Things we are thankful for, just in time for the holiday season: TSA. For making sure that instead of our usual obsessing over how we’re going to stand the in-laws for four straight days or what Mom is going to say about the new tattoo, we’re just obsessed over whether we’re going to be groped by the super-friendly new “pat-down,” have our naked bodies mocked/fetishized by the full-body scanner operators, or be escorted from the airport and later hit with a $10,000 fine for not agreeing to either. Or whether we’ll have to fly with peed-on pants.
In the latest of “TSA infringements on our personal liberties” sure to have a bunch of people screaming like a 3-year-old girl: An actual 3-year-old child traveling with a teddy bear (teddy bears! suspect!) started crying when asked to put Teddy through the X-ray machine in Chattanooga. Then, when walking through the metal detector, she set it off twice (3-year-old tantrums are quite powerful), meaning…pat down required, no questions asked. Somewhat understandably, she started kicking and screaming when that happened. Adults have done worse.
The girl’s dad happened to be TV reporter Steve Simon, who got video of the incident, and then did a news segment on it.
In fairness, we don’t blame the individual TSA screeners who are by and large, probably just doing their jobs, and weren’t hired to be babysitters (yet), as much as we do the overall situation of rules subverting actual rational behaviors and human intelligence.
Yes, getting felt-up in line sucks. Yes, having to go through a full-body scanner sucks. Frankly, air travel has sucked for a long time already. But we do it anyway, and will continue to, mostly because we have no other choice. And given the options — Death or pat-down? Death or mocking/fetishization? Death or radiation? — we’re likely to pick anything less than death. Which is right where the TSA wants us…At the end of the day, nobody wants a bomb on his or her plane. Except, of course, a terrorist.
But c’mon, TSA..can we just try to be a little less STUPID about the whole thing? The majority of the traveling public would calm down if you got a good PR person and stopped being so, as Antoine Dodson might say, dumb. Everyone knows a screaming toddler is not to be trifled with, just as much as everyone knows that banning large ink cartridges from planes is probably not going to do much to combat terrorism after that plot has already been revealed.
For your holiday air travel, we suggest you arrive early. And be thankful you’ll have something exciting to talk about over the turkey for once.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 17, 2010