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More on John Gilmore ejected from plane; Reason article online

Previous Politech message:

(I also have an article in that issue of Reason magazine.)



From: "Nick Gillespie" <gillespie@reason.com>
To: <declan@well.com>
Subject: reason's story about john gilmore and privacy
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 07:51:52 -0400
Message-ID: <EJEALCKKHGNNCNJMDFEOKEOCFDAA.gillespie@reason.com>
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is online at reason.com.

i think the politech crowd will be interested.


Nick Gillespie
REASON magazine
c/o 509 Glenview Drive
Oxford, OH 45056
Phone: 513.523.6505
Cell: 513.255.5151
Fax: 513.523.5443
Email: gillespie@reason.com


[Please remove my email]

Hi, Declan

This story reminds me dark times of communist regime here, in Poland.
Right after delegalisation of "Solidarity" by the Reds some of "Red Beton"
in TV speech had said "We will sieve out all 'crawling contrevolutionists'!"
Soon many people started to wearing homemade buttonts displaing
'Crawling Contrevolutionist'. I personally was wearing such for years,
even in school. Never had trouble because of, and can't recall anyone had had.

Eh, yet we will see Russia admitting US or EU political refugees.



Wojciech S. Czarnecki
  << ^oo^ >> OHIR-RIPE


Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 10:06:04 -0400
From: Jamie McCarthy <jamie@mccarthy.vg>
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for 
wearing  "Suspected Terrorist" button
To: declan@well.com, politech@politechbot.com, gnu@toad.com
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declan@well.com (Declan McCullagh) writes:

 > Annie later told me that the stewardess who had gone to fetch
 > her said that she thought the button was something that the
 > security people had made me wear to warn the flight crew that I
 > was a suspected terrorist(!).  Now that would be really secure.

And apparently the solution in that situation would be to make the
identified suspected terrorist *remove the button*.


Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 09:24:40 -0500
To: declan@well.com
From: "Megan E. Gray" <mg@megangray.com>
Subject: "Suspected Terrorist" button
Mime-Version: 1.0
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Declan - I also have one of these pins and have worn it on several flights 
without complaint.



From: "Thomas Leavitt" <thomasleavitt@hotmail.com>
To: <declan@well.com>
References: <>
Subject: Re: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for 
wearing  "Suspected Terrorist" button
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 09:50:23 -0700
Organization: B40
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Our country has descended to a threatre of the absurd. Hmm... well, maybe
the entire "West". Or is it just "The Coalition" (of two).

I suppose if I wore a "Buck Fush" button, the odds are fair I'd be turned
back at the gate as well. Or should it be a "Buck Flair" button? :)

Locally, the city of Santa Cruz has passed regulations that prohibit
political tablers from remaining in one location for more than 60 minutes at
a time (you must move at least 100' and not return to the same location for
24 hours), and actually arrested people for violating these (as well as a
variety of other obnoxious rules and regulations which the police
selectively enforce against activists that annoy them and poor people whose
aesthetics displease them).

Since when did America start catering to the most craven and illogical forms
of paranoia? Very sad.



Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 11:40:26 -0600
From: "Allen S. Thorpe" <athorpe@etv.net>
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To: declan@well.com
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for 
wearing  "Suspected
  Terrorist" button
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>
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I agree that our approach to airport and travel security sucks, but I think 
Gilmore's behavior was childish.  There are better ways to make his case 
than confronting airline employees.  It has long been known that jokes and 
sarcastic remarks at airport inspection sites will only get closer scrutiny 
and delay.  If he wants to make political statements in ways that make 
other travellers nervous, he should quit flying.

The airline industry depends on its passengers feeling safe and secure.
It's a matter of perception as well as reality.  Stuff like this just makes 
matters worse.  So does the silly policy of searching nuns and little old 
ladies.  We all knew, or should  have known, that  this would be the result 
of the federalizing of the security employees, but publicity stunts won't 
help.  Neither will this insistence that everybody has a right to be 
anonymous.  At a time when we're under a contiinuing threat from 
terrorists, we should support any measures that can narrow the focus of 
inspections more reliably.
When Alan Turing and his associates were trying to crack the enigma code, 
one of the first things they concluded is that they should first identify 
all the approaches that couldn't be correct, and not waste time on 
them.  We should do the same thing with this problem.  That's why a 
positive and airtight way of identifying ourselves is important, not to 
intrude but to protect us from wasting their time and ours on pointless 
searches.  It should be voluntary and bulletproof, so that those who pass 
can be admitted without the delays of inspecctions. If you don't want to 
carry such and ID, you can wait in line.

