Friday, March 28, 2008

Transportation Security Administration = Two-bit Gestapo

From Cara at The Curvature:

Think it was bad when Southwest Airlines started kicking women off of their planes for dressing “inappropriately?” Well they’ve apparently got nothing on the Transportation Security Administration. They recently forced female traveler Mandi Hamlin to remove her nipple piercings before allowing her to board a plane — even though she offered to show her piercings to the female officer and required pliers to remove the jewelry.


The commentary suggests to me, again, why Feminists and Libertarians follow many of the same lines of thought:

I also don’t think that there’s any huge leap in calling this sexual assault. Granted, it doesn’t seem as though any of the officers touched her. But they did force her to touch private areas of her own body for their personal enjoyment, despite her protestations and despite the pain it caused her. This was not a security measure, but the agents used their authority as an excuse for the abuse. Other than sexual assault, I don’t know what the hell else you call that.

Though I find the whole thing to be outrageous, nothing about it surprises me. When you put men in positions of extreme authority in a patriarchal culture that strongly cherishes that authority, rape and other violence against women (and numerous other oppressed groups) is just going to happen — particularly when the violence is regularly condoned, ignored and defended. And it does happen. All the fucking time. It’s only natural that once federal security starts taking a larger role in our daily lives, and once those who used to be lowly security have supreme authority, more dangerous and discriminatory abuse of power will follow.


And just for kicks and grins, how does the TSA respond to all this? From the official TSA website:

TSA has reviewed the circumstances related to the screening of a passenger with body piercings that occurred recently in Lubbock, Texas. It appears that the Transportation Security Officers involved properly followed procedures in that incident. They rightly insisted that the alarm that was raised be resolved. TSA supports the thoroughness of the Officers involved as they were acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day.

TSA has reviewed the procedures themselves and agrees that they need to be changed. In the future TSA will inform passengers that they have the option to resolve the alarm through a visual inspection of the article in lieu of removing the item in question. TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger involved and regrets the situation in which she found herself We appreciate her raising awareness on this issue and we are changing the procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.


So this is the party line of our new Gestapo; It was appropriate for a bunch of sweaty, giggling bureaucrats to force a woman to use pliers to remove her nipple rings, while ignoring her belly-button ring.

Next thing you know, you'll have to give the Nazi salute to get on a plane.

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