Amy Alkon: Did a TSA agent commit sexual assault?

My friend Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess who writes books and a website about how to behave civilly (and is a big critic of the Ctrl-Left), once became uncivil, but properly so. As happened to me, she was groped by a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agent at LAX, the big airport in Los Angeles. But her groping was worse than mine, and bordered on sexual assault. It happened in 2011, but this kind of stuff is still happening, and we need to keep it in our thoughts. Amy described it in an article at the Orange County Register:

On March 31, 2011, at the TSA checkpoint in LAX’s Terminal 6, I found that I had no choice but to get the pat-down. Tears welled in my eyes – for how we’ve allowed the Constitution to be torn up at the airport door and because I was powerless to stop a total stranger from groping my breasts and genitals as a condition of normal, ordinary business travel.

I can hold back the tears … hang tough … but as I was made to “assume the position” on a rubber mat like a criminal, I thought fast. I decided that these TSA “officers” violating our Fourth Amendment rights, searching us without reasonable suspicion we’ve committed a crime, do not deserve our quiet compliance. I let the tears come. In fact, I sobbed my guts out as the agent groped me. And then it happened: She jammed the side of her latex-gloved hand up into my genitals. Four times, with only the fabric of my pants as a barrier. I was shocked – utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there.

There are more details on her website (her emphasis):

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.

Amy calls for every woman violated in this way—and yes, it was a violation—to protest and sob, hoping that tears would arouse the empathy latent in most human beings. But I suspect the TSA is biased against hiring human beings, since very rarely have I encountered an agent who, not drunk with their power, treated me civilly and kindly. I suspect, too, that they are looking for authoritarian personalities who enjoy bossing other people around.

Amy published what she recalled of name of the agent who searched her, but didn’t know for sure. This is, of course, public information: there’s no prohibition about accusing a TSA agent by name:

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.

It turned down that the woman’s name was indeed Thedala Magee, and when Alkon’s column appeared, Magee promptly threatened Alkon with a lawsuit for telling her story and giving her name. Magee’s lawyer demanded $500,000 in damages! Alkon got Marc Randazza, a well known lawyer specializing in civil rights violations to write back, and, I guess, the threatened suit finally sputtered out. The story of the threat and Randazza’s response was is techdirt:

Your client aggressively pushed her fingers into my client’s vulva. I am certain that she did not expect to find a bomb there. She did this to humiliate my client, to punish her for exercising her rights, and to send a message to others who might do the same. It was absolutely a sexual assault, perpetrated in order to exercise power over the victim. We agree with Ms. Alkon’s characterization of this crime as “rape,” and so would any reasonable juror.

Furthermore, even if your client did not actually sexually assault my client, Ms. Alkon’s statements to and about Ms. Magee would still be protected by the First Amendment. The word “rape” itself has been the subject of defamation cases by far more sympathetic Plaintiffs than your client. In Gold v. Harrison, 962 P.2d 353 (Haw. 1998), cert denied, 526 U.S. 1018 (1999), the Hawaii Supreme Court held that a defendant’s characterization of his neighbors seeking an easement in his backyard as “raping [the defendant]”was not defamatory. This speech was protected as rhetorical hyperbole. Of course, we need not seek out Hawaii case law in order to debunk your unsupportable claims. Rhetorical hyperbole has a strong history of favorable treatment in defamation actions. See Greenbelt Cooperative Pub. Ass’n v. Bresler, 398 U.S. 6, 14 (1970). This doctrine acknowledges our First Amendment right to express ourselves, even when employing literary license. Accordingly, even if your client’s actions were not “rape,”Ms. Alkon had every right to characterize them as such.

No free woman should endure what your client did to Ms. Alkon. Fortunately, Ms. Alkon is capable of recognizing injustice, and for the good of us all, she had the courage to speak out on this matter of public concern of the highest order. After Magee’s assault on Ms. Alkon’s vagina and dignity, Ms. Alkon exercised her First Amendment right to recount this incident to others in person and through her blog. This was not only her right — it was her responsibility.

