I have written many times before about the risks of organizing a boycott, and I have detailed the many boycotts which have failed in the last two years.

The “National Opt-Out Day” protest, in which air travelers were to opt out of the full body scan in favor of the feel-up, feel-down, feel-all-around hand screening, was intended to tie up TSA lines at airports.

I never was in favor of such an organized disruption, although I agree that current TSA procedures seem mindless and the result of a bureaucratic unwillingness to single out people who may actually pose a threat.  Additionally, the TSA procedure seems futile because not all airports have the scanners, so someone who wants to do harm only need start the trip at a smaller airport with less stringent procedures.

The Boston Herald reports that the result of the failed Opt-Out boycott likely strengthened TSA, quoting one of the great intellects of our generation, someone with the sort of gravitas we normally only see in presidential candidates, whose opinions on a variety of subjects form the core of scientific consensus on all matters large and small:

National Opt-Out Day’s organizers are claiming success, but the apparent protest flop at airports across the country Wednesday — as masses of holiday travellers chose quick body scans over time-consuming pat-downs — handed the Transportation Security Administration a victory that may be hard for opponents of intrusive searches to overcome, observers said.

At OptOutDay.com yesterday, a statement said: “Despite claims to the contrary, National Opt-Out Day was a rousing success. The entire point of the campaign was to raise awareness of the issues of privacy and aviation safety at TSA checkpoints, with the ultimate goal of influencing policy — to ask the question, ‘Are we really doing this right?’ In that, the campaign was a success. It was always about getting attention to the issue.

But William Jacobson, a Cornell Law School professor who has blogged about the airport security debate at legalinsurrection.com, said, “I’m not sure the movement ever had momentum. I think it was somewhat self-defeating because the people participating in it were the ones most inconvenienced by it.”
Jacobson added, “Whenever you have a movement that fails, it actually empowers the entity you’re trying to boycott.”

Your thoughts?  (Remember, there is scientific consensus here.)

Update:  Forget science.  TSA has just made the mistake which could change everything, TSA Groin Searches Menstruating Woman.  Let me guess TSA’s response.  “Intelligence information leads us to believe al-Qaeda intends on using menstrual pads to conceal explosives.”

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