“Do I Look Like a Criminal?” or “Why I’ll Never be Flying Again”

(Last time I checked, in this country, people are *supposed* to be innocent until proven guilty. I guess there’s an airport exception in there that I’m unaware of.)

I was concerned when I first heard about the new airport scanners, but I mostly dismissed it, seeing as how it’s been over a decade since I’ve been on an airplane, so it doesn’t really apply to me.

But then I started hearing more about the scans, not to mention the new pat-downs, and even though I don’t fly myself, I’m absolutely incensed for those who do, my husband included. It seems as though America’s new approach to air travelers is to assume that they are all criminals, detain them, and then let them go if everything checks out, through a series of pornographic scans with unknown radiation effects and/or sexual assault via pat-down. (With apologies to people who have suffered from sexual assaults, that’s exactly what this is. I’ve heard first-hand accounts of some of these pat-downs, and if people were touched in this fashion in any other place, with witnesses no less, they would be able to call the police and press charges.)

And don’t tell me that I have given my consent by buying a plane ticket, because I would never, ever give my consent to this kind of action, and my purchasing a ticket should not negate my freedoms or violate my Fourth Amendment rights. Not to mention that my ticket is with a specific airline, but it’s a government agency doing these searches, not the airline being used. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that any consent I gave would be to the airline, not the government? And yet, even the airlines, (or at least their employees), are protesting these new security measures.

I’ve heard that if I  want to avoid this whole mess, I don’t “have” to fly. This reasoning, or lack thereof, is ridiculous–it would be like having told Rosa Parks that she didn’t “have” to get on the bus. There are many things I don’t “have” to do, but that I can do, and I expect a reasonable amount of freedoms in them all.

Perhaps we should dust off that old, offensive word–profiling. Believe it or not, profiling doesn’t have to have anything to do with race. How about we train people to look for travelers who are acting suspicious, who stand out in a crowd, and pull those people aside and question *them*? Wouldn’t that make more sense than invading the privacy and trampling on the rights of law-abiding citizens?

At what point are we going to realize that we’re sacrificing too much in the name of “safety?” Especially when that “safety” is really just a false sense of security. There isn’t actually any proof that these scanners are going to accomplish anything other than group humiliation and irritation. Maybe some more research should have been done on these devices and their effects before millions of dollars were spent to put them in every airport.

And will it stop at airports? If the government/TSA deems that these scanners and new pat-down methods are “successful” are we going to see them used in other venues as well? I’m thinking places where large numbers of people gather, such as stadiums for sporting events. It’s a slippery slope, folks, and if we tolerate this kind of violation in one area, it is very likely that we will be asked to tolerate it in other aspects of our lives, as well.

If it was just me, and I “had” to fly, maybe I would put up with it, even though I shouldn’t have to. I can’t imagine that any TSA agent would enjoy scanning and/or frisking an overweight mother of four any more than I would enjoy having it done. But I will not ever subject my children to that. I don’t want them to think it’s normal to have what is essentially a naked picture of yourself taken anywhere. And I haven’t spent years talking to them about inappropriate touch, only to have to back pedal and say, “I was wrong, sweetie. It’s completely acceptable for a total stranger to touch you in those places as long as it’s done in an airport.” So, as long as these new “security measures” are in place, we won’t be flying. There’s no where we *have* to go, and while I was hoping to take them abroad someday, I will sacrifice that pleasure in the name of liberty.

It was my impression that we valued out freedoms in America. Apparently not so much for many of us, as it seems like many Americans are willing to just blindly accept this as the new reality, and follow the rest of the flock to insanity. I, for one, am with Benjamin Franklin:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

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