American Travelers Fear And Outrage At The Breaking Point
November 24, 2010
(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – Normally I wouldn’t write about the same topic two days in a row, but something interesting happened yesterday after I posted my column Airport Safety: Can We Be Too Safe? I was inundated with e-mail about my post, and although only two people commented on the site, and I’ll explain why in a second, I got close to sixty e-mails filled with fear, anger, and confusion, and maybe a touch of paranoia.Let me explain the paranoia first and then I’ll get to my message today. Many of the people that wrote to me were fearful that the Internet Police would be able to track their posts and somehow they would be punished and targeted by the federal government. OK, yes, it is possible, but hardly likely in light of the national and very public outrage that is happening all across the country today. But I do not want to make light of peoples fear, because it is real.
Horror stories are coming from all over the place. There isn’t a legitimate news site today that isn’t leading with this story and for a very good reason as we are now deeply into the heart of the busiest holiday traveling season of the year. A group that has named themselves We Won’t Fly is attempting to institute a national “Opt Out” day where people would refuse to go though body scanners or to be subjected to the invasive body search. Of course the TSA has responded with a warning that all this will do is cause massive delays and with the first major snow storm of the year happening in the Western part of the country, any delay will be compounded by any success this group may have if even 5% of passengers refuse these procedures.
There is real and inflamed anger as travelers are outraged and extremely critical of these procedures and as I suggested yesterday, how safe is too safe? I still don’t have that answer, and not many who wrote me did either, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t freaked out over this and scared to death that they will be chosen for one of the two procedures. This is real and may turn into hysteria if something isn’t done soon.
Further enraging airline passengers is the free pass that pilots and a rumored report that politicians will be excluded from these checks as well. As one writer wrote to me yesterday, “If my grandmother has to be handled like she is a terrorist and be felt up like some kind of whore, why shouldn’t these people”? I get it.
One write told me on his trip from Seattle to Minnesota on Monday that when the TSA patted him down they literally grabbed and squeezed his “manhood” to the point that it hurt. I have no reason not to believe him. A woman traveler told me that she was manhandled by a young man that was no older than 23 and he had a smile on his face while he was feeling her breasts. She said “even if his attempt was to try to make me feel less threatened, it did not, it felt dirty and I felt wronged.” This is a serious problem.
The TSA is claiming that there will be no changes to the Department of Homeland Security policy and that we had best get over it, but I have a feeling this is long from being over, especially what I’m positive this will be a terrible weekend of travel and travel horror stories.
And even after writing yesterday’s column where I shared my confusion about how safe is too safe, I have to tell you these stories and these policies do seem awfully un-American, don’t you think?
My reality check meter tells me that body scanners are going nowhere. Too many millions of dollars have already been spent and they will not scrap these machines. There may be an effort to lessen the pat downs, but I’m not betting on it any time soon, and knowing the American people and their impatience, once they are delayed for a long period of time at an airport because of demonstrators, they will give in to the process because our fast food mentality about everything will replace any sense of indignity we currently feel, as sad as that sounds.
I appreciate the outrage and fear. I don’t travel a lot but that doesn’t matter at all. This procedure will be coming to your train station and bus station soon, if not the subway, the bank and your local sporting event. Mark my words.
A piece of the American way of live has been sliced away with these new travel policies and even assuming they work perfectly was what we gave up worth it? I’ll let you tell me.
Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com and can read his Blog at www.mediatraining.me.