Frederick Douglass wouldn’t have put up with the TSA

Great American orator, scholar, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born sometime in February of 1818 and died on this date, February 20th, in 1895. Among the many brilliant, fiery speeches he gave and essays he wrote, no lines have been more often excerpted and quoted than these, which apply today every bit as much as they did in his time. I’ve quoted them often, but never enough. So it’s fitting that I take this opportunity to commemorate him and do it again:

“The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up . . .

“If there is no struggle there is no progress . . . This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I think we’ve found exactly out what people in this country are willing to quietly submit to. They demonstrate it every day.

Ft. Myers TV station airs accidentally accurate TSA logo

Gotta love this!

WBBH in Ft. Myers, Florida, apparently aired a report with a tweaked DHS/TSA logo behind the speaker. Instead of the letters “TSA” for, of course, “Transportation Security Administration,” only the letters “TA” appear. They represent, in case it has to be explained, “Tits and Ass”; and depicted on each side, if you look closely, are breasts and buttocks.

Thanks to our writer Amy Alkon for the story, which she got via Kevin Eck at Adweek. Hats off to the clever person who tweaked the logo, though I do have to wonder if it actually aired this way or if the image was changed afterwards for this still shot. Either way, the tweaked logo is a more accurate representation of the TSA!

John Brennan Legal Defense Fund to fight TSA

TSA resister and hero John Brennan needs your help.

We’ve written about Brennan many times. He’s the man who, in April of 2012, finally got so fed up with being poked, prodded, and pawed by the TSA every time he traveled, that he stripped naked at a checkpoint in Portland, Oregon to prove he was carrying no weapons. Whereupon the TSA promptly called the cops, who arrested him. (We’ve also written many times about the fact that the police, instead of doing their duty, automatically side with the TSA no matter what the circumstances.)

The whole incident proved — yet effing again — that the TSA’s little song-and-dance routine isn’t about security. It’s about compelling obedience. Because if they supposedly wanted to know whether Brennan was carried contraband, they found out: he wasn’t.

But that wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted to teach him — and the rest of us — a lesson: Comply, and go on your way; resist — and worse, show us for the fools we are — and face our wrath.

Brennan was charged with indecent exposure and went to trial. He was found Not Guilty.

But the TSA continued to hound him. He was ordered to pay $500. And he was fired from his job, because his clueless employer, instead of backing him up, simply hired another slave to do its bidding.

Brennan joins a long list of TSA resisters, including Yukari Miyamae, Andrea Abbott, Frank Hannibal, Nadine Pellegrino (who was at the 2015 Airport Security Symposium), Nadine Kay Hays (likewise), Jonathan Corbett (likewise), Aaron Tobey, Geoffrey McGann, Stacey Armato, Maggie Yates Buckenmayer, Pete Alexion, Sai (also at the Symposium), and so many others. You can search their names here at TSA News and find tons of info about them.

Brennan is now in financial straits. And he’s still fighting this battle — not only for himself, but for all of us. He’s appealing to a higher court. If you can help John Brennan with his legal fees, please do so at his website, Naked American Hero.

Chris Hedges: The Wages of Rebellion Part 2; and TSA

There are so many videos on YouTube of speeches by the great Chris Hedges. You can have a field day watching them. I feel honored that I’ve met Hedges and broken bread with him several times. He is one of the most upstanding, virtuous people I have ever met. He is a poet, a philosopher, a visionary, a historian, a Cassandra for our age.

His books are as infuriating as they are inspiring. And if you don’t read his weekly column at Truthdig or Nation of Change or Truthout — well, put the New York Times and Washington Post aside once in a while and read somebody with integrity, somebody who doesn’t suck up to power, who is unafraid to tell the unvarnished truth. If you have time to read a mainstream newspaper or watch network TV, you have time to read Hedges. The following quotation comes around 3:30 into the clip:

“How do you revolt?
“. . . I want people to understand when you seriously revolt what the state does to you.
“. . . revolt itself is a moral imperative. That asking the question as to whether it can succeed is the wrong question. Revolt is not finally about what we achieve . . . revolt is about what we become. 
“. . . I don’t fight fascists because finally I believe that I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.”

(Originally posted at ABombazine)

TSA not okay by Bonnie Rain

I received this email the other day from a woman named Bonnie Rain. It’s a letter she sent to the White House. She gave me permission to post it at TSA News:

Dear President Obama,

I just went on a trip with my boyfriend and had to go through the humiliating experience of passing through the TSA checkpoints.

Are you aware of the drill?

– We had to stand in a line that made us feel like we were cattle.

– Then we were told to take our shoes off, empty our pockets, take off our belts and jackets, put our valuables in bins, and walk up to an X-ray machine.

– We were told to lift up our arms, making us feel like criminals in a line-up.

I was thenmolested. The TSA agent manipulated and touched my breasts in public as a result of spots showing up on the screen.

