Above, we see yet another innocent traveler who is traumatized as a TSA agent performs an “enhanced pat-down” on her at the airport in Madison, Wisconsin:
In the video, a woman in a pink sweater can be heard sobbing as a TSA agent searches her. After the TSA agent has finished the patdown, the woman can be seen hunched over, visibly upset.
Of course, the comments at the post are replete with the usual apologism and ignorance. Some commenters wonder why the woman didn’t “just go through the scanners.”
Er . . . because they’re unsafe, for one thing–especially for skin cancer patients–and they’re intrusive and traumatizing, for another, given that you must raise your hands in surrender and accept that an image of your naked body is being viewed by a stranger.
Moreover, going through the scanners–even if they were safe and non-violative, which they aren’t–doesn’t guarantee you won’t also be pulled aside for a grope. If the TSA screener sees an “anomaly,” or just on a whim, he or she can single you out for a “pat-down.”
Then there’s that little matter of the scanners’ being useless, as Jon Corbett demonstrated with his sewn-on side pockets. Useless, and an unconscionable waste of tax dollars, as Corbett later proved in his interview with a former TSA agent and whistleblower.
Some of the responses are unimaginably insensitive, with TSA apologists saying the crying woman should toughen up, “grow a pair,” and accept that terrorists are out to get us, so intrusive searches are now a fact of life.
Given that these folks are so terrified of a terrorist event, the occurrence of which is rarer than being struck by lightning, that they’re willing to hand over their Fourth Amendment rights, not to mention perfectly fine with having strangers grope the breasts, buttocks, and genitalia of such scary individuals as children, retirees, people with disabilities, cancer patients, and more–well, you can be forgiven for laughing at their cowardly faux-machismo.
Then there are the disgusting comments to the effect of “she’s faking it,” or “she’s just looking to gin up sympathy so she can file a lawsuit.”
Listen: when one in six women (and 1 in 33 men) in the United States has been raped at some point in her or his life, you needn’t be a math whiz to figure out that any security line is going to contain a number of rape victims (and that’s not even counting victims of other forms of physical abuse). Different things trigger different people, it’s true: sometimes a certain color wallpaper or certain music or odors might spark a traumatic reaction in a person, and obviously, airport architects and designers can’t accommodate everyone’s triggers.
But I can tell you from personal experience: being aggressively groped by a stranger is universally and undeniably upsetting–and likely to trigger a traumatic response–for all survivors of rape, physical abuse, violent bullying, battery, and other physical assaults. It’s certainly not the same thing as going to the doctor, wherein you are being touched with your consent, by a person you know and trust.
I will, then, renew my call for President Obama to disband the TSA; fire John Pistole; institute a far more effective scanning of checked luggage (as opposed to letting TSA agents dig through our suitcases and help themselves to our iPads, cameras, and other expensive belongings) than currently exists; launch an investigation into the contracts that brought us these boondoggle scanners in the first place–as well as the individuals who pushed them and are benefiting from their sale; and return airport security to a system of metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs, responsible and ethical behavioral profiling, and most importantly, common sense.