Airline travelers have always had lots of questions to answer. First class or coach? Aisle or window? Checked bag or overhead? Now we have one more. . . . Strip search or grope? Indeed, there is no Apocalypse like the one we create for ourselves.
In case you haven’t heard, the TSA has new scanners and a new “enhanced pat down” procedure as of October. If you set off a metal detector, refuse to remove your head gear, or are randomly selected, you have to either have a pat down or go through one of two types of scanners that takes naked pictures of you.
The pat down is more invasive than a police frisk, with TSA agents actually running their hands around breasts, up skirts, and around genitals. Even small children, like the one below, are not spared this molestation.
So I have some questions. If I’m gay, can I request a grope by someone of the opposite gender? How about we hire some attractive TSA agents, like Chippendales dancers or Miss America candidates? If I enjoy it, am I supposed to tip? Seriously. I think even Bill Clinton would agree this is some kind of sexual encounter.
The alternatives, the millimeter wave or backscatter x-ray scanners, take naked pictures like the one below. These scanners emit an unspecified amount of radiation, and they have not been thoroughly tested for safety. This is a backscatter x-ray image from the TSA web site.
Supposedly, these scanners are the only thing standing between us and the jihadi horde. They’re supposedly in response to the underwear bomber. Hmm. Makes me think of a Saturday Night Live skit about Obama meeting with the Chinese. . . . “Would you please kiss me? . . . I like to be kissed when someone is making sex on me.”
Why do I say that? It’s only been a year since the Underwear Bomber got his knickers in a twist. These machines were ordered in 2005 when Michael Chertoff was Secretary of Homeland Security with the Bush administration. Chertoff represents the company that makes the machines and benefits from their sales. As a proud, hard-core moderate, I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but that money trail is no deer path through the forest. It’s an interstate highway with road signs. Click here for a video of our representatives discussing this connection on the House floor.
And is this system working? Not so well. There’s no evidence that these measures make any difference, and there’s lots of evidence that they are unjustifiably invasive.
Tom Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor, tried to explain he had a urostomy bag, but TSA officials wouldn’t listen. As a result, they broke the seal on the bag, covering him in urine. Breast cancer survivors are having their prothetics inspected in public. A rape survivor was terrorized in Chicago when a man did her pat down, something that wasn’t supposed to happen, and small children, like this 3-yr-old girl, are being dealt the stuff of nightmares. And to top it off, Consumer Traveler has obtained evidence from TSA officials that some of these pat downs are, indeed, unofficially punitive in nature because TSA wants people to choose the scanners.
What stops the TSA from putting these measures into every bus stop, train station, and subway in the nation? There are already backscatter x-ray vans on our streets, scanning people and the contents of their vehicles. Yes, really. (Click here for the Forbes article on that.)
Before we know it, the TSA will be the largest employer in the U.S., at which point, we’ll be paying them to stand still and grope the person to their left. And how enhanced will the pat down become when someone sneaks a bomb on a plane the old-fashioned Prison Way?
So why are we subjecting all law-abiding citizens to this emotional and sexual assault? Because America refuses to profile, even though it works in other nations who are securing their flights without these scanners or gropings. Not too many Americans are proud of the WWII internment camps, and we probably all know someone or have, ourselves, been harassed because of skin color or financial status. I certainly remember the social judgments and police attention I got when I was living with one foot on the street and one foot on a banana peel. Not fun.
I get that profiling is a slippery slope, but how much slipperier is the slope of violating the civil rights of ALL Americans? We are at a crossroads. Do we revoke the right of ALL Americans to be secure in their persons, or do we offend a small minority by acknowledging that it’s a subset of the Muslim population that is the primary source of our security issues?
I have a solution to this quandary. Don’t profile the bad guys. Profile the good guys. It works like this. . . . A 76-yr-old, 5th generation American grandma visiting her grandkids? Express lane. A 44-yr-old African-American Baptist preacher from Georgia? Express lane. A 5-yr-old Mexican-American boy traveling to his cousin’s quinceniera? Express lane. You get the idea.
The fact is that we all have a threshold for what we will tolerate in government violations. So I have a question for you. What’s your threshold? Is it the unknown effect of the radiation scanners? Is it the naked pictures they take? Is it the intimate fingering of your genitals? Or is it when they want to pat down your 13-yr-old daughter’s breasts? How much liberty will you give up for the illusion of security?
ASS of the APOCALYPSE: The TSA agents who searched Tom Sawyer. He had to ask them twice for privacy before they took him to an office to do the search. In that office, his pants fell down around his ankles. He asked them repeatedly to let him pull them up, and they refused. They then broke the seal on his urostomy bag, covering him in urine. He was not able to clean up until his flight was in the air. This is criminal.
HERO of the APOCALYPSE: For me, it’s John “Don’t Touch My Junk” Tyner for taking a stand when they reached his threshold. He refused to allow TSA officials to grope his genitals when they randomly pulled him out of line at the San Diego International Airport. As a result, TSA officials threatened him with a $10,000 fine and a civil law suit. Click here to read his story in his words and listen to his recordings of the encounter as it took place.
This is pretty heavy stuff so let’s lighten up with a Saturday Night Live take on the new enhanced pat down. Click here. This is a hoot! Also, take A Closer Look at Airport Security with David Letterman.
All the best to all of you for a week of liberty.
Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse
“Don’t stall. Don’t commiserate. Pray boldly. . . . The battle is still in front of you.” — Holmes