I wore no underwire. I wore cotton shirts. I had no breast pockets. And coming back from our trip — wearing nearly the same kind of outfit — there was nothing on the screen.

If your wife, FLOTUS/Michelle, were to have her breasts touched/fondled/manipulated by a “TSA” agent, how would it make you feel?

My boyfriend could only stand by and watch what was happening to me.

Isn’t it true that if we complain we could be branded for life as troublemakers in this cockamamie system? What does that tell you?

Do you remember what we’re supposed to be teaching our children? We teach them not to let anyone touch them. We teach them that unwanted or improper touching is wrong. But as adults — as tax-paying, law-abiding adults — we’re supposed to put up with being touched/handled/fondled against our will? We’re supposed to lose our voice as adults? Have we really now lost the ability to say “I do not want strangers touching me”?

TSA agents are not doctors. These people may be nothing more than security guards with some sort of certification. It is not okay that the government has deemed them worthy of touching other adults (manipulating their breasts) in order to travel.

I am not okay with strangers touching me in public. In addition to the fact that this system has sucked the fun out of travel, it has, more importantly, made it so that citizens are treated like cattle with no way to resist the threat of being touched or harassed.

Of course we all want to enjoy safe travel. But I want you to put yourself in the shoes of a person who would like to travel without harassment or embarrassment. Then, I’d like you to step into the path of the current TSA process and practices.

The randomness of the rules and system, accompanied by unwanted physical contact (which I believe is the definition ‘battery’ and worse) is not okay!

I told Bonnie that, contrary to popular belief, which the TSA encourages, she will not be “branded for life as a troublemaker.” She should resist. There are many ways to do so.

As for Obama and his cabinet, they don’t give a shit. Bonnie Rain’s missive, after they respond to it with some half-assed form letter, will go into the circular file.

Give to TSA Watch

The fundraising drive at TSA Watch has been stuck at $6,921 for weeks. The TSA is sexually assaulting people at airports in this country every day. We and many other organizations have been documenting it for years. I don’t know what else people need to know in order to care.

Oh, wait a minute — for some people, getting robbed is more serious than getting sexually assaulted. Okay, fine. The TSA is robbing people at airports in this country every day.

Hold on — just remembered something else — for other people, being forced to miss their flight is the worst that can happen. Okay. The TSA is detaining people (don’t tell me they don’t have the right — we know that — doesn’t matter; they do it all the time) and forcing them to miss their flights.

The TSA also routinely censors comments on its blog, which is supposed to exist for the benefit of the public and for which we pay with our tax dollars.

The TSA is a criminal agency that bullies, harasses, robs, and assaults people every day. Do you care? Or are you content as long as it happens to Someone Else?

If you give a shit, then please support TSA Watch.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

TSA Watch, Phase Two — still needs your help

TSA Watch, a new non-profit membership organization about which I wrote earlier this year, has raised $5,000 and is embarking on phase two: filing with the IRS as a 501(c)(3).

Here’s the latest word on our progress:

As of April 15th we have raised 15% of our initial goals. We have used that money to develop TSA Watch infrastructure.

As of April 15th, we have formed a Board of Directors, are incorporated, have published two videos and scripted others, and have developed some basic infrastructure on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

We need to raise more money as soon as possible to file for our non-profit status with the IRS. The paperwork is ready, but it costs money to submit.

Once we have official non-profit status, we can receive tax deductible contributions, but more than that, we can gain support from other non-profits and foundations.

Our immediate goal for the rest of April is to raise at least $2,000, just a fraction of our $35,000 start-up goal. That will cover the non-profit filing fees and allow us to hire the help we need for the next infrastructure building steps. The sooner we raise the full amount, the sooner we can launch this organization on the scale needed.

In the meantime, each day that passes sees more stories of TSA Agents harassing, molesting, assaulting and otherwise abusing the traveling public.

Only by working together will we change this. Please Join us!

Thank you for your support.

Disclosure: I’m on the board (which is tiny; consists of three people). You can read more about what we’re trying to do here, and you can donate here.

As I wrote in a comment in February, if this were a Stephen Colbert spoof PAC, we’d raise millions in a few days. And hey, not knocking him; I love Colbert. I think he’s scary-brilliant. A joke PAC is all well and good. But the TSA is no joke.

Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? I hope so. Because if we don’t fight this agency on all fronts — legislative, educational, grassroots — we’ll never win.

*TSA Watch is appealing to you*

TSA Watch, which I wrote about a few weeks ago here, is working hard to raise awareness about TSA abuse and money to fight it. Today only, your contribution will be doubled by a generous benefactor, up to $500. But only today. So please, if you can afford to give 5 bucks, do so. If you can afford to give 50, do so. Whatever the amount, if you care about the fact that your government is violating your rights and your body, please support our efforts to fight this abuse. And spread the word. Post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, whatever.