Thursday, November 18, 2010

The TSA Airport Debacle: In Which White People Suddenly Care About Civil Rights

The old saying that "Getting there is half the fun" went out with the advent of widespread commercial aviation. There was nothing fun about chronically late departures and arrivals, inadequate airport parking, cramming into a jetliner seat with no legroom and being fed abominable meals that tasted like cardboard.

Then came the chaotic response to the 9/11 attacks and creation of a bureaucratic sieve known as the Transportation Safety Agency that was supposed to be the first line of defense against terrorist attacks.

Over the nearly 10 years since that awful day, the TSA has proven itself time and again to be borderline competent and resolutely tone-deaf to passenger complaints. And it is now feeling the fury of frequent flying latter-day civil libertarians who are forced to choose between being irradiated through full-body scans (using machines that TSA employees at one airport call "dick-measuring devices") or having their genitals groped and, in one documented case, a woman's breast being exposed.

It is, of course, bitterly ironic that civil rights suddenly seem to matter an awful lot when the supposed victims are white businessmen, innocent white children and gorgeous women like the DF&C and her Australian girlfriend, who will opt to be felt up rather than irradiated when they board flights at Philadelphia International and New York Laguardia for a Thanksgiving holiday rendezvous in Miami Beach.

While I don't like the idea of my girlfriend and her friend being felt up, I suggest that it's time to take a deep breath -- or better still several deep breaths -- before considering the following:

Nearly 3,000 people had a very bad day on September 11, 2001 and their loved ones haven't had a good day since. Is being inconvenienced pre-flight in the service of increased security really too much too ask? And if it is, what alternatives are there that still offer a modicum of security?

Click here and go to the comments sectionfor an interesting, if somewhat politicized, discussion.

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