It’s now six years later, and what has the TSA done? Have they foiled any terrorist plots with their screening, or detected any weapons or bombs that terrorists were trying to smuggle onto planes? Not that I know of; for there is not a single report of this. Now the TSA might respond that this is because they are so good at detecting bombs and weapons that no terrorist would even try. But that’s bogus, as TSA has failed test after test when the government did undercover operations seeing if TSA agents could detect planted bombs and weapons in luggage. As CNN reported two years ago, TSA screeners failed to detect 95% of undercover bombs and weapons: 67 out of 70. That record surely wouldn’t deter a committed terrorist. And, as KTRK Houston reported in April of this year, many of the agents are likely to be high:

Nationwide, 858 TSA workers tested positive for drugs or alcohol between 2010 and 2016, according to federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

What do we do about this? Well, the reactive stance of the TSA is just dumb: first it was liquids, then shoes off (which doesn’t occur in many countries), and now they’re proposing to ban carryon laptops, which angers me as I use mine to work on planes. And it angers me, too, to see old ladies in wheelchairs getting patdowns and full inspections.  Plus there’s the general groping: as I’ve reported here, I’ve had my rump palpated several times by the TSA, and I don’t like it one bit. But if you object, they simply treat you more roughly. These people aren’t professionals; they’re authoritarian bullies.

In the absence of any way to judge the effectiveness of this “security theater”, the TSA can do any damn thing it wants, making it more and more onerous to fly. Now I don’t mind a little security, but isn’t there some way to empirically test whether all these draconian measures and gropings actually work?

h/t: Grania

63 Comments

  1. sensorrhea
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    This is less security theater and more like security opera.

    But I heartily approve of the strategy. Fight theater with theater!

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Test them? Well, we could roll them back to pre-2001 levels. I fly out of Orlando all the time, so I vote for that airport to be a test case. I’ll take my chances. Right now it certainly does seem to be a literal waste of time, and an affront to personal dignity. How about we use the people to wouldn’t have anything to do to open up ALL the security lanes, and get things moving again?

    Coincidentally, I was groped last week. It doesn’t say much for the screenings that the way the fabric in your clothes blouses triggers extra attention. I certainly felt better knowing that my shirt-tail had been throughly screened.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I thought I was reading a story about the Catholic Church there for a minute. But seriously, many security experts say that the TSA follies is mostly a useless show. Makes the public think they are accomplishing something but the fact that they fail to detect most of the tests just proves it.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I suspect, too, that they are looking for authoritarian personalities who enjoy bossing other people around.

    That’s probably true. It’s probably true as well that this type of repetitious work has a desensitizing effect even on those who lack an authoritarian predisposition. That desensitization may also account in part for the prevalence of recreational drug use among TSA workers.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      I think you are right. That kind of work both tends to attract and accumulate people who enjoy exerting power over others (and worse) and it also has a tendency to bring out similar behavior in people who were not previously so disposed.

      A serious problem that we’ve rarely been able to avoid in human history is that for various reasons many of the people selected for law enforcement organizations of all kinds are precisely the wrong kind of people you want to give that kind of authority to. Not all, not most, but enough to cause serious problems.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I see little evidence for this. The prevailing affect I observe among TSA personnel seems to be boredom and borderline incompetence, not sadism and lust for power. The average TSA employee seems about as likely to commit assault as the average DMV employee.

      The picture Jerry paints of truncheon-wielding, jackbooted thugs just doesn’t jibe with my experience. But maybe I’m hanging around at the wrong airports.

      • somer
        Posted June 28, 2017 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        This just doesn’t happen outside the US to my knowledge and really who would want to fly in the US as things are?? And if the search policy doesn’t appear to even prevent the bad stuff getting through how can the existence of such checks be justified?

        Those on the job may start out being authoritarian or not – the job entails getting used to searching unhappy and unwilling people under threat and makes all passengers subject to this potential treatment
        I’m thinking Jerry was right about banning all covering salafi style clothing unless they are prepared to have to take it off and be checked for explosive chemicals (I think thats just a wand test not a physical search)

  5. jwthomas
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Search and seizure without a warrant or probable cause is illegal. How does TSA get away with this without legal challenge?

