As Americans living abroad, we have not traveled inside the United States for the past few years. When preparing for our recent trip to Asia we were petrified of encountering the naked body scanners, or opting out to have our children groped just to pass through the good ole USA – the former land of the free and innocent until proven guilty.
As a liberty-minded, health-conscious family, the idea of choosing between soaking our children with radiation or subjecting them to full-body molestations seemed to be no choice at all.
Perhaps foreshadowing things to come, when we left from Costa Rica, our items were triple checked and our middle child was swabbed for chemical weapons and given a more intensive round of full-body wanding at the gate. Apparently, they can never be too careful, as children may have secret suicidal plots to blow up a plane carrying their family to make a political statement about charging for in-flight meals and snacks, or because they won’t air Pokemon episodes on the seat TVs.
As my wife politely explained how crazy she thought this extra measure was, he asserted his authority and threatened, “Do you want to fly today? I can have you thrown off this flight!”
We made it on the flight despite my wife’s tenacious dress-down of the fool with a badge and power trip.
Our first stop was in Phoenix, AZ where we were meeting old friends during our layover. Although we had a connecting flight, we had to leave the security area to join them.
Upon re-entering the security area, we saw rows and rows of full-body scanners and herds of people filed in the labyrinth of mobile security gates. Immediately, our tension level went up, concerned that we now had to make our dreaded “choice.” After all, who could afford to miss a flight with their family because they opt out of both violations of privacy?
To our surprise and great relief, we were ushered into the “family” lane which had very friendly TSA agents who joked with the kids as they passed through the traditional metal detector that failed to recognize a silver coin (1 ounce), a lighter, and an electronic cigar in the pockets of my cargo pants. I normally drop the coin in a tray but this time I forgot. Maybe they were turned off altogether.
|Despite our pleasant treatment by the TSA we
Still encountered some friendly propaganda
As we breathed a sigh of enormous relief while collecting our items off the conveyor belt, I watched with sadness as the conditioned masses submitted to the wrath of paranoid State power. I suppose they really had no choice, as we figured would be the case for our own journey.
Next came LAX. We thought for sure we’d have to submit our dignity there before boarding an international flight to Thailand. There were even more radiation-spewing scanners at LAX. But again, we were ushered into a family isle with the standard metal detector. This time, I remembered to remove the silver coin from my pocket and we glided through security without a hitch.
Although we felt great relief having avoided enhanced security measures that resemble the worst of what America’s security state has become, we must ask why some are exempt and others are not?
Sure, it’s common sense that eight-year-old Americans are not suicide bombers. But what about the fact that it also makes sense that nearly all travelers are not going to bomb the plane? Or the fact that traditional security measures are more than sufficient? Or, that they have not caught anyone trying to bomb a plane with these increased measures?
It’s time to bring back freedom for everyone in the land of the free.
This article first appeared on the Bohemian Travelers website