TSA Screenings: No Logic, No Freedom, Just Fear, Hatred, and Molestation

There is seriously something wrong when the government demands its citizens be molested or to undergo x-raying and be viewed naked, in order to travel.

It’s hard for me to believe people are serious when they ask what the big deal is about being viewed naked on these porno scanners. Clearly, if people are generally comfortable being naked in front of complete strangers, it would not be illegal to be naked in almost all public places. And is it that hard to imagine that victims of rape or sexual assault might be extremely uncomfortable with strangers seeing them naked or groping them?

Further, people have legitimate health concerns with regard to being x-rayed. The TSA says it’s safe now, but the government is far from omniscient. The government taught the virtue of food pyramids in public schools, even though nutritionists now advise against massive carbohydrate consumption. The government also told us the Vietnam War was justified and proper, until the Pentagon Papers said otherwise. The government told us Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, which were never located. Thus, to say the scanners are safe because the government says so, is not reason enough for many people, and understandably so.

The government also says TSA employees are well-trained and are not molesting people. However, individual experiences indicate otherwise. One TSA employee, Sean Shanahan, was charged with multiple counts of child rape recently.  Specifically, he was charged with two counts of statutory rape, two counts of enticing a minor and one count of indecent assault and battery (more here). That these types of people are involved in screening and touching passengers is frightening, to say the least.

In another incident, a pilot’s  18-year-old daughter was chosen for a naked full-body scan. She told her father afterward that the screener said to his colleague through the headset, “We have a real beauty coming through.” One woman is now suing the TSA after they forced her to expose her breasts to the public by pulling her shirt down, and made jokes about it afterward. She alleges one male TSA employee told her he wished he was there when she came through the first time and that “he would just have to watch the video.” A flight attendant has also filed a claim of being groped by TSA.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick, a CNN employee,  felt violated by the new screening procedures, during which a screener ran her hands around her breasts, over her stomach, buttocks and her inner thighs, and touched her crotch. Ella Swift, a Grand Rapids airline passenger said the enhanced patdown she experienced was unnecessary, violative and painful. Yet another woman said that during the pat down, the employee touched her labia. Pilots unions are also outraged and have issued memos on TSA screening and reports of molestation. A bladder cancer survivor experienced a pat down during which the TSA agent broke the seal on his urostomy bag, and left him covered in his own urine.

In addition, it appears that TSA employee Rolando Negrin was so humiliated by his own experience going through the porno scanner that he snapped and beat up a coworker. TSA’s own employee felt so degraded by this process that he had a violent breakdown, yet TSA continues to lack any regard for the privacy of other members of the public.

These are only the recent incidents that have occurred since they instituted new screening requirements.  However, their procedures were questionable and abusive even before the implementation of porno scanners and enhanced patdowns. This video depicts TSA terrorizing a little girl.  This video compiles news clips of a variety of other TSA problems. In another disturbing encounter, TSA made a pregnant woman lift her shirt up in front of a hundred people, touched her breasts, and arrested her husband when he protested (more here).

There should be no question that TSA procedures border on sexual assault, if they don’t directly constitute molestation. Even so, proponents of such screenings argue this is “voluntary,” and that people are free to take buses and trains as alternative forms of transportation. First of all, many people have to travel to non-contiguous states or countries for work or to see family. Last time I checked, there was no train to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Asia or Europe. To say people must be endure x-rays, or be molested in order to work or see their family is hardly presenting them with voluntary choices.

If Wal-Mart decides to sell you a bicycle on unreasonable terms or for a terrible price, you can go to Target or some other store. This is a voluntary choice, because free markets allow vendors to compete and sell bikes on different terms, from which customers can choose. But what if Wal-Mart used force and lobbied for laws to shut down all the other bike vendors, and biking was the only way for you to get to work? Would the purchase of an overpriced bike on unreasonable terms from Wal-Mart seem very voluntary then?

Similarly, the airline industry is heavily controlled and regulated by government. If you find TSA’s demands unreasonable, you have nowhere to go, no other option to choose. The government has forcibly removed all options with their regulations, and imposed unavoidable rules.  If an individual refuses to undergo screening, they may not only be asked to leave the airport, but will be detained and questioned by TSA, and may face a $11,000 fine and possible arrest. How is this voluntary in any sense of the word?

There is one class of people for whom the screening procedures are indeed voluntary. Compared to the choice permitted this particular class of people, it is clear the “choices” presented to other members of the public are less than voluntary. Members of congress with security detail do not have to submit to these screening procedures.  They are exempt entirely, although I’m sure if they wanted to be x-rayed or molested, TSA would not deny them. This again demonstrates that government employees believe themselves to be above the laws and rules they force everyone else to abide by. America effectively operates on a caste system.

