measures of success

Did those fighting to stop the TSA and its illegal searches and sexual assaults succeed last week?

I have been thinking about this for days now and am no closer to an answer. The TSA and Homeland Security backed off from using the backscatter scanners and gropeharassment from the day before Thanksgiving to a few days thereafter, due, I believe, to our pressure. For a few days children have not been molested and adults were not sexually assaulted or exposed to possible radiation risks (and this included TSA agents having to stand near these machines for eight or more hours a day). However, they did it in such a way to make those of us shouting the alarms look foolish and naive.

The media reported how the lines were moving smoothly and no one was opting-out (Nothing to opt out from, the machines having been turned off). Perhaps though, some suggest, this was because airports were uncrowded on one of the busiest travel days of the year and those who were worried or trying to fight this were in their cars instead of flying (and just out today, Pennsylvania had the largest number of holiday road fatalities since 2003).

People on the side of stopping this policy were interviewed. Some appeared foolish with the help of media-editing. Others were made to look like what we are doing is all a big circus of malcontents and look-at-me-ers

What I do know today:

The TSA has released its new policy for children under 12. From their blog: Even with children younger than 12, a screener will pass the back of his or her hand over the genital area. While few parents are comfortable with this, child psychology experts suggest refraining from showing outrage or distress as this will further alarm your child.
Yes please do not show any outrage while your child is sexually assaulted in front of you.

A TSA agent here in Pittsburgh has been interviewed about being harassed from within the TSA itself and this may be one reason more TSA agents are not speaking out. I've seen news reports of this kind dating back two years.

One of our federal representatives - Tim Murphy - is hearing from citizens who want this policy ended, as well as TSA agents who want the same.

One of the founders of the We Won't Fly movement was interviewed by a very ill-prepared reporter on CBS last week.

Roger Ebert has written about his own harassment from the TSA.

And here is another article by a biologist on why the backscatter radiation is dangerous. What I find compelling in this essay is something more people are waking up to: small children and infants are not the same size as adults, yet the dosage of radiation from these machines is one size fits all.

In closing some have asked me recently what they can do to help stop this policy before it gets any worse. We all need to act as well as educate ourselves.

I have decided to try and speak to at least one person a day about this subject and I wanted to offer some of what has worked for me:

1. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. This is an important issue and it really puts across the belief in what you say and feel. (and thanks to Mr. Biden for proving this point on Larry King Live where he would not look Mr. King in the eye during the interview.)

2. Talk the truth to people. What you know. Don't try to fabricate horror stories, there are enough real ones out there. Prevarication can be detected by most and makes people less likely to believe you.

3. Sound people out. If they say to you 'well I think the scanner radiation is safe enough' talk to them instead about the lack of training TSA operators have vs. x-ray technicians.

As an example of this, I offer up an abbreviated talk I had with a bank teller two days ago:

her: so how was your holiday
me: not so good, car died and i need it running so i can drive to atlanta for christmas.
her: oh i have family there
me: i am not going to fly until the TSA stops their policies
her: yeah i saw something about that, they are reaching into ladies' breasts
me: yes and more (explains the more and gets the usual big eyes and jaw dropping when i speak about child molestation, sexual assault, 4th amend. and scanner radiation). i am one of those trying to fight this. if you can, please do not fly until the policy is gone. i know i will not.
her: thanks for telling me (genuine smile) have a good day and good luck.

4. It gets easier with each person you speak to.

Also it is my belief we need to each use what we are best at to fight the TSA policies. For me it is writing and speaking persuasively and being a designer and artist. In order to not just talk but act (and I am still new at this) I am working on a simple book anyone can xerox and leave or hand out or use to poster with. I am designing this book for the text/tweet generation in a bold and simple style and will provide a link to it as soon as it is ready. Everyone is free to use it as they see fit.

Lastly please do not fly if you can help it. Continue to call people in government, as well as airports, airlines and travel destinations (Disneyworld for example) and tell them you will not fly until this policy is rescinded. Companies and governments seem to only listen to money now, sadly enough, and our money this time does count, I hope.

As before I will leave comments open for this post but if you post anything hateful, infantile or illiterate I will delete it. If you cannot be civil or do not know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ or ‘lose’ and ‘loose’ I do not care to listen to you.


jdferry said...

Fantastic. You make me happy to say I am an American. Thank you.

Mallow said...

My comment is one of commendation for your perseverance and willingness to work for something you believe in strongly...proud of you, Todd!