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Calm the Hell Down, America: Defending the TSA

A number of people have come out in defense of the TSA’s enhanced pat down practices. Kevin Drum writes an “anti-rant” for Mother Jones, saying:

The fact that you personally are annoyed — you! an educated white-collar professional! — doesn’t mean that the process is idiotic. I’ve heard it called “security theater” so many times I’d be rich if I had a nickel for each time it popped up in my browser, but although the anti-TSA rants are often cathartic and amusing, they’ve never made much sense to me. All the crap that TSA goes through actually seems pretty clearly directed at improving the security of air travel.

Drum does bring up a pretty frightening point, though: If, God forbid, a terrorist attack were to succeed, our ease of air travel would undoubtedly decrease even further.

Over at Politico, Michael Kinsley urges us to remember that TSA officials are people too:

For the most part, the critics have taken aim at the agency and its rules, not the humble employees. But there are jokes about what kind of pervert would want to spend all day looking at X-rays of the privates of overweight Americans and then have the wonderful opportunity to run their hands up your leg. Don’t flatter yourself: Your leg is no thrill. What kind of pervert is attracted to the TSA? The answer is a pervert who needs a job. I favor jokes in all situations, but it would be nice if TSA jokes were accompanied by a note that your intended target is the rules, not the folks who are just trying to enforce them.

But perhaps my favorite response is from Foster Kamer, who just wants America to “Stop Freaking Out“:

America, get your shit together and buck up. This is a complex problem that lacks an easy solution. You freaking out at the airport — regardless of how violated you do or don’t feel — isn’t going to make anything better for anyone. Contact your congressional representatives! Do something that will actually make a difference. But whatever you do, do NOT mess with my holiday travel plans. I have an airport bar to get to, and when I get there, I will drink away the trauma of having my cock grabbed by an equally uncomfortable stranger, and then channel this fury into calls and letters forcing the elected officials I appointed to do their jobs into actually doing their jobs. For the moment, though, all of us — you, me, and TSA screeners — are going through variations of the same hell. Don’t make it worse.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this. I worked for a brief time with the TSA before all these enhanced procedures. And the amount of utter bile and evil directed at me for trying to be friendly and doing a job that needs doing was insane. No one likes the new procedures, including TSA agents (trust me), but the folks who get the brunt of the anger are the ones who are most beholden to – and least ability to decide – the rules they enforce.

    I agree that the privacy concern is something that needs to be rectified. But there are folks clamoring for TSA heads on platters, whilst our government's REAL rights-abusing policies (warrant-less wiretapping, the apprehension and ASSASSINATION of American citizens without due process, the refusal to adopt net neutrality, et cetera) go one with comparatively little note.

    People need to stop justifying their grandstanding as some sort of ineffable dedication to the constitution, and pony up to the fact that its a selfish infatuation with their own sense of comfort and a Puritanical conservatism which causes them to confuse a clinical inner-thigh pat with a lecherous genital grope. Don't get me wrong, I have opted out of the full-body scanner due to not wanting some unseen stranger to see me in my altogether, but to say that the resulting patdown was a molestation is like calling a rocking horse a rollercoaster..

    Sorry for ranting. I really do appreciate at least a consideration for both sides. The vitriol and hyperbole going on in the internet-echo-chamber has been drowning out a lot of the serious real concern on the matter.