Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Politics of Intimidation

The TSA announced that it would be conducting an investigation into John Tyner, the internet hero who refused a full body scan and subsequently refused to allow his genitals to be touched by agents of his government. According to TSA, Tyner faces “prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.” Clearly, Janet Napolitano’s TSA wishes to make an example out of John Tyner. If they prosecute this man, how many others will be intimidated into accepting their abuse and invasion of privacy? As it is, most of us hesitate before saying anything to the petty tyrants who stand between us and our destination; we no longer feel comfortable registering our dismay for fear of retaliation. We are rendered powerless.

A TSA supervisor told Tyner that “by buying your ticket, you gave up a lot of rights.” How, exactly, is that possible? At what point during the process of purchasing an air fare is the passenger obligated to actually take the trip? If a man purchases air transport for his family, does he at the point of purchase obligate his children to having their genitals touched by strangers? If a woman schedules a trip through a travel agent, at what point has she accepted a contractual obligation in which she gives overt or tacit permission for TSA to touch her breasts, feel her buttocks, or fondle her genitals? If she buys a ticket to send her child to grandmother’s house for Christmas, at what point has she agreed to subject him to what is considered a sexual assault when it is perpetrated by his schoolteacher?

San Diego TSA chief Michael J. Aguilar, a retired Marine brigadier general with a Master’s Degree in “Strategic Studies and National Security Affairs,” asserts that it is “irresponsible to encourage anyone to opt out of a technology that is there in place specifically to protect the public.” Really? We’re to accept without question the claim that government agents taking graphic nude pictures of us without our informed consent will keep us safe? Aguilar further claimed that “once a passenger enters the security area, there is a legal obligation to follow through with the process.” Indeed? By choosing to fly within the continental United States, I’m agreeing to allow a minimum wage employee of dubious moral character to touch my vagina? To feel between my buttocks? To squeeze my breasts?

Janet Napolitano says “It’s all about security. It’s all about everybody recognizing their role.” It appears that our role is to provide cheap thrills for TSA agents, whether by allowing some to see us naked and evaluate not only our lack of concealed weaponry, but the general size and shape of our naughty bits, or by permitting others to put their hands on our breasts and genitals. Talk about a Hobson’s choice!

I have noticed that women seem to be more concerned with both the nude scanner and the pat down; in part, I think men and women tend to look at things from a bias inherent to their gender. When I think of three or four guys sitting in a semi-dark room all day, looking at pictures of naked people for eight hours at a time, I know they are making lewd remarks, commenting on people's genitals, breasts, fat rolls, etc. The thought of subjecting myself to that kind of review makes me angry. When you factor in the reality that around 33% of women are victims of some sort of sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime, you will understand that a good portion of the population is apt to be much more sensitive to invasive procedures and inappropriate touching.

Have we become a nation willing to have our lives dictated by a pablum of political correctness foisted upon us by the far left? Are we so afraid of being considered racist that we have abandoned reasonableness and logic in our effort to be “fair?” We know that the single largest threat to the security of our airways is the Moslem male between the ages of 18 and 40; we know that the primary purveyors of terrorism are Islamic and likely to be Arab, yet our government instructs its agency to manhandle American citizens—from catholic nuns to the elderly to our defenseless children—while potentially allowing Moslem women to limit the intrusive search to the head and neck.

In a digital age, where our government knows so much about her citizens, there should be a way to pre-screen the majority of prospective travelers to eliminate those who are extremely low risk--say, those with TS-SCI or other clearances; those who neither fit the profile of the terrorist nor the native malcontent, while placing increased scrutiny on those who pose the bigger threat--the non-native, the Moslem, and yes, I dare say it: those who fit the racial profile of the terrorist. It's a pretty damn tough pill for Americans to be forced to swallow, either way. I'd rather have military working dogs in airports than subject myself to either option offered by the TSA--I'd much rather a dog sniffed my crotch than some random agent fondled it.

John Adams once wrote, “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” Are we really willing to let our government force us to give up personal liberty and bodily integrity to preserve the illusion of safety?

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