As Americans living abroad, we have not traveled inside the United States for the past few years. When preparing for our recent trip to Asia we were petrified of encountering the naked body scanners or opting out to have our children groped just to pass through the good ole USA – the former land of the free and innocent until proven guilty.
As a liberty-minded, health-conscious family, the idea of choosing between soaking our children with radiation or subjecting them to full-body molestations seemed to be no choice at all.
Perhaps foreshadowing things to come, when we left from Costa Rica, our items were triple checked and our middle child was swabbed for chemical weapons and given more intensive round of full-body wanding at the gate. Apparently, they can never be too careful as children may have secret suicidal plots to blow up plane carrying their family to make a political statement about charging for in-flight meals and snacks, or because they won’t air Pokemon episodes on the seat TVs.
The Costa Rica security agent did not respond well to my wife’s complaints of how ridiculous it was that our eight year-old Gringo son was suspected of being a chemical bomb maker. As my wife politely explained how crazy she thought this extra measure was, he asserted his authority and threatened, “Do you want to fly today? I can have you thrown off this flight!”
We made it on the flight despite my wife’s tenacious dress down of the fool with a badge and power trip.
|Despite our pleasant treatment by the TSA we|
Still encountered some friendly propaganda
Upon re-entering the security area, we saw rows and rows of full-body scanners and herds of people filed in the labyrinth of mobile security gates. Immediately, our tension level went up, concerned that we now had to make our dreaded “choice.” After all, who could afford to miss a flight with their family because they opt out of both violations of privacy?
To our surprise and great relief, we were ushered into the “family” lane which had very friendly TSA agents who joked with the kids as they passed through the traditional metal detector that failed to recognize a silver coin (1 ounce), a lighter, and an electronic cigar in the pockets of my cargo pants. I normally drop the coin in a tray but this time I forgot. Maybe they were turned off altogether.
As we breathed a sigh of enormous relief while collecting our items off the conveyor belt, I watched with sadness the conditioned masses submit to the wrath of paranoid state power. I suppose they really had no choice, as we figured would be the case for our journey.
Next came the gambit at LAX. We thought for sure we’d have to submit our dignity there before boarding an international flight to Thailand. There were even more radiation-spewing scanners at LAX. But again, we were ushered into a family isle with the standard metal detector. This time, I remembered to remove the silver coin from my pocket and we glided through security without a hitch.
Although we feel great relief having avoided enhanced security measures that resemble the worst of what America’s security state has become, we must ask why some are exempt and others not?
Sure, it’s common sense that eight-year-old Americans are not suicide bombers. But what about the fact that it makes common sense that nearly all travelers are not going to bomb the plane? Or the fact that traditional security measures are more than sufficient? Or, that they have not caught anyone trying to bomb a plane with these increased measures?
It’s time to bring back freedom for everyone in the land of the free.
Image credit: Dees Illustration
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