Don't Give The TSA An Easy Time Of Violating Your Rights
It shouldn't be emotionally easy, earning a living by violating people's rights.
On March 31st, when I came through the metal detector and realized that everyone in the TSA line to my United flight was getting searched, I got teary. I was teary at the prospect of being touched by a government worker -- entirely without probable cause. I was very upset, both because of the physical violation and because I love our now too-often-crumpled-up Constitution and Bill of Rights.
I can hold back the tears...hang tough...but as I was made to "assume the position" on a rubber mat like a common criminal, I thought fast. I decided that these TSA lackeys who serve the government in violating our rights just don't deserve my quiet compliance. And no, I won't go through the scanner (do you trust the government that they're safe?) and allow a government employee to see me naked in the course of normal and totally ordinary business travel: flying from Los Angeles to Binghamton, New York, to attend an evolutionary psychology conference for my work.
Basically, I felt it important to make a spectacle of what they are doing to us, to make it uncomfortable for them to violate us and our rights, so I let the tears come. In fact, I sobbed my guts out. Loudly. Very loudly. The entire time the woman was searching me.
Nearing the end of this violation, I sobbed even louder as the woman, FOUR TIMES, stuck the side of her gloved hand INTO my vagina, through my pants. Between my labia. She really got up there. Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left. In my vagina. Between my labia. I was shocked -- utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there. It was government-sanctioned sexual assault.
Upon leaving, still sobbing, I yelled to the woman, "YOU RAPED ME." And I took her name to see if I could file sexual assault charges on my return. This woman, and all of those who support this system deserve no less than this sort of unpleasant experience, and from all of us.
I've been waiting on posting this, both because I've been utterly swamped with work, and because I was waiting for a reply from a lawyer about the possibility of filing sexual assault charges. It turns out that filing charges is probably a no-go. Harvey Silverglate, lawyer and co-founder of the wonderful campus free speech defenders, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), emailed me this:
I think it is extremely unlikely that these pat-downs would be deemed a sexual assault, or any assault for that matter. In the first place, the person doing the pat-down would be acting according to regulations and instructions, hence on good faith ... because of the purported justification ("National security", airline safety).
The only issue, it seems to me, is whether there is a decent security reason to justify such pat-downs, or whether it is an unconstitutional search and seizure, or invasion of privacy/intrusion, because not justified for safety reasons. As with most constitutional rights, including this Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure, or Fifth Amendment due process, a court would weigh the state's justification (i.e., security gains) versus the citizen's losses (privacy, dignity).
...To win a battle for liberty like this, people must not get accustomed to these indignities, but must complain about them every single time ... and in every forum possible.
I'll echo Harvey in asking that you all do as I did (and that you spread the word to do as I did): Don't make it easy for the government, through these TSA lackeys, to be violating us -- sexually, and in respect to our right to not be searched without probable cause.
And no -- the fact that some people are terrorists is NOT probable cause. The fact that you are wearing underwire is NOT probable cause. And no -- the fact that you, in 2011, are unwilling to hitchhike thousands of miles instead of taking a plane is NOT probable cause.
The rights of vast number of Americans are being violated daily and it is absolutely essential that we all stand up and defend our rights -- and as loudly and vociferously as possible.
Are you in? Spread the word.
UPDATE: I forgot to post the TSA woman's name when I wrote this last night. I think it might have been Thedala Magee. Or Magee Thedala. I was really upset, and neither name sounds like a typical American first name or last name, so I can't remember if I wrote it down in the right order.
Please, everybody, ask for the name of the person who violated you, and when you post about it, use their name. It's got to become very uncomfortable to be one of those who earns a living, as said at Nuremberg, by "just following orders."
Oh, and just in case you're one of those who has gotten used to giving up your rights with ease, ANY touching by a government official without probable cause counts as being violated.