About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My favorite rant

one man's adventures with TSA...

http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html

here the NY Times travel writer Joe Sharkey talks about his fun-filled pat-down experience...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/business/02road.html?

and the Washington Post tells us there is starting to be some backlash against the patdown regime...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/12/AR2010111206580.html

I'm getting genuinely frightened about this. I'm not sure I want to fly anywhere any more. I got a token patdown coming back through SFO in September for no particular reason, it looked like they were just having some fun where every second or third passenger at this checkpoint was getting one for one or another reason, in my case it was because I had cargo pants with extra pockets. It's a demeaning and degrading thing. The TSA isn't the SS, but it's still worrisome that the US is now proving that you can pay people to spend their day patting down and frisking people and having them touch their private and personal parts.

And it's wrong.

We will never have absolute security flying on an airplane, no more than we do driving a car or walking down the street or riding an escalator. Our cargo can never be entirely secure. The fact that we now can't ship toner cartridges in airplanes points to the ludicrousness of our approach to security, because tomorrow terrorists can put bombs into teddy bears and the day after that into hollowed out books and the day after that into power adapters.

What will it take for this to stop? Do we need to find some way that every Senator and Representative heading to DC for the lame duck session can be given a nice brisk patdown?

8 comments:

Joseph L. Selby said...

About once a week, the transit police swab my bag for explosive residue before I get on the subway. At first, I actually liked it because up to that point, they had only ever "randomly" selected people with brown skin (in Boston that means Latinos and Indians). So hey, pick the white guy, that's cool.

Now it happens so frequently I just want to say, "Hey, it's me. Remember? Can't you just say "Hi Joe" and I'll say "Hi Doug" and we can both agree that I don't make bombs (or if I do, I don't put them in or near the bag I take to work)?

They always do it during rush hour too.

Maria said...

I agree--start with the politicians. Let them get the pat downs and scanning with equipment that might or might not cause heath problems. Let them have it happen two or six or ten times. Then maybe they can answer just how necessary the invasion is.

A cage is still a cage whether you are in the inside looking out or on the outside looking in. You don't protect freedom by taking it away.

Robin said...

Not just the politicians- the politicians' children. Let's have them watch TSA agents put their hands all over their sons and squeeze their daughters' breasts and then see whether they still think this is a necessary safety precaution.

The Brillig Blogger said...

Robin's comment -- now that's an excellent idea. An excellent, excellent, excellent idea.

P said...

If you suggest sending politicians' children (and I'm talking about 17 and under) through this debacle, then you are in effect making yourself complicit in their sexual assault. I don't agree with this idea and am troubled that it was even suggested. I think just sending the politicians would be enough to effect the change. Don't drag the kids down into this already psychologically damaging event.

The Brillig Blogger said...

P's comment is well-taken. Except I think it's worth keeping in mind that we already have a situation where children are fair game for being patted down, A good security system can't entirely exempt any one class of people. If bad guys know that no child will ever be screened, they will find ways to make use of children. So on that score, I'd agree with the TSA that they can't make blanket exemptions of entire groups to reasonable security measures. I'm not, Robin isn't, any more or less complicit in sexual abuse than the TSA.

But... we have a ludicrous security system that subjects us all, adults and children alike, to what one of my clients says could be called Criminal Sexual Assault under his state's laws http://www.jimchines.com/2010/11/tsa-and-csc/ and which does all too little to address real threats or recognize that some risk is inherent in a free society.

Nancy said...

Jim Hines sent me here via his blog.

I haven't flown since the new scanners were installed, and I don't really want to fly with them. I am continually disturbed by the levels of privacy that we're asked to surrender in order to secure an illusory sense of safety.

As an academic, when I have flown in the past, it's almost always been to attend an academic conference. Since I'm almost always tweaking my papers at the last minute, I usually fly with several books in my checked bag. Your comment about "hollowed out books" made me laugh--every single time I've flown, my bag has been one of the two on our flight that the TSA has chosen to inspect. I've been pretty forgiving of it so far, but it has been irritating. It's also been one of the reasons why I recently switched to an ebook reader--now I won't need to line my suitcase in books and maybe, just maybe, the TSA will leave me alone . . .

Cassandra said...

I suspect that what it will take is enough people refusing to fly that the money lost impacts the airlines bottom line.