The Not-so-Friendly Skies

The terrorists have won. This became clear the moment that security measures in airports went from "increased" to "insane." It was ok when they told me I could no longer carry more than 3.4 ounces of liquid (or GEL, god, not the GEL!) through security. It was ok, when they thought that perhaps they should "randomly" search my bag...every time I fly. It was even ok when they told me that I couldn't travel with nail clippers, tweezers or a scalpel. However, it is not fine that they've decided that the best way to secure our skies is by sexually assaulting people. Not. Okay. In the past few weeks, stories have started being published about dozens of violations by TSA agents.

*A flight attendant was forced to remove her prosthetic breast. Which actually flies in the face of their existing rules for medical devices.
*A bladder cancer survivor had the seal on his urostomy bag broken, covering him with urine. After he explained his medical condition, and the need for them to be careful of the wafer. 
*A three-year old was terrorized by a TSA agent doing an invasive search.

Who are the bad guys here? In the past, TSA agents were to pat fliers down using the backs of their hands. Now, agents are instructed to use their palms and fingers to "investigate," including probing genitals and breasts. People have gone to jail for less. Excuse me, but I've already had my pap smear and breast exam this year, and I can assure you, it wasn't done by the federal equivalent of a rent-a-cop.

The biggest story about the TSA drama has come from Penn Jillette. In 2002 he was groped in the airport by a TSA screener, who didn't bother to ask if he could grab his business. Jillette got the police involved, and filed a report of assault and battery, with a very willing police officer. The entire time, TSA officials repeated "we have no problem here." Clearly, they do. I'm flying in 10 days. I'm a little terrified of what's going to happen when I get to security.

This post doesn't even address complaints about the possible dangers (hello, undisclosed levels of radiation) of the new back scanners, and the general discomfort the public feels about the full body scanners. If I wanted strangers to see me [basically] naked, I would have become a stripper. I understand the need for safety, I really do, however I don't think that safety should come at the cost of freedom and dignity. Invasive screens should be reserved for people on watch lists, no-fly lists, and those behaving in suspicious ways. I'm not saying "only screen the Arabs! They're the ter'rusts," because that's certainly not true. However, a little discretion is called for. Flight attendants (with proper ID) should probably be free to fly unmolested. Children should not be accosted. Little old ladies/men should be given the benefit of the doubt without having to remove their various medical devices. Recently, a blogger leaked information about a new directive which advised airlines to restrict passengers from getting out of their seats, concealing their hands, or accessing carry-on luggage an hour before landing. Alright guys, if I'm flying to Dallas, that's the entire flight. If you're not gonna let me get to my carry on for my Kindle, we're gonna have a serious problem. Obviously, the TSA was pissed about this development, and they went to the blogger's house, armed (!! Who gave the TSA guns?!), took all his electronics and threatened to get him fired from his job. As a journalist. Something tells me the NY Times wasn't particularly eager to give into that request.

What the hell is going on? When did we give people with bare minimum, high school educations control over our lives? And how did we let them become so power hungry? The future's not looking so bright.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

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