The Uselessness of the TSA

A couple of months ago, I transferred through Houston on a flight home. While switching planes, the confusing layout of the airport caused me to exit the secure departure area, forcing me to go back through TSA screening.

I was distraught, assuming I had been forsaken. I heeded the thought of going through the lengthy, invasive process all over again! When I came up to security, however, it was much more easy than normal.

I did not have to take off my shoes or belt. I didn’t have to use the Superman X-ray machine, which normally allows the jealous TSA agents the privilege of checking out my rockin’ body. Instead I went through, what seemed to be, a typical metal detector. This had been the first time I had flown in quite a while, so I was thinking that maybe the TSA was trying out a new common sense screening technique, which would eventually go nationwide.

I was partially right. I went through the TSA-Pre screening process. This allows “trusted travelers,” whom have gone through background checks, and other processes to be registered with DHS ahead of time, a more expedited trip through the security line. Oh, and did I forget to mention the nominal fee?

For whatever reason, that day the TSA found it necessary to put nearly everyone through the expedited process. Even if this process made sense from a security perspective, it proves that the TSA itself judges you as guilty before innocent, having to prove your trustworthiness through the state-mandated practice.

I imagine it is intended to allow the TSA agents an opportunity to eliminate low-risk passengers from their lines. Why then, was I, including the vast majority of other passengers that day, given the chance to go through TSA-Pre? Was it in order to get more people through the line, more quickly? I thought we sacrificed our time to the TSA, in order to secure safety?

Logic says that allowing everyone through TSA-Pre either negates the effectiveness of the TSA-Pre process and even the effectiveness of the TSA itself. What if a terrorist carrying a weapon which could only be detected by the full-body scanner came through Houston that day? If that isn’t a possibility, then what is the point of the full-body scanner? Why isn’t the TSA-Pre process, the default process?

The truth is quite clear. The TSA is not making us safer. To top it all off, the agency violates an abundance of Constitutional rights on a daily basis.

To those who suggest that you do not have a right to fly: You do have a right to conduct consensual business with a private company without the government searching and seizing your person and belongings with neither cause nor warrant. While flying is not something the government must or should provide, it is an extremely important part of our economy, which is hindered through the TSA and regulation.

To those who suggest that the TSA is necessary to keep us safe, and safety is more important than rights: Allow me to quote the commonly referred to line from Ben Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Radical Islam is a very serious threat to the safety, and potentially the liberty of the Western world. However, what sets the modern world apart from the ancients is the recognition and protection of God-given, natural rights, along with the introduction of free-market capitalism.

After 9/11, terrible choices were made by a frightened country. In order to “not allow the terrorists to win,” they were instead granted victory through our own choices, as the TSA gropes and violates the citizens it was meant to protect.

It is okay to admit you were wrong in the past and correct yourself. I know I was. What is important is to establish a corrected course for the future.

The threats are real, and security is necessary at the airport. Since there is no way to be 100% safe, and the government has proven ineffective at protecting both our safety and rights, why don’t we let the free-market take over the process?

Before this is possible, however, we have to be independent and principled enough to stand up for our rights. Imagine if ten percent of us simply refused the full-body scanner and opted out. Yes, we would be inconvenienced slightly, and they would follow up with physical pat downs, but it would send a message.

I will admit that I am no example of this, as every time I go to fly, I have this idea. I approach the TSA checkpoint determined to opt-out and firmly, yet calmly, let my protest be known. However, I will always be intimidated and think, “It won’t make a difference.” Then I go through the scanning and the touching with my mouth shut, just like they want.

Maybe it’s time I make a change. I must thank those who have been on this course before me.

We all know that the TSA is wrong, yet most of us are unwilling to look like a fool in front of everyone else, by being different and singling ourselves out. The truth is, however, when we don’t stand up for our rights, when we are passive, we are the ones who really look like fools.

It only takes one of us to scream out, “The Emperor has no clothes!” and cause a revolution of thought. Remember, courage is contagious.

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