The TSA and Me: my small act of unforgivable defianceSubmitted by Ron Johnson on Sun, 01/13/2013 - 10:57
I flew out of Denver yesterday. The lines were long and the screening was going very slowly. Only the body scanners were operating, though each lane had a metal detector, unused. I always try to position myself in a lane that will allow me to avoid the body scanner, not so much out of fear of radiation (though that can't be good), but more about having drawn a line in the sand: I will not voluntarily strip search myself to prove my innocence. If they want to be assured of my innocence, they can do the work. I won't help.
When I reached the first checkpoint where the TSA checks ID's (a procedure that seems utterly useless to me) I asked the officer a question:
"I will be opting out, who do I tell?"
"They'll take care of you at the front of the line," she said. She paused a moment and added, "But you can't go through the metal detector because we don't want you to have to go through one radiation instead of another."
I was puzzled over her response, and I asked "You understand there's a difference between the two, right?"
"Yes, but we don't want you to have to go through radiation, you'll have to get a pat down." She spoke almost as if it were a preplanned talking point.
I did not feel like arguing over nothing...she didn't make the rules...so I just said 'fine' and moved on.
At the front of the line, as my belongings were being Xrayed, I informed the woman controlling the line into the scanner that I would be opting out. She was polite and called for a male officer. In the meantime I was instructed to stand aside.
One other young man asked, just as he was to enter the booth, if there was another option, and he was correctly informed that he could get a pat down. I couldn't help interjecting that "the line starts here." The TSA agent smiled a little. He went through the scanner anyway.
Then I saw something I did not expect: a young boy, about 4 years old, running through the metal detector, followed closely by his 40 year old father. "Thank you!" the father said as he passed through.
So the metal detector WAS being used...and it was deemed secure enough to let a child and an adult pass through without a pat down...I was just not allowed to use it. The lady at the front desk had been telling me something with her odd remark: 'Opting out means you refuse to comply, and that is unacceptable.'
I must say that I was not bullied, and the TSA agents were polite. I did not choose to partake in happy talk with my personal groper, though he tried to keep it light and chatty.
This entire airport charade is about control. About making people comply. Opting out is a small act of defiance that the TSA cannot allow to stand.