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A New Terror: Air Travel & Privacy Rape

November 19, 2010

E.J. Manning

“No matter where you’re going, air travel is an essential part of your trip.” (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/) An attitude of comfort and an image of beach chairs with the backdrop of an ocean seek to justify the embarrassing invasion of privacy that Americans now face to move about within their own country. This attitude of mock comfort is the prevailing notion of the Transportation Security Administration, now known for the wholesale privacy rape of anyone that partakes of even casual American air travel. Some compare new aggressive pat-down procedures to the equivalent of sexual molestation, comparable to Nazi tactics. These measures are a requirement for any traveler that chooses to elude the reach of full body scanners. Even though authorities have claimed that they would never store the booty of this new privacy rape, the Feds now admit to storing these images. For what purpose, perhaps we will never know.

I find it at least a little troubling, that as a nation, the lack of importance that the people of America attach to their own personal privacy. On television newscasts, you witness plenty of Americans that seem happy to expose every element of their lives, including images of their own genitalia, in the name of expedient air travel. This says nothing of the invasive, albeit slow pace of checking into the system while facing the potential of nearly any indignity at the capable hands of government aids and airline staff. Passengers would rather fantasize about what they see as the symbolic importance of quick air flight around the country over their own dignity. Even worse is the common sense that the nation has abandoned in favor of some experiencing some feeling of security and safety; as if these new measures can never fail the people of this nation. Since 911, it appears that most Americans are willing to give up most anything for the temporary feeling of safety euphoria.

“We screen every passenger; we screen every bag so that your memories are from where you went, not how you got there. We’re here to help your travel plans be smooth and stress free.” The common experience of most air travelers seems to counter this optimism. What many air travelers remember most today is the task of passing through arduous security measures. If you freak out in the face of all the attention, you will be coarsely reminded that you are subject to a lawsuit or some other level of intimidation if you plan on leaving to return home in the middle of security screening.

How can so many people disregard the personal use of their time in face of this national fiasco? How simple-minded must you be to understand that waiting in lines for two hours ahead of any commercial air travel is a great personal time waste of time? Add this to sitting around in terminals and on the runways waiting to take off into the blue yonder and you can easily throw away half the day on the front end of a simple jaunt to a neighboring city. This says nothing of the time spent gathering any luggage or the expense of taxis and other transportation on the far side of your adventure, whether for business or pleasure. Unless you are crossing the nation by air, driving a car is likely to take you just as long without the high cost of air travel, as well as negating problems with getting around at your destination.

What is worse, Americans have allowed the invasion of privacy, now with a known level of deceit. The Feds have sworn that full body scanning equipment is incapable of storing images. Yet, storing images is exactly what authorities have been doing. Now that pilots have been exempted from passing through the hallowed body scanners, it becomes easy to question who will be exempted next, further watering down whatever security this invasion of indignity presents.

Airlines and government officials have an obvious attitude about the value of their services. Instead of pretending to deal with the politically incorrect notion of profiling, they choose to profile everyone in the name of safety.

The air traveler has a clear choice to make. You have the right to vote with your dollars. If you believe that your time is well spent, the cost of air travel is reasonable and scope of privacy invasion meets with your approval, by all means you should spend your precious money for the adventure over and over again, forever and ever. You should never expect to complain either, because in your heart of hearts, you know the next level of invasive sacred protection is right around the corner.

The best choice you could make is to walk the other way, while allowing the commercial aviation industry and government officials to realize that their tactics and security theories won’t pay off, especially where you are concerned. When enough people vote with their wallet, the market place will come back to the reality of serving the customer instead of the other way around. In the meantime, the government has now provisioned its’ own special style of terror.

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