Coming on the heels of the story about the TSA’s aggressive handling of a four-year old child, we now have an even worse case of an aggressive pat-down given to a seven-year old girl with cerebral palsy who uses crutches, resulting in the family missing their flight. Add to this the charges of stealing, and the TSA is well on its way to becoming the most hated agency of the government.
Perhaps if the two children had been carrying large amounts of cocaine, they would have been whisked through.
Columnist and blogger Amy Alkon describes her own ghastly experience with the TSA Here’s part of her story (Thanks to Norm):
On March 31, 2011, at the TSA checkpoint in LAX’s Terminal 6, I found that I had no choice but to get the pat-down. Tears welled in my eyes – for how we’ve allowed the Constitution to be torn up at the airport door and because I was powerless to stop a total stranger from groping my breasts and genitals as a condition of normal, ordinary business travel.
I can hold back the tears … hang tough … but as I was made to “assume the position” on a rubber mat like a criminal, I thought fast. I decided that these TSA “officers” violating our Fourth Amendment rights, searching us without reasonable suspicion we’ve committed a crime, do not deserve our quiet compliance. I let the tears come. In fact, I sobbed my guts out as the agent groped me. And then it happened: She jammed the side of her latex-gloved hand up into my genitals. Four times, with only the fabric of my pants as a barrier. I was shocked – utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there.
Powerless to stop her, but not to vigorously protest what she had done to me, I yelled afterward, “YOU RAPED ME.” I later blogged about it, naming her and urging others to name the agents who grope them (a constitutional violation even when done according to TSA procedure, which the search of me was not). We need to make it as uncomfortable as possible to earn a living violating our rights.
Alkon says that when she wrote about it, a lawyer for the TSA agent threatened her with a suit for $500,000. She did not back down and got her own lawyer to fight back and has not heard from the agent’s lawyers again. The letters can be seen here.
Alkon says that the real goal of TSA screening may not be safety.
The TSA’s main accomplishment seems to be obedience training for the American public – priming us to be docile (and even polite) about giving up our civil liberties. The TSA not only violates our Fourth Amendment rights but also has posted signs effectively eradicating our First Amendment right to speak out about it. One such sign, in Denver International Airport, offers the vague warning that “verbal abuse” of agents will “not be tolerated.” Travelers are left to wonder whether it’s “verbal abuse” to inform the TSA agent probing their testicles that this isn’t making us safer, or are they only in trouble if they throw in an obscenity? Not surprisingly, few seem willing to speak out and risk arrest.
She has a suggestion for how to fight back.
I believe I’ve found a less risky, more impactful way to protest, and it’s through sobbing. I’m calling on American women to follow my lead at TSA checkpoints: Opt for the pat-down, and sob your guts out.
Think about the power of it – in airports across America every day, mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters sobbing throughout their government-administered sexual molestation. As the 18th-century economist Adam Smith noted, sympathy for others is a potent human motivator.
While large numbers of crying women and children may generate sympathy I don’t think it will change things. After all, there is nothing more sympathetic than small children with disabilities, but even outrages perpetrated against them don’t generate sufficient anger.
The problem is that all of us are seen as mere peons, disposable members of the national security state, who can be harassed, arrested, thrown in jail, have our civil liberties denied, and now even killed by agents of the government, all justified by the ‘war on terror’. What may create change is if several close relatives of prominent members of the oligarchy are at the receiving end of this treatment, causing the media start to make a big stink.