Here’s one for the Alliance of Non-compliance
I previously mentioned something that Mark Steyn brought up on a radio show called the Alliance of Non-compliance. (post here) The concept is that if a majority refuse to comply with silly, intrusive, bullshit government regulation (like the city of Dallas charging $25 for garage sales), it would effectively render it non-enforceable. I tried following up on this but got nowhere. This must have just been Steyn floating an idea, unfortunately. I do love the concept, however.
This story presents another situation that perfectly qualifies for the Alliance of Non-compliance.
I was detained last night by federal authorities at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to answer questions about why I had travelled outside the United States.
The end result is that, after waiting for about half an hour and refusing to answer further questions, I was released – because U.S. citizens who have produced proof of citizenship and a written customs declaration are not obligated to answer questions.
“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.
“None of your business,” I said.
Her eyes widened in disbelief.
“Excuse me?” she asked.
“I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.
The author then describes the hassle he went through for not answering. I suppose he’s fortunate that they only made him wait an additional 30 minutes. They probably could have made it much worse if they wanted to. He describes the salient points of this experience:
1. Cops Really Don’t Like It When You Refuse To Answer Their Questions. The passport control officer was aghast when I told her that my visit to China was none of her business. This must not happen often, because several of the officers involved seemed thrown by my refusal to meekly bend to their whim.
2. They’re Keeping Records. A federal, computer-searchable file exists on my refusal to answer questions.
3. This Is About Power, Not Security. The CBP goons want U.S. citizens to answer their questions as a ritualistic bow to their power. Well, CBP has no power over me. I am a law-abiding citizen, and, as such, I am the master, and the federal cops are my servants. They would do well to remember that.
4. U.S. Citizens Have No Obligation To Answer Questions. Ultimately, the cops let me go, because there was nothing they could do. A returning U.S. citizen has an obligation to provide proof of citizenship, and the officer has legitimate reasons to investigate if she suspects the veracity of the citizenship claim. A U.S. citizen returning with goods also has an obligation to complete a written customs declaration. But that’s it. You don’t have to answer questions about where you went, why you went, who you saw, etc.
While the temptation exists to stand up for your rights, I wonder if it is worth the potential hassle. The important thing is to know what your rights are and when it’s prudent to exercise them.