Saturday, November 20, 2010

We Live in a New Age of Touchy/Feely

OMG this is getting out of hand.  Why in the hell don't we just get the top people from El Al and take notes?  The most targeted airline in the world is also the safest?  Maybe we should try some of their screening methods.  No, that's crazy, what am I talking about?  From the article below:  "Anyone who sets off the metal detectors is required to go through a physical pat down, but the TSA says they use a less aggressive touch for children under 12."

Photo Courtesy KMOV News-4

Does it bother anyone else that a sentence like that is treated like a normal thing to say, given the actions described in the article - patting the genitals, running the hand between underwear and skin, etc.?  Oh, and of course, we only do that to kids over 12.  WHAAAAT??????  Would you let some uniformed screener dude or gal stick his or her hands down your 13 year old's pants?  Isn't that what damn near bankrupted the Catholic Church?  Doesn't that sort of behavior get you sentenced and called a "Registered Sex Offender"?  Am I crazy?  Sure, there was a guy who tried to make explosive underwear.  Is groping every adolescent  that wants to fly the only way to make sure he/she is not wearing a dangerous diaper?
Oh, and when did it become okay just because it is after age 12,  to grope, pat, touch, etc. adolescent kids?  It is just wrong.  Oh, and much as I hate to mention it, what about past victims of sexual assault, trauma or rape - no matter what their age?  Can you imagine having bad some horrific act done to you and then at some later point, if you want to fly, being forced to submit to what would WITHOUT ANY DOUBT be a SEXUAL ASSAULT were it not being done by TSA at an airport? 

Since a guy tried to blow up a plane by putting a bomb in his shoes, will we soon be seeing foot fetishists not only relying on the removal and X-ray of the shoes, but requiring the person being screened to remove their socks and submit to a tongue inspection (to see if the foot tastes like explosives) of the foot?

I flew hundreds of thousands of miles for business and pleasure.  I was always polite, and willing to do what was asked of me in the interest of security.  I was waiting for a plane the morning of September 11, 2001, and I watched that day unfold convinced that I'd support whatever was needed to keep us safe in the skies and in the country.  But now I am second-guessing my blind obedience.  Why? 
There are better, more effective, less personally intrusive ways to screen passengers and ensure safety than to commit battery and sexual assault.  Plain and simple.  When my daughter is 13 how can I take her to fly somewhere knowing what I know may very well happen?  Will she be subjected to a virtually nude screening X-ray, visible to many?  Will it be worse, where she's forced to get molested in order to fly?  OMG!  How did it come to this?

I think that there ought to be a hue and cry from sea to shining sea, insisting that the BEST and BRIGHTEST security experts available be immediately brought together to develop systems to keep us safe.  Without having people putting their hands in people's underwear.  Is that too much to ask?  To fly without some guy or gal sticking their hand INSIDE your underwear, tapping and patting your junk? 
It's time to examine who is making the decisions, writing and training the procedures, choosing the technology and bickering over whether the airlines, airports or TSA should pay for technology to make us safer in the air.  All this virtually nude photography - will someone do a statistical analysis showing that a man is 12% more likely to be a terrorist if he "dresses right" (and by that I mean not that he buttons the right button with the right buttonhole, but that his junk rests naturally to the right side of the vertical midline of his body) - all this physical grabbing and this the best option we have for screening? 

In a word: NO.  It is not, and the people who can develop screening technology, use the currently available technology, and still keep us safe are out there, and they are willing and able.  And it is a dirty secret that there are frequent breaches of the system we use now - both in tests and just when the person next to us says, "Oh man, I forgot to take this out of my briefcase!" and parts the top of the case to show a five or six inch knife. 
We can do better, we can do better and be safe.  And whether the person being screened is under 12, adolescent or adult, we can do it without battery, assault and sexual molestation.  And we should.  And though some of this post is amusing and meant to be so, the topic and the practices that caused me to write it are not funny.  They are wrong.  And a helluva lot of us better stand as tall as we have to and shout "NO!  This is not acceptable, not in America."

Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
As always, the photos we use are either my own, or in the public domain. Please let me know if there are any errors and I'll correct them immediately.