Passport? Boarding pass? Assault?

So since I made the move to FTB (and I’m still super happy about that), people have started talking to me about conferences and meetups and conventions and whatnot. Being fairly new to organized nonbelief, I have never been to one of these fancy functions (although I will be at Imagine No Religion 2 in Kamloops in May). I’ve never had a major yen to congregate in this way. While I do enjoy the company of my fellow infidels here in Vancouver, I’ve never had a strong desire to attend a large event organized for that purpose. I’m not knocking them, I’m just saying they haven’t been a big draw for me.

However, as I make more friends who I would otherwise not have a chance to see (I am referring largely, but not exclusively, to my colleagues at FTB), I begin to see the desirability of getting to hang out with a big group of heathens. The problem, for me at least, is that very few of the meetups happen in Canada, which forces me to go to the United States. Where this happens:

Women passengers complain that TSA agents are targeting them for extra screening. The Transportation Security Administration has a policy to randomly select people for extra screening, but some female passengers are complaining. They believe there is nothing “random” about the way they were picked.

A Dallas woman says TSA agents repeatedly asked her to step back into a body scanning machine at DFW International Airport. “I feel like I was totally exposed,” said Ellen Terrell, who is a wife and mother. “They wanted a nice good look.” When Ellen Terrell and her husband, Charlie, flew out of DFW Airport several months ago, Terrell says she was surprised by a question a female TSA agent asked her. “She says to me, ‘Do you play tennis?’ And I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘You just have such a cute figure.’”

So I’ll level with you here: I’m good-looking. Like Derek Zoolander good-looking. Even still, I don’t have to put up with this horseshit. And here’s the other thing: NOBODY SHOULD HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS HORSESHIT. Especially not from a government agent without whose blessing you cannot conduct business, visit family, or attend a fun atheist meetup with your buds.

Whatever the caricatures about liberals are, and whatever level of liberalism one would wish to ascribe to me, I can definitely line up with anyone who thinks that it’s wrong for the government to have the power to leer at your naked image. Any institution that has power with nothing forcing it to exercise its abilities judiciously will become corrupt. It is an inviolable facet of human nature. Giving unchecked power to a government agency is going to result in cases like this every single time.

And then, if we’re lucky, we’ll get offered milquetoast “fixes” like this:

One of the most powerful senators in the country is taking action after watching a CBS 11 investigation.  Democratic Senator Charles Schumer from New York saw our story uncovering a pattern of women complaining about  the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents. Now, Senator Schumer wants to give passengers a way to complain if they feel mistreated.

Another government agent that we can tattle to after we’ve been perved on. At the risk of going “full Ron Paul” on this one, the answer appears to be pretty obvious to me: get rid of the pornoscanners. Come up with a better, evidence-based way of screening for dangerous items and passengers, and take the power to ogle women out of the hands of entry-level peons who have nothing but their own good sense to hold their skeevedom in check.

So, for the foreseeable future, if the question starts with “Hey Ian are you going to the…”, the answer is probably going to be ‘no’. Not unless I can drive there.

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