Everything I Need to Know About the TSA I Learned in High School

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I have a prediction about the TSA. The porn scanners will stay, one way or another.

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How do I know? Because I have been an observer of government schooling for 25 years and I see much the same institutional and sociological dynamic going on in the airports as has been commonplace in government schools.

Making a comparison on an organizational level, we find similarity in the centralization of authority that mandates procedures and doles out lucrative contracts. Rapiscan, is the rough equivalent of textbook publishers, for example. There have been endless textbook conflicts over the years, yet no one ever proposes abolishing this centralized system. Quite the contrary, the movement to further centralization via national standards is stronger than ever. Don't expect Rapiscan to be legislated away.

Local functionaries are generally not free to use discretion in performing their duties. However, they are never penalized and often rewarded for going that extra mile in devising creative interpretation and application of the rules in the name of safety. TSO prohibitions regarding knitting needles and mother's milk are the equivalent of zero tolerance punishments for grade school children who use their fingers to mimic guns and bring butter knives to school. There have been some attempts to overturn the really crazy zero tolerance punishments, but the rules are still in force. Look for the same pattern with TSA regulations.

In both government schools and airports, the fascist strong-arming of the innocent is long standing. In schools, there are lock downs, metal detectors, drug sniffing dogs, locker searches and the occasional strip search, all of which have their TSA counterparts. Even the no passing notes, no talking to your neighbor and wipe that smile off your face despotisms find their equivalent with no bomb jokes.

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Witness the marginalization of dissidents. In our land of the free/home of the brave, anyone who challenges the system needs professional help. Just as boys who, quite understandably, find it difficult to bottle up their boundless energy and sit quietly for hours on end in a boring classroom have been diagnosed with mental deficiencies, so too have the refuse nicks who challenge TSA's Hobson's choice.

Of course, the sine qua non of totalitarianism is the exemption of the ruling class from the rules. The Washington "elite" expects to go through airline security about as much as they expect to enroll their children in DC's frightening schools.

Sociologically speaking, there are some other interesting parallels, such as:

  • Bullies steal lunch money, TSOs steal from our luggage
  • Star athletes get special treatment, pilots' are exempt from security screening
  • Teacher sends a student to the principal's office, TSO puts a passenger in a penalty box and calls a supervisor
  • High school boys peep in the girls' locker room, TSA porno-scans attractive women

These parallels might seem humorous, but in fact they are not. Eighty-five percent of the American public spent its formative years in government schools – and another 14% or so in private look-a-like schools. As a result of this rearing, the alumni are more than likely to revert to their previous roles. Already there are teacher's pets who thank TSA goons for keeping us safe, snitches who rat on their fellow passengers and class clowns who go through security stripped to their skivvies. Yes, they all hate TSA, but rather than be enraged at the injustice of warrantless searches, they are merely irritated at the inconvenience, since as former students they have been habituated to the position of powerlessness. The rebellious passion and righteous rage have long been programmed out of them. Like Columbine parents who dutifully sent their terrorized children back to school, airline passengers will continue to submit their children to TSA's sexual assault. It has become second nature to them.

Now you should understand what government schooling is for.

December 3, 2010

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