The Big DIfference


Quoth a TSA screener talking to Flying With Fish: “There is a big difference between how I pat passengers down and a molester molesting people.”

Let’s try that on for size.

Imagine two people. Both of them wear TSA uniforms and work in the security line in Terminal C at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental airport. Both of them gripe the same way about their job in the break room and wear the same reluctant expression when they grope passengers. But while A is an ordinary hardworking person who is just doing her job, B is a stone cold sociopath who gets a dopamine rush from feeling unwilling strangers’ bodies in intimate ways.

What’s the big difference? A and B have different specific intents and feel differently about their actions, but even A can’t detect any difference between what B is doing and what A is doing. And neither can the other six-billion-plus people on the planet—except, perhaps, for B. B can tell the difference because she already knows she’s different.

The experience is exactly the same for the passenger whether she is groped by A or by B. An ordinary person, giving it a little thought, can consider the passenger’s perspective, respect that the passenger’s perspective is most important to the passenger, and acknowledge that, as far as the passenger is concerned, there is no difference between an intrusive TSA search (“patdown”? no, not really) and sexual molestation.

But not B. B is not an ordinary person. B is special, and how things are to her is how things are.

To B, “there is a big difference.”


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