Violated

vi·o·late [vahy-uh-leyt]

–verb (used with object), -lat·ed, -lat·ing.

1. to break, infringe, or transgress (a law, rule, agreement,promise, instructions, etc.).
2. to break in upon or disturb rudely; interfere thoughtlessly with: to violate his privacy.
3. to break through or pass by force or without right: to violatea frontier.
4. to treat irreverently or disrespectfully; desecrate; profane:violate a human right.
5. to molest sexually, esp. to rape.

I have a ton of things on my mind after traveling all over the country doing presentations.  Unfortunately, the thing on my mind the most was my encounter with the TSA at a line check on a recent flight.  It started off normal, showed my ID & gate pass.  I put all my stuff nicely into the bag, take off my shoes, belt and anything that could possibly red-alert the metal detector.  But, as it happens– today was my unlucky day.

The detector beeped after I was clearly passed it and the TSA agent said, “Oh, looks like the machine randomly selected you for additional screening.”  Apparently the whole concept of reasonable doubt can be circumvented by a random machine.  I was pulled aside and given two options– “enhanced” pat down in front of everyone, or in a small private room somewhere else.  Neither of them were appealing, but “no” wasn’t really an option.

I mean, it’s true you always have a choice.  The thing is that you are always accountable for that choice.  Some choices cost more than others.  In this case, the cost of saying no was not making a work related conference.  No meant, jeopardizing my livelihood.  No meant, having to figure out how to cross the country by alternative means.  If this was a flight I could have missed– maybe things would have been different… but it wasn’t.

People keep saying on the news that traveling is a privilege– not a right.  That sounds good, I suppose– until you have some random stranger touching you in very private locations.  Surely didn’t feel like a privilege at the time.  When it was all said and done the feeling that has stuck with me most is that of violation.  I will not pretend to know what it’s like for a woman who has been raped or touched against her will– but I think I have a slightly clearer picture now.  No, I wouldn’t say I was groped.  I don’t need to.  I was touched and, despite having my compliance, it was against my will.

Well, to be fair, rage has indeed been an almost equal emotion that has occupied my mind since then too.

Since my travel I have been watching numerous video and accounts of others who have gone through the same thing.  The ones that have cut at me the most are those where the TSA have leveraged “enhanced” pat downs against little children.  I cannot help but think of what would happen if someone, and I don’t care who, dared to even attempt to touch my sons against their will.  I imagine that jail would likely be in my future.

I teach my children they have a right to say no, that no one can touch them if they don’t want to be.  I had hoped to teach them that we lived in a country built on ideas like– no unreasonable search and seizures, or innocent until proven guilty… but I am finding those beliefs are dying in an era of fear and convenience.  Only the bad guys want privacy after all.  If you’ve done nothing wrong, why not be compliant.  Anything for the sake of imagined security.  Right?

So, with that in mind– I’ve decided I won’t fly with my family.  I’ve also decided I won’t submit any more talks or presentations that I cannot get to with out an alternative means of transport.  I cannot get around the fact that I must travel for work– but I am lucky in that travel is very unfrequent.

Final thoughts.

Ironic that people who seem to think this is okay don’t travel much.  Or that people telling us it’s a right are excluded from having to be subject to it (do you really think homeland security executives have to do this?).  Also ironic that people say it’s for improved security when, historically, the TSA has failed to stop every major attack against an airport.

Passengers and foreign intelligence have done more to prevent attacks than the TSA.

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Comments

  • Markus  On November 17, 2010 at 8:16 am

    That’s exactly the point why my working contract says that I will mot be sent to the US. You are automatically treated as a criminal. Foreigners might accept that more easily, but dealing with your own citizens in the same way is sad. Well at least they adhere to ‘all men are created equal’

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