I’m going to keep this one short, I was going to write about this yesterday when I first heard about it, but I honestly thought it would blow over by today and that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But, my Facebook/Twitter pages are still covered in people talking about this, or rather ranting about talking about this, so I thought I’d share a few of my (hopefully reasonable) thoughts.
You know what I’m talking about. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has recently been stripping people naked and practically having sex with them inside our airports, if the stories are to be believed. There’s talk about groping and violation and touching tantamount to sexual assault and rape. This makes for very good news stories, and email forwards, and Facebook statuses all about how the “Government” is trying to screw over its ordinary citizens, people are all up in arms about this, and I’m not really sure why.
From the news stories that I have read, even the blog posts from individuals who have been assaulted, I don’t see a big problem. There is just a little more security at airports now, which now involves a pat-down. Well, to be honest, pat-downs have long been used to do a quick feel-search and see if someone is trying to smuggle or conceal something. Police use similar physical touching when they pull someone over or suspect they may have a weapon on them, where’s the furor about that? “Oh, well, those are criminals”, you say. Okay, you may think that, but they really aren’t. They are suspected criminals, we do have a principle of “innocent until proven guilty“, but if Police suspect, or believe an individual may be concealing a weapon or other illicit materials, they are allowed to frisk and pat-down a suspect.
This same situation is all that is happening at airports. TSA officials are frisking and patting-down individuals they suspect, or believe may have concealed weapons or other dangerous materials. And then, just for safety’s sake, they do random pat-downs of other individuals to prevent criminals from planting weapons on others, or from using others to smuggle weapons or explosives for them. That can happen, has happened, so the TSA seeks to make everyone flying a little safer by doing these random checks. Again, these people aren’t criminals, no one believes they are criminals, they are just doing their job of protecting citizens in the best way they know how. If you have any real, viable alternatives (and no, just letting everyone do what they want, is not a viable alternative) I’m sure they’d love to hear them, but in the appropriate settings, using the proper procedure for implementing changes like that. Standing in line and yelling at the TSA official is not that setting nor procedure.
Point Two – No one is forcing you to fly. There are alternatives. If you do not want to subject yourself to the TSA inspection, then you can get to your destination in another way. Your choice. This is not being ‘forced’ upon you, you agree to this by agreeing to fly. The same situation applies in other locations. My wife and I went to visit Washington, D.C. last summer. We wanted to visit some government buildings while we were there. In order to get in we had to pass through a metal detector, and there were occasionally people who were pulled aside and patted-down. Bags and backpacks were searched, as well. No one complained about a violation of privacy or anything because they all knew if they did not want to subject themselves to this all they had to do was turn around and walk away. They did not have to visit that building. But if they did want to visit that building then they would have to agree to and permit a search. That’s just the way it is. If you want something, sometimes you have to pay for it.
Point Three- This is the one that really bugs me. I have seen this quote, statistic, sentiment, whatever you want to call it, spread around quite a bit. “Since 9/11, every single attempted terrorist attack on an aircraft has been thwarted by private citizens, not by the TSA.” That is simply not true. It cannot be true. That is the problem with prevention, when it’s successful you don’t know about it. If a terrorist attack doesn’t happen, do we applaud and congratulate our military, homeland security forces, CIA, FBI, Police, etc.? No, we continue life as normal. But when a terrorist attack does occur, we immediately blame these people for not keeping us safe. I am firmly of the opinion that there are many attacks that are prevented – we just don’t hear about them. But, hey. You’re still alive, so’s the President, all those landmarks you love, still standing, doing fine!
People assume because we haven’t heard about any terrorist attacks that these attacks aren’t happening. I highly doubt that. They are being planned, almost carried out, but because of the marvelous work by our security forces, including spies, we are able to prevent many tragedies. But, we cannot prevent them all. That is too bad, but it’s true. We hear about the attacks that happen on airplanes, being thwarted by normal citizens doing courageous and heroic things, and we assume our government is sitting around twiddling its collective thumbs. But do you know how many attacks get thwarted, stopped before they board the airplane? No. That’s how successful we are.
So, while I do understand that security is a very touchy subject (pardon the pun), please, can we all be a little more polite, a little more civil? If you have problems or concerns with the current state of security screening, by all means, let them know! (Here is a comment and complaint form from their website. Use them.) But yelling at the guard doing his job in the airport, causing a scene is not the proper method for changing things. Neither is Facebook, or Twitter. If you want to change things, get involved. Vote. Run for office. Write letters. Send emails. CONVERSE and DISCUSS. But please don’t shout, don’t scream, don’t be stupid. It just gives the rest of us honest citizens a bad name. Please, I beg you, my fellow Americans, let’s show the world that we can be reasonable and smart. Can we do that? Please?