We all probably know by now that ever since 9/11, things have been different at airports. Security is ostensibly tighter and more people are being looked at askance.
And then there was the so-called “shoe bomb” episode — where someone tried to board a plane with an explosion device in the heel of his shoe — causing yet another level of “security” to be added to the screening process: that of taking off one’s shoes and sending them through the x-ray machine on the conveyor belt. But everyone doesn’t have to remove their shoes. Apparently those over 75 would never dream of smuggling anything in their shoes, so they have been given a pass on that requirement. And we all know that no one would ever approach a little old lady or gentleman and ask to borrow their shoe(s) for a moment. So that’s a done deal.
We have already been forbidden to bring our bottles of water on board. If we wanted to keep our bottles for any reason, we had a choice: drink up the whole bottle right there, or leave the bottle in the checkpoint area, then go back around, out of the security check, ask for the bottle, pour it out, then go through the security check again. Obviously someone, sometime, somewhere, used their bottles of water as weapons of some sort, and rather than risk that your bottle of water will be one of them, they all had to go. (Or is it possible that after you give up your water on the “going through” side of security, you will then have to buy a bottle — if you want one — on the other side of the security check? A little “extorted” profit perhaps?)
I remember when some friends and I were going through the security check about two years ago. One of my friends had just come back from an unexpected visit to a doctor, and was told that he had to take two little pills every two hours for the rest of the day. He had his pills, his prescription, and his bottle of water. He felt sure that with the prescription dated that very day, that he could at least take that bottle with only enough water in it for his next pill-taking. But no soap! Not only did they confiscate the water, but because it was in his backpack, they took the backpack and totally emptied it, going through everything like they were looking for the stolen crown jewels. Then, just to be on the safe side, they ran the whole mess through the x-ray machine again.
I’ve had my own water-incident with the TSA. Apparently, “forgetting” you had that bottle of water in your purse or bag qualifies you not only for more scrutiny and dirty looks, but the dreaded “pat-down.” I’m not quite sure what sort of contraband they expect to find on the person of inadvertent water-bottle carriers. But regardless of the invasion of my space during that pat-down, it was nothing compared to what they have been doing to children lately.
I don’t want to hear that they were “just doing their job.” I’ve been in the military and I still know the difference between right and wrong, and I still don’t believe that one can’t make an “executive decision kind of exception” when one is warranted, whether or not the going belief is that there can be no exceptions. And considering what I saw in that pat-down video, it isn’t even so much about the so-called necessity for the pat-down, it’s about not seeing the need for a modified pat-down for a child, that child, and caring about how that might affect him for some time after.
I just happened to catch the video on TV showing the pat-down of a just-turned-13-year-old boy. That’s young enough for this to stand on its own as an outrage for the newest version of the pat-down — a very intrusive enough event even for adults, but this young boy was suffering from a condition that made it much more traumatizing. In the video clip, made by the mother, you could see how intense it appeared. Aaron’s collar, underarms, waistband, legs and inner thighs are all patted down and checked. Some parts of Aaron’s body, like his under arms and waistband are checked twice — once in the back, and once in the front.
The mother tried to get an alternative to the pat-down for the reason mentioned above, but she was told there is no alternative policy to that pat-down; then, to really rub it in, she said she was told that “we could either be patted down or be escorted out by the DFW police.”
And then I see a 10-year-old girl having to go through the same intense pat-down because she forgot her pouch of juice and/or her cellphone in her bag. Can you really imagine! A young girl who may never even have had any person touch her in that way and now she’s getting this intense pat-down in a public place with people looking on and wondering what she did so wrong.
Aren’t children still taught that no one should be allowed to touch them in certain places? Doesn’t that “authorized” and mandatory touching throw all that teaching off? Surely, even the TSA check point people can understand the difference between normal “forgetful” children and sneaky, trying-to-be-cool, would-be terrorist-types of any age.
True. It’s a different world today. We need to tell our children things we wish they didn’t have to know. But because this IS the world we live in, I can’t stress enough how much parents or other adults have to remind children going through the TSA checkpoints to BE SURE (and please watch them while they check) that they took out all water, juice, cellphones, laptops, or whatever else is on the taboo list of the day, reminding them of the unfortunate consequences if they are careless.
The TSA is supposed to be on our side; instead they are becoming well-known for the terror they themselves put the travelers through!