The Very Definition of Uncivilized



When I entered the security checkpoint at the Denver Airport on my way back home, a TSA agent confiscated my water. He asked if my bag, which had just gone through the x-ray machine, contained water. He seriously gave the bag a cursory search, found the offending bottle of water, and told me I could drink it or have it thrown away.

Now, let’s think about this for a second. It would seem to me that bringing water where you go, a substance that constitutes most our body mass, a chemical compound we require access to more often than any other aside from air for our very lives, is about as normal a thing for human beings to do as it gets. I understand private property rights—were this a private security checkpoint, it could make its own rules—but of course we’re not talking about that, and we’re not talking about weapons, or drugs, or explosives, or flammable chemicals here. We’re talking about water. As my friend James points out, it is the very definition of uncivilized to deprive a man his water. Whether in the Middle Ages, the Wild West, or the empires of the Far East, a man does not mess with another man’s water under civilized circumstances.

The loudspeaker had declared in a most chillingly dulcet voice as I waited in line to be searched, “You know you aren’t a threat, prove it to us.” And how do we prove it? By total obedience, even to the most absurd and barbaric of orders. See here for Bob Higgs on the TSA, and here for my account of how the agency almost ruined my perfect sandwich.

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