I have listened with great interest over the past few days as the heat over the new TSA regulations and use of AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) has intensified. From the man who warned an agent not to touch his "junk" and was subsequently thrown out of the airport, to the highly distressed three year old child who was "patted down," to the numerous men and women who claim to have been groped in their groin/breast/buttock areas, both on top of and underneath clothing, countless stories of abuse have now surfaced.
We may expect many more in the weeks to come, and I expect that something drastic will come of it all before Christmas. Something's gotta give, as they say.
But while the American people protest, vocally and physically, the government continues to insist not only that the technology is not harmful (and there is some controversy surrounding that aspect of it), but that most Americans actually support the new measures. Wait, the government trying to marginalize mainstream Americans by presenting data that paints them as a whacked-out fringe element? That doesn't sound familiar at all. So, aside from all of the propaganda on TSA's website, what else are federal officials saying about the situation?
Well, for one we have the so-called guardian of homeland security, Janet Napolitano (aka Crazy Lady), saying:
"It's all about security... It's all about everybody recognising their role."
So, my whacked-out fringe element friends, what is your role? Is it to become an unpaid nude model or putty in the government's hands?
I, for one, have had to think about it seriously because I will be flying soon. Now, while there is no guarantee that I will be "randomly" selected to go through a backscatter or millimeter wave, it is a likely enough scenario that I need to be prepared for it. Finding totally repugnant the idea that some stranger, probably a man, would be holed away somewhere looking a graphic picture of my body, I am forced to consider the "pat down." Although I am not happy with the idea of some other stranger putting their hands on me and patting various places I consider private, at least that person would be a woman, and I would have face-to-face knowledge of the situation and therefore more control over it. Remember, pictures once taken are easily kept!
My husband, on the other hand, is more comfortable with the idea of some dude seeing him naked than he is with the idea of some dude feeling him up. That makes sense. Morally, modesty is less of an issue for men than women, and culturally, men have always been more public and communal in nakedness than women (I refer to men's bathing suits, shirtless public appearances, locker rooms, and bathrooms).
But the point is that this is an absolutely ridiculous thing to have to worry about in this country. This place was founded to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land of the violated and home of the embarrassed.
The agent that dealt with the don't-touch-my-junk man stated that the passenger gave up a lot of his rights when he bought the ticket. This is impossible under the Constitution of the United States, which protects the right of law abiding citizens to travel amongst the States. You see, if one cannot freely travel, one is not truly free. While the vast majority of Americans are willing to concede that the attacks carried out on our country warrant serious security measures, there is still a line to be drawn between what is appropriately serious and what is an abuse of power. In the end, it may be up to all the conscientious and well-meaning TSA agents out there to refuse to violate the American people in this manner. After all, history has shown us that, in the end, saying that you were only following orders doesn't hold up real well in morals court.
Now, I don't mean to deny that there are plenty of people out there who don't care and don't think it's a big deal. I guess to some extent this is a matter of preference, but if you are not made personally uncomfortable by these options, then I don't fully know how to relate to you personally. You see, in my book the government never has the authority over or ownership of my body that it takes to give someone consent to touch it in this way. Only I have that right. And supporting its institutionalization for the sake of safety (and you've got to be kidding yourself if you think that the security measures implemented in this country are effective) sounds a lot like what Benjamin Franklin warned against.
"Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
If we don't have the liberty of our bodies, what liberty do we then have?