Believe me when I say that I despise unions as much as the next anarchist. With their taxation of victims based on profession rather than geography and their violence against those who object to paying for "services" they neither want nor need, unions are nothing but government writ small.
So it is with fear, trembling, and a sense of the world's turning upside down that I applaud not one but two pilots' unions, albeit with reservations (no pun intended). Both have denounced the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) ogling and sexual assault of their members (ditto on the pun); both urge pilots to refuse irradiation from the TSA's porno-scanners though that guarantees groping from its goons. "There is absolutely no denying that the enhanced pat-down is a demeaning experience,” says Dave Bates, president of the union for American Airlines' pilots. “In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot. I recommend that all pilots insist that such screening is performed in an out-of-view area to protect their privacy and dignity."
Capt. Mike Cleary over at US Airways agrees, though in language a tad stronger. As president of the US Airline Pilots Association, he notes that "TSA’s rapid deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) screening machines, followed by the new Enhanced Pat-Down procedures, have caused turmoil for airline pilots and the traveling public alike. … Pilots should NOT submit to AIT screening. The TSA has offered no credible specifications for the radiation emitted by these machines." Pilots should instead request a private frisking with someone else from the crew as a witness (canny fellow, Capt. Cleary: nobody's gonna "accidentally" wind up dead on his watch), after which they "must evaluate their fitness for duty … there is a wide range of possibilities once you submit to a private screening, and the results can be devastating. ….it is your responsibility to make sure you are emotionally fit and not stressed in any way by your close encounter with the TSA" before settling into the cockpit.
Sobering, isn't it? Not only does the TSA endanger you and your children with its sexual assaults, it also risks your life by traumatizing the guy flying your plane. When will Congress abolish this agency as the worst of all threats to Amerika's raison d'tre and god, National Security?
Remember that most pilots are veterans of the Air Force — tough coots who may even have seen combat. But Capt. Cleary warns that one coot's reaction to his "close encounter" with the TSA "left him unable to function as a crewmember. The words this pilot used to describe the incident included u2018sexual molestation,' and in the aftermath of trying to recover, this pilot reported that he had literally vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work and facing the possibility of a similar encounter with the TSA. This is a very serious situation, and it represents a crossroads for all U.S. airline pilots." Paging Michael Roberts: your colleagues need some guidance on dealing with totalitarian thugs.
Meanwhile, imagine for a moment that your boss summons you and orders, "OK, now listen up. Beginning Monday, I want you runnin' your hands all over our u2018customers,' heh heh. Ever' crack and crevice, you hear me? Squeeze u2018em, explore u2018em, make u2018em scared you're gonna rape u2018em. I want ladies cryin', I want toddlers screamin', I want all them he-men out there pukin' their guts out. You got me?" What sort of scum are you if you don't pop him in the nose and quit? Then again, only scum "works" for TSA in the first place.
But I interrupted the eloquent Capt. Cleary. "Let’s be perfectly clear," he continued, "the TSA procedures … are blatantly unacceptable … I can promise you that your union will not rest until all U.S. airline pilots have a way to reach their workplace … the aircraft … without submitting ourselves to the will of a TSO behind closed doors." Whoa! What a master of innuendo! "Left unchecked, there’s simply no way to predict how far the TSA will overreach in searching and frisking pilots …. The eyewash being dribbled by the TSA in this instance is embarrassingly devoid of common sense, and we will not stand for it."
Way to go, Cap'n! One only wishes you hadn't muzzled yourself all these years: where've you been while pilots — and the passengers paying your salary — shed their shoes and endured the TSA's anti-constitutional, kleptomaniacal rifling of their belongings? The TSA's eyewash has always been embarrassingly devoid of common sense. But, hey, better late than never.
Unfortunately, neither union nor president understands the beast assailing their industry, or they'd demand not just an end to the groping and ogling for pilots alone but an end to the TSA. Anything short of that, and its atrocities will ambush us again in a year or two.
Sure, the agency may temporarily halt its sexual assaults thanks to the rising resistance from pilots and the public. But if we don't drive a stake through the TSA's heart, it will merely await an opportunity to revive its wickedness. Another oh-so-convenient "terrorist" attack will provide cover for Congress, the TSA, and their corporate cronies to whine that only porno-scanners can save us. The agency will then re-introduce them — incrementally, this time: you can boil a great many more frogs when you gradually turn up the flame than you can with the "rapid deployment" Capt. Clearly noted.
If we can thwart the TSA's irradiation, ogling and groping of us, we can abolish it. Then we'll start on the rest of the police state.
Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.