Friday, November 19, 2010

I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants

by Dick Mac

At the beginning of this century I was travelling a lot. More than I ever dreamed I would travel. My passport filled up with visas, my frequent flyer account swelled with more and more points, and I got to know some of the trans-Atlantic flight attendants on the airline I used.

Travelling was wonderful. I learned the joys of business class and first class and upper class, the use of airport clubhouses and lounges. I owned a watch with two faces: one for Eastern Time and one for Greenwich Time. I began to suffer the amusing delusions of frequent crossing of time zones and continents; needing upon waking to ask the flight attendant where we were going to land. I learned the ins-and-outs of duty-free shopping and lamented that the manufacturer of my cigarette brand was not a participant in that program.

Life was slightly complicated which was balanced by it being slightly amusing.

And travelling was pretty easy. Most of my flights took place before 9/11, and the flights after 9/11 were booked into first-class; so, I have been spared the indignation that is today's screening process at the airport.

I am continually amazed at two dynamics:

(1) that the Transportation Safety Authority really thinks that grandma's knitting needles and a cooler of mother's milk are the dangers we must be protected from and cannot hire staff able to sensibly discern danger from safety; and

(2) that passengers and visitors to airports seem to think that anybody cares about their inconvenience while going through absurdly ineffective and intrusive security checks.

Yes, I agree that the security checks have become ridiculous and I believe they are totally ineffective; but, I would never say anything about it in the airport and certainly not while in line to be manhandled and humiliated. If I want to travel by air, I have to be willing to pretend these security checks are not demeaning, and be silent and complaint when my moment arrives.

It seems, however, that this failed system of airport "security" has become even more intrusive over the past few years. There are machines that can see beneath our clothes, and there has been an increase in closed-door searches of people who are randomly selected or meet some random criteria. These searches require a person to leave the line, enter a room where the door is closed and be subjected to the whims of the "security" person who can touch their body and force them to strip.

Pat-downs, the process by which a "security" person feels your body through your clothes to determine if you have anything hidden underneath, have also become more aggressive.

It's gotten to the point where people are now complaining to the authorities about the screening process.

"I didn't really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants," said Kaya McLaren, an elementary schoolteacher from Cle Elum, Wash., who was patted down at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport last Saturday because the body scanner detected a tissue and a hair band in her pocket.
Pat-Downs at Airports Prompt Complaints

What we forget as Americans is that over the past thirty years we have redefined freedom as the freedom to make money and retain it without paying taxes. Actual freedom, personal freedom, is continually sacrificed to save commerce.

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