Because Yanks are so heavilly into there acronyms I decided to title this post, “TSA”. You all know what it means, of course. No? The letters TSA stand for “Transportation Security Administration” and this is the organisation tasked with maintaining internal security (at least at airports) in ‘The Land of The Free’. Hmm. I think there is a wee bit of an oxymoron here- I (the metaphorical ‘I’) wish to fly from here to there and I am free to do so. To get aboard the ‘plane, however, I now need to subject myself to invasion of self. There’s the rub- free to fly, but not free to fly. Of course I purchase a ticket and (if I read the ‘fine print’) I basically abrogate all of my personal freedoms because I explicitly accept that I will allow (various) security measures to prove I’m not carrying offensive weapons. The invasion of self? Of course you declare to the world whether or not you have foot odor!!!! Then you must accept the TSA’s directives as to which queue you join and what searches you are subjected. (a) metal detector only? No great invasion of privacy there. (b) Detector wand, should the detector suggest you have something not entirely kosher. No great invasion of privacy there. BUT fail them and (c) external body search whereby a TSA person will run their hands over your body to try to detect hidden items. Certainly an invasion of something here, but surely you have brought this upon yourself? Possibly.
BUT it has become something of an issue in The States as to how these TSA personnel carry out these body searches. If we are to believe what a number of people have said (and interestingly the majority of these have been female) and there is no reason for us normally to doubt the sincerity of such people, what they have been subjected to is MUCH MORE than a ‘simple’ external pat down to try to discover why previous steps have failed. They have been tantamount to sexual assault- certainly if a member of the public did such a thing to a stranger it would be! How intimate do my stroking actions need to be to discover a weapon? How exploratory do my fingers have to be to find a knife or gun? I would have thought not so intimate to give the obvious offence that has been given.
Surely the responsibility is with the airport authorities to ensure that the people entrusted with such personal and intimate actions are above reproach. It is not acceptable if they continue to allow their employees to behave in such a manner under the pretext of simply carrying out government guidelines.