Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TSA = Tyrannical, Stupid, Abusive

For the record, I have disliked the "Transportation Security" Administration since Day 1. It's all kabuki theater anyway, since there's no evidence that a single terrorist has been thwarted by the TSA since the agency was implemented. Meanwhile, every day, gobs of average law-abiding Americans or peaceable foreign tourists get pulled out of line and needlessly harassed for no discernible reason, other than that the TSA goons can do it. And anything they can do, they will.

You guessed it: on my flight back to Washington, passing through Salt Lake Airport, I got picked for a random security screening. (I'm pretty sure this happened because I booked my flight through USAA, and was therefore possibly a dangerous terrorist because I was affiliated with the U.S. military in some nebulous way.) I was told I would have to pass through the backscatter machine (aka the Cavity Search Photo Booth), which I flatly refused. I was then told my only other option was to endure a thorough full-body patdown, which I very unwillingly submitted to -- and that only because I knew that, once singled out for this torture, the TSA would not simply allow me to go through normal security screening procedures and get to my gate. They forced me to make a choice between public humiliation or no flight. So this time I chose what, for me, was the less objectionable form of public humiliation.

My torturer was a short, perky woman who was as swift and professional as circumstances allowed. Which is fine, I guess, if you don't mind being tortured swiftly and professionally. Poke, prod, slide, palpate, "widen your stance, please," lather, rinse, repeat. Oh yes, and be sure to swab my clothes so the drug-sniffing machine can make absolutely sure a 41-year-old middle-class Mormon woman isn't smuggling heroin up her fundament. After the ordeal (which I NATURALLY passed with flying colors), I stated loudly enough for everyone around me to hear, "It's certainly a great comfort to know that I'm not considered a terrorist or a drug dealer." Which probably ensures that I'll be singled out for this torture again in future, but you know what? The TSA can bite me. If they try to do it again, one of three things will happen, depending on what kind of mood I'm in:

1) Mischievous: A very loud faked orgasm that will make that scene from When Harry Met Sally look like an episode of Romper Room.
2) Combative: Before they try to make me choose between The Nekkidifier or The Gropes of Wrath, I will ask, "Would you please specify the reason why I am being singled out for this treatment?" If they tell me the choice was made entirely at random, I will say, "That's unacceptable. U.S. common law is based on presumption of innocence. You are treating me as though you suspect me to be guilty of a crime, so name the offense or let me pass through normal security procedures. If you are singling me out for additional screening, you must have probable cause. If you force me to go through this screening anyway, and when I pass -- not if -- I will immediately contact my lawyer and seek punitive damages against the individual who performed the patdown and against the TSA if at all possible. I will then call all the local news agencies and let them know what happened. I will do everything in my power to ensure this incident will be yet another public relations disaster for your agency. So, now, how would YOU like to proceed?"
3) Fuhgeddaboudit: If I have the luxury of time, I will ask the TSA to provide a full refund of the money I paid for the ticket. If they won't do it, I'll go back to the ticket counter and explain that because the TSA denied me my right to fly, I will require a full refund and, regrettably, will not be flying with that airline again. Then I'll take the money and rent a car or take the train.

I'm not ready to say I won't fly ever again, but every time I go through this crap I'm getting a little bit closer. And this week I took a huge step in that direction, thanks to the goons at the TSA. Thanks, guys!


Gretel said...

Good Lord Sooz, how awful! I mean, what was the effing point??? You are a highly unlikely terrorist and you certainly don't look like your average drug mule, if there is such a thing. :(

MarieC said...

Ridiculous! I hope you choose #1 next time, and I hope I'm there to see it. ;-)

Scarehaircare said...

As evil looking as you are, I can understand the misconception of guiltiness floating through the heads of the TSA. I do have to admit, I would definitely like a front row seat to see option #1. :)

Soozcat said...

OK, so two reservations for Soozcat's Fake O, then? :)

Gretel, two things about the TSA continue to astound me: what they actually do in the name of "security," and why Americans haven't risen up as one to defy them. We are a relatively peaceful populace, but I never believed we could collectively act like such sheep.

Lynn said...

I'm sorry that you were singled out. It must have been terrible. I KNOW that I wouldn't be able to endure that. :-(

Anyone opposed to the TSA's tyrannical tactics is invited to join us at Boycott Flying on Facebook.

darngoodyarn said...

I stopped flying, at my last flight bos to slc I watched and counted for a half hour and women were picked at a 2:1 rate to go through the back scatter machines...maybe we're perceived as being weaker and TSA thinks they can get away with this. Not only have I stopped flying, I'm refusing to have children either. I was in the military and I'm so disappointed that as a nation we are allowing it to become a police state leaving behind what our country was founded on.

Soozcat said...

Hi folks.

Just for the record, although Facebook lists me as a "military woman," I am more properly described as affiliated with a military family. My father-in-law served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force; I'm simply fortunate enough to reap some of the benefits of his service.

As mentioned, when it comes to the TSA I've not yet reached the end of my tether. I still believe that, as a government agency whose employees are paid out of our tax dollars, the TSA is accountable to the American citizens and not the other way around. I do plan on making an unholy stink about this incident to my representatives. It is definitely an issue upon which my future votes will swing.

michael said... Lynn said come on over to Boycott Flyin on Face Book! Lots of great people there and lots of great information to follow for your fight with the TSA!
Lord knows I send so much mail to Reps., govt., and even the damn health depts. about TSA practices. Spread word to your friends, family, co-workers and even to folks at your place of worship about not flying! Hit the airlines in the pocket book and they will start taking notice!

Sommer said...

Dear Sooz,

You did not deserve to be treated this way by small-minded government thugs. No one should ever be searched in this degrading manner - if you want to investigate what's inside my pants, go get a warrant. I won't fly. I am lucky enough to be able to depend on Amtrak or driving for most trips. Flying now means lining up to let complete strangers take naked pictures of me and shove their hands down my pants, and I won't stand for it. I encourage you to walk out of the airport the next time this happens. You have the right to be safe and secure in your person, and there is nothing secure about strangers rubbing my erogenous zones. These searches are worthless harassment of innocent people, and I will keep fighting until these evil policies are reversed.

ReddTrain said...

Last time I flew I wore a T-shirt: "I Got to Second Base With A TSA Screener"

I'm also considering the acquisition of a Utilikilt for future air travel excursions.