I’m on a couple of listservs for kaleidoscope builders and collectors. Yes, every tiny interest group has a list these days. In fact, the kaleidoscope world even has its own membership society, which holds regular conventions.
As you might guess, it’s been hard times for kaleidoscopes the last few years, as it has for arts and luxuries in general, so the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society has cut its conventions from annual to bi-annual. One of those rare conventions is coming up and people on the lists are talking about whether they’ll be there or not.
“Or not” seems to be a popular choice. Sometimes it’s just a matter of money. But increasingly, it seems that government “security” is the reason not to go. One man wrote of being forced to abandon a newly bought scope in the airport because the Taking Scopes Away people wouldn’t allow it in his carry-on. Another woman said if she couldn’t carry her scopes on the plane to personally insure their safety, she wouldn’t go. (This is a woman who agonizes over her creations and produces only a dozen or so high-quality scopes per year.)
Saddest of all was a comment by a British man, a famous figure in the scope world, noted for encouraging other artists. He wrote, “…[I]t seems that your border security folk are doing their best to make it impossible. … the clearances and checks required for aliens (that’s me), coupled with the physical processes have made visiting USA a real PITA.”
Of course, kaleidoscope devotees are an infinitesimal segment of the economy. But how many other tiny segments is the TSA damaging in similar fashion? And how big a segment do all those tiny segments add up to?
Of course, kaleidoscopes are insignificant in the world. They’re not on par with steel or surgery or Wal-Mart in importance. They’re just … exquisite. And fewer of them will be made, sold, or seen thanks to the TSA. And what will become of the Brewster Society and its creativity-inspiring gatherings?
The cheery news is that, each of these artists and collectors, by refusing to submit, is putting a little more spine into freedom. I have no idea of these folks’ politics (or even if they have any politics at all). But just by saying, “I’ve had it. No more,” they move the world in a better direction, even as the feds do their damnedest to move us all into bankruptcy and tyranny.