As long-time readers know, when I say I refuse to submit to (and thus tacitly support) the TSA and its unconstitutional search-and-seizure policies, I really mean it: I refuse. I haven’t traveled anywhere by airplane since the summer of 2009; neither have my husband and sons.
Now, my family and I — passionate civil libertarians, all — are fortunate to be in a position to put our collective foot down thus: none of us needs to fly for work, or — thankfully, currently — for medical procedures. So, boycott the airlines is what we do.
Take that, airlines, said the British-born, Caribbean-and-Central-America-raised girl who comes from a long line of itchy-footed wanderers and who longs for the return of sensible, respectful security policy so she can get back to enjoying the world — hell, the country, even.
But although we know, with certainty, that a short-term boycott of the airlines by a large enough number of people — for just a couple of weeks — is all it would take to bring the airlines to their knees and to get Congress to heed our request for sane, effective airport security policy, here at TSA News, we’re not about shaming people who can’t protest exactly the way we do. Rather, we’re hoping to set an example by not flying, while also entreating those who must fly to cut back on air travel wherever possible. And reminding them, when they do fly, to opt-out of the electronic strip-search machines and document any “pat-downs” with video, as you are permitted to do by law and as you are encouraged to do by civil liberties activists, this blog included.
As our colleague Lisa Simeone (currently on her own no-TSA vacation!) has often said, Everyone can participate in a campaign to effect change, as there are many ways to protest besides not flying. One VERY important thing you should do, right now, is head over to the public comments submission site and state why you oppose the government’s use of electronic strip-search machines on innocent citizens traveling within their own country. (We’ll keep the link posted in the upper left margin, too. Tell your friends.)
In the meantime, another summer fast approaches. And the TSA is still irradiating and groping Americans, with no end to the madness in sight–not yet, anyway.
“It’s going to be another inferno,” my husband said glumly. “It’ll be hot everywhere, but it would be nice to have a little break, a change of scenery….”
“South Beach?” I ventured. “It’s ridiculously drivable. Stay in one of the old Art Deco hotels; take the boys to art museums and vintage shops; hang out in cafés?”
“Get real! That sounds more like a girls’ weekend than a vacation for the lads, Deb,” he said. “Keep thinking.”
We pondered our options. Although we certainly live right in the midst of Family Vacation Central, with Disney, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and Cape Canaveral all within a couple of hours’ drive, our general attitude on that front tends to be Been there, rode that, and all we got were these lousy (and profoundly cheesy) t-shirts.
We were looking for something different, something . . . not in Florida.
Suddenly my husband perked up: “The Smokies! We’ll drive there. We’ll rent a house, load up the family truckster, and be there in eleven hours or so — which is not that much longer than it would take if we flew there, once you add on all the security wait-time and car-rental wait-time and . . . .”
And he’s right: road-tripping it versus flying starts to look pretty good once you factor in the time it takes to drive to the airport, park your car, take the tram into the airport, and go through security (which represents a significant amount of travel-time, even when everything goes smoothly); and then factor in your actual time in the air (assuming takeoff happens as scheduled and there are no delays on the destination end, either) and the time it takes you to hop the shuttle bus to the rental-car lot and wait in line to get the keys to your vehicle (another time-suck, in our experience: we were once held up for nearly three hours in Los Angeles when the car-rental computers went down and all the reservations had to be processed manually); and finally, add on the time involved in driving the last leg of your trip, that is, from the airport car rental lot to your hotel or house, which will invariably be located in a different part of town.
Driving from our house in west-central Florida to the Smoky Mountains will be a TSA-free cakewalk in comparison.
And just think: no sexual assault by people who are unhappy and embarrassed at best; surly and abusive at worst. No being separated from our luggage and having our belongings ransacked and the pricier items among them stolen. And no restrictions on liquids–other than adult beverages, of course: we’re not anti-common-sense and anti-safety. Just anti-Security Theater.
So, are you and your loved ones planning some TSA-free travel this summer? Are you taking to the rails? Or else the road — as we are — all the while crossing your fingers that VIPR units don’t crop up along the way? Tell us about your plans in comments, and feel free to ask questions of–or offer suggestions to–your fellow travelers.
Bon voyage sans le déranger de TSA! [Bon Voyage without the disturbing of TSA.]
Image via Lego Minifigures Tumblr