    • DrBrydon
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      You are agreeing to the search by requesting to enter the security area. I think it’s actually also part of the terms for purchasing an airline ticket.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Correct. And, in any event, there’s no warrant requirement for a pat-down. Even outside on the street, a frisk can be conducted on “reasonable suspicion.” A full-blown search requires probable cause (but also no warrant).

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        Am I permitted to negotiate a contract with the airline that does not include such terms? No, I am not. So in that sense the search is not voluntary.

        • Nicholas K.
          Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          You are free to take the bus, then.

          • darrelle
            Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

            Are you? I thought TSA was working bus and train stations also?

            • somer
              Posted June 28, 2017 at 2:11 am | Permalink

              free massage service

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            And I suppose people who don’t like the NSA snooping on their email are free to use carrier pigeons.

  6. Kevin
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I do not mind getting groped. I guess I’ve only had my genitals touched a few times, but I am very ticklish so I tend to giggle a lot. This effect universally makes TSA agents back down. Try it. It makes them more nervous.

    I would walk through naked if I could. That would really make the TSA agent back down. I think they most of them relish fear. Show them lust instead and they will be caught off guard. They are expecting craven, anxious, little lambs. Not cunning vixens.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      I always ‘splain to ’em the deal Little Suzie & I worked out at the party after junior prom — you wanna touch me down there, ya gotta kiss me awhile first.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 28, 2017 at 1:41 am | Permalink

      ” …but I am very ticklish so I tend to giggle a lot.”

      This cracked me up! 😀

      (Oops, perhaps a poor choice of phrase, there.)

  7. KD33
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    This may only add insult to injury (esp. about the dogs)… from MentalFloss:

    “According to Jason Harrington, who spent six years at O’Hare Airport as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO), rogue felines have created more havoc and confusion than any suspected criminal. “Cats are a nightmare,” he says. “They don’t want to come out of their carriers, they scratch and claw, and they don’t come when you call them.” A cat that’s made a break for it and who hasn’t been patted down to check for weapons is technically a security breach, which a TSA supervisor could use as justifiable cause to shut down an entire terminal.

    Dogs, however, are no problem. “A pat down on a dog amounts to going over and petting them,” Harrington says. “That’s actually pleasant.”

    – See more at: http://mentalfloss.com/article/72788/14-behind-scenes-secrets-tsa-agents#sthash.aE5dKNxB.dpuf

    I have to say, I’ve never had any problem with the TSA. Never been groped, once lightly patted down when I left a foil wrapper in my shirt pocket.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      First rule of air travel: flush your bindle in the john on the concourse, before heading through checkpoint charlie. 🙂

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 28, 2017 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      It never even occurred to me that pets would also be subject to pat-downs. Well, more power to the cats!

      • Posted June 28, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        If the TSA is not “patting down pets” in a small room with a door, then they are incredibly stupid. Knowing that, I now wouldn’t take an animal through airport security either!

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 29, 2017 at 3:19 am | Permalink

          Great point! And I heartily agree with your last sentiment.

          Last time I flew there was a couple across the aisle from us with a dog, a cat, and a very, very young infant. I spent the whole flight in a state of sympathetic dread…

          As it turned out, all of the small mammals were far better behaved than some adult passengers…

  8. JohnE
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I have to unequivocally concede that (1) nobody likes the TSA procedures and resulting lines and delays, (2) what was done to Ms. Alcon is absolutely criminal, and (3) TSA has repeatedly failed the undercover tests that they’ve been subjected to. However, on the flip side I have to note that there have been no successful domestic airline hijackings or bombings since 911. I realize that this doesn’t “prove” that the security measures are responsible for preventing these misdeeds, but it is certainly enough to make me wonder whether these measures, even if incompetently implemented, are nonetheless providing a sufficient deterrent — since I would imagine that there is not shortage of potential suicidal islamic fundamentalists who would be happy to weaponize or blow up a plane. Am I out in left field on this???

    • JohnE
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Sorry, “Alkon” not “Alcon.”

