A Thought Experiment Regarding Genitals

Politics & Current Events

Imagine this:

A terrorist group — let's call them, I don't know, the Pervert Jihad — issues a videotaped threat.

Their demand: America must select 25 million of its citizens per year. Those citizens must give complete strangers working for the government a brief look at a blurry naked picture of themselves. In addition, the complete strangers working for the government must select 1 million of the citizens — men, women, and children of all ages — for "special treatment." That "special treatment" involves the one million lucky citizens submitting to the strangers from the government briefly running their hands over the citizens' clothed breasts and genitals, in public, in front of a crowd of annoyed strangers. The whole experience takes about an hour of the citizens' time every time they have to put up with it.

The Pervert Jihad says that if America does not comply, they will kill Americans every year. They'll kill, let's say, about 450 — the capacity of a jumbo jet. We have reason to believe they may or may not succeed at this mass murder if they try.


Would we do it?

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Last 5 posts by Ken White



  1. Professor Coldheart  •  Nov 17, 2010 @5:42 am

    Interesting thought experiment, but there's no scenario under which the U.S. State Department or DHS would "give in to terrorists." The trick is to imagine something worse than the worst thing that could happen and make that the DHS response.

    For instance: in response to the above, the DHS puts snooping software on every computer and in every phone in order to catch the "perverts." Every intrapersonal communication, within or entering the U.S., becomes actively monitored. There is a minor hue and cry three years later when it's discovered that the DHS has outsourced this work to India ("security risk! our secrets in foreign hands!", etc), but a new election distracts everyone.

  2. Transplanted Lawyer  •  Nov 17, 2010 @7:48 am

    I disagree; I think this is a well-constructed thought experiment.

    The point is to demonstrate that when "X" appears to originate from our own government and comes wrapped in the vestments of It's For Your Own Good, people comply, sheep-like, with a loss of their own liberty and dignity.

    But if "X" appears to be imposed from the outside, "X" would obviously be an intolerably humiliating procedure, one which we would not tolerate, much less witness our own elected officials defending on Capitol Hill.

  3. Chris  •  Nov 17, 2010 @8:01 am

    Too late – that plan already worked.

  4. Base of the Pillar  •  Nov 17, 2010 @8:40 am

    I don't follow the news enough, but is there a single senator who is objecting to this nonsense? I'm sure there's a Rep. somewhere but their shrill voices only register with dog ears.

  5. Jered  •  Nov 17, 2010 @9:01 am

    @Base: Yes, there's a kinda amusing article from today where one of the original sponsors of the TSA says that airports should opt-out in favor of private security. "I had no idea it would turn into a 60,000+ person ineffective bureaucracy," he says. It's all politics, of course. Rep. Mica was for big government bureaucracy before he was against it!


  6. Ken  •  Nov 17, 2010 @9:10 am

    Transplanted Lawyer sees my point.

    Instead of the traditional "millions for defense, but not a penny for tribute," our position seems to be "any deprivation of liberty for defense, but not an inch for tribute." Is that rational?

  7. John David Galt  •  Nov 17, 2010 @2:13 pm

    I'd tell them, "We dare you. We don't think you can do it."

    Show me one terrorist caught (since 9/11) as a result of TSA's procedures and you might, debatably, have a case for keeping them. There aren't any, and there isn't any.

  8. CTrees  •  Nov 18, 2010 @9:44 am

    And how about if they demanded toplessness in public, not just "virtually?" Oh, the TSA is already doing that, too: http://gizmodo.com/5692583/woman-suing-federal-government-after-tsa-screener-exposed-her-breasts-to-entire-airport

    And being sued for it!

  9. SiGrayBeard  •  Nov 18, 2010 @5:58 pm

    Linked at my blog.

    And very probably the best posting title in recorded history.