Another airplane journey, another idiotic example of the stupidity of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).
I am in the airport in Panama City, Florida, waiting for my flight home. As I was putting my shoes and belt back on at the security conveyor belt, I watched as an older couple was having their carry-on bags opened and inspected. The woman was wearing an Islamic scarf. (Despite this I am sure neither posed any threat, because both were somewhat elderly, and had been given passes that I think signified this, since anyone over 75 years old is allowed to keep shoes and belts on.)
What was amazing to me was what happened when the TSA officer discovered that the women had brought a take-out lunch with her, as well as a full set of metal silverware to eat it. The officer hardly glanced at silverware, seeming more interested in her lunch in a plastic food container. While he inspected this the woman put the silverware back in her purse, and after the officer was satisfied that the take-out food was not dangerous, he allowed them to leave, silverware and all.
As they left I was right there, putting my wallet and keys back in my pockets, with that officer only about two feet away. I couldn’t help it. I said, “Excuse me, it is now permissible to bring metal silverware, forks, knives, so forth, on an airplane?”
The officer was friendly. “Was there a knife in there? I don’t think so.”
I said, “I am sure there was.”
He grinned. “No, I don’t think there was a knife.”
I responded, “But the TSA considers a metal fork okay?”
“Well, as long as there was no knife, it’s okay. Forks and spoons are no problem.”
Think about the absurdity of the situation. The woman was clearly Islamic. She was going to get on a plane carrying a metal fork and (I think) knife, both of which could easily be turned into deadly weapons. And the TSA says sure, why not? A fork isn’t a knife y’know. And besides, it’s the lunch we were really more worried about!
I am not calling for the TSA to start confiscating more stuff. If anything, this story reinforces my belief that we should dump the entire charade and allow Americans to walk freely onto their planes, even carrying concealed weapons for their personal defense. This is how the country functioned for its first 150 years, and it worked very well in both protecting us as well as honoring our freedom.
I just find this absurd anecdote another example of just how pointless this whole TSA airport travesty is. They really don’t know what they are doing. Their priorities have nothing to do with preventing any airplane hijacking, but on putting on a show. In fact, since the TSA’s responsibilities and power was expanded after 9/11 they have never prevented an actual hijacking attempt. Instead, passengers and crew on the airplanes themselves have at least twice tackled and stopped a terrorist attack. In both cases the terrorist had gotten past TSA, with no problem.
Moreover, this corrupt system is teaching everyone the wrong lessons, weakening the freedom of Americans while strengthening the power of their government. For example, after I passed through the electronic screening, it as usual showed that I needed to be patted down anyway in several places. This always happens. And I deeply resent this unconstitutional very personal invasion of my personal space. As stepped into position for the officer to pat me down, I said calmly, as I always do, “Okay, come on, get your jollies so I can get on my plane.”
The officer stepped back. “I don’t appreciate that.”
I responded, once again very calmly. “Well, I don’t appreciate this whole charade, let’s get on with it.”
I wasn’t objecting to the search, and I was staying calm and cooperative. The officer had no right to do anything but “get his jollies.” He did his thing, and I went on my way, only to see another officer allow a woman in an Islamic scarf carry metal silverware onto her plane.
The officer patting me down felt it inappropriate and improper for an American citizen to tell him his actions were morally wrong. He felt privileged and immune from criticism, and resented that criticism. And he was also taken aback because so few Americans today have the courage to object to his actions. He expects us to be diffident and submissive to him, and almost always Americans submit meekly. They no longer act as free human beings, but as servants to this powerful government agency that makes feeling up Americans part of its regular routine.
This must change, or our free country is doomed. Though I do not believe I am alone in these opinions, it seems to me that I am generally alone in expressing them, especially at the airport. Until Americans begin to once again forcefully stand up for their rights, those rights are going to continue to evaporate away, as they have been doing for the past half century.