To Fly or Not To Fly?

for me, the answer is simple:  as long as there is even the smallest possibility a stranger will be given the right to subject me to an “enhanced” pat down, i will NOT be flying any time soon.

for the duration, this body is mine.  as such, i have the right (at least in this country), to decide how it is treated and viewed.  everybody has the right to determine how their body is treated and viewed.

recently, there have been some very disturbing reports of people who have had that right taken away from them at U.S. airports.

people have said they have felt “violated” after having gone through the body scanner that transmits an image to some stranger in another room that shows (for all practical purposes) their naked body.  when the scan shows an “anomaly” or when the passenger opts out of being scanned, he/she is then subjected to an “enhanced” pat down that involves the actual touching of the genital area (which, in my book, IS a VERY SERIOUS violation).  there is the option to have this done in a private room, but the result is the same:  a pat down involving private body parts by a complete stranger is involved.

there have been reports showing a complete lack of compassion for those who are handicapped or are otherwise incapacitated.  prosthetics have been removed for inspection.  clothes have been removed to see metal knee or hip joints.  people are ignored when they try to tell agents about medically necessary implements attached to their body.

there have been reports of children being “patted down.”  some of these children, especially those that have been taught what a “bad touch” is, have reacted violently, begging their parents to make it stop.  again, a child doesn’t care that this is being done in private…a “bad touch” is a “bad touch,” no matter where it happens.

i’m also concerned about reports that people are being fined after finding out that they simply can’t endure the screening process and leave (or try to leave).
i’m also concerned about reports that phones and cameras are being confiscated from people who “document” these situations.
Uhm….i might expect that in another country, but in the U.S.?

i know this happens to only a very small percentage of passengers, but i so understand what it means to be a part of that small percentage.  i HAVE been singled out at an airport because i tried to declare a medical situation (in 2004, i had a recently implanted chemo port and a very recent mastectomy…i was still healing from the procedure).  i know what it’s like to be ignored (“raise your arm, ma’am.”  “i can’t raise my arm because of the surgery.” “raise your arm, ma’am.” “i…i…can’t”).  i also remember my carry on bag, with all my meds and bandages, being rifled through for ALL to see (no privacy room was offered), with the agent commenting that i was taking way too many drugs.  i was shocked…shocked that she would tell a cancer patient undergoing chemo that the drug regimen her own doctors gave her was inappropriate.
i wasn’t patted down, as that wasn’t the procedure, at the time.
regardless, i still felt abused (mentally).

these new airport screening procedures do affect some people quite strongly, whether you care about them or not.
 for reasons very personal (and maybe even traumatic), some people are going to feel very violated by being “virtually” stripped by the full body scanner.  the fact that we can’t see and don’t know the person in the other room doesn’t make the situation better…that may even make the experience more traumatic (to not even know who is looking at you).
i could care less about going through the body scanner, but i so empathize with those who do.  their feelings of being violated are very real and to dismiss those feelings just because you don’t feel them yourself is cold and not the least bit compassionate.

the lack of compassion shown by so many to those with medical conditions and to those who feel violated (especially the children) has astounded me.  i’m not just talking about the lack of compassion shown by airport security agents.  i’m also talking about the lack of compassion shown by some who are accepting of the new procedures to those traumatized by them.
perhaps some compassion, a little empathy,and some understanding that these emotions people are feeling are very real and very strong and not the least bit easily dismissed is in order.

compassion…that is the missing ingredient.

that being said,
if the situation comes that i have no choice but to fly, and if the situation arises where someone will have to perform an “enhanced” pat down on my body, i will demand that it be done in private, that my husband come with me, AND that the whole procedure be video recorded on his phone.

 ALL of that is within my rights as a citizen of the United States.



~ by ritamerlot on November 24, 2010.

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