Why the TSA Groping is a Big, Big Problem


Photo by Raymond Mendosa

I’ve been pretty horrified by the new TSA security procedures since I first caught wind of them.  The Boing Boing blog has been doing excellent coverage of the fiasco, providing the best examples of how damaging these new exposing and groping procedures can be to innocent Americans, and why crossing over from threat detection to threat assumption policies is bad, bad, bad for our democracy.

I’ve also been hearing the backlash against the complaints.  A number of people had relatively painless holiday travel experiences last week and are now saying it was all a lot of hype.  But I continue to consider a level of terrorist prevention this extreme to be more likely to traumatize more Americans than the threat they’re protecting us from will.  It’s not about the 95% of the population who, like me, can pretty much shrug and say “I don’t care that much if you photograph me semi-nude” or, “I can tolerate a little more radiation — it’s not like this is the only place I’m exposed to it” or, even, “I get that you’re going to touch my private parts and that this isn’t molestation, you’re not enjoying it either”.  It’s about the rape and molestation victims, past and future, as well as the people who, for personal or religious reasons, can’t minimize the trauma of being exposed to or groped by strangers.  Not the majority of us, but a very significant minority,

So then I see an article like this, which has the top TSA official basically saying to parents (like me), “don’t explain to your children that what the TSA agent is about to do to you is necessary, but should never, ever be tolerated by strangers when Mommy and/or Daddy aren’t right here with you and it isn’t absolutely required for security reasons”, but, instead saying, “tell your kid that the TSA agent is just playing a harmless game that involves touching you”.  Because strangers touching children’s genitalia is, of course, no big deal and the priority here is to make sure everyone is calm and smiling as they submit to these procedures.  Months later, when lecherous Uncle Eddie wants to play the same game, well, Mommy and Daddy know about this game and said it was okay for the TSA agent to play, so they’re not going to consider this a problem…

Security at the cost of the humiliation of abused adults and government approved molesting of children terrorizes citizens.  It doesn’t make us more secure, even if it’s not a “big deal” for most of us.  This is a government-sanctioned human rights violation, and we really shouldn’t tolerate it.

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One thought on “Why the TSA Groping is a Big, Big Problem

  1. Tracy Kronzak

    It takes a hell of a lot of nerve to try and convince parents to teach their children it’s OK to be groped as long as the person doing it is in uniform. Because I’ve never seen police officers *cough* OPD *cough* abuse their power with ordinary citizens, and this this gives an entirely new vector of approach for those out to hurt kids. Because it’s not about someone just “doing their job,” it’s about why the job is being done the way it is in the first place.

    Let alone that these procedures are no more likely to turn up anyone with malicious intent than a scrying pan and a magic wand.

    And hell to the yes they’re traumatic for people from all sorts of non-majority communities: survivors of sexual trauma, religious groups, queer/trans folks, children, people with genital piercings, women wearing pads, people with body esteem issues. But our society would prefer to tell these folks to adopt to a system they didn’t have a hand in designing rather than find a real solution.

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