Second, we need profiling, not on the basis of  a person's race or 
complexion, but on specific behavior patterns.  This works on the same 
principle: narrowing the field of suspects, but it has to be more refined 
than just "He acts nervous."

Third, we all need to pull together like we did in WWII.  Instead of 
selfishly thinking about our individual "rights" so much, we need to 
recognize our responsibilities as citizens and try to help instead of 
behaving like two-year olds when we don't get ourr own way.
Litigiousness wastes time and resources that should be applied to solving 
problems.  I'm a lawyer myself, but I think that America's lawyers are 
doing more to harm society than improve it, when they encourage more 
lawsuits. Our watchword should be "independence," not liberty or 
freedom.  Independence means you contribute, take responsibility for your 
own life, and that used your freedom in ways that don't make things worse 
for others.
Allen S. Thorpe
P. O. Box 1238
Castle Dale, UT 84513

email: thorpe@co.emery.ut.us OR athorpe@etv.net


Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 16:55:16 -0500
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing 
"Suspected Terrorist" button
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Cc: politech@politechbot.com, declan@well.com
To: gnu@toad.com
From: Jim Davidson <davidson@net1.net>
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-Id: <AEC3BC7C-BA33-11D7-B045-000393B96BDA@net1.net>
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Dear John,

It certainly is getting crowded in the list of airlines
I won't fly for various reasons.  Now British Airways
joins the list.

You might consider a slightly different approach to
conveying the same information.  Try sewing a yellow
Star of David or a pink triangle on your clothing.
These are widely recognized as the symbols required
by the Nazi regime of Jews and homosexuals, respectively,
both of which groups ended up in death camps.

I'm very glad you are standing on principle and
refusing to fly on airlines which require you to
censor your free speech.  Good for you!




From: =?koi8-r?Q?=22?=Qullex=?koi8-r?Q?=22=20?=<qullex@mail.ru>
To: declan@well.com
Cc: gnu@toad.com
Subject: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for 
wearing  =?koi8-r?Q?=22?=Suspected Terrorist=?koi8-r?Q?=22=20?=button
Mime-Version: 1.0
X-Mailer: mPOP Web-Mail 2.19
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Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 20:17:12 +0400
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My apologies, I've forgoten to include the Subject in my previous version 
of this message. I have to retype every message in a webclient as opposed 
to responding using my standard client because of firewall issues.

Declan, I was hoping you or your readers could clarify something for me. 
While I am currently in US, I am not native to this country and I am 
somewhat confused regarding the law in this case.

As far as I understand it, corporations are legal entities that are 
designed to protect individuals in business from liability ( first 
definition from www.dictionary.com: A body that is granted a charter 
recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own rights, 
privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. 
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=corporation ). Also, airlines are 
also corporations and therefore, do they not have rights as I do? Now, 
there is nothing forcing me to do business with a corporation or an 
individual except my desire for their goods and/or serivces. Conversly 
there is nothing to forcing me to sell my property, time, or services 
except my financial need. If I can choose not to do business or choose with 
whom I do business, do the corporations also not have this right? And as BA 
owns its planes does it not have the right to regulate what speech it will 
allow on its property? I know I can certainly control speech on my propert!

Now, while I do not think that refusing to do business with someone over 
something as innocious as a button with a political statement is a sound 
decision, if BA does not mind losing business, what is the problem?


Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 12:32:27 -0400
From: "Christopher A. Petro" <petro@christopherpetro.com>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>, John Gilmore <gnu@toad.com>
Subject: more airline security fun
Message-ID: <20030721163225.GZ21473@earthquake.boredom.org>
References: <>
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In case you hadn't caught this one yet, some charter airline from my home
town is going to be installing video cameras on planes, keeping the
footage for up to 10 years, and maybe doing facial recognition and such.


