The TSA Wins

Since 2012 I have been a semi-frequent flyer making about five cross continental round trip flights a year, plus several shorter flights within the Pacific coast. Between now and then I would make it a point to ‘opt out’ of the standard TSA procedure and receive the pat down. I did it for a variety of reasons. For one, don’t like being exposed to radiation and don’t trust the government on the issue.

More than that though, I wanted to resist and encourage my fellow citizens to resist, however small, the security theater the government has us go through in exchange for our freedom to travel. I would not encourage people to resist the police or any armed agent of the state, but by opting out I was taking a stand against government and hoped others would join me.

In five plus years, no one did. The only people I ever had join me in the opt out process was ‘randomly selected’ individals, often Muslims or mis-identified Sikhs. I never saw someone else voluntarily opt out. In retrospect, I suspect noone else saw my actions as a form of protest.

When I took a flight earlier today I went through the standard procedure.* My will to resist, at least in this form, has gone away. In the coming year the TSA rules will become stricter as real ID is finally implemented. I like to think this will lead to popular opposition, but I wouldn’t wager on it. As a nation we’ve given up on asserting our freedom to travel with minimal intrusion.

When I arrived at my final destination I found the below containers blocking me from the entrance. To leave the airport I had to get checked one last time. They don’t seem to be scanners, but when you enter them you are held up for ten or so seconds before being let free. Are they just trying to see what we will put up with before unveiling the next wave of security theater antics?

Thoughts? Have a story about your flying experience(s) to share? Post in the comments below.


*Funnily enough I ended up being “randomly” choosen to have my luggage physically inspected anyway.

14 thoughts on “The TSA Wins

  1. An acquaintance of mine (staunch Republican) has a daughter who wrote an opinion piece in the local paper about how we should all be willing to submit to intrusive TSA procedures and “suck it up” for the good of all. He seemed rather proud of her statement. I wanted to ask him if he realized he’d reared a Socialist.

    I think these procedures are an invasion of privacy and do nothing to make us safer when we travel. But it has been demonstrated time and again that people have no talent for evaluating risk. They fear the remote and unlikely danger and ignore the true perils.

    • Replying to Eilene Lyon, who wrote: “I wanted to ask him if he realized he’d reared a Socialist.”

      Eilene, I am a socialist. And I’ve been shouting at the top of my lungs, literally and figuratively, since 2009 about the abuses of the TSA. For years I ran the website TSA News, which chronicled the abuses of this most abusive agency. I researched and wrote thousands of posts, along with op-eds, countless comments at all sorts of websites all over the blabbosphere, and talked to my friends and relatives endlessly about the nightmare of the TSA. Though I love travel and consider it an integral part of my life, I stopped flying in/from this country in 2010, when the Reign of Molestation was implemented.

      In other words, I’ve put my money where my mouth is. Guess what? Very few other people, of whatever political stripe, have.

      This has nothing to do with left/right, Dem/Repub, capitalist/socialist, or any other false dichotomies people want to come up with. This has to do with bedrock civil liberties, about which few Americans, for all their bloviating, give a flying f.

      I, too, have finally given up. After years of taking cross-country train trips to avoid flying, ocean crossings (on the QM2) to avoid flying, bus trips and cars trips and you-name-it to avoid flying, even giving up paying gigs bcause I refused to fly, I cry uncle. I realize that this situation will never change in my lifetime. I wish, dearly, deeply — you have no idea how deeply — for everyone I know who defends this indefensible agency or who’s laughed at my ringing of alarm bells to be abused at a checkpoint. Yes, I do. Including my family and friends. Because only then will they get it through their heads what’s at stake.

      Oh, by the way, TSA News is now defunct, so all my years of work are down the drain. But hey, no biggie. Americans are evidently content to allow themselves — and even their children — be abused to get on a plane. “Just get me to my flight on time!”

    • Gosh, how I miss your TSA News blog. I opt out all the time and so do my children. I rarely fly now and the TSA is the biggest reason.

    • Hi, Marie. I remember your name from the days of TSA News. Yes, I miss it, too, mostly because all that work I did is now gone. I suppose the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive) might have those posts, but it’s very difficult to search through the millions upon millions upon millions of blog posts around the world to recover them. I saved only a few of that material, at my erstwhile blog:

    • I’m glad to hear of all you tried to do to change this and sorry the efforts were unsuccessful. I fly as little as possible, but saying “never” is not an option.

  2. That vestibule is designed to keep people from getting *in* to the secured area, not to delay your exit (though that happens as a secondary consequence). Otherwise, with unobstructed exit paths, airports have to post security guards at each exit.

    • I suppose I can understand that, but there’s still something creepy and dehumanizing about them. I feel like we’re cattle waiting in line.

    • That thing is a death trap. In case of emergency–fire or active shooter–the death toll of people trying to escape will be horrific.

      But hey! As long as it keeps us safe.

  3. I think you’d find that most of the people who share your feelings about it, no longer fly unless necessary. I’m with you but it is just so much more convenient to drive always up to 500 miles, and often a thousand. Avoid the Kabuki completely.

  4. Look up “cleithrophobia” and you’ll see those glass pods as yet another reason I will never set foot in an American airport again.

  5. Sexually accosted once, patted down harshly twice (having to catch my balance, and badgered for moving, given a “massage” once with carry-on bags being hidden from me, and gave up too! Paid for a little more freedom (pre-check)-ugh Why? I just can’t stand it any longer; especially the abuse of the disabled and elderly. There is not much difference between flying and being held captive.

  6. We’ve never encountered each other in the lines at TSA, however, I assure you, I always
    “opt out.” And recently, I’ve started congratulating TSA employees on now being the second worst group of federal employees, after Emporer Dumpfkopf and his gang. Many of them, who shall remain unnamed, respond with a grin . . .

  7. How does a person in an electric wheelchair/scooter get out of the airport? There is no way they could go through that thing.

    Also, what about an emergency evacuation? Fire? Active shooter? How do masses of people get out?

    This thing is a death trap.

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