    • DrBrydon
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      I have to say that I’ve wondered over the years if the very fluidity of procedures, and the randomness of their enforcement, hasn’t acted as a deterence. I think it’s more likely a combination of causes. Specifically with regard to airport security, I think it’s just that 9/11 was a very complex plot, that did not involved bringing actual explosives through security. It probably doesn’t look like a winner to try something on an airliner. In general, we’ve really suffered remarkably few terror attacks since 9/11, especially ones that were led from outside the country (as opposed to being ‘affiliated’ with Al-Qaeda or ISIS). Regardless of the other results of the foray into Afghanistan, I think we’ve had Al-Qaeda and the Taliban on the back foot since we invaded, and they’ve expended a lot of human capital locally. I think the same is true with ISIS; fighters going to the mideast aren’t going to be doing bombings in the US.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      If those suicidal fundamentalists exist in significant numbers, how is it that none of them have thought to blow themselves up in the crowd at the security checkpoint, before they’ve been screened? The TSA has in fact created a new, tempting target there, with hundreds of people confined in a small space, and yet no terrorists have taken advantage of it. That strongly suggests that the threat to air travelers has been greatly exaggerated.

      • JohnE
        Posted June 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        I guess I would disagree that the TSA checkpoint areas are any more tempting of a target than the thousands of sporting events or other large events held every week, but I agree that this still begs the question as to why these other gatherings aren’t being targeted unless the number people willing to kill themselves to create a mass-casualty event truly is quite small.

        • Posted June 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          “…unless the number people willing to kill themselves to create a mass-casualty event truly is quite small.”

          BINGO

      • Posted June 27, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        I’m fairly certain that suicidal fundamentalists are capable of thinking up any number of different ways to harm infidels and cause fear. I don’t think we need to help them.
        I’m a “golden rule” believer, but even I can think of numerous potential actions. Read any newspaper, magazine or the internet on any given day for ideas.

        In re: TSA. I don’t travel by air a lot, but before I retired, I traveled for my company and never was subjected to the abuse from TSA described here.

    • Posted June 27, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      I know unequivocally that hand guns are still being picked up at American airports as cabin luggage, there are dumb arses both sides of that fence.

  9. Sastra
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I’m going to guess that Magee and any supporters on the TSA will claim that loud sobbing is “suspicious behavior” regardless of whether it’s genuine or exaggerated. It presumably demonstrates nervousness, and the agents are no doubt trained to consider that a red flag.

    Years ago, I was carrying the Dawkins Award to a convention and was very nervous when passing through airport security. That’s because I was afraid that, if they had to examine it, the agents would lift it up without properly supporting the bottom: it was a large, heavy trilobite fossil which was only glued onto an also heavy base. Sure enough, alarms went off (remnants of blasting powder? A wtf is this thing?) and a man in uniform tried to just pull it out of the case. I involuntarily grabbed his arm and dithered. Be informed: they really, really don’t like that. But 20 minutes later, I was on the plane.

    Worst extensive groping was in Dominican Republic, coming back from a vacation. Female TSA must have thought I was concealing something contraband in my ample bosom. I was so surprised I laughed, stared at her, and said “Well!!” in my best Margaret Rutherford voice. She remained expressionless and waved me on.

    • Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Makes me want to work on my Mae West impression, in case that ever comes in theatrically handy at TSA gropes.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Better that than Margaret Dumont, with the Marx Brothers tryin’ to cop a feel.

      • Sastra
        Posted June 27, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I think I did mean Dumont, but I’m also a fan of Rutherford and really either one would do. “I begyour pardon…” — dripping icicles.

        Of course, the situation with Alcon is a serious one. Yes, she was sexually assaulted. The TSA agent sounds like she was being vindictive.

    • Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      We know that from the fiascos that surround the “lie detector” that people misinterpret (sometimes deliberately) anxiety. I guess this is similar.

      Horrible.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Known among polygraphy critics as the “Desdemona paradox” — after Desdemona’s nervousness that Othello will kill her if he disbelieves her, and Othello’s taking her nervousness as evidence of perfidy.

  10. Draken
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Peculiarly, just about everything in the USA must be privatised to prevent Big Government(TM), even the prisons… but this abimonation remains a state entity.