Christopher A. Petro .. petro@christopherpetro.com .. 917-346-1536


From: "Duplantis, Ron" <Ron.Duplantis@wonderware.com>
To: "'declan@well.com'" <declan@well.com>
Subject: RE: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing "Suspect
	ed Terrorist" button
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 10:56:06 -0700
MIME-Version: 1.0


My opposition to the position that Mr. Gilmore takes is based in two points:

1. His comments, like most ideologues, are too broad-brush. He tells the BA
official: "Everyone is a suspected terrorist in today's America, including
all the innocent people, and that's wrong." That's not true. In most
activities in everyday American life, all goes pretty much as normal.
"Everyone" is, in fact, NOT "a suspected terrorist." It is mainly in areas
of mass public transportation (remember 9/11?) that additional, intrusive
security has been introduced. And frankly, the overwhelming majority of
innocent people out there are OK with the additional measures being
implemented. Not that those measures can't be fixed some. Not that some
tweaking is not in order. But given the possible 9-11esque alternatives, the
general concept of additional security is not unacceptable. That does not
mean that the "terrorists have won," nor does it mean that "our country [has
turned into] an authoritarian theocracy" (interesting that he calls it a
"theocracy"; where did a "security" religion come into play?). And that does
not mean that enduring the suspicion of being "a suspected terrorist" in all
areas of life would be acceptable to most people. It wouldn't, and it isn't
happening. Too broad brush, Mr. Gilmore.

2. There is a time and a place. Freedom of speech is not absolute. If it
was, one could yell Fire! in a crowded theater without penalty (whenever
penalties apply, by definition freedom does not exist). Mr. Gilmore knew
that his free speech behavior would undoubtedly cause a disruption and
probably his ejection from the plane. He should have complained in another
venue. He should have removed the button, as requested, and then sued. If
his goal was to change the system, he gets the same result. Granted, if no
other venue exists for his complaint, then perhaps doing so on the plane
would be more acceptable. But other venues exist. Strippers believe they are
making a free speech statement when they remove their clothes, but society
(and the U.S. Supreme Court) limits where they may exercise that expressive
freedom: they can only do it in a building and only in front of adults. It's
not like there are no venues where the raging debate over liberties vs.
transportation-related security does not rage. Mr. Gilmore and others who
joke about bombs or terrorism, speak out against security measures or
otherwise challenge the authority of airport security services believe that
the only way to change the world is through "in your face" activities in a
time and place of their choosing. As the end result of Mr. Gilmore's
experience proves (and I believe the resulting court decisions), apparently
not ...

Ron Duplantis
Huntington Beach, CA


Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 23:32:45 -0400
From: Christopher Baker <chris@chrisbaker.net>
To: declan@well.com
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing 
"Suspected Terrorist" button
In-Reply-To: <>
References: <>
Message-Id: <20030719233039.0FBD.CHRIS@chrisbaker.net>
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I am not sure what to make of Gilmore's antics. It sounds like to me
that he just wants something to complain about. One claim is very

"...I'm asking for a declaration from the court that would overturn the
unconstitutional requirement that US persons must show ID to travel
throughout the US.  Not only airplanes, but trains, buses, cruise
ships, and major hotel chains are now enforcing ID requirements,
largely at the behest of the Federal Government...."

I worked in the hotel business for a total of 33 months from September
of 1994 to March of 1998. I worked nights the whole time.

When I started out, I was quite naive. I generally checked in almost
anyone. I didn't ask for an ID, so anybody could have made up a name. At
the time, we didn't even take phone deposits from people who paid cash.
It was not unlikely for someone to check in, pay cash for the room, make
a bunch of calls, and then leave. Sometimes, guests would check in and
pay cash for one night and then decide to stay for another night.

I soon found out that this was not a wise thing to do. We got stuck with
a lot of phone calls as well as room charges. If we had no valid address,
we had no way to find the customer so we could get paid.

We especially had trouble with some women who danced at a nearby strip
club. Some of them were our best customers, and others were our worst
customers. Many of them tried to check in under their stage names. I
soon adopted a policy of making a copy of their driver's licenses and
stapling it to their registration.

I know that I also probably rented to minors on occasions as well. The
problem with this is that if a minor damages anything in the room, the
hotel has no legal recourse.

