Yesterday, I flew into LA out of Miami International Airport.
As is usually the case, people were very obediently being cattled through the pornoscanners. (Except for one closed-off lane, which I was told was for “employees.”)
TSA grunted commands and motioned with their hands. Words were rarely spoken to the bovine masses. Mercifully, tongue-clicks have yet to employed, but I suppose it’s only a matter of time.
The entire time I was in line, which was a good while, not a single person opted out. Every person did what he or she was told: without shoes, hats, belts, or backbones, they stood in the machine with their hands in the air and their feet shoulder-width apart as a government agent zapped them with a little radiation in order to get a closer look underneath their clothes. Not exactly the pose of a free individual.
As I do every time I am harassed by the TSA (ever since that opt out that forced my then-20-month-old daughter to be patted down and her diaper checked for explosive residue), I had my phone recording video. Even though the phone is on the conveyer belt, it’s better than nothing. When I reached the machine I informed the agent directing the ruminant masses with grunts and yelling at people for not understanding English (not like it’s an “International” airport or anything) that I was opting out.
She loudly yelled “Male opt out!” and directed me to stand to the side, where I waited. A few minutes later she looked at me and asked if anyone had come to get me. Since I was standing where she asked me to, obviously not. Eventually, an agent motivated himself away from his primary role of “standing” to retrieve me. My phone recording shows it took over seven minutes from the time I reached the scanner and when the male agent finally came to get me.
While gathering my belongings, he saw my phone was recording video. He asked if it was mine, I told him that it was and to not turn it off. He ignored me, and shut off the recording.
He instructed me to place my feet on a mat that had two yellow footprints. He calmly explained what he was about to do.
This exchange then took place:
Me: “Wait… you’re going to put your hands on my balls?”
TSA: “It’s procedure, sir. I need to run my hands up the inside of your thighs until I meet resistance with your privates.”
Me: “‘Privates’?” (I laughed at the non-ironic use of the word.)
TSA: “Would you like to do this in a screening room?”
Me: “It’s better that they [I motioned with my head to the people around me] can see what you’re doing.”
He then began. It’s actually been a while since my last pat-down, and somehow it’s gotten even more invasive. Four times he touched my testicles, and not incidental or glancing contact either - a solid pat. At least when my doctor does it, he lets me know how my prostate’s doing. He passed his fingers along the insides of the waist of my shorts, one swipe even snuck a bit inside my underwear. Twice, he ran his hand along my ass-crack. This guy was treading in areas that even my wife stays away from.
Afterward, he checked the residue on his gloves and then gave me a thumbs-up that I was free to go.
It’s easy to understand why rape victims are so traumatized by the experience. Even my relatively benign encounter with an otherwise “polite” agent was horribly obtrusive and unpleasant.
And, ultimately, it’s a waste. The TSA bottleneck itself serves as a target-rich environment, and would-be terrorists have already found ways to circumvent the humiliating procedures TSA has put in place.
As I explained in my post from 2010, The Case Against the TSA:
We ought not acquiesce to the state’s impractical, inefficient, invasive, expensive, and dangerous procedures by relinquishing the very freedoms that the government was ostensibly created to protect.
The TSA must be abolished, and responsibility of security must be returned to the airlines and airports, where there is greater accountability and incentive for safety, efficiency, and customer service. An airline that fails to take appropriate safety precautions to the satisfaction of customers will not do well. Same with airlines that treat their customers like cattle to be groped and ogled.
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