Sunday, November 21, 2010

Avoid Irrational Fear, Peoples

In Margaret Atwood's dystopic novel The Handmaid's Tale, a conservative extremist group creates a culture of fear that leads to a totalitarian state. When what seem like minor "rights" are removed, few complain. It's in the name of nationalism, of protecting a broken society. The stripping away of rights and privileges adds up, though, until no one is really free anymore.

I'm not saying that is exactly what's happening in the United States. I don't think we'll see women  unable to open bank accounts or "handmaids" raped trying to populate a dwindling population.

But every time we accept the stripping of rights as a "necessary protection" against terrorism or some other irrational (or unavoidable) fear, we move ourselves closer to that dystopia. When we do it without protest or voicing our opinions, we enable those in charge to keep going like its normal and okay.

Which is why I support the elimination of full body scans at airports and the cessation of "enhanced pat downs", which in any other circumstance, would be considered aggravated assault.

The Business Travel Coalition has this to say:
"The deployment of full-body scanners without a formal public comment process and sufficient medical and scientific vetting is one of the worst TSA abuses of authority since its creation," stated BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell.
"The overly aggressive pat-downs represent citizen-mistreatment in the extreme, especially if used as 'punishment' when passengers opt out of full-body scans," he added.
Safety is important, no one is arguing against being safe. Are nearly pornographic body scans and physical assaults the way to improve it? While it's certainly my opinion that they are not, the TSA didn't even bother to ask, skipping out on public comments and input from professionals and experts.

If you want more information on the national opt-out day, check out

And the problems with scanners, pat downs and opting out?
TSA pat-down leaves man covered in urine when agents "accidentally" rips out the seal on his urostomy bag; Breast cancer survivor and flight attendant forced to remove prosthetic breast; A portend for things to come, a 2002 case strikingly similar to the current horror stories emerging;  Rape survivor devastated during public enhanced pat down; Woman not told the details of the enhanced pat down, traumatized when TSA agent touches her breasts and vagina; Woman inappropriately groped twice at airport because of "billowy" skirt; Boston Globe columnist's superb piece on his groping experience that left him traumatized; Another woman is groped because of her skirt; A young boy is strip-searched; A man recently recovering from invasive surgery is left feeling further traumatized after three invasive enhanced pat downs...the list goes on. 

This is not freedom. This is not creating a safer America. This is criminalizing us, law-abiding citizens for daring to pay money, take off shoes, wait in line and eat crappy food. Thanks a lot, government. I'm sure the 80-yr-old with the fudge is a serious threat to national security.

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