Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Has the TSA Worn Out Its Welcome?

I've been seeing more and more news reports of "hot" people getting a more intense pat-down than others...of women in tears after a pat-down...of small children patted down in a way that undermines a parents instructions to not let a stranger touch them in certain areas...of the elderly being humiliated in many ways in regards to their medical/personal needs...the list goes on and on.

What I'd like to see are some actual statistics...how many of these searches have yielded results?  How many weapons have been confiscated?  How many terror attacks prevented?

For a country that has a liberal majority that espouses personal freedoms and choices, we sure don't mind getting up in someone's personal space and "touching their junk," to quote the famous dude a few years back.

I've always loved flying.  My first flight was in college, when I flew on an Army helicopter back in my ROTC days.  When I went to basic training, I flew commercially for the first time, although by then I'd logged a few hours in a private plane.  When I traveled, flying was my personal choice if I had the money for it...and with my health the way it is now, flying would be less taxing on me than 8+ hours in a car.

There's one major problem.  I've never been an exhibitionist.  I've never enjoyed getting undressed in front of people (showers during basic training were excruciatingly embarrassing for me), much less being touched by a stranger.  I was frisked by a Petal cop when I was 16 because I pulled out of my parking space with my headlights off (it was dark, but a very well-lit parking lot.  How many of us have done this before?), and it was a traumatic experience.  I was frisked because I was a Seaton, driving the family car, and lets just say that my brother had made a memorable impression on the cops when he started driving 5 years earlier.  Years later, when I learned to frisk a suspect as part of my Military Police training in the NY Army National Guard, I realized that what the cop had done to me wasn't procedure, it was molestation.  I was frisked properly during training, so was able to compare the two events.

All that being said, I'm shy.  Having gained weight over the past few years as a result of my health battles, I'm embarrassed about my appearance.  I have scars all over my torso from surgeries, and they've caused a lot of scar tissue to form, as well as flab that I can't just exercise away because of the way I was cut.  I don't like being touched by anyone, and indeed some touches on my abdomen, for instance, cause pain...intense pain in some cases.

I won't fly now unless I verify its in and out of an airport that doesn't do the pat-downs.  This seriously limits my choices in destinations.

We shouldn't be subjected to this.  Seriously.  A pat-down probably wouldn't have prevented the 9-11 attacks (they used box-cutters to take over the planes, if I recall)...half the time the pat-downs are just a quick shuffle, and many times people are singled out for a more intense pat-down based on...appearance...body language...etc.  I'd probably get a more thorough assault pat-down because I'd be visibly uncomfortable, anxious, and distressed while waiting my turn.

Our individual liberties are being eroded.  They already tell us we can't wish someone Merry Christmas because its offensive.  We can't mention God in schools or the work-place because someone might be offended.  But its ok to touch me in places I'd really rather they didn't, or touch my child in places I've told her/him that its NOT OK to be touched by a stranger, all in the name of "national security."

Why can't we learn from countries that deal with attacks on a regular basis?  Flying in and out of Israel or Ireland isn't this demeaning, it shouldn't be in the "Land of the Free" either.

*stepping off my soapbox now*

p.s.  I really want to fly somewhere on vacation, but I'm terrified of the humiliation, thus inspiring this rant


  1. All airports are required to follow TSA guidelines. I worked for them for 7 years. While everyone who works there isn't a saint, people are chosen for pat downs based on alarming a metal detector or by exhibiting certain behaviors. The officers are trained and you are patted down by an officer of the same sex, not that females can't also humiliate you, but the chances are less. At the beginning, TSA was not very clear on guidelines, but now, after 10 years, they are getting better. If you haven't tried flying lately, you should. The officers see hundreds of people a day, they just want to do their jobs. Also, you can request a private search in which they will take you to a room with a supervisor present forthe search. I used to hatetelling people what Idid for a living because people would accuse me of violating old people and children. I took my job seriously and even as a lesbian, I never initiated a pat down because I found a girl attractive.

  2. Thank you for your feedback. I understand there are the good people out there like you, and the media only shows the "bad"...I wasn't terribly clear when I wrote this, but my main fear is just being singled out for this procedure...even in a private room, I'd be embarrassed and very uncomfortable. As I mentioned, even touches cause pain for me...for instance I have to wear maternity pants because the waistbands of traditional jeans hurt my abdomen. I feel like I would be singled out because of my personal behavior, I WOULD be visibly uncomfortable and not wanting a pat-down, thus I'd project that hehe.

    Still, I do wish there were a better screening system. Maybe someone will come up with one eventually :)