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In the few days since I’ve had a chance to start a new convo, there have been lots of smart posts here about all things TSA. It seems, though, that every day brings a new and more hideous example of our government’s violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, some of which ought not go without comment.
For example, we must note this story about a man whose TSA screener broke the seal of his urostomy bag. Due to his baggy clothing, traveler Thomas “Tom” Sawyer of Lansing, Michigan, was targeted for advanced screening. His ostomy bag appeared on the scanner, prompting agents to demand that he undergo a pat down. When Mr. Sawyer asked that the procedure be done in private, the agents rolled their eyes in a demeaning manner. Once inside an office, they refused to listen to his explanation of his medical condition until it was too late — an agent’s overzealous pat-down broke the seal on the bag causing urine to leak down Mr. Sawyer’s body and onto his clothing. He was thusly forced to board his plane, until he finally was able to clean himself up in the cramped confines of the on-board toilet.
As incensed as I was reading this story, here’s the part that scares me the most:
The security officer finished the pat-down, tested the gloves for any trace of explosives and then, Sawyer said, ‘He told me I could go. They never apologized. They never offered to help. They acted like they hadn’t seen what happened. But I know they saw it because I had a wet mark.’
…[Sawyer] plans to file a formal complaint with the TSA. When he does, said TSA spokesperson Dwayne Baird, ‘We will review the matter and take appropriate action if necessary.'”
If necessary? How could “appropriate action” not be necessary?
I want to be sure to make this next point carefully lest I’m accused of overstating a problem. I’m sure we’ve all experienced kindness, courtesy and professionalism on the part of TSA agents. I know I have, especially in many of the smaller airports into which I fly.
On the other hand, the enhanced screening procedures are requiring TSA agents to intimidate, humiliate and violate the flying public in the name of “safety and security.” They’re being trained to look at their fellow, law abiding citizens as potential enemies.
The only way for TSA agents to engage in the demoralizing, embarrassing tasks they are being required to perform is to become dehumanized and to project such dehumanization onto those under their scrutiny. They have to learn to view themselves as the authoritarian “we” and the flying public as the submissive “them.” Once that happens — once a police agency of the federal government loses its humanity and also treats the citizenry as subhuman in order to “protect” us from ourselves — we’ve lost more than the war on terror. We’ve lost our liberty to the tyranny of a “safe and secure” police state.
Be on the lookout for more stories about TSA abuse of authority that reveal dehumanization on the part of agents. In my view, it’s the only way that good, decent, hard working TSA agents can do what they are being required to do by our government. And it’s the only way they can justify stripping down ostomy patients and spilling their urine, or demanding that cancer victims prove they are wearing a prosthetic breast, or stripping a small boy to his skin and patting down his Pull-up looking for… God knows what.
Time to call my daughter to see if she’s all set for her flight home from college tomorrow. Sigh.Published in