This is one of those days when there are too many shiny things to write about. Ooo that looks like fun … but wait, so does that! no, that! It’s like trying to eat an elephant.
You know how you eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time.
The topic, broadly, is the Transportation Security Agency and the porno scanner / molestation choice it has given those of us who want to fly. If you read nothing else about it, read security expert Bruce Schneier’s recap here (H/T Discourse.net).
The themes are many.
A comment on Schneier’s post led me to this: TSA Enhanced Pat Downs : The Screeners Point Of View on the Flying with Fish blog. The screeners who responded to FWF’s questions don’t enjoy groping passengers, you’ll be glad to hear. Because doing so is dehumanizing, disrespectful, and an inappropriate and unnecessary invasion of their privacy? Oh, no.
They don’t like groping passengers because most passengers aren’t hawt:
Even worse is having to try and feel inside the flab rolls of obese passengers and we seem to get a lot of obese passengers
For starters, I am attracted to men, not women and if I was attracted to women, it would not be the large number of passengers I handle daily that have a problem understanding what personal hygiene is.
If the passengers worked out more and washed occasionally the indisputably crappy job apparently wouldn’t be so bad .
So how are these fat smelly passengers reacting? With “verbal abuse” and beyond:
[W]hen a woman refuses the scanner then comes to me and tells me that she feels like I am molesting her, that is beyond verbal abuse
I was asked by some guy if I got excited touching scrotums at the airport and if it gave me a power thrill. I felt like vomiting when he asked that.
Molester, pervert, disgusting, an embarrassment, creep. These are all words I have heard today at work describing me, said in my presence as I patted passengers down.
Do people know what a Nazi is?
Wow. I wonder how that feels, being called a Nazi for just doing your job. Ironic, no? No.
These comments are painful and demoralizing, one day is bad enough, but I have to come back tomorrow, the next day and the day after that to keep hearing these comments. If something doesn’t change in the next two weeks I don’t know how much longer I can withstand this taunting. I go home and I cry.
When a person stands in front of me and calls me a pervert or accuses me of molesting them it is disheartening.
I have been hardened by war and in the past week I am slowly being broken by the constant diatribe of hateful comments being lobbed at me.
We can rationalize just about anything.
There is a big difference between how I pat passengers down and a molester molesting people.
I am a professional doing my job, whether I agree with this current policy or not, I am doing my job.
I am serving my country, I should not have to go home and cry after a day of honorably serving my country.
I come to work to do my job. It is not up to me to decide policy, it is up to me to carry out my duties as dictated by the Transportation Security Administration.
I am polite, I am professional and while someone may not like what I have to carry out, they came to me because they choose not to utilize the alternative and less invasive method of security at my airport.
(That word, professional, pops up several times. While it may be accurate in the sense that these folks aren’t molesting people as a pastime, it is a bit strong for TSA mallcops, most of whom are lucky to have a job at all, much less one that doesn’t involve asking, “you want fries with that?”)
I work to make travel safer, even if I do not agree with the current security procedures.
One can’t describe me as a Nazi because I am following a security procedure of designed to find prohibited items on a passenger’s body. A Nazi is someone with hatred and ignorance in their hearts, a person who carried out actions of execution and extermination of those based on their religion, origins or sexual preferences.
I agree that “Nazi” is overkill. But what distinguishes TSA mallcops from Nazis is not that they are just doing their jobs. Most Nazis were just doing their jobs. What distinguishes TSA mallcops from Gestapo thugs is that TSA mallcops haven’t been ordered to start exterminating people based on their religion; “Stasi” would be closer to the truth, and—as an added bonus (see below)—the ITT Tech dropout who’s feeling you up probably doesn’t know the difference.
FWF’s takeaway from the reactions of the 17 screeners he surveyed for their opinions of the new security theatre policy:
Rather than dehumanize the TSA TSOs, work with them, understand their views and opinions and work together to change the current TSA policies.
TSOs claim not to like molesting civilians, but “like” is a relative term. I like sushi, but I don’t eat it every day because sometimes I like other things more. I don’t like taking out the trash, but I do it because I like the alternatives less. These TSOs don’t like molesting civilians more than they would like, say, behaving like responsible members of a free society, but they keep doing it because they like the alternatives—disciplinary charges? joblessness? homelessness? selling TVs at Best Buy?—less. At some point, though, “just doing their job” might become so odious that the alternative—refusing, risking losing that plum government job—is preferable.
The fact that screeners feel “disgusted feeling other peoples private parts” should tell them that they are doing wrong, but they don’t have the will to stop. The only responsible thing—the only humane thing—for us, as compassionate human beings, to do is not to enable them to continue down that path of self-loathing that leads to depression, alcoholism, and suicide; but rather to make their job as unpleasant as possible, so that they are able finally to say “no more,” break the cycle of revulsion, and be free.
Practice with me now: “You power-hungry embarrassing perverted disgusting Stasi molester creep, I’ll bet that gives you a thrill.”
Some day they’ll thank you for it.