Even if one ignores the molestation, and continues to believe this is a “voluntary” choice, the whole premise of these procedures is dangerous and faulty. Presumably, the idea is to violate the person and freedom of all people on a purportedly minimal level, in order to secure greater security for society at large. Unless one subscribes to fascist ideology, this simply is not a tenable or desirable solution to the problem.

If we are to accept that molesting people and viewing them naked is acceptable to prevent terrorism, then we must accept that other such measures are justified and desirable to prevent similar ills in society. For instance – why don’t we force all men into jail for a brief detention to ensure they are not murderers or rapists?  Men commit almost all rapes, and are 8 times more likely to commit murder than women.  Under the exact same logic as terror-prevention, we should rigorously profile all men, detain them for a short period, to ensure they are not murderers or rapists, regardless of guilt or innocence. Arguably, if we did this, we would virtually eliminate all violent crimes and rape, and such a measure would further the safety and welfare of society. Like the case of TSA screening, a proponent could assert that the intrusion caused by brief imprisonment of innocent men would be far outweighed by the benefits of drastically reducing violent crime and rape.

This TSA screening relies on the exact same logic as the example of imprisoning all men. Both measures involve violation of the body, person and freedom of innocent people for a greater goal of safety.  One cannot logically believe one is justified, but not the other; there is absolutely no reasonable distinction between the two.

This is not a “slippery slope” argument.  It is not the case that TSA screening is a good thing, but could potentially lead to other bad things or eventually lead to worse results. There simply is no logical distinction between imprisoning all men for the goal of eliminating violence and molesting/x-raying all passengers for the sake of preventing terrorism.

The people who continue to support these bogus “security” measures must admit they support molestation in exchange for a vague and unsubstantiated goal of safety.  They must admit they agree with  forcing people to choose between x-rays, humiliation, sexual assault, or their families. They must admit they would agree with a policy of imprisoning completely innocent men to stamp out crime, if such a measure were ever proposed. If they are unable to do so, it’s likely because they blindly bought into hatred and fear of Muslims and the government’s fear tactics, because there is nothing else that would logically explain support of these measures.


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Georgia Sand

Georgia (George) Sand is an attorney located in sunny California. She enjoys beer, jogging, the beach, music, and chatting with her cats in her spare time.

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  • Jeremy

    But didn’t you read the 4th Amendment?

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated but upon probable cause, unless the congress or the president deems it necessary to take pornographic photographs without the consent of the people or to touch the people’s junk.

  • Jenn

    @ Jeremy – yeah I seemed to have missed that part in the 4th Amendment, my bad. :D Or the other explanation I guess would be that apparently pornographic photographs and molestation are not “unreasonable” by the government’s standards.

  • Guy Fawkes

    Jenn, hope you’ve forgive me for reposting this(I posted it first on photography is not a crime), but it goes well with your most excellent article, which I agree with 100%

    You just would not believe how many sheep I heard calling in talk radio not only saying they have no problem consenting to this, but making fun of the dissenters. What a bunch of useless conformist pussies. I can guess what the next step with this is going to be if people don’t wake up. You are in line for the orgakatron full body scan machine. Suddenly the song “Macho Man” starts playing as a disco ball drops down illuminated by pink and baby blue lights. A loud voice will announce in a volume everyone at the airport can hear “Congratulations! You’ve been selected for the fisting couch, the latest in tsa’s efforts to improve security for everyone! Refusal is NOT allowed, you’re just going to have to bend over and take it!!!”
    Sad to say, even if this were implemented, there would still be plenty of sheep bleating about how it was necessary for security.

  • Josh

    The problem with fighting for our 4th amendment right to resist unreasonable search and seizure is that the patriot act circumvents about half of the bill of rights. A lot of people don’t realize that striking down the patriot act would allow people to strike down these screenings. I am unfamiliar with how one would bring the patriot act up for ruling by the supreme court on whether it is unconstitutional or not though. No doubt they would rule that it violates the constitution, if any of them are worth their salt.

    The patriot act started the erosion of our rights, and the only way to end the erosion is ending the patriot act. George Washington would have led civilian soldiers against the rulers and laws we currently have if he were around today.

  • Jenn

    @ Guy – no prob on reposting comments, thanks for your thoughts. I completely agree with sheep analogies… it’s quite unbelievable.

    Everyone – thanks for reading and supporting! You’re the best!

  • ‘There is seriously something wrong when the government demands its citizens be molested or to undergo x-raying and be viewed naked, in order to travel.”

