Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I don't think ritual humiliation is necessary, Mr. President.

In a recent press conference, President Obama was asked about the invasive procedures taking place in America's airports and deemed them necessary.

"I understand people’s frustrations, and what I’ve said to the TSA is that you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety. And you also have to think through are there other ways of doing it that are less intrusive," Obama said.

"But at this point, TSA in consultation with counterterrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing."
I've been reading some of the horror stories about what humiliations people actually have undergone during these pat-downs, and then my imagination did the rest--this isn't about "frustration." For many people, this is practically injurious.

(TW) When I see stories like these:

TSA forces cancer survivor to show prosthetic breast

TSA pat-down leaves cancer survivor covered in urine

TSA Pats-Down a Screaming Toddler

And there's dozens more stories out there--people who are going to be subjected to the pat-downs, are most likely the worst people who should be subjected to the pat-downs. Among them particularly are cancer survivors and disabled people. NJ Rep. Diane Allen makes a good point here:

Allen expressed reservations about passenger exposure to unnecessary radiation. “Certain Americans, including cancer patients and survivors who are being treated or have been treated with radiation therapy are told by their doctors to avoid unnecessary exposure to additional radiation. As a cancer survivor myself, the new imaging equipment used for full body scans concerns me greatly. The U.S. government has not provided adequate information on the potential health impacts of these machines- to say nothing of the invasive nature of the alternative presented to passengers. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University has in fact said it is likely that at least some people who are exposed to the new scanners will develop cancer as a result, with frequent fliers and children among the most susceptible.”

So, naturally, people whose health might be at-risk because of the scanners might have no choice but to opt for the pat-down--but this can be a problem. If a body has already experienced a trauma like surgery, if prosthetics are involved, and if there is a lack of understanding on the part of the screener, the potential for harm or humiliation exists. With children, I think it's horrible because it's almost impossible to make them understand fully what is going on and why they are being subjected to this treatment. It's too easy for them to view it as a punishment when they haven't done anything wrong (and they haven't!), and no, they aren't going to take it well. And travelling, as a disruption from routine, is often stressful enough on kids as it is.

But that's not all--I think of any number of conditions where being touched might be actually painful--rheumatic or osteoarthritis and fibroneuralgia can sometimes make contact anxiety-producing. You just can't know that you will be handled gently. That may vary with the person "handling" you. And there's so many other people with valid reasons to protest. Trans-people, because it's another opportunity to have one's body and gender subjected to judgement. It could be triggering for victims of physical or sexual abuse to be touched by a stranger. I can see how this might be excruciating for a wide spectrum of people with anxiety, etc. whose very anticipation of what is going to happen might make it just a nightmare--and if you can't or won't go through with it, they detain you, which is so equally very bad.

There really are people who would rather face the (small, all things considered) odds of being caught up in some attack--than deal with near-certain discomfort, humiliation, even horror. That's not "frustration". A long line is frustration. This is something way more personal, being done to too many people. It can't be the only way, and I can't consider it "necessary".

EDIT: And, not surprisingly, the TSA agents doing this aren't really so keen on it, either.

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