Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why I'm Against the TSA -- And You Should Be Too

Most of you who read this blog regularly know who I am and are familiar with my work. I do comics, and I don't shy away from nudity and adult content. I think the body is a thing of beauty and that shame shouldn't be something associated with it, but this is largely a world full of societies of shame, chiefly because shame sells. The clothing, makeup, hair care, and other such companies would lose significant sales if shame wasn't maintained. It's sad but true.

However, while I view the body as a thing of beauty, it is also something not to be trivialised either. While comics and drawings of naked people are fine entertainment, they're comics, drawings, and from the pen of an artist. Adult films, similarly, are the creations of people working together and being well-paid to do something that they enjoy doing, to bring enjoyment to others.

You might think this means I have no problem with the TSA's scanners, because of this. But that's not true.

The body is beautiful, and there shouldn't be shame associated with it. That does not, however, mean that it should be open to be shown to anyone and everyone, at any given time, without your consent. We control who see us naked, when, and why. Stars of adult film are no different; they simply have a profession where they are often naked at work. But they could find other employment if they did not wish to do so any longer, which several have done after a successful stint in adult film.

Allowing a complete stranger to have comprehensive nude photography of you is not something that should ever be required to participate in transit. And whatever some might say, flying is necessary for some people. There is no comparably rapid transit available to another continent, and until they build a bridge from the East Coast to Europe, air travel will be the only timely option.

The scanners used by the TSA are not only inadequately-tested and dangerous, with regards to radiation, but they are completely unnecessary. Backscatter scanners, such as they use, are nothing more than glorified metal detectors. They can detect objects, only if those objects are not obscured by folds of skin or parts of the body. They furthermore do not need to make a full nude image of a person, in order to detect any items. Similar scanners in use elsewhere in the world merely have a generic paper doll, upon which areas appear where an item is detected. Basically all this scan does is detect metal. That's pretty much it.

If you refuse a scan, you're forced through a 'pat-down', which is a nice way of saying 'sexual assault'. During these 'pat-downs', their personnel are told to handle your genitalia and private areas, including the chest. This is, not mincing words, sexual assault. As I have said before, we tell children 'if anyone ever touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, tell them no and go find an adult'.

Of course, they give you the option of going into a 'private' room, which is in fact rarely private and typically open to the outside. So you might as well just have it done in front of even more total strangers, which is really a better option since, if you're mistreated (as many travellers have now revealed they have been), you'll have witnesses.

Not that the TSA believe they have to pay any attention to the law, or else they would know that the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution would seem to indicate their entire operations in violation of the foundations American law. No, they believe they are above the law, and so they do as they please, without concern for any restrictions or legal repercussions.

They must be stopped. The only way that will happen is for people to stand up, band together, and put aside their differences to say 'this is not okay'. Whatever politicians of whatever position can try to give it as much spin as they want to, but it doesn't change the reality of the situation. Politicians don't have to go through the indignity that the people do.

If enough people speak out, take a stand, and continue to insist that this is wrong, something will be done. Action will be taken. And if nothing is done, and this is continued to be permitted, where will it stop? Where will people draw the line? If we allow people to violate our bodies and even commit sexual assault against us, and against children and senior citizens as they please, where is the line drawn? Are we, then, going to allow our persons to be violated randomly as we go about our daily business? Shall we allow them to intrude into our houses, perhaps because we live under a flight path?

The TSA's antics have already affected international mail. They have already managed to assert their overcreeping jurisdiction beyond the bounds of airports. It is far past time for action. We must say no, and we must refuse to submit to what is clearly abuse of power and practices that are wrong, unjust, inhuman, and plainly put, evil.

The TSA are in violation of fundamental human rights. And though some may think that a mention of Nazi Germany invalidates arguments, they could not be more wrong. The parallels, to any students of history, are particularly chilling and extremely compelling.

The time is now to refuse to allow the TSA to do as they please. This has gone far enough, and it is long past time for it to end. Do not fly, if you have to travel. Write the airlines and tell them that you will not be flying until the TSA's 'security' measures are either made less invasive or done away with entirely. If you have to fly, refuse to be scanned, and insist on having a non-TSA police officer with you if you are patted down. Do not allow them to take you into a private room; make sure you have witnesses. File a complaint with the TSA after flying, and be sure to sign the petitions by organisations such as the ACLU, WeWontFly.com, and DemandProgress.org.

Don't insist that your friends and relatives fly to visit you. It may mean that you aren't able to see each other for a holiday, but if you care about these people, you won't mind because that also means they won't be sexually assaulted to come and see you. Personally, I would sooner die than cause a loved one to experience his or her body being violated by a stranger abusing power.

The TSA's measures have not made a bit of difference. The TSA has, in its entire existence, not made any material difference in any incident whatsoever. Their methods are questionable, their results, or lack thereof, speak for themselves. Other countries in the world -- far more targeted, like Israel -- have drastically less invasive and demeaning airport security, and they do just fine. Why is it, then, that the TSA seem to imagine it necessary to dehumanise and debase those who fly from or to the United States?

Oppose the TSA, before it's too late. We have already lost so much. I for one don't want to think about if we wait much longer and lose our ability even to take a stand as we are.

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