Thursday, September 06, 2012

TSA: We Screw With You Just Because We Can

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.


Anonymous Lisa Simeone said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Jennifer.

And sigh. It does get wearying having to point this stuff out over and over and over again, doesn't it? Yet people still refuse to see what's right in front of their faces.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just keep pointing it out. You're not alone.

3:12 PM  
Blogger SagaciousHillbilly said...

Copy that!

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't fly as a direct result of the TSA. I take road trips, or I just don't go. It's sad because I used to love to travel. The last time I was in an airport, I half expected a voice to ring out over the loudspeakers and tell me we're at war with Eurasia.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN! At this point when they are testing peoples coffee and water AFTER the security point they are just doing "busy work" to make themselves look "busy". Why are they no Lording over the coffee pots at the Starbucks if it's all so hell fire dangerous? When are they gonna start trolling around the airport bars and put their dip sticks in every persons cocktail? When are they gonna follow me to the restroom and test my pee? All it boils down to is BUSY WORK.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think perhaps it's time to start telling all these agencies to stand down...ahem...good job in the past 10 years preventing everything, but for the love of the holy mother, stand down.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Bender said...

They all smoke weed at night anyway. Hang on street corners and likely have police records. Plus, they came from Bush, sorry,but at did you expect. I have a die hard right winger, and when they said the govt would be in charge of security, he said, this is going to brpe a fucked up mess.
Speedo, tank top,and bare feet.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is America, we are Americans, sooner or later there will be a revolt....

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Mark C said...

I have found a few ways to screw back at TSA goons at airports:
1) I wear a Kilt (sans skivvies), t-shirt & sandals to airports - when a TSA goon wants to pat me down because the rivets, buckles & buttons on my kilt set off the metal detector, I just hike it up & say "See, Nothing to hide, Asshole!" An Oregon Appellate Judge has already held that stripping in public for TSA agents IS PROTECTED 1ST AMENDMENT FREE SPEECH! Also, since TSA agents are purporting to be Public Service Officers, they CANNOT be personally insulted, any more than real cops can! And besides, I may just be telling him what he's looking at, not what he is!
2) I take a Gatoraid bottle, fill it with urine, and most politely allow the TSA goon to stick his fingers in it - I even encourage them to taste it! "Drink up, goon, drink up!"
3) Make sure that someone IS videotaping you during the entire incident - several judges have held that Airports are public access, and therefore videoing confrontations with TSA goons IS allowed and lawful - just as it would be videoing some street cop gone beserk!
this USED to be America - we've GOT to start taking it back from the Goons & Faciests, even if just 1 TSA goon at a time!

12:57 AM  
Blogger Patrick Seitz said...

Keep up the good fight.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss flying but I won't put up with the TSA. What happened to the America my father fought and died for?

3:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's interesting that as this was made public, on Abolish the TSA's Facebook page, we have a TSA screener named Craig Richard Summers blatently making personal threats against commenters.

I am curious why Craig Richard Summers is being allowed to threaten people, stating things such as, "you have been warned" and "be careful what you wish for" and warning against "giving lip."

Has the TSA now put me on some special TSA watch list or are his threats just empty? Either way, since when does the TSA police the use of our First Amendment Rights? Since when is a TSO allowed to threaten a citizen for exercising her constitional right to criticize the government?

12:14 PM  

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