Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TSA: The Full Grope

I was on twitter this morning, when phdinparenting tweeted the following: 

There is a TSA Abuse Blog now: http://bit.ly/gxqMco

I have not been following the story of what I will call the public molestation of passengers and so when I followed the link, I went into a state of shock.
“He started at one leg and then ran his hand up to my crotch. He cupped and patted my crotch with his palm. Other flyers were watching this happen to me. At that point I closed my eyes and started praying to the Goddess for strength. He also cupped and then squeezed my breasts. That wasn’t the worst part. He touched my face, he touched my hair, stroking me. That’s when I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped." 
And then there was this:

She says two female Charlotte T.S.A. agents took her to a private room and began what she calls an aggressive pat down. She says they stopped when they got around to feeling her right breast… the one where she'd had surgery.

"She put her full hand on my breast and said, 'What is this?'. And I said, 'It's my prosthesis because I've had breast cancer.' And she said, 'Well, you'll need to show me that'."

Cathy was asked to show her prosthetic breast, removing it from her bra.

"I did not take the name of the person at the time because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn't believe someone had done that to me. I'm a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work." ...

A T.S.A. representative says agents aren't supposed to remove any prosthetics, but are allowed to ask to see and touch any passenger's prosthetic.
The violations do not end at groping as this video posted on PhdinParenting proves:



The comment which most of the victims have in common, was the suggestion that the pat down was purposefully made to be humiliating for failing to comply with the security screening.  Choosing to allow perfect strangers see you naked or allowing them complete access to your body is not a positive option.  The fact that the government is allowing this in the name of safety is ridiculous.  Using terrorism as a defense for the reduction of rights and freedoms, is simply a mechanism of control.  In the last ten years (yes I am including the Obama administration), the U.S. has begun to take on many of the characteristics of fascism.

What did these people do to deserve to be treated like criminals and searched so viciously?  So far, despite the new rules, the TSA has yet to stop a single attack.  This preemptive doctrine is dangerous because it tramples on civil liberties.  The amount of power given to these agents, who don't even follow their own guidelines is alarming.  It is further troubling that women are being singled out for these special pat downs.  In a world in which female bodies are considered property and are routinely denied agency and physical autonomy, I hardly find it surprising that women are being physically violated in the name of safety; this is patriarchy hard at work people.

Clearly, a new system must be designed to ensure that privacy rights are respected, though I am wary of those that suggest an enhanced form of racial profiling.  A nine year old traveling to Walt Disney World with his parents, should not have his shirt removed or his testicles touched in any way, but he should also not be seen as a lesser threat than a Muslim American traveling to whatever destination they choose. I understand that safety is important and that the times indicate that vigilance cannot be reduced, however; there has to be some form of middle ground.  I most assuredly believe that Sarah Palin, or Oprah Winfrey - both private citizens, would not be forced to undergo these measures, and if we can make allowances for celebrities, then we can make allowances for the common person who is simply attempting to get to their destination safely.

When new reductions on civil liberties are announced, invariably someone will state that if you have done nothing wrong, that you have nothing to fear.  We know that this is a falsehood, because quite often those targeted for special attention belong to a marginalized group.  We cannot divorce the social hierarchy of bodies from any interaction, because we have been reared to discriminate and oppress those we see as existing with less power and value. The testimonies of improprieties that have become public thus far are simply the tip of the iceberg, unless some effort is made to ensure that the individual is factored into the equation.