First, a disclaimer. I have no idea if the textual depiction of events is accurate. It could be completely made up to make the TSA look bad. With the current anti-TSA fervor, a lot of people are inclined to believe the worst. Including me, but I freely admit that I could be wrong. With two parallel tracks on my mind, one in which the depiction is accurate and another in which it is not, the first is pretty outraged. The second doesn’t know what to think because it doesn’t know what happened.
What I find baffling, however, is how some people can even grant the events as described (or most of them), and yet still think that we should be more understanding of the TSA officers in question. I’ve heard excuse-making like “why did she insist on not having her breastmilk ex-rayed?” and “By challenging them, she was baiting them.”
The track in my mind that is upset about this isn’t upset that they wouldn’t let her board the plane with breast milk. It’s that there were rules, which the woman was familiar with, which they simply didn’t care about. If the rules stated that all liquids must be x-rayed, then we can debate the virtues of that rule along with the other recent… err… innovations in airport security. But if we have a right to do something, and that right is ignored, then we don’t have the right to do something. It sounds pretty simple in essence. But it gets worse because if the rights we have are ignored, then we essentially have no rights. Because trying to take advantage of rights puts us in an antagonistic place with authority and then we “have it coming” when they respond with hostility. So, in effect, we have to do whatever they tell us to. Full stop.
It’s not unlike something I wrote about a couple years ago:
There is a story in Colosse about a man going around and impersonating a police officer. He hasn’t done anything awful yet, but whatever his motives are they are assumed not to be good. The police are “reminding” everybody that any time you’re pulled over if you have doubts over the authenticity of the officer to find a well-lit and/or well-populated place to pull over. It’s considered a rule that as long as a person doesn’t make an attempt to flee, they should be given latitude as to where or when to pull over.
The problem with this is that when you’re being pulled over, you don’t know if the officer in the car behind you knows and understands this rule. Further, you don’t know that even if the rules should cut in your favor, whether you are doing yourself considerable harm by invoking them. It’s sort of like how you legally can’t be asked various questions on job interviews such as what your wife does but if you ever invoke this it’ll hurt you all the same (I had a post a while back on how my employers keep asking me what my wife does and they’re not supposed to do that, but I can’t find the post).
Chances are, I wouldn’t even like the woman in the video if I knew her. In my experience, the type of women to freak out over stuff like this are the type that believe that formula is child-abuse and vaccinations will give your kid autism. And, generally speaking, I tend to view people that make a fuss over things that I would just sigh and move on about skeptically (because my threshold for “important” is the only one that matters!). But I also find myself deeply resentful of the notion that these people have this sort of arbitrary authority. Since on Track One (where the depiction of events is accurate) we’re talking completely arbitrary because the rules state different, though I would respond the same way if it was written in the book “All rules are subject to TSA Officer discretion” because then I would quite simply have no idea what, if anything, I could bring on the plane, ever.
I had TSA Officers ignore the rules on a couple of occasions. For a while after the Burning Shoe incident, matches and lighters were not allowed on board. Then they changed their mind. At least twice afterward, though, I was told that I had to throw away my lighter. Since I don’t smoke on planes and even in between flights because of Clancy and because a lot of connecting airports will make you walk through security again if you want to go smoke outside, I had no problem throwing out the lighter. I could buy another one for a buck upon arrival. But I was thinking that I had a choice. I could either throw the lighter out or I could make a fuss and make them look up the rules and piss off everyone behind me. It turns out, my choice may have been (on Track One and if the TSA agents were like these) either throw the lighter out or stand like a freak in a clearbox cell while I missed my flight.
I’m hoping on Track Two.
About the Author
please enter your email address on this page.