"The only thing we have to fear...

Source: UPI.com

…is fear itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt

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I live 1,500 miles away from my hometown where my father still lives. Getting there by car takes 24 hours if you drive straight through with minimal stops. I know this because I’ve done it. On the other hand, taking the trip by plan can take anywhere from 5 hours - including layover(s) (inevitable when you go to Tallahassee - there are no direct flights) - and 24 hours depending on weather, luggage, cancelled connections, etc. If I’d started this blog years ago, I would have plenty of stories about our flying adventures to link to.

Since Brandon joined us, Matt and I haven’t been too keen on flying or driving down, partly due to financial concerns since I was on maternity leave and then laid off for over a year of Brandon’s life so far. Other concerns I’ve had is the simple fact of being contained - in a plane, in the airport, in a car for 24 hours - with severely limited options for retreat if he’s inconsolable. I know other people do it all the time, but my comfort level just isn’t there.

And lately, with all the news about TSA, I’m not sure my comfort level for travelling in the U.S. will ever extend to airline travel again. From the story about the man who protested being groped in a full body search (they call it an “enhanced pat-down”) in San Diego, to this story of a hysterical 3-year-old girl - the daughter of a reporter, no less - forced to undergo the enhanced pat-down, to the inevitable lawsuits that will probably start popping up regularly as this issue hits the fan.

What about this pat-down is enhanced? The fact that TSA reps are “legally” (in quotes, because I question the legality) putting their hands on individuals’ private parts? The very parts we tell kids that strangers should NOT touch? And TSA is surprised that people aren’t taking this kindly? This article from Huffington Post is blunt, but raises some crucial points about this issue, including this:

These procedures are patently ridiculous security theater. They don’t make flying much safer. They clearly violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, regardless of arcane readings of the Constitution by compliant judges. Probable cause for suspicion is not that someone decided to buy an airline ticket. So why are allowing this to happen?

The author of the Huff Post article, Ben Tripp, talks about the culture of fear that is driving these asinine security measures. But I repeatedly hear facilitators of fear talking about how sacrifices are required.

I should not have to sacrifice my right to decide who touches me.

I should not have to sacrifice my right to decide who sees my body unclothed.

Right now, you can opt-out of the backscatter scan. But how long will that last? The alternative is perhaps even more invasive and certainly more traumatizing for children. There are concerns about survivors of sexual abuse/assault and the effect this would have on them. Good point. TSA, did you consider that when you came up with this idea?

Did I mention that they want to “legally” touch places that we tell children should not be touched by strangers?

September 11, 2001 was a horrible day. Horrible things happened and many people died. I cried every single day as I watched the news until my husband pulled me away from the television. When I think about all the people who’s lives were lost, who suffered serious injuries or the loved ones who are left behind, I still grieve. No one should have to experience what we all lived through on that day.

But we can’t live our lives in fear that it’s going to happen again. No one, prior to 9/11, imagined someone would fly planes into buildings. So, what are they dreaming up now while we’re focused on keeping planes safe? And that isn’t meant to be a statement to incite fear. It’s meant to encourage logic. The kind that acknowledges that we don’t know what could happen.

Taking reasonable precautions is necessary and understandable. Treating every person who walks through an airport with suspicion is ludicrous. Besides, we all know they miss things - like my friend whose sealed jar of peanut butter was confiscated but they let her (unknowingly) walk on the plane with a cheese knife. (It was conference swag. I got one too and didn’t know I had a knife in my bag until I got home.)

TSA policies are prompted by every new incident that they hadn’t previously thought of, so there is a constant game of cat and mouse going on that they will never be able to win. All while honest, law-abiding individuals suffer through invasive, “legal” searches in the name of security. The party line is sacrifice = safety.

I decided to look up the definition of “terrorist” and according to dictionary.com, it is “a person who terrorizes or frightens others”. Then I decided to check out “terrorism”, and it is defined as “the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization”.

Reading those definitions, it seems to me that - nearly 10 years later - the purpose of the terrorists actions on 9/11 are still a success.

I think it’s about time we stop letting terror define us and take back our lives.

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Mama's Losin' It

This post was based on the prompt “CONTROVERSY! Are the new security measures performed by the TSA really that bad? Take a stance!” from Mama Kat’s writing workshop. 

I’d love to know what you think. Would you fly in the U.S. right now? If you had to choose between the backscatter or a pat-down, which would you submit to? Or would you walk away from your flight like the blogger in San Diego?