TSA: A Modern Day Prima Nocta

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Prima Nocta was an unconscionable policy whereby kings were rumored to have authorized regional lords with sexual rights to other men’s brides on the night of marriage. In clearer terms, rape of the populace, authorized by the king.

I can hear the apologists whispering from the past:

“Well, if you don’t want to be raped by the resident lord, don’t get married.”

If implemented, the primary goal of Prima Nocta in medieval times would have been to bring a population to it’s knees in absolute submission. Kings would have done so to exert unchallenged power over an occupied territory, thus proving their superiority. Since the regional lord held both the physical power and this support of the political system no peaceful recourse would be left to the people. The psychological impact would have been great leading to rapid submission, at least for a time.

At the hands of the TSA, Americans are increasingly faced with a limited implementation of Prima Nocta as our own family’s private parts are fair game to the groping fingers of this federally supported agency. While the TSA’s current actions do not amount to rape, the desired effect of the practice is the same. The apologists today are already making the following argument:

“Well, if you don’t want to be groped by the TSA, don’t fly.”

The TSA already claims authority over all forms of transportation; the TSA website clarifies: “We look for bombs at checkpoints in airports, we inspect rail cars, we patrol subways with our law enforcement partners, and we work to make all modes of transportation safe.” Currently, the TSA is rapidly working to expand operational capabilities to support this vision, seeking to grow it’s response teams by 50% in 2012. At the same time, screenings outside of airports are becoming more frequent and more invasive. The following was reported last week: “these screenings, conducted with local law enforcement agencies as well as immigration, can be as simple as checking out cargo at a busy seaport. But more and more, they seem to involve giving airport-style pat-downs and screenings of unsuspecting passengers at bus terminals, ferries, and even subways.”

In the near future, the TSA will likely claim power over individuals when travelling by bus, jogging though a public park, or simply walking down the public sidewalk in their own neighborhood. The apologist will then chime in:

“Well, if you don’t want to be fondled by the feds, don’t leave your home.”

Without the protections of the Fourth Amendment, all Americans will find themselves subject to federal searches at any time, for any reason, in any place. The precedent is being set that the TSA’s invasive searches do not require a warrant or probable cause, indeed the most dangerous of sentiments.

In order to achieve public acceptance, citizens must be made to believe that security is of such importance that giving up Fourth Amendment protections is a viable option. In other words, the TSA is demanding that Americans give up freedom for security. Benjamin Franklin warned:

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Those that understand the significance of this statement seek to reject the federal government’s tactics, knowing that if people accept a federal agency that is unbound by Constitutional limitations this will rapidly lead to an unacceptable loss of freedom and liberty across the country. The fact is, many already see the TSA’s current actions as unacceptable in a free society.

Which brings us back to submission (and later Texas).

Submission

“Oppression that is clearly inexorable and invincible does not give rise to revolt but to submission.” – Simone Weil

Like the king’s of the past, the modern federal government desires to rule-by-decree. This flies in the face of the majority of Americans who value rule-by-law as the Constitution guarantees. In order to transition the country to a system where rulers in Washington D.C. can make arbitrary decisions without constraints of law or decency, painful changes must be made in the minds of the citizens.

The first of these is the acceptance that some agencies are just too important to be bound by the Constitution. Equally significant is the visible portrayal that all who rebel against the loss of Constitutional protections will be forced to submit (insert “resistance is futile” soundbite here). It is important that both legal protections be removed and early opposition be neutered.

In the case of the TSA’s policies, Fourth Amendment protections are stripped from all travellers and Americans are forced to choose between two form of unwelcome submission: one that demands submitting your body to radiation emitting scanners that result in detailed naked photographs and the other which requires submitting your body to personally invasive searches.

The choice is molestation or radiation. Either way, citizens must learn to obey.

If left unchecked, the result will be a reprogramming of the population to believe that periodic gropings or sharing of personal images of your body with government officials is normal, maybe even patriotic. Once this programming is mature, more egregious uses of the TSA’s new found ability to ignore the Fourth Amendment will follow.

It is also telling to point out that the submission in the case of the TSA is very personal. Watching your loved ones groped, degraded, fondled and otherwise sexually assaulted by an agent of the federal government is particularly painful. This naturally elicits a powerful emotional response to protect your loved ones at all cost; but moral individuals are forced to internalize this battle and conclude that immoral actions by those in charge are to be accepted. Dangerously, Americans are being forced to submit to a loss of a Constitutional protection and are being trained to accept the unacceptable — raw, unjust federal authority over one’s person and one’s belongings.

Texas

“Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.” – Sam Houston

Another factor necessary to achieve a system where arbitrary rule is accepted is to eliminate any possible recourse to unjust actions by the rulers.

The forced submission to TSA invasive procedures renders the individual powerless to escape the oppression that results from the central government’s rapid shift away from the rule-of-law. But what about other political means? What happens if a regional political entity defies the lawless actions of the king? What happens if Texas, as a regional power, defies the federal government’s TSA?

This is the recourse that the people of Texas are demanding of the Texas leadership. Texans cannot lose hold of this possibility as this is really all that stands between the king who authorizes rape and the regional lord who “lawfully”, yet immorally, acts.

Nullification of the TSA’s unlawful practice of search and seizure without a warrant or probable cause is the rightful remedy. The Tenth Amendment is the key to placing the state of Texas between the federal agents of the TSA and innocent Texans seeking only to travel. This interposition is the recourse that was designed into the Constitution to protect individuals who carry little personal power from a federal government that carries much. As Texas was on the eve of passing such nullification legislation, the federal government stepped in to threaten a no-fly zone should the legislation pass. This shows the level of resolve that the federal government will exert to force both individuals and states to submit to the unlawful actions of the TSA.

At the time of this writing, Texas’ anti-groping TSA bill has been amended and passed in the second reading in the Texas house. According to TSA Tyranny, who withdrew support for the house version of the bill, the house amendments have the potential to reduce the effectiveness of the legislation, maybe fatally; but time will tell exactly what effect these changes will produce. Late last evening the Texas Senate also passed a modified version of the bill. According to Texas Senator Dan Patrick, the Senate version makes the modifications urged by Atty. General Abbott while maintaining a stronger bill than the house on with amendments. Today, a third and final reading is scheduled for Tuesday after 2:00 in then Texas house. If it passes and is subsequently signed by Gov. Perry, then Texas will have laid the groundwork by providing a direct recourse for Texans and an example for other states to follow and improve upon.

No doubt, Texas will be important in this battle; as the history of Texas paints a picture of fierce independence. If Texas fails to pass the TSA bill and quietly submits to unlawful federal demands then the gropings and individual submission will continue nationally. If Texas is unable or unwilling to interpose in support of individual rights, then who will?

Will Texas reject it’s history and learn submission or will Texas come out fighting?

Author’s Note: there is no evidence that Prima Nocta was actually used in practice historically; but the myth of the practice highlights the emotional response that TSA gropings can elicit and serves to emphasize the “submission without recourse” theme of this article.

Brian Roberts is a long-time volunteer with the Texas TAC and a regular contributor to the Tenth Amendment Center website.

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