Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Just for Rapists Anymore

How about the way the TSA tells you they are hearing your discomfort, and then goes on to explain why it's important that they continue to do exactly what they are doing?  Okay, so they don't get the debasement and defilement and let's be honest the rape that you feel when you have the options of holding your arms up for seven seconds so they can get your naked body in view, or be felt up by an airport security madam (I'm talking women, but you men assuredly have a male version of a madam available to feel you up if desired.).

So you try reason.  If intelligence works the way it should it will be a far more effective alternative to the airline debasement process.  In fact, the airline debasement process was not even relevant during the last security threat; maybe the security folks need to formulate a plan for all those packages coming in from not-so-friendly places.  And, I understand that the scanners (and the pat down) don't work if the explosive is ingested.  Is this a case of let's look for the lost car keys where the light is better rather than where you lost them?  Let's invade American citizens, as they are so much easier than shipments from foreign countries.

And they say they understand that as well but they are sure this will work, and they need to continue to do it this way.  After all, the government has paid off so many corporate interests to get these gadgets, and now they are in place and all.

So you know that this is not going to work.  It is just going to be more expense and more inconvenience and more humiliation.  What do you do about it?

Apparently, we all grumble, and then we raise our arms up high.  Maybe, if we think we're really reasonable people, and we don't want to be seen as unpleasant, we make awkward jokes to the woman that's patting us down, or to our families when we're done showing our figure off to the airport screener.

I wonder, if I had a child of twelve, how I would explain this to her (or him).  You know, they trust us so if we want to lie that would be fine.  In fact, they trust us so much that we could tell them they are x-raying our bodies to make sure we are not terrorists, and they would accept that too.

That makes me want to cry.

Damn it, this is America, people.  Stop making excuses, about how it's not a big deal, you'd rather be safe, nobody's going to know it's you.  THEY ARE LOOKING AT OUR BODIES.

Why???  Because they are going to find terrorists?????

Well, I am nearly 60.  Nobody has patted me down in some twelve years.  The thought of this invasion brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of it.  The thought of all the smaller indignities, the shoes, the liquids, the opening up of computers, that we have put up with, not to be safer, but because we Americans don't feel we can stop this process.  This is just the way it's done.

With all my family living in distant parts of the country, and the piss-poor transportation we have in this country, I have been feeling a bit trapped for some time now.  Airports, once such pleasant places where happy things happened at least half the time, are now places of annoyance and intrusion, where every two minutes the loudspeaker requests that you immediately report unattended bags or suspicious looking people.  Where they take down your license plate as you leave, as though that is going to prevent an act of terrorism.

Right at this time, I can't see myself putting myself through this.  I have, since 9/11, had my bag pawed through. But the gun lobby is protecting the rights of Americans to carry guns.   I have had to dump a bottle of water to get to the airport boarding area.  But I can then purchase, for $2 or more, a bottle of water before boarding.  I have taken my shoes off, bagged my tiny bottle of hand lotion, and don't even think about carrying a computer onto a plane.  And yet, because the airlines are charging exhorbitant amounts for luggage, all manor of bizzarre objects are squeezed into planes and overhead compartments, sometimes to fall onto a passenger, and often preventing people from getting to connecting flights, while they wait for people ahead of them to wrestle those big bags to the floor.

I show my drivers license two or three times before I board.  I have for a time had to tolerate standing in line while people opened my luggage, sprinkled powder on and around it (looking for explosive).  Yet we no longer have humans handling ticketing.  We self-ticket, soon we will self-check our bags, and all those points where humans might detect suspicious behavior are gone.

I just heard a TSA representative claim that if people had a choice of taking a flight that had no precautions or a flight that had all these screening measures, people would choose the latter.  First of all, adequate precautions are essential.  Secondly, the current screening measures are nothing like adequate measures.  They have replaced people with machines, and with more machines comes less personal and professional judgment and responsibility.  The airlines are allowing the government to take on the full responsibility for the next terrorist act.  Airline policies and personnel have become more lax and inadequate as the government has instituted ever more  invasive procedures.  The government relies on machines and not personal contact and judgment.  No, I guess I would opt for neither.  What I would choose, given the option, is personnel -- people -- being involved in the process, from check-in to boarding, and all of us being observant.  That  would make me feel safer.

But since that is not going to happen, I have chosen not to fly.  And I wonder when Americans are going to stand up to the government and the corporate interests that have allowed the government to take the easy, less effective way out of pretending to protect us from the terrorists.  Right now, it is the government doing the terrorizing.  Which is probably quite fine by Al Qaeda, who has raped our bodies and our spirits without having to board a plane.

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