TSA (Totalitarian Sexual Assault): My Thoughts on the TSA’s New Procedures and People in General


(Warning:  explicit language and politics are below; ignore if you’re not interested in either)

I’m going to take some flak for this post (at least, I expect to).  This is because I’m not going to say anything particularly kind about the TSA (or Totalitarian Sexual Assault, as I will now call it) or the large portion of my fellow Americans who have decided the new measures aren’t that big of a deal.  Of course, if you’ve been ignoring the Internet, or don’t pay attention to politics or the news, you have no idea what I’m talking about.  So, I should probably clear that up first.

The TSA recently changed their search policies for the security lines in U.S. airports (Nov. 1st, I
think) to allow the use of full-body scanners OR, if you refuse to be scanned or the image of your naked torso appears suspicious, TSA agents will perform a pat-down that includes a groin and chest search.  What does that mean?  It means that your options, should you be selected for the special TSA treatment, are to have your body x-rayed, allowing a TSA agent to see you naked, or to be sexually molested by a member of your own sex.  In the case of the first, the agent is supposed to delete the images, but, of course, the feds are particularly bad at that–that link also points out that the images that were leaked on the net.  In the second case, you literally will be subject to full groping of your private parts, whether male or female.

All your testicles are belong to them.

I first learned about this from this guy, whose story about his refusal to subject himself to the new measures at the San Diego International Airport resulted in a threat of a $10,000 civil suit and expulsion from the airport (you should read the full story to get the bigger–and more disturbing–picture).  Needless to say, I was pretty damn shocked.  I wanted to know how these new policies came to be and how we, as citizens, could sit idly by and let it stand.  Now?  I’m livid.  The body scanners and the new pat-down procedures are obvious violations of our rights.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that requiring Americans to subject themselves to sexual assault or body imaging in order to fly is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects everyone from unwarranted search and seizure.  Read the Amendment for yourself.

The fact that the TSA sees these measures as acceptable is even more shocking.  They say it’s in our best interests–to protect us.  The terrorists, after all, are real resourceful, what with all those successful bombing attempts in the U.S. since 9/11.  Well, except for the fact that they haven’t been.  The problem is that I don’t feel any safer now.  I have no reason to be.  My rights mean jack shit in this post-2001 world, and my government regularly violates them in the interest of my “safety.”  To say that the terrorists have already won is an understatement.  Look at what we’re giving up.  We frequently claim that America is the freest country in the world, the one beacon of hope and yadda yadda in the world.  Except it’s not.  Far from it.  We’re allowing our rights to be stripped from us faster than a stripper takes off her clothes.  And we’re doing it because we’re told we should be scared.  The operating word in “terrorism” is “terror.”  It’s objective is to create terror.  I’m not going to go so far as implying that our government is a terrorist agent, but it would be fair to say that the terrorists we’re supposed to be fighting have already begun the slow process of destroying us.  The difference is that it’s happening from the inside–ourselves.

Turn your head and cough, please…
Child abuse in action.

But more alarming to me is the fact that so many Americans have shrugged off the new TSA procedures.  Some Americans have even said that they’re worth it to feel safe.  I think those people are cowards.  Every one of them.  I also think they barely deserve the rights the Constitution grants them, since they clearly hold them in such low regard–you can’t think highly of something you’re not particularly interested in preserving.  Why have the Constitution if we’re not even going to uphold is laws?  I’m not willing to go so far to say that they should lose their rights.  I think everyone should have the rights we’re supposed to be celebrating every 4th of July.  (And don’t get me started on parents who allow TSA agents to grope their children.  Those people are committing child abuse, and how you expect to convince your four-year-old that nobody should touch their privates after allowing a TSA agent to touch them is beyond me).  But it makes me wonder if people’s opinions would change if the situation were different?  Maybe if the government decided you need to have your belongings searched before purchasing milk, because they’re afraid you’re going poison the milk supply, people would say something.  I don’t know.  It seems to me that so many people are crippled by the fear of something they can’t even properly describe, and, thus, are willing to give up anything just to have their pathetic little security blanket wrap them up and proclaim that they are safe.

