You’re probably used to my rants about the TSA and airport security by now. Up until now, however, I haven’t had the displeasure of experiencing the worst of it firsthand. This all changed this past week, when I took a trip up to Boston to shoot video for the 2011 Women’s World Junior Squash Championships, hosted by US SQUASH at Harvard University.
I flew out of Baltimore Washington International with a straight shot to Boston. The security line was quick, and I knew the routine – all liquids must be in 3oz containers or less and they had to fit in one clear Zip-Lock bag, shoes and belt had to come off, and all of your belongings get x-rayed while you walk through a metal detector. I should note that I don’t find this level of security as intrusive as I do laughable. I don’t mind going through a metal detector, but to me, the idea that I can take as much liquid as I want on the plane so long as it fits into a Zip-Lock freezer bag is unbelievably stupid. In my bag I had seven containers that could have carried explosives. It’s just simple logic these measures are more about security theater than they are about keeping people safe.
Fast forward to my flight back from Boston Logan International to Baltimore and the fun begins. I’d thought that the backscatter x-ray machines were reserved for international flights only; I was wrong. As I headed up to security, I did the same old song and dance with the shoes, etc. but then came up to a huge machine. I asked the security guy if that was indeed what I thought and he said it was and was mandatory; I asked for a pat-down instead. He huffed and said to one of his cohorts “We’ve got an opt-out.” After a few moments I was ushered over to an area where I was patted down in what had to be the most ridiculous and unnecessary search of my person I’ve ever experienced. There wasn’t any groping like one would expect, but just him running his hands along my man-bits. It was all over in just a few minutes and I went along my way.
While I didn’t feel molested or anything, I did feel a bit violated. What I don’t understand is what this was supposed to accomplish. I could have walked through a metal detector and been on my way, as I had in Baltimore, but instead I was patted down like some sort of criminal. My conclusion is that this is simply another way for the Government to get us used to the idea of their intrusion. Little by little it will grow and grow until we’re living Orwell’s nightmare. Come one, come all, into 1984, indeed.