TSA Patdowns

Took a flight recently and in my security line they were putting everyone through the scanner. I didn’t want to be scanned so I asked for a patdown instead. Interesting experience. I don’t recommend it except that I sort of do (keep reading). It’s no fun having some gruff fellow with a shaved head run his hands up your legs and under your waistband. My impression is that the screeners do not enjoy this work, and that their attitude is that if you are dumb enough to ask for a hand search they are going to take some satisfaction in giving you what you asked for, good and hard. Or maybe they just don’t like it when passengers make work for them. Much easier to run everyone through scanners.

Perhaps more travelers should ask for patdowns, to slow down the system and pressure Congress to junk it or at least eliminate its worst features.

A while ago I traveled to Israel. On the way back an American guy in the security line started taking off his shoes, and a screener told him to keep them on because this isn’t America (unspoken: and here we do things rationally). Why is it so institutionally and politically difficult for us to treat airport security (and other issues) rationally?

11 thoughts on “TSA Patdowns”

  1. My idea to reduce the obnoxiousness of the patdowns … everyone, before you go to the airport, have a nice meal of several bean burritos, wash it down with a nice egg custard vanilla milkshake, and top it off by chewing about two dozen Peppermint Altoids.

    Assuming you can time the thermonuclear blast just right, it should, if done en masse, cut down on the screeners getting a tad too chummy :)

  2. Why is it so institutionally and politically difficult for us to treat airport security (and other issues) rationally?

    Rational thought implies the application of logic.
    The Smoke ‘n Mirrors Brand Warm ‘n Fuzzie Illusion Generator© (favorite of Pols everywhere) pretty much shuts down when there’s too much logic in the air.

  3. Why is it so institutionally and politically difficult for us to treat airport security… rationally?
    Because it is punishable. Do you want to prolong the torture? You like being insulted publicly? Then argue with TSA (or the police, or anybody else in uniform). Well, there are people that will – but not all people would get involved in “authority game”. [and what if that request was made by a policeman? he would comply silently and eat it up?]

    I tried to apply logic. On a flight to St.Louis in security line I put my laptop in its bag on the conveyor. I was yelled at by 2 checkers: apparently, I had to knew beforehand (telepathically, I guess) that they require laptop to be removed from the bag and put in a separate tray. It makes no sense (they can see it clearly on their XRay screen, through the bag) but if you try to explain that to them, where will it get you? Majority of people understand that intuitively, and make no fuss.

    There is no end to State infringement on personal freedom. They are bigger and they can hurt you – that’s the only reasons we comply.

  4. “Perhaps more travelers should ask for patdowns, to slow down the system and pressure Congress to junk it or at least eliminate its worst features.”

    Some of us have been advocating exactly these things. I’ve been writing and speaking out publicly against TSA abuse for years now, but there’s so much apathy out there. There are many ways to protest and to commit acts of resistance, if only people would try. Here are a few:

    -Refuse to fly. Yes, I know not everyone can make this decision; some people must fly for work. But millions of us can do this, and if all those millions would, the airlines would lose money so fast their heads would spin. They’d scream bloody murder. Things would change. But for too many people in this country, the rallying cry is “Don’t Inconvience Me!” rather than “Give me liberty or give me death.” (And yes, I stopped flying last year, though it’s a sacrifice because I love travel more than I can say. But it’s a sacrifice worth making.)

    -Refuse to go through the strip-search scanner. Refuse to acquiesce. This is a form of dissent. This is a form of resistance. It also forces the TSA to conduct their punitive gropefests in public, thus highlighting their idiocy and advertising it for all to see. It will force people to confront what they don’t want to confront — the fact that this agency is bullying, harassing, and abusing passengers daily. And yes, if millions of people would do this, it would bollux up the works and slow everything down, making it impossible for the TSA to continue business as usual.

    -If you are inappropriately touched, speak up. Shout, cry, sob, don’t go quietly. And what should be needless to say, never let them take you to a “private” room. God knows what they’ll do there (read the numerous accounts of passengers). You need witnesses.

    -Write your Congressional reps and Senators, your local reps, newspapers, blogs, etc. Be relentless. Talk about this. Don’t let the security cheerleaders, naysayers, and sheeple shout you down. There are too many gutless wonders out there; don’t let them get away with it.

    We’re not going to win overnight. This is going to take time. But the civil rights movement also didn’t succeed overnight. It was only through dogged action, and a willingness to sacrifice, that people forced change.

  5. Take Amtrak. No scans, no patdowns, no luggage inspections.

    Takes a bit longer but the service is better, the seats are more comfortable and sometimes the scenary is spectacular.

    Price competition varies with market but my recent first class Amtrak tickets with roomette for two from San Jose to Denver was cheaper than next-day airfare in coach. Took 36 hours compared to 4 hours (terminal transit times and flying) but the views in the Sierras and the Rockies are the best of North America.

  6. Amtrak may not be free of the TSA for long.

    I flew to Chicago and back the last weekend of April and had no trouble at all. No scanner, just the same magnetometer that has been used for years. Maybe Midway and Ontario CA airports are too low class to merit attention. Fine with me.

    The TSA replaced many private security jobs with gov’t employees who are, no doubt, expected to vote for the Congress critters who produced those jobs for them

  7. don’t fly. the scanners cause cancer.

    Don’t fly!
    If the terrorists don’t get you
    then the scanners will!

  8. “Take the train” and “don’t fly” comments are right up there with “get a Mac” as practical advice. Most people are going to fly and for good reason. TSA employees aren’t East German border guards, and the scans and patdowns are, for most of us, not so terrible in the scheme of things. But they are indignities and probably not very effective as security measures, and as polivies should probably be much bigger political liabilities for the govt officials who support such measures than is currently the case. Why this is so is an important question.

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