The reality?  You’re not safe.  Nobody is.  You could die tomorrow in a car crash.  Should we have checkpoints at every door in the entire country to make sure nobody drives while drunk?  You might also die of food poisoning, perhaps by your own action.  Should the government force you to let licensed cooks make all your food for you?  People seem so desperately concerned over something that is both incredibly unlikely, but also just as nameless and faceless as an unexpected asteroid attack.  The difference is that nobody is freaking out about the asteroids we don’t know about (oh, and if you only knew how many times we’ve discovered a near-Earth asteroid too late to do anything about it if it were actually going to hit us).

The fact is that you could die at any minute.  Right now, you could die of a cerebral hemorrhage or a heart attack.  Maybe a robber will break into your house and shoot you.  Or you could flip your car tomorrow and die.  Or a bus could run you over.  Or you could choke on a piece of food.  Or you could contract a terrible wasting disease and die slowly.  Or your plane could literally just fall out of the sky.  And maybe if you’re really unlucky, you’ll be on the plane that terrorists decide to destroy.

Instead of accepting that and moving on with your lives, so many of you are simply bending over and giving up personal privacy to defend yourself against something that could happen anyway.  If you honestly think terrorists are going to be stopped by these new procedures, then you are a cowardly, ignorant fool.  Terrorists don’t need airplanes to do damage.  Some terrorists are already here in the country (or will be here) and have figured out unique ways to do damage (physical and psychological damage).  Nothing you do is going to deter them.  Yes, we likely will prevent a number of attacks from occurring with the new procedures, but the fact is that in six months, terrorists will have figured out a way through our security measures, or they’ll have directed their sights to different forms of terror.  The sad truth is that they don’t have to actually do anything.  The threat is enough, because we’ve played beautifully into their hands by doing little to nothing about the continued removal of our rights.

But I’m not going to pretend that I think all Americans should stop flying.  I understand that a lot of Americans have to fly to see family or even do to business.  But the least you can do if you have to fly is voice the dissent.  Contact your representatives, the President, the TSA, and maybe even the ACLU.  You should wear t-shirts at the airport telling the TSA just what you think about all of this.  But don’t sit there and take it.  Do something about it.  Because with the way things are going right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if sterner measures are taken to restrict the movements and actions of potential terrorists, while also restricting the rest of us who have done nothing wrong.

We live in America.  It’s supposed to be the land of the free.  Maybe being free means we’ll have to face a little danger along the way, but that’s exactly what the Founding Fathers and all the soldiers who have fought (and sometimes died) for in this country were trying to protect:  freedom.  Don’t sully their sacrifices by giving in, even if you are scared.  They were scared too when the Nazis and the Japanese Empire stood before them in WW2.  They were scared when we invaded Afghanistan and when the British Empire attacked the American colonies in order to destroy the movement for independence.  We’ve done enough damage to our soldiers by sending them to wars they never should have been in, but let’s not shit all over the people who died fighting so every amendment in the United States Constitution would remain the law of the land.  They deserve better than that.  Your children deserve better than that.  It’s about time we stand up and say “enough is enough.”  Show the enemy that you’re not afraid anymore.  Show them that no matter what they do, you will stand vigilant and fight for the rights that make this country great, no matter how small.

If this sounds like a call to action, that’s because it is.  Stand up for what’s right.  Stand up for your personal freedom.  Speak.  Protest.  Wear a shirt.  Tell your friends.  Just stand up and say something.

Or don’t, and let your freedoms slip right through your fingers so you can feel little safer every day.  Just don’t complain about your rights if you do.  You only have rights if you’re willing to fight for them.  The second you stop and let them go is the day you lose them forever.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

2 thoughts on “TSA (Totalitarian Sexual Assault): My Thoughts on the TSA’s New Procedures and People in General

  1. I won't be flying any American airlines or flying through any American airports until this stops. I'd rather fly El-Al where they actually know how to do effective security. At least their security measures actually have an effect rather than being window dressing for people who can't even think it through before giving up their rights.

  2. Amen. Unfortunately, I'm flying to California in February, so I won't have much choice. But I won't be silent about it. I'll have t-shirts with protest language on it, etc. And I'll likely throw a fit if they get too fresh while patting me down.

    I don't blame you, though. The U.S. is becoming more and more of a police state, and I really doubt any of our new "security" measures are going to do much to deter terrorists.

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