I know, I know ... it's crass and tacky for a writer to quote herself, toot her own horn and say "See? I told you so!" But these are crass and tacky times, so I'll point out that six years ago
I said of the TSA, "these stupid rules aren’t meant to make us safer, but only train us in habits of evermore mindless obedience."
And ever since, the TSA has been working non-stop to prove me right. Not content to merely molest travelers, the agency has also been sampling their food and drinks purchased within secure areas of airports
. This has nothing to do with keeping people safe; it's just one more way TSAgents can demonstrate "You worthless passengers have no rights at all, but we have the right to screw with you just because we can." Inspecting sodas purchased at an airport McDonald's is pointless even by TSA standards, yet still the agency's apologists bleat, "Oh, but they're doing it to keep us safe
!" I swear, I sympathize more and more with those who use the obnoxious term "sheeple" to describe their fellow Americans.
TSA openly admits that much of its behavior is about punishing non-compliance rather than keeping travelers safe; when the agency first started inflicting "enhanced patdowns" (which would be called "sexual assault" if anyone else did it) on passengers, an agent openly admitted
that the patdowns' main purpose was to punish people who opted out of walking through the nude-imaging radiation scanners.
And today at the TSA News Blog, Lisa Simeone links to
the umpty-millionth example of TSA punitiveness. A passenger uploaded a YouTube video of TSA misbehavior with the following text:
This was inside the terminal at the Houston airport. I was not allowed
to board a plane (even though I had already been through airport
security) because I drank my water instead of letting the TSA “test” it.
The TSA agent finally admitted that it wasn’t because they thought I was a security risk-it was because they were mad at me! [snip] I know this is not really news (it seems like the TSA is
retaliating all the time against people), but it was a little satisfying
to get that statement on video.
No, not newsworthy at all. I've already pointed out that TSA policy is to employ people who would otherwise be unemployable: TSA's starting salary of $8.21 an hour is less than most fast-food places offer, but TSA also has lower educational qualifications than burger joints (which generally require one either have a high school diploma, or currently be a high school student. TSA, by contrast, doesn't merely accept high-school dropouts; it actively recruits them).
So of course TSA will deny boarding to passengers who have the gall to drink water rather than let TSA stick its fingers in it. Think about it from the agent's perspective: he knows he's a loser. He knows his fellow Americans despise him. He knows he'd make better money if he spent his days hauling French fries out of a hot-oil vat, yet also knows he lacks the qualifications to do so. He knows his own employers think his life is worthless; that's why TSAgents are forbidden to wear dosimeters at work. If they're being exposed to cancer-causing levels of radiation, their bosses figure, better they get cancer and drop dead; there's no shortage of high-school dropouts to hire in their place, especially in this economy. (Sad to think that I have more respect for TSAgents than the TSA does. I only want to see them in the unemployment line, not the morgue.) And he knows that sticking his hands down people's underwear or into people's water bottles does nothing to make the world a better place. On some level, he's probably envious of the people he molests day in and day out: how come they can afford to buy airline tickets, huh? How come they get important jobs that require travel, whereas I spend my days squeezing people's crotches?
So how does a TSAgent deal with his unhappiness and justified lack of self-respect? Oh, sure, he could try doing something useful with his life. But that would require some actual hard work and/or brainpower, and if they were willing and able to do that, they wouldn't be TSAgents in the first place. But there's one thing this TSAgent can do: take his unhappiness out on any passenger who dares disrespect his authoritah (as cartoon sociopath Eric Cartman would say). Of course he punishes disobedient airline travelers; there's nothing else he can do, to make himself feel important.