  11. Richard Bond
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I have noticed recently at British airports that getting through the security check is much quicker than it used to be. Delays at Edinburgh airport, for example, were never too bad anyway, but the security area has been greatly expanded and queues are now minimal. I wonder if this is a response to the idea that large queues are themselves a terrorist target.

    • Draken
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Try Amsterdam Schiphol for a change then. It’s absolutely bizarre how they managed to miss the trend of growing flying traffic and now need all sorts of haphazard tricks to shorten the lines, both at check-in and security.

      • Richard Bond
        Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        I agree: I used to rate Schiphol as one of the pleasanter airports, until it reverted to caged-in departure lounges, and introduced other obsessive security measures.

  12. Christopher
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I think I’ll stick to driving or taking the train, so as to avoid the perverted bullies. Now, if I do find the need to fly outside the US, perhaps I’ll find a nice border crossing into Canada. Hopefully I could find one that is a little less enthusiastic about sexually assaulting me for daring to exercise my right to travel.

  13. Craw
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    The answer to the title question is no, legally. Maybe it SHOULD count as sexual assault, but it does not, because Alkon agreed to the search when she went through the security check. The law is, and will always be, on the side of the government union member, not the average citizen.

    • Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      But she didn’t agree to being raped, only to being searched.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I don’t think that gives license to grope to humiliate or for their own sexual gratification. Of course, the difficulty would lie in proving such intent.

      • Posted June 27, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        The way I read it, it wasn’t for sexual gratification but to humiliate for humiliation’s sake. Maybe Amy Alkon said something that the agent objected to so the agent decided to “teach her a lesson”.

      • Posted June 28, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        Rape ismreoften about exerting authority and control, not sexual gratification.

    • somer
      Posted June 28, 2017 at 2:27 am | Permalink

      she didn’t really have any choice but to be searched – even if she had told them “no” and even if she was in a position to decide not to take this flight despite what it costs her (and fallout from missed business) would they have let her go??
      At any rate passengers should not all have this threat of this over their heads

  14. Richard Bond
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I recently returned from Costa Rica. After the passport control, a few people (including me) were diverted to a very short queue for the security check. I quickly realised that we privileged people were probably all over 65 years old. This nice touch was rather ruined when the X-ray machine in our channel broke down. Nevertheless, I thought that it was a humane gesture. Costa Rica really is a very civilised country.

    • Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I don’t know in general – and I’ve never had the inclination to visit – but they’ve disbanded their army, no?

      That should give them some credit too.

  15. Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Whatever happened to the rapist? Was she at least fired if not brought up on charges of sexual assault?

  16. HBB
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    In my limited experience with international travel, TSA seems particularly aggressive at LAX. I just re-entered ‘Murica at Dallas/Fort Worth last week and was pleasantly surprised by the general politeness of the TSA personnel there. I did not have the dreadful experience I had had previously entering at LAX. It could be a TSA management/culture issue at LAX that makes it worse there. Or, I could be wrong.

  17. Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Of course the TSA (and its UK equivalent) is just theater. If you want to do the job properly you dont let a pack of poorly trained goons search people when they are already at a point where, if they had explosives, they would kill huge numbers of people. Instead you’d do what the Israelis do–have highly trained professionals in concentric rings around the security hub progressively tracking behavior. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-wagner/what-israeli-airport-secu_b_4978149.html

    • Richard Bond
      Posted June 27, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      See my comment #11.

    • somer
      Posted June 28, 2017 at 2:30 am | Permalink

      Good idea but I cant see Trump or the Republicans spending money on that. They are too busy spending trillions building walls

  18. darrelle
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I think, going by the information in the OP, that the incident does qualify as assault. But I think there is virtually zero chance of prosecution for something like this.

    From the beginning I’ve thought that the DHS and the TSA were an unnecessary waste of resources and their creation was a disgraceful exercise in political theater. I haven’t changed my mind.

    In general I don’t think creating some kind of new organizations to do what these organizations are supposed to do was necessarily a bad idea. But the execution was as bad as the rest of the Bush Jr administration’s responses to 9/11.