We also had a room which we kept for "shady characters." I rented to
people who seemed to fit that description on several occasions. In one
case, I later learned that the guest was a drug dealer. Another time,
the guest in that room came down and bragged about his sexual conquest.
He later found that the woman disappeared and stole his gun.

I saw just about everything in my time there. We threw one customer out
because they often left their children alone in the room. Once the kids
were reportedly even swinging outside the second-floor room on the
curtains. We banned another customer because he spit tobacco or
something all over the walls of his room.

And of course, I won't forget the guy who walked up to the desk, asked
for a non-smoking room, and then lit up as he walked away from the desk.
It cost us money because we had to clean smoke out of the room that we
shouldn't have had to clean it out of.

It really isn't good policy to treat your customers like they are
potentail criminals. But the hotel and everything in the room is the
property of the owner. A small percentage of guests don't understand

When you rent a room in a hotel, the deal is that you will try to leave the
room to the hotel in the same condition as you found it. This means that
you won't take pillows, the phone, the television, furniture, or towels.
You can take the soap and shampoo if you like.

At the time, I learned that other hotels did have more restrictive
policies. The local Hampton Inns, for example, refused to rent to locals
within a 50-mile radius. After we changed over to a Holiday Inn Express,
we did begin to ask for identifications.

It was also easier to ask for ID's. The Holiday Inn comptuer system
required us to enter a customer's information while at the desk. It was
easier to take an ID than to ask for the information. Many customer's
also had unreadable writing.

I understand and sympathize with the Gilmore's concerns regarding travel
on buses, planes, and trains. And there is a difference. You can't steal
something very easily from an airplane. You can't run up a large phone
bill and charge it to the bus company. If you damage anything on a plane,
people are going to witness it.

Hotels can't watch their guests constantly, and we don't want to. We
want to respect their privacy. That is why one of the first rules I
learned is that you never give out a room number.

In the hotel business, we generally bent over backward to please the
customers. All we asked of them was that they respect the hotel's property
while they stay with us. A small minority of those guests don't do that,
and that is why hotels demand identification.


"I don't like to make TV shows that you enjoy and forget. I designed
Buffy to be an icon, not just a TV show." -- Joss Whedon
Chris Baker -- www.chrisbaker.net
chris@chrisbaker.net, chrisbaker@iname.com, cbaker2@columbus.rr.com
"When you stop growing, you start dying."


Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 12:50:07 -0500 (CDT)
From: "J.A. Terranson" <measl@mfn.org>
To: declan@well.com
cc: gnu@toad.com, cypherpunks@ssz.com
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing 
  Terrorist" button
Message-ID: <Pine.BSF.4.21.0307191247530.483-100000@greeves.mfn.org>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

<Huge Snip>

"You can see the button at:


Errr... No, you can't.  It appears they have removed this selection.  Very
interesting :-/

J.A. Terranson

	"Every living thing dies alone."
	Donnie Darko


Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 13:51:41 -0400
From: Nick Bretagna <onemug@bellsouth.net>
Reply-To: afn41391@afn.org
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.8 [en] (Windows NT 5.0; U)
X-Accept-Language: en
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: gnu@toad.com
CC: declan@well.com
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing 
  Terrorist" button
References: <>
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Better Police, for a Better Police State.

------- --------- ------- -------- ------- ------- -------
Nicholas Bretagna II

When they took the fourth amendment,
    I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs.
When they took the fifth amendment,
    I was quiet because I was innocent.
When they took the second amendment,
    I was quiet because I didn't own a gun.
Now they've taken the first amendment,
    and I can say nothing about it.


User-Agent: Microsoft-Entourage/
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 13:39:00 -0700
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing
	"Suspected Terrorist" button
From: Bruce Mitchell <ibam@earthlink.net>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Message-ID: <BB3EFA73.15A28%ibam@earthlink.net>
In-Reply-To: <>
Mime-version: 1.0
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Declan and John Gilmore,

This is but the latest example of people buying in to the whole societal
control through scare tactics strategy without even thinking about what
their actions really mean. I applaud John Gilmore for making the very
important point about this occurring at the hands of "...people whose
individual actions are turning the country into a police state."

