Motivation of My Filming of My TSA Encounter

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Recently
by John Tyner: TSA
Encounter at SAN

 

 
 

A lot of commenters
are saying that they agree with my position on the whole issue of
TSA overreach, but many of them (and also those who disagree) are
asking why I filmed the entire incident. Many are suggesting that
my starting the recorder is evidence of an intention to pick a fight
with the TSA. As I’ve stated repeatedly, I checked to see if SAN
had AIT machines before flying. I tried to avoid the machine once
I arrived at the airport. I did everything I could to avoid a confrontation
with the TSA. I’ll admit that "if you touch my junk, I’ll have
you arrested" was not the most artful response, but I was trying
to add some levity to a situation that I knew could escalate very
quickly. The reason I started the recorder before placing it in
the bin, though, is because of stories like this:

Detained
by TSA

ACLU
Sues TSA

In
praise of Michael Roberts

After reading
stories about what the TSA had been doing, I wanted to avoid them,
but I also wanted to be prepared should I be unable avoid them.
That recording was to protect my rights and theirs. At no point
have I bashed the TSA agents or their handling of the situation.
They were all professional, if a bit standoffish, but the standoffishness
is not to be unexpected. I’m sure they deal with people far more
unruly than me every day. The only time I lost my cool was at the
very end when the TSA representative tried to force me back into
the screening area instead of simply allowing me to be on my way.
The entire incident should be judged on its merits (as demonstrated
by the recording), not by whether I tried to bait them (which
I did not).

So, the next
question is obviously, "what do I expect to get out of this?"
I don’t want to be a hero; I simply want to draw attention to what
is going on and give people a sense that they’re not alone in the
fight against the ever expanding erosion of liberty. I had this
to say in response to another commenter about what had transpired:

Every attempt
to blow up a plane since 9/11 has been stopped by passengers
after the government failed to provide protection
for them.
Every incident, however, has been met by throwing more money and
less sensibility at the problem. Aside from securing the cockpit
doors and the realization by passengers that they must fend for
themselves because they’re more likely to be killed by a hijacker
than flown safely to their destination where the hijacker’s demands
can be met, security is largely the same as it was before 9/11.

The only
thing changing is the amount of money being spent on the problem
and the constant erosion of liberty, and all I did was draw attention
to this. If you want to argue that the airlines are private, you’re
preaching to the choir. I refused the x-ray machine, and then
I refused a groping by a government official. I mildly protested,
and when they told me that I could submit to the screening or
leave the airport, I left peacefully. The only time I got angry
during the entire encounter was when I was unlawfully detained
and threatened with a lawsuit and a fine.

If you think
the government is protecting you, ask yourself this: If the official
at the end of the video thought I had an incendiary device, why
would he want me to go back into a small area crowded with
hundreds of people instead of leaving the airport as quickly as
possible?

Obviously the
issue of the private airline industry mingling with the government
handling of security is more complex than that. For example, with
private handling of security, the screener may choose to overlook
victimless crimes like drug possession or possession of sexually
explicit (but otherwise legal) materials or paraphernalia during
a search for dangerous items (i.e. those that could be used to commit
acts of terrorism). The government, on the other hand, has, does,
and will use the search for dangerous items as a pretext to arrest
you for anything else they may find.

Reprinted
with permission from Johnnyedge.

November
17, 2010

John Tyner
[send him mail] is a software
engineer in Southern California. He occasionally writes about economics,
politics, and constitutional issues from a layman/amateur perspective.

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