    DHS has, arguably, developed into something better than its uncertain beginnings, but the TSA is a travesty. Most indications are that the TSA is not good at its job, that it is detrimental to both its own employees and the public, and that its job can be done more effectively for considerably less money and with considerably less surrender of rights and common decency.

    At base this comes down to the problem of policy based on verifiable evidence of effectiveness (science broadly construed) being impossible given our political environment. Instead we have policy based on power struggles.

  19. Posted June 27, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I would be surprised if there has not been research done as to what types of personalities enter into careers in “law enforcement”. As noted in comments above there is a definite authoritarian tendency in those seeking such a career. No need to site cases as many are in the news as late. As a white male (privileged class of course) my encounters with “law enforcement” cannot compare with any person of other gender or race. Since I’m also of a non-confrontational personality type I also try to present myself in a lower key when around “authority figures”. I’ve talked myself out of more traffic tickets than most. Of course now most law enforcement personnel I encounter are much younger than I am so I possess a certain advantage in that respect as well. Old white guy, not too threatening.

  20. Filippo
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    But I suspect the TSA is biased against hiring human beings, since very rarely have I encountered an agent who, not drunk with their power, treated me civilly and kindly. I suspect, too, that they are looking for authoritarian personalities who enjoy bossing other people around . . . These people aren’t professionals; they’re authoritarian bullies.”

    Sounds like a good second career for private corporate tyranny CEO’s like “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap, “Neutron Jack” Welch, and “GOP Donald” Trump.

  21. Posted June 27, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Bravo to Ms. Alkon!

  22. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    The TSA is one of the reasons why, when I fly from NZ to Europe, I always fly via the Middle East* (it’s the same distance either way). This time, I’ve just flown through China to Russia (and by train all the way to Portugal). Number of times I was groped: zero. Number of armed police seen: zero (at least until Berlin, where one policeman at the Hauptbahnhof was carrying). I was surprised to find there’s something very sexy about Chinese women in uniform (any wannabe Freuds are welcome to psychoanalyse that!) but they’re all perfectly polite.

    cr
    * Though I suppose I could give Aerolineas Argentinas a try some time.

  23. Posted June 27, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    America allows it’s police / enforcement authorities to ban cameras from press briefings, drag protestors out of their wheelchairs at Congressional offices, and to shoot black men routinely during traffic stops.

    That we also allow people to be dragged off a planes (for overbooking, not security) and to sexually assault people does not surprise me.

    America, land of the free. Where we freely give up our rights for the *illusion* of security.

  24. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    LAX is certainly unpleasant, but the worst experience I’ve had was in PDX (Portland, Oregon). I was experiencing lymphodoema following the removal of lymph nodes in my left axilla as part of treatment for breast cancer. On the advice of my physiotherapist, I was wearing a small bag of crumbed rubber inside my bra to provide a constant gentle massage to reduce the swelling. This showed up as a suspicious bulge on the ‘see you naked machine’, so I was pulled aside for questioning. I explained the situation to no avail. So in exasperation I reached down the front of my shirt and pulled out the offending object. (In retrospect, I realised that I was lucky not to have been shot on the spot!). Nevertheless, I was thoroughly pawed to ensure that I didn’t have any other devices secreted on my person. They found nothing! And given the swelling from lymphodoema this was not pleasant.
    I’ve heard of shoe bombers, but boob bombers?

  25. Bob Barber
    Posted June 28, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I have never made it through the x-ray machine. Both of my knees have been replaced and the metal sets off the alarm bells sending me to the pat-down pad every time I have to fly. Yes, I get felt up and x-rayed evert trip through the airport.

    My biggest complaint is that they do not supply shoehorns. Because of my knees and other infirmities, I am a 100% disabled veteran and 78 and 11/12 years old, I have difficulties putting my shoes on. I have shoehorns all over my house and carry one in my suitcase when we travel by car. Friends and relatives keep one for when we visit. Here is the TSA with millions of dollars invested in machines to take pornographic x-ray photos to titillate the staff and they cannot afford a dollar and a half shoehorn.


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