Your Papers Please!

John Gilmore is my hero!

Meet John Gilmore. He’s a 49 year-old philanthropist who lives in San Francisco, California. Through a lot of hard work (and a little luck), John made his fortune as a programmer and entrepreneur in the software industry. Whereas most people in his position would have moved to a tropical island and lived a life of luxury, John chose to use his fortune to protect and defend the US Constitution.

John is doing what I’ve dreamed of doing for years, taking his case to court. While attempting to fly to Washington D.C. from two west coast airports, he was not allowed to board his flight, dispite the fact he had a ticket in hand, because John refused to show his papers.

After the 9-11 fiasco I flew one time and vowed never again. I was subject to the shoe removal, body scan routine and a search of not only my carry-on luggage but my checked luggage as well – at every stop along my route.

To add insult to injury, the baggage handlers – some wearing gloves, some not rifled through my undergarments, even dropping my intimates on the floor, in full view of the lounging crowd. I was humiliated beyond believe and no apology was offered.

If someone’s baggage had contained toxic substances, such as, say anthrax, it would have contaminated my luggage because even though some of the handlers wore gloves, they never changed them and those who didn’t never washed their hands. I couldn’t help but wonder where there hands had been.

When I finally returned home, I swore I would never again go through an experience such as this and I haven’t. What I really would have liked to have done was sue the airlines over the incident. However, being of limited means this was not an option I had available to me.

Be sure to follow the links at the bottom of each page of his website.  You will find there some very valid legal points that we should all keep in mind, no matter how we travel. No where in the constitution does it state that citizens of our free nation are required to show their papers. We have no national ID and we are not required by any law to hold any kind of identification though there are public officials who wish we did.

My hats off to John Gilmore, this will be a case to watch. I for one hope he wins and wins big.

Copies of the legal documents are available online.