I recently had a similar experience over an attempted simple $3500 cash
transaction at my own bank, where I've had accounts for 23 years, when the
bank staff people misread and misapplied the supposed anti-terrorist
regulations and treated me as though I were obviously a criminal even after
I pointed out their error. They were all too eager to go on the attack, as
though it were a game among young guys playing CIA agent. At the request of
an activist group concerned with privacy issues I wrote a detailed account
of what happened and included the forms and documents the bank staff used to
justify their actions. I had to obtain the forms and documents from the bank
staff by cunning because they  said they were not even permitted to show me
the forms to be filled out or the regulations prompting their actions, both
of which also proved erroneous.

To me, this stuff is really scary. I hate what is happening in this country.
I hate even more how so many people cannot see the forest for the trees and
therefore they cannot comprehend what these actions portend for our future.

Bruce Mitchell

BTW, please forgive, but I feel compelled to pass along a question posed by
a friend to whom I forwarded the story: How did a guy with the name Khaleel
Miyan get a job as Cabin Service Director on a British Airways flight? No
offense intended; it just shows further how absurd the whole thing is.


To: declan@well.com
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 07:32:24 -0400
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing 
"Suspected Terrorist"
Dear Declan,

Normally I'm totally sympathetic to Gilmore's point of view, but there is
something insufferably  smug, and nasty  little boyish
see-how-defiant-I-can-be about his  "suspected terrorist" button.

True, the airport security rules are  idiotic. To protest them by
ridicule is a public service, and I am grateful to Gilmore and others for
doing so. But  many people are nervous about flying to begin with, and,
yes,  the mere mention of the word terrorist  tweaks their nerve endings
and puts additional and unnecessary strain on them

  I say this as someone who loves flying, who is a private pilot with many
hundreds of hours in the air,  and who has flown under all kinds of
conditions in peace and war.  Just being up there is a strain on many
people,  and not just little old ladies in tennis shoes. Airline
personnel have their hands full calming the nervous types and, yes, even
a button with the word terrorist on it is enough to send some of the edgy
ones over the brink.  I agree a button wasn't enough to make an issue
over,  but that cuts both ways. Gilmore shouldn't have made an issue over
it either.

Howard Singer


From: "Rayzam" <rayzam@earthlink.net>
To: <declan@well.com>
References: <>
Subject: Re: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for 
wearing  "Suspected Terrorist" button
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 01:08:17 -0700


     I wonder what they would have said if after the captain and the airline
representative said he couldn't wear the button, he pulled out a small
sticker and covered over the T, turning it into a statement that he's a
Suspected errorist! :) Though I suppose, they were more in error than he was
in this case..



Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 12:54:08 -0700
From: k claffy <kc@caida.org>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Cc: John Gilmore <gnu@toad.com>, Ann Harrison <ah@well.com>
Subject: Re: FC: John Gilmore: I was ejected from a plane for wearing 
"Suspected Terrorist" button
Message-ID: <20030721125408.C31151@caida.org>
References: <20030713102512.A99238@caida.org> 
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
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In-Reply-To: <>

my strongest reservation w this incident (npi), given that
i board an aircraft (90% of time operated by a united states airline)
5-15X a month, and i watch and listen to passengers, is that

(1) you got an interesting sample here:

   I spoke with the passengers around me before being removed from the
   plane, and none of them seemed to have any problem with sitting next
   to me for 10 hours going to London.  None of them had even noticed the
   button before the crew pointed it out, and none of them objected to it
   after seeing it.  It was just the crew that had problems, as far as I
   could tell.


(2) what i see, and hear, is that passengers on all the
domestic flights i travel on (many a month)
and even w passengers i talk to,
is that they find all the arbitrary security crap
to be `annoying but in the final analysis worth it
if we can prevent another 9/11',
that is, the people are doing some kind of
cognitive `new math' (not sure how new it is)
and they come down on the `it's worth it' side.

which makes me worry that it's not john ashcroft
or your two sued airlines or other agencies that
you need to convince, but the americans (both
those who fly and those who don't but just like
the general idea since they might work in tall buildings)
who seriously seem to think it's worth all the hassle
to give them a [false] sense of security
[couldn't the 9/11 terrorists have done w.o boxcutters
and just used martial arts or whatever]

mom jokingly wondered why they just didn't stop you for
the treacherously dangerous itty bitty metal pointy needle thing
that attaches the pin to your shirt
so they wouldn't have to mess w the `silly free speech thing'


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