Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TSA: An Empathy-Free Zone

Yesterday I shared with you the appalling story of John Gross, who was flying out of Orlando with a clearly labeled funerary urn filled with his grandfather's cremains. A nameless TSAgent chose to open the urn, stir its contents with her finger, spill them onto the floor, then laugh at Gross' anguished attempts to collect them.

TSA: even being dead and cremated won't keep us from molesting you. Still, in the grand scheme of TSA crimes, this one was relatively minor: disrespecting the dead -- and adding to the anguish of a grieving grandson -- still isn't quite as bad as sexually molesting the living, or training little kids to believe "Letting strangers see me naked or feel me up is a prerequisite for travel." (I still say this to all parents: if you're going to make your kids fly under TSA's aegis, just cut the crap and outright raise them to be strippers or prostitutes when they grow up. After all, if they're going to spend their lives having strangers look at or fondle their private parts, they may as well make a little money in the process.) 

Anyway, on my post yesterday a commenter going by the moniker "21st Century Dad" shared this story:
My last interaction with the TSA at the airport a couple of months ago while flying to FL. I opt out of the porno picture device and go for the grope. I put my things on the conveyor and I'm instructed to go get groped. I'm getting ready for some groping action as a giant Samoan TSA agent approaches me and says, "What side is your stuff on?" I thought to myself, How considerate of him, as I point to the left side of my crotch. He looks at me funny and restates, "No, no what side are your belongings on...the left or right conveyor?" OOHH, I get it, I'm the dumbass, right? Thanks TSA.
Sounds like standard TSA lack of empathy. I'm guessing the agent's thought process went something like this: "That man is waiting to be groped. I, however, am thinking about where on the conveyor his bags are. I expect the man to know exactly what I am thinking because I, a typical TSA agent, lack the insight necessary to understand that 'telepathy' exists only in science fiction stories."

In other words, understanding things like "Another human being cannot know what I am thinking unless I choose to tell him" requires a level of empathy -- putting yourself in the other person's shoes (before TSA forces him to remove them, at least), imagining what it is like to BE that person -- but if TSAgents had that level of empathy, they wouldn't be molesting people in the first damned place. And when they dumped a man's cremated remains on the filthy floor of an airport terminal, they'd find it horrifying rather than humorous. If they had any empathy.

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