Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Democrats Defend the New TSA Procedures

As egregious as the body scans and the pat-downs now implemented by the TSA as part of their idiotic "airport security" measures might be, the way in which the Democrats defend these procedures are even worse. This is a quote from DailyKos on the subject:
It's certainly not the worst governmental abuse of our civil liberties. Give me a choice between getting fondled by the TSA and having AT&T spy on me on behalf of the NSA, and I'll take the latter. At least it's my choice to get on a plane, and I can do everything in my power to minimize time spent at airports. I also assume you ladies would rather be fondled at the airport than have Republicans put a lock on your uterus. And at least those TSA people are engaging in non-discriminatory groping, as opposed to the manhandling brown and black people get from police on city streets and sidewalks.
As you can see, it's the same old ". . . but the Republicans are even worse" routine that we keep hearing from the Dems. Sad that even after this strategy lost them the Congress three weeks ago, they still repeat the same chant with the insistence of a broken record.

Another progressive blogger treated the subject with even less intellectual grace. She suggested that people who resent the pat-downs and the body scans are all homophobic. So now we, the autistics, will have to deal both with panic attacks resulting from being touched by strangers and with explaining that we do not hate gays, we just have a neurological condition that makes this procedure especially traumatic for us. Of course, the autistics are far from being the only group who has a legitimate, non-homophobic reason for detesting these procedures. I can think of at least five on the spot. Apparently, the progressive blogger in question cannot.


Tenured Radical said...

OK, let's just be clear: I did not say that all people who resent these searches are homophobic -- I said that the dominant discourse about the searches is homophobic, and it is. And that all parts of the political spectrum are engaging in knee-jerk homophobic descriptions of the searches to galvanize opposition to them. And like many of these people, your concern for yourself (which is utterly legitimate on its own) is overriding your concern for the people who are getting bombs dropped on their heads in your name.

By the way, as a gender non-conforming person I have been subject to pat downs for years. Is your burden greater than mine? I could grant that. But it is only when these indignities are extended beyond racially and gender suspect groups that anyone gives a damn -- and when they do, the transgressions are relayed in standard homophobic discourse.

This is what I dislike about identity politics -- the notion that because your burden is greater you have license to disregard everything I actually said so that you can express your rage and resentment at a system that we might all grant insults nonconforming bodies. You have a right to your rage, and your critique -- but try for a bigger analysis, why don't you?

Clarissa said...

Dear Tenured Radical, I was born in the Soviet Union so I heard this "how can you worry about your puny individual interests when children in Vietnam are suffering" spiel more times than I can remember. I also remember that putting up with a myriad of personal discomforts a controlling system inflicts on you in no way prevents that very system from continuing with dropping bombs on people in our names.

I think your analysis of the opposition to the pat-downs is dead wrong. Do you really believe that people would find it easier to accept the searches if they were done by TSA officials of the opposite gender? I believe the opposite is true.

As for identity politics, I'm the last person to be interested in it in any way.

Richard said...

The latest TSA security procedures are unfortunate for several reasons none of which have anything to do with homophobia or autistics.
First and most importantly even if all passengers in U.S. Airports are required to board all planes in the nude after a full cavity search, there is no way that that will ensure that commercial aircraft will be 100 per cent safe from terrorist attacks. It is irresponsible to pretend otherwise. The current procedures might mitigate the danger, but cannot guarantee anybody’s safety.
Second the invasive procedures that TSA has adopted serve to give passengers a false sense of security while reinforcing the distinctly un-American belief that the federal government can do anything it wishes in the name of safety regardless of Constitutional Law.
H.L. Menken an early 20th Century journalist and social critic once observed that the real motto of the U.S. ought to be “Safety First.” When you see people submitting quietly to an ever intrusive federal government in the name of safety you come to see the accuracy of his observation.

Anonymous said...

I've finally had to conclude that I can't fly anymore. If I have some compelling enough reason to go to Europe or the west coast, I may have to reconsider. But at this point, the risk of being manhandled or worse by a cranky, power-happy TSA agent for one wrong look or a tone of voice somebody doesn't like or a piece of lint in my pocket, just isn't worth it anymore. Most of the places I regularly go are accessible by Amtrak, even though travel times are in the neighborhood of 20-25 hours. Flying has gotten progressively scarier over the last few years as ever-changing security procedures have gotten more capricious, inconsistent, and aggressive. This little Aspie has had enough.

And yes, the Democrats' arguments are vile. Basically they boil down to "we can do anything we want and you'll put up with it because the Republicans are worse." And I'm sick to death of hearing interviews with people at airports/on the street who all say "oh well, if it makes us safer, I guess we have to just suck it up and deal with it." But it DOESN'T make us safer, because the TSA is squandering resources and attention treating every single person who flies like a terrorist, and shampoo like an explosive, rather than trying to single out the terrorists.

Anonymous said...

Tenured Radical, please explain to me how submitting to the TSA's abuse is helping anyone who's getting bombs dropped on them in my name.

Because that might be an interesting argument if the two had any causal relationship to each other whatsoever.

I don't think I'm more special or more deserving than anyone else being molested by the TSA. I do think those who submit quietly because it's "for our own safety," or "for the national good," are dumbasses.

Tom Carter said...

It's funny that leftists can't discuss any issue without somehow detecting the presence of homophobia, racism, sexism, etc. (And the righties have their own bugaboos, too.) In this case, the charge of homophobia is especially laughable. Personally, I don't care whether the person groping my privates is male, female, or a gender non-conforming person (whatever the heck that may mean). I'd simply prefer to have a choice on who does the groping.

I'm among those who will grin and bear the patting and groping in the interests of security if that's what we have to do to avoid being blown up. If we decide that it isn't necessary, then we can go back to the way it was in the recent past. I don't much care either way; both approaches are irritating, but it would be useful now and then to reflect on who made all this necessary.

Give the TSA officers a break. There may be a few bad apples among them, but the vast majority are just working people doing a job. Direct your ire at politicians and policy makers, where it belongs.

Clarissa said...

You are right, Tom Carter: many of my fellow progressives have this annoying habit of vociferating: "Racist! Chauvinist! Homophobe! Privileged!" whenever you express an opinion they don't like but cannot refute intelligently.

Justin said...

The first time an airport security screener touched me I had an absolute meltdown in the middle of a major airport. The clueless screener had no idea why I told her that I had autism and would appreciate it if she could avoid touching me.

Even people who know me very well (like my parents) don't touch me without asking if I can tolerate the sensation.

I'm quite relived that I no longer have to fly very often and do not routinely have to make the choice between sacrificing my civil liberties or my composure in order to travel in the most expedient manner from one destination to another.