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One of the many wonderful episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” featured a planet whose population had been battered by terrorists. In response, the government created a police state. People were constantly monitored and scanned before entering nearly any room. The planet’s delegation even brought their hyper-sensitivity to the Enterprise; much to the frustration of Captain Picard. Their President bragged about their lack of terrorist attacks since implementing the new policies. But it was abundantly demonstrated that they were a nervous and dysfunctional society. They were not “free” by any stretch.
That episode came to my mind as I watched the latest evidence of state-sponsored sexual assault…cloaked as “security.” A Texas mother who asked TSA agents at DFW International for alternative screening for her son with special needs said they were “treated like dogs” and forced to miss a flight during an extensive security check. The link includes a video of the pat-down. You can draw your own conclusions…and that’s fine. I see it as borderline sexual assault. AT BEST, it is unnecessary theater.
Many in the comments section, depressingly, said the agent was “just doing his job.” Where have I heard *that* defense before? They also suggested that if we do not like having a grown man rubbing his hands along the posterior of our children that we should just not fly. This is what happens when people continuously surrender basic authority to government. A perverse sort of “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Full disclosure— I am not a “frequent flyer” by any stretch. My idea of fun is not being herded like a lamb to the slaughter, through a myriad of checkpoints, with the ultimate goal being to step into a pressurized metal tube hurtling through the air at several-hundred miles per hour. Let’s put it this way—airport bars show a measurable profit on the few occasions I take to the air.
But I despise the TSA. They combine the efficiency of the DMV with the charm of the IRS. In typical government fashion, they were created in the aftermath of a highly emotional event; ostensibly as a means by which similar events could be prevented. Also in typical government fashion, they offer only the illusion of serving their purpose. They are little more than props. There have been several well-chronicled investigations that have shown these agents have failed to stop weapons from being brought on to planes.
Here’s the little secret that no one in the TSA will admit. The next great terrorist attack will almost certainly NOT be via air travel. The success of the 9-11 attacks was almost entirely dependent upon the cooperation from the passengers. I’m sure many of them were thinking, “Great—I’m going to be late for that sales presentation in San Francisco.” Flight 93 demonstrated what will happen on ANY flight when passengers know there’s a threat of terrorism.
But of course, the government will never pass over a chance to hire Barney Fifes-in-training to fully flex their amoeba-sized sliver of power over people. Not when there’s the illusion of “security” to be gained.
Keep telling yourself that you’re free.
I haven’t had to deal much with the TSA. I’ve flown twice since 9/11. Both times the only items I took on board were a paperback book with crossword and sudoku puzzles. I figured the less I carried, the less suspicious I would be. I was wrong.
I guess it was the beard that prompted the vigilant TSA agents to have me remove my shoes, empty my pockets, and submit to a visual scan of my Mr. Olympia-eqsue body before being awarded the honor of boarding a clausterphobe’s nightmare.
Look, I understand the concept of airport security and why its so important. It’s an unfortunate sign of the times. My main concern is that this is the latest instance where Americans have had to ask, “how much do we put up with and still consider ourselves a free people?” It seems we’re asking that question far too much these days.
Here’s the little secret that no one in the TSA will admit. The next major terrorist attack will almost certainly NOT be via air travel. The success of the 9-11 attacks were almost entirely dependent upon the cooperation from the passengers. I’m sure many of them were thinking, “Great—I’m going to be late for that sales presentation in San Francisco.” Flight 93 demonstrated what will happen on ANY flight when passengers know there’s a threat of terrorism.
Since that fateful day, a would-be shoe bomber and underwear-bomber have been subdued by civilians. But the classic overcorrection, as the government assures us they’re doing SOMETHING to fight terrorism, is asinine. Don’t even get me started on the profiling. Until we determine that terrorists are using elderly Asian females to carry out bombings, elderly Asian females should not be profiled for extra “lovin'” by TSA agents. Young Muslim males should be.
I think it’s also a prudent use of our limited resources. If that makes me xenophobic, so be it. as long as you don’t ask me to fly.