This morning I put a few more of my Subway Search Information cards out on the subway. Sticking them on the sides of existing advertising. (I stay away from the maps and anything remotely like a PSA – no need to block any of those.) People always look at me funny when I do it. I always assume it’s because they figure I’m trying to sell something. So I usually do it right before I get off the train or late at night when there’s not a lot of people around, but this time it wasn’t in the middle of the morning rush hour. We had just pulled into Jay St and while everyone was rushing on and off of the train I slipped the cars out of my pocket and put two on one side of the car and two on the other. Except while I was putting the last one up (in a vacant ad spot near the door) a guy grabbed my hand and took the card away from me.
I had my headphones on, so I just looked at him.
He took the card and flipped it over, read the front for a while. (You know, the side with a big picture and the phrase “Did you know you can refuse a subway search?”) and then flipped it over and took some time reading the back. The seat next to him was empty so I sat down, took off an ear of my headphones and said he could keep it.
The people in front of us kept looking at me, and then up at the other post card I had put near the ceiling. I’m glad I put it back side facing out so they could read what it’s about. I don’t think many people bother to turn them over and I don’t think people need a pretty picture to get the point. I mean the back has a lot more to it and is probably more interesting during the boring commute to work. They guy finished up and put the card back up where I was trying to stick it. Nodded at me and then just stared forward like everyone else. I put my head phones back on sat back and enjoyed the ride.
A few stops later someone new was in front of me and grabbed the card from behind me. He picked it up and spent a few minutes reading over the back. The people who had seen me put it up started looking at me again, I just smiled and sat back. The guy flipped it over a few times and then he pocketed it! I couldn’t help but grin a little. I’m not so sure about the first guy, but this second one obviously was learning something. He seemed genuinely interested which makes me wonderfully happy. =)
Despite my personal thoughts on Security Theater (that’s actually a good link) this card is kept generally neutral and doesn’t question if the subway searches keep us safer or not. (They don’t!) They do explore why you don’t have to be searched and take the position that giving up your rights needlessly is a bad idea. I’ll have other cards that talk about why bad security is worse then none at all. Which is an idea I’ve gotten a lot of resistance to. I’d rather know something is unsafe then to think something is safe and be wrong.
In the meantime there are at least two people in the subway today that know they have Fourth Amendment Rights and know how to safely execute their rights when asked to give them up with out probably cause.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.