John Tyner’s encounter with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the subsequent viral video and media firestorm, is about more than just this one incident. It has managed to crystallize the debate about just how many indignities a population will endure at the hands of their government before finally standing up and refusing to submit. Now we may be seeing the beginnings of a public backlash akin to the events two years ago that spawned the Tea Party Movement. That the TSA has opened an investigation into Mr. Tyner only strengthens the case against the government and the TSA.
The most recent controversy began when a John Tyner, a programmer who refused a full body scan and genital grope, uttered the now immortal words, “If you touch my junk I will have you arrested”, to an airport security screener. Mr. Tyner also used his cell phone to record the entire incident and after being refused access to his flight, he posted the encounter on YouTube and set off an internet firestorm. With thousands rallying to support Mr. Tyner, and some, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defending the TSA’s new methods. Democrat Senator Clair McCaskill of Missouri even referred to the intrusive genital grope as “love tap”.
Nine years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, almost everyone knows of someone who has suffered embarrassments and indignities while attempting to board a flight. Many have asked from the beginning why there seems to be an implicit assumption that when one purchases an airline ticket they immediately suspend their civil rights and protections under the Fourth Amendment. Indeed some lawmakers are now considering forcing changes to the TSA’s screening methods based on potential violations of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Representative Ron Paul, R-TX, recently blasted the TSA for treating citizens like cattle and for the presumption of guilt that now come with purchasing an airline ticket. While reactions from Representative Ron Paul and other small government activists are to be expected in the face of the TSA’s methods, even veteran pilots have complained about the TSA’s procedures and some have been put on administrative leave for refusing to subject themselves to the new screening procedures. Some major airports are now even considering removing the TSA and opting to utilize private contractors to screen passengers. Even though contractors would be required to comply with all TSA guidance regarding screenings, many passengers have said the private contractors are more friendly and efficient, while TSA agents have been known to let their “power” go to their heads.
As the video below makes clear, there is something of a mini rebellion occurring in the United States against the TSA’s methods and what they represent in a free country. I submit that there remain some large and unanswered basic philosophical questions informing this debate. Living in a free society carries risks; so how much freedom is the citizenry required to surrender for an illusion of total safety?
How much of the TSA’s activities are driven by a politically correct refusal to develop and implement profiles of potential terrorists? Why does the TSA assume that all passengers are potential threats to public safety when most in flight incidents that have been prevented were thwarted by fellow passengers? I suspect this controversy is just beginning and will continue until the people have forced their government to provide satisfactory answers to these questions and develop common sense methods to make terror attacks more difficult without violating the fundamental rights of a free population.