November 29th, 2010

The TSA and the clash of competing hysterias

For some reason, I've had a hard time deciding how I really feel about the TSA's "enhanced" airport passenger screening procedures. On one hand, I agree with the sentiment that it's wholly ridiculous and laughable security theater that does nothing to protect anyone and is most probably a violation of our Constitutional promise of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Since when, after all, is simply traveling around the country "probable cause" for criminal investigation? On the other hand, the pragmatic part of me says, "If you don't want someone groping your junk, then just walk through the fucking scanner!" Here's a video from YouTube of a little kid getting patted down. It's pretty creepy and stupid, but why did it even happen? Why didn't he go through the scanner? 

Oh. That's right. Because the scanner is evil, too. I remember last year after the "underwear bomber" when these new scanners were introduced and there was a hilarious battle of the moral panics: puritan loons complained that images of little kids going through the machine would create a bonanza for the supposedly limitless child porn industry (yet we are forced to behold naked babies' asses on baby-related commercials on TV all the time and they say nothing about it--go figure). This was funny because these were probably the same people ideologically who were previously saying that absolutely everything and anything needs to be done to stop the evil Muslims in their plots to kill you, and you and YOU! 

So the scanner violates silly prudishness and the pat-downs TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHTS!!!! You know who we Americans have to blame for this ridonkulous situation? No one but ourselves. The entire point and purpose of the enemy's attack on us on 9/11 (now considered politically the Holiest of Holies) was to instill terror in this country and cause us to shed our liberal and democratic legal traditions and cultural openness. It was an attack specifically calculated to unravel the fabric of this country's former glory. I've noticed some people say, almost a decade later, in response to these airport security procedures, "The terrorists have won." Actually, they won a long fucking time ago and they continue to win as long as we continue to fight this stupid phony-baloney war against them by tearing ourselves down. And you know what else? A lot of the same people whining now about their rights being violated by the back-scatter machine or the pat-down will be among the first to clamor for fresh new rounds of fascism the next time there is a terrorist attack in this country.

Think the TSA and Homeland Security have gone too far? Look in the mirror, America. You asked for it.