I’m usually on the opposite side of whatever the American Civil Liberties Union is up to, but every once in a while–kind of like monkeys typing out “Hamlet”–the ACLU gets onto the right side, at least sort of. Here’s a story from today’s New York Newsday (hat tip: our friend Wendy McElroy) on a truly upsetting practice:
“Rhonda Gaynier, a New York real-estate lawyer, was flying home from Tampa, Fla., in mid-October and passing through airport security when she was asked to step aside for additional screening.
“What happened next shocked her: Using an open hand, a security agent touched her shoulders, under her arms, around her waist, across her bra strap, and between her breasts, Gaynier said — all in front of other passengers.
“‘I was almost in tears,’ she said. “I’ve never been so humiliated in my life. It’s one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had to endure.’
“The patdown was the result of a new government directive that airport screeners carry out more frequent, and more thorough, searches for explosives. But women across the nation say the patdowns go too far. Some said they are so angry that they have stopped flying altogether.”
Of course publicly touching the breasts of every woman who tries to board an airplane is going too far (you can ask for a screen and a search by a person of your own gender–but who has time for that?). But it’s now the way it is in the nation’s airports. And here’s why, as Newsday reports:
“The new policy was implemented by the Transportation Security Administration on Sept. 22, after 90 people were killed in two plane crashes in Russia believed to have been caused by Chechen women who carried explosives on board.”
The ACLU is naturally outraged:
“‘What these women are complaining about is being groped,’ said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s technology and liberty project, which is tracking the complaints and hopes to meet with the TSA soon.”
Of course this practice is demeaning, humiliating, inappropriate, and outrageous–just as it is when a your baby’s bottle gets confiscated by airport security or Granny has to take her shoes off on the way to visit Junior’s offspring in Paducah. Furthermore, in all these cases, 99.999999 percent of the searches are a colossal waste of the government’s time and money, since 99.9999999 percent of American air travelers aren’t and never will be terrorists.
There’s a more effective way to do this, of course. It’s called terrorist-profiling. Remember that it was Chechen women–women who hated the Russians and had bought into the Islamo-fanatic ritual of suicide-killing–who seemed to have blown up those Russian planes. Not an American-born woman flying in America on business like Rhonda Gaynier. If we focused our searches on those most likely to bring down airplanes, we could leave the lawyers and the babies and the grannies alone.
But of course we can’t have that–it’s politically incorrect. And while Barry Steinhardt screams about groping to the TSA, his technology and liberty project continues adamantly to oppose terrorist-profiling. So, ladies, just grit your teeth and steel yourself for more indignity at the airport.