Tuesday, November 23, 2010
What to do
For the nice young lady who asked, "but what do we DO about airport groping?"
First you realize that if it's not stopped here*, then you will eventually be searched any time you get on a bus, train, subway, or enter a public building. You must hold in your mind the fact - THE FACT - that this will continue and grow until Americans put a stop to it.
Second, realize that the argument that TSA can put their hands on your junk because of an underwear bomber, they can put a finger up your ass as soon as someone smuggles C4 in a cavity. The argument is the same. So either it stops here or blue latex goes all the way to your small intestine. Lubricant is a privilege, not a right.
Third, calculate how much you're willing to pay to get the rules changed. I will not fly with daughters. We have had foster kids who have suffered sexual abuse already, so there's no way in hell some stranger with a plastic badge is going to stick a hand down their pants. But for me, yes, I'll fly, and I'll arrive early enough that I can "opt out" of the microwave without fear of missing a flight. I can demand a private room**. I can demand that the officer change gloves***. I can make them explain the procedure to me in small words. I can even helpfully remind the agent that he doesn't have to do this - he can always quit his job. The purpose, if you're willing to pay the price, is to exercise your rights in a way that is sure to make the lemmings in line care****. I have a lot of practice at being an asshole while smiling.
Fourth, figure out other ways to complain. If you decide to drive somewhere instead of flying, write a nice letter to a couple of airlines explaining why. If it hurts the airlines, they need to know*****. Drop a note and a fax to your representative, or write directly to the TSA. These are obviously less effective than gumming up the passenger lines, but if you feel the need to do something, well, that's something.
Finally, mock, mock, mock. At every chance. Online. In your local paper. At lunch with friends. Use phrases like "gate rape" and "Total Sexual Assault." When people think of the TSA, they ought to imagine half-witted stormtroopers with their hands down travelers' underwear, because that's what they are. Alinski wrote that, "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage." It's going to spark a reaction; TSA will either back down or they will double down. It is better for everyone if they back down, but it won't happen unless enough Americans are willing to pay a small, personal price today. Like an auction, the price gets higher the longer you wait.
And don't forget to record your experience as best you can and put it on YouTube. At least until they ban that, too.
* a clever person could argue that all you have to do to avoid gate rape is to walk through the microwave. That's all you have to do under *today's* rules, but TSA still claims authority to change the rules, make special rules just for you, and arrest anyone who complains. We also know they will break the rules and slide their fingers into your panties just to be extra safe.
** which has the additional advantage of taking longer, up to 10 minutes vs. 20 seconds in the microwave. On the other hand, the TSA guy is going to be more embarrassed rubbing my ass in public than I will be to have it done.
*** You have no idea where those gloves have been. Well, besides down the ABC news girl's panties, of course.
**** Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
***** You could actually write a letter without actually canceling a trip or changing plans. They don't follow up on that sort of thing, really.