    It’s an inevitable technological advancement on the old, “Your paperz pleaz.”

    “The patriot act started the erosion of our rights, and the only way to end the erosion is ending the patriot act.”

    Violation of rights has been around as long as there have been humans willing to stoop to use force rather than reason when dealing with their fellow humans. The Patriot Act is merely the most egregious recent example of making that force systemic and legal.

    Everyone should do everything they can to make government irrelevant.

  • Bob

    Something really wrong when you refuse to post dissenting comments. You people are nothing more than an anti government site full of lies and bullshit. Lets see you post that!

  • Dr. Q

    Do you feel silly now, Bob?

    We absolutely do not refuse to post dissenting comments. If you’d actually bothered to spend five minutes perusing our site, you’d already know that.

    It’s true that comments must be authorized by a Cop Block blogger before they show up, but this is only to prevent spam, not because we censor comments based on message.

  • Jenn

    Please, Bob, explain how we are full of lies and bullshit. We don’t mind warranted criticism or factual corrections, but you need to be more specific.

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  • CAP

    Has anyone thought that this is a way to prevent Americans from taking money out of the country. When hyperinflation hit in other parts of the world people would sew gold or diamonds in their clothes if they had to and cross borders to get to safe havens. TSA is now in place, not for our security, for it makes us no more safe than before. It has taken away fundamental freedoms however.

  • I announced on Tom Sullivan’s national radio show that I was renouncing flying until this is resolved:

    My boycott of commercial flying isn’t an idle threat I make because I never fly anyway. I used to fly a lot, including internationally, and I am already looking into taking a freighter to Taiwan through a company called SeaTravel Ltd as an alternative. There are alternatives. You don’t have to subject yourselves to this psychological manipulation—because that’s what it is. These tactics have little to do with security. They have everything to do with softening up a population and getting it accustomed to totalitarian obedience.

    So I hereby reaffirm my boycott of flying as long as TSA’s fascist methods persist. I suppose according to Whoopi “The Cushion” Goldberg and the vacuous Hasselbeck, I’m a prime candidate for a special prison. Why? Because I am naive enough to have believed all those characterizations sold to me in school about how America is the land of the free and other apparently disingenuous platitudes. We can see how free it is when people like Whoopi, who sees herself as progressive, calls for special prisons for people fighting for democratic principles.

    Now do you see what happened to Germany and Germans during the 1930s?
    It CAN happen here!

  • John Bass

    …no sane human would allow these TSA freaks to “pat them down.” It’s all about Government-sanctioned psychological control. This is happening at every level of society in “these United States.” I shudder when I recall the indoctrination bullshit I was forced to undergo in public schools; it’s taken me decades to filter out some of the crap they filled my mind with. “Obey…obey…don’t ask questions…you will be punished…or groped!!” Hey, baby…screw the airlines; I’ll take a train, or drive. As Mario Savio said: “Fuck it.” Or, as my good friend, the founding drummer of Great White, Gary Holand, put it: “John…does the bullshit never end??”

  • Swillbucket Dan

    Excellent article Jenn. Thank you for including numerous links to specific examples of how TSA ‘procedures’ have harmed people and clearly violated individuals’ Constitutional rights.

    I think most Americans have a sense that most Americans are OK with TSA practices, while in fact most Americans are truly appalled by them, just as most Americans were truly appalled by the corporate bailouts initiated by Bush and continued under Obama. So where is the disconnect?

    The media. Mass media reports of TSA practices are overwhelmingly positive, and this results in consumers of that media questioning their own instincts and gut reactions. To appear objective, TV news personalities (not reporters), when reporting on TSA screening procedures, will include a token reference to what they report to be fringe decent, but ultimately they will end their report with some very normal person saying something like, “Well, I don’t like it, but if it makes me safer…”

    And it is that last message that the consumer is left with; it has the most emphasis. It’s all bullshit. Most Americans know it’s bullshit, but they’re too subdued by well-honed fear to protest.

    Let’s analyze the ‘if it makes me safer’ argument. If illegal and dehumanizing TSA searches make you feel safer, then I would add that:

    *you would be safer if the State could search homes without cause
    *you would be safer if people could be imprisoned merely for being suspected of having committed a crime, and you would be even safer if all their relatives were also imprisoned, or at least picked up for questioning
    *you would be safer with random roadside checkpoints (armed, of course) (this is already happening)
    *you would be safer if there were a curfew
    *you would be safer with tanks on the street
    *you would be safer under martial law

    In short, you would be safer if you gave up all your freedoms.

    If I have to choose between that kind of ‘safety’ and freedom, I’ll choose freedom.

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