Alaska state rep refuses TSA grope of her mastectomy scars, drives home from SeattleWorse than the pure stupid outrage upon an honest person is the fact that the Obama administration is brain dead and unable to learn from its mistakes and improve real security. Instead, Obama seems intent on following the down the same road of "security theatre" that was trail blazed by Bush. It is pure idiocy. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars and it buys no security, but it sure tramples upon rights and liberties.
Cory Doctorow at 11:34 AM Tuesday, Feb 22, 2011
Alaska State Rep Sharon Cissna, a breast cancer survivor who has had a mastectomy, was barred from flying home to Juneau from Seattle by the TSA when she refused to allow a screener to touch the scars from her operation. She drove home instead. Apparently she is always selected for an invasive "hand screening" because the "irregularities" presented by her prosthesis when viewed through the pornoscanner raise the TSA's suspicions. As others have observed, the War on Terror is really a War on the Unusual -- it's the systematic erosion of rights for people with nonstandard appearance, health, itineraries, and beliefs, without regard to whether those "irregularities" are correlated with terrorist activity. It's as though the TSAhas said, "All terrorists are engaged in something unusual, therefore all unusual occurrences should be viewed as potential terrorism."
"So last night, as more and more TSA, airline, airport and police gathered, I became stronger in remembering to fight the submission to a physical hand exam. I repeatedly said that I would not allow the feeling-up and I would not use the transportation mode that required it."
"For nearly fifty years I've fought for the rights of assault victims, population in which my wonderful Alaska sadly ranks number one, both for men and women who have been abused. The very last thing an assault victim or molested person can deal with is yet more trauma and the groping of strangers, the hands of government 'safety' policy."
"For these people, as well as myself, I refused to submit."
In order to show that I'm not prejudiced, here is a case of bureaucratic stupidity from China from the UK's Sunday Times newspaper:
China tells living Buddhas to obtain permission before they reincarnateI submit that the US's TSA shows a similar level of stupidity as China's State Administration for Religious Affairs. To be perfectly honest, I believe the Chinese bureaucrats are actually more "reasonable" than the American ones. There is more of a "real" security threat from a reincarnating Tibetan monk who plays a role in choosing his successor than in an Alaskan state representative who has a mastectomy scar. Hey, but what do I know? I'm not a "security" expert like these paragons of virtue who serve the state in America and China!
Tibet’s living Buddhas have been banned from reincarnation without permission from China’s atheist leaders. The ban is included in new rules intended to assert Beijing’s authority over Tibet’s restive and deeply Buddhist people.
“The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid,” according to the order, which comes into effect on September 1.
The 14-part regulation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs is aimed at limiting the influence of Tibet’s exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama, and at preventing the re-incarnation of the 72-year-old monk without approval from Beijing.
It is the latest in a series of measures by the Communist authorities to tighten their grip over Tibet. Reincarnate lamas, known as tulkus, often lead religious communities and oversee the training of monks, giving them enormous influence over religious life in the Himalayan region. Anyone outside China is banned from taking part in the process of seeking and recognising a living Buddha, effectively excluding the Dalai Lama, who traditionally can play an important role in giving recognition to candidate reincarnates.
Oh... and I can't leave the UK out of this charade of public stupidity. Here is a bit from a post in BoingBoing by Richard Dawkins about the abysmal stupidity of "security" searches in the UK:
I'm writing this on a plane, having just passed through Security at Heathrow airport. An obviously nice young mother was distraught because she wasn't allowed to take on board a tub of ointment for her little girl's eczema. The security man was polite but firm. She wasn't even permitted to spoon a reduced quantity into a smaller jar. I couldn't quite grasp what was wrong with that helpful suggestion, but the rule book was implacable. All the official could do was offer to fetch his supervisor. The supervisor came and, equally polite but firm, she too was regretfully bound by the rulebook's hoops of steel.Sadly we live in a world where government is intent on proving the Reagan maxim "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem". I genuinely despise Reagan as the originator of this Kafkaesque world we now all inhabit, but that maxim has got it damn right as far as airport "security" is concerned.
There was nothing I could do, and it was no help that I recommended a website where a knowledgeable chemist explains, in delightfully comedic detail, what it would take to manufacture a workable bomb from binary liquid ingredients, working for several hours in the aircraft loo, using copious quantities of ice, in relays of champagne coolers helpfully supplied by the cabin staff.
The prohibition against taking more than very small quantities of liquids or unguents on planes is demonstrably ludicrous. It started as one of those "Look at us, we're taking decisive action" displays, the ones designed to cause maximum inconvenience to the public in order to make the dimwitted Dundridges who rule our lives feel important and look busy.
Same with having to take our shoes off (another gem of official wallyhood that must have Bin Laden chuckling triumphantly into his beard) and all those other classic exercises in belated stable door shutting. But let me get to the general principle. Rulebooks are themselves put together by human judgments. Often bad human judgments, but in any case judgments by humans who were probably no wiser or better qualified to make them than the individuals who subsequently have to put them into practice out in the real world.
No sane person, witnessing that scene at the airport, seriously feared that this woman was planning to blow herself up on a plane. The fact that she was accompanied by children gave us the first clue. Supporting evidence trickled in from the brazen visibility of her face and hair, from her lack of a Koran, prayer mat or big black beard, and finally from the manifest absurdity of the notion that her little tub of ointment could ever, in a million years, be alchemically magicked into a high explosive - certainly not in the cramped laboratory facilities afforded by an aircraft loo. The security official and his supervisor were human beings who obviously wished they could behave decently, but they were powerless: stymied by a rulebook. Nothing but a rulebook, which, because it is made of paper and unalterable ink rather than of flexible human brain tissue, is incapable of discretion, compassion or humanity.