Thursday, November 25, 2010

Has the TSA finally gone too far?

The recent intensification in US airport security has gone over extremely poorly, and with good reason. Consider what they did to this woman:

Now truth to tell, I'm not sure whether or not X-rays are actually harmful to breast milk. X-rays are a form of ionizing radiation, and not good for living tissue, but I'm not sure how much effect they'd actually have on the milk. Still, I can't blame anyone for preferring to be safe than sorry, especially if it says in the rules that breast milk doesn't have to go through the X-ray. And for trying to point out what the rules actually say, she was put through hell. And I'm sure this is far from the only example of such harassment; if there's anything unusual about this case it might be the fact that the victim was white.

The thing is, even when the rules are followed things are crazy enough. Consider this point raised by Roger Ebert:
It appears that not a single TSA agent has declined to perform a full-body pat down of airline passengers. That includes patting down small children. They're not patted down on a routine basis, but on some occasions they can be and they are. A child under 12, sometimes way under 12, may be required to remove outer clothing and be touched on such areas as the genitals.
This is so high on the WTF scale that it beggars the imagination. All this makes me wonder, though, if there might not be a silver lining of sorts to this very dark cloud. While I'm not sure I'd go so far as the Bishop of London, England in saying that flying is a sin, it is the worst form of travel from a climate perspective, and I suspect that a lot of people will start to think hard about whether they really need to fly after being submitted to indignities like this a few times. It would be interesting to track Greyhound and Amtrak ticket sales before and after the new policies came into place. Of course, if there are signs of a major shift, the airlines will start to lobby for the TSA to be put into the train stations and bus terminals too; can't have unfair competition after all.

And what will happen to tourism? Even if the Americans eventually submit meekly to this stuff, will people whose own countries don't put them through this stuff every time they fly want to visit a place like that? I certainly have no enthusiasm for flying to the US any time soon, that's for sure.

And, predictably, a lot of people are saying that the solution to this problem is to only do it to brown people.

No comments: