TSA: Is This The Backlash We Need?
Behold history in the making: in anno Domini 2011, a mere 796 years after England's Magna Carta established that even kings must follow the law, American state legislators are starting to think mandates like "sexual assault is verboten" should apply to agents of the government, too.That's the opening of my latest column in today's Guardian. But I confess to a bit of dishonesty in writing it: the column's tone sounds far more optimistic than my mood actually is.
Of course, that was always the case until the TSA (actual motivational motto: "Dominate. Intimidate. Control.") decided "ritualised humiliation of travelers" made an acceptable substitute for "transportation security."
Serious question, my fellow Americans: what the hell happened to our country? I have online news alerts set up to inform me whenever the media reports on the TSA anywhere in the land, and literally every single day my inbox fills with new atrocity stories, each of which would've been national front-page news before the US lost its collective mind. Now it's merely background noise, ignored and unnoticed by most. Maybe TSA is relying on an updated version of Josef Stalin's callous calculation: "One traveler sexually assaulted by a TSA agent is a tragedy. One million travelers sexually assaulted by TSA agents is a statistic."
Right now, in America, we have "actual elected lawmakers" -- Republican and Democrat both -- going up against "unelected political appointees" a la Janet Napolitano and John Pistole. The lawmakers have the Constitution and public opinion on their side; the appointed bureaucrats have neither.
Time was when I'd've confidently predicted, "A bipartisan coalition enjoying broad popular support and strong constitutional backing will surely triumph against a handful of bureaucrats gone wild." But where the abusiveness of a runaway TSA is concerned ... I don't know. I just don't know anymore.