Just how much a docile populace will obediently go along with and accept was highlighted last year when a traveler going through security screening that was apparently getting increasingly "intimate" warned the official, "Don't touch my junk!" While that comment in itself merits at least a chuckle, what is worthy of a really hearty laugh in the incident is what was unsaid but undoubtedly crossed the imaginative minds of more creative thinkers: What have more reserved, reticent passengers been putting up with at the "hands" of screeners if a more outspoken traveler felt compelled to issue his warning?
The whole issue of what people will actually do or endure without resisting or questioning, when authorative-looking officials make requests of them, became equally humorous during two experiments summarized below:
1. In the first staged incident, several men dressed in police uniforms set up a check point on a lesser-used highway at the Texas border with another state. Their roadside sign on a tripod read: TEXAS IS CLOSED. When a vehicle came along and stopped, the fake police reinforced the sign's message with this verbal order: "The state is closed and you need to turn around and go back." It's all on a video tape clandestinely recorded. While one driver did actually ask skeptically, "The whole state?" even he cooperatively turned around his vehicle and headed back.
2. An even funnier staged incident was the setting up of a fake check point in the main hallway of a large public building. A huge imaging machine (like an MRI) with a conveyor belt and black canopy over it was put commandingly in place to complete the scene. When an older woman approached, the guard told her that security had been heightened because of recent threats and she would have to lie down on the conveyor belt and go through the covered machine on the belt. Again, it's all on video tape. Believe it or not, the woman, although looking somewhat stunned or surprised, nevertheless obediently reclined on the belt and resigned herself to be sent through the machine. [At this point, the project's directors step in and inform her it was all just an experiment.]
While both incidents are humorous on the surface, when one reflects on them more thoughtfully, the willingness of people in these experiments to submit unquestioningly to authority is not funny at all because of the potential danger a docile citizenry presents to the preservation of our basic democratic freedoms.
Causes Brenden Allen Supports