in Mr. Monahan's shoes. How would you react? But you don't believe you would ever be in Mr. Monahan's shoes? Don't bet on it.

And just because the thought of being blown out of the air is terrifying, is the problem really one of security?

A terrorist doesn't have to be on an airliner to blow it out of the sky as was demonstrated recently by the missile that brought down the airliner departing Kenya. For that matter, what's to stop a terrorist from flying up behind an airliner in international airspace and sending a missile up the tailpipe? It's not impossible, given the fact that America has sold fighters and munitions to countries who were then our friends, now our enemies.

And, for that matter, what is to stop terrorists from blowing up an ocean liner? After all, you know, an ocean liner carries far more people than an airliner and doesn't carry munitions either to stop a suicide attack by a boat as was carried out on the USS Cole.

Quite obviously, whatever is done in the name of security isn't going to make any means of mass travel more secure.

Instead of focusing our attention on security, we should be focusing our attention on making terrorists feel very insecure. This does not infringe on the rights of the law abiding citizen who wishes to travel from here to there.

Prevention takes away people's rights, deterrence focuses attention on the problem. Was our government upholding the laws enacted to deter, prevention wouldn't be necessary. Instead, our government is using security to take rights away from the American people. That's a slippery slope to the totalitarian state in which personal rights are destroyed.

2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved



Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education.  Home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own.  Have worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. Network nation-wide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation.  Have traveled the United States and lived overseas.  Web site:   E-Mail: