Thursday, November 18, 2010

TSA Backlash: What Next?

If "page views" or "Facebook links" are any indication, my anti-TSA column in yesterday's Guardian is easily the most popular piece of any I've written for them. But I can't take full credit for that; much of the column's popularity stems not from mine own deathless prose, but a simple lack of competition in the mainstream media. Like most Americans, I'm spectacularly pissed off about TSA's state-sponsored sexual harassment .... yet somehow, incredibly, a statement like "I do not consent to being groped or photographed nude by government agents as a matter of course while traveling" is still considered controversial.

Some nameless editorial writer for the LA Times went so far as to tell readers "Shut up and be scanned: the airport security devices may be intrusive, but they're also a necessary evil" ... in my newspaper days, I knew a few journalists like the scribe who penned that. There's a certain breed who believe the Fourth Estate exists to make the other three look good, and first amendment freedom-of-the-press guarantees are important solely so journos can live according to the principle "Government cock will not suck itself. That's what a free and independent media is for."

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security's unelected bureaucrats, people like John Pistole and Janet Napolitano, view themselves as the victims here; only childishly selfish and pointlessly defiant narcissists could possibly have any problem with TSA behavior, they say.

Over at the Guardian I dove into my own column's comment thread long enough to post this:

Concerning the idea that TSA agents deserve any sort of pity or respect in this situation -- no, they do not. Even before "sexual battery" because part of their job description, the agents were uselsss jobsworths whose sole practical function was to violate the rights of American travelers. The only TSA agent worthy of respect is the one who resigns in protest over what his job entails.

I just checked through the archives of my own blog; on August 13, 2006, I discussed a then-current news story, a supposed feelgood story where TSA was taking the toiletries and other items confiscated from travelers, and donating said items to local homeless shelters. Remember: these were the same toiletries confiscated on the grounds that they might be terrorist bombs in disguise. And the items were NOT tested for explosive potential before being donated. As I pointed out, that meant the TSA agents were entertaining one of two possible thoughts::

"1. I know damn well this stuff I’m confiscating from innocent citizens is 100 percent harmless, which is why I have no qualms about handing it out to homeless people, many of whom suffer from mental disabilities; or,
2. This stuff we’re confiscating might be dangerous and deadly. Hmm. Y’know, I think I’ve figured out a way to solve our city’s homeless problem."

And that's back when TSA was still more of a national joke than a national outrage.

As for those people still defending the TSA, even now -- the sincere defenders, not the bored trolls -- I am literally in awe of your ability to allow equal parts blind fear and blind faith to wipe out any sense of dignity you once possessed. I look at you with the same horrified pity I feel for the beaten-down residents of the abused-woman shelter, those sad women who still love their batterers and insist "You don't know him the way I do. He only hurt me when he had to" -- oh, my God, you poor damaged thing. I'm truly sorry for the obvious traumas you have endured, I sincerely hope you find the ability to put them behind you and move on .... but I'll be damned and I'll see you damned twice before I'd consent to letting your warped standards of "appropriate treatment" be applied to me.

I do not consent to being photographed naked or fondled by government thugs as a precondition for internal travel in my ostensibly free country, and I will not waste time or effort respecting the craven cowards who think that makes me needlessly defiant.

The backlash against the TSA is heartening ... yet Napolitano and her underlings respond only by digging in their heels. What happens in an ostensibly free representative democracy, when unelected, unaccountable "public servants" point-blank refuse to listen to the wishes of the public they presumably serve? I fear we're about to find out.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Steven and Debra said...

On our blog we put opt out lyrics to the Johnny Paycheck tune Take This Job and Shove It (Take Your Planes and Shove 'Em). Enjoy!

9:47 PM  
Blogger emily said...

I wonder if I wrote on myself in marker if it would show up in that scanner? I would love to write some cheeky message on myself.

7:58 AM  
Blogger The Lorax said...

My 8 year old will be flying solo next month. I wonder what guarantees are in place to ensure the TSA agents aren't pedophiles. The risk of American pedophiles is certainly greater than terrorists.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Lorax,
A 12 year old girl flying from Siesta Key to Tampa with a friend and the friend's parents was pulled out of the regular metal detector scan and sent through the RapiScan (read Rape-a-Scan) porn picture taker. Her temporary guardians were not consulted.

I would not advise sending an eight year old on a flight even with an escort. The TSA is making flying the friendly skies a little too "friendly."

11:33 AM  

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