The details on this story are very sparse, and the phrasing of the reports are very upsetting. A woman, Andrea Abbott, was traveling with her teenage daughter (exact age unknown) from Nashville to Baltimore. When it came time to go through the naked scanner, she refused for both her and her daughter. The woman’s “stearn [sic] voice” and “attitude” was an affront to the TSA thug named Sabrina Birge. Birge apparently has the equivalent of an advanced degree in physics and has had access to study the scanners which no other scientist has been given, because she informed Abbott that the millimeter-wave scanner is “10,000 times safer than your cell phone.” Either that, or Birge believes everything her superiors tell her despite ample evidence that they lie and don’t protect the health of their own employees.
The heroic Abbott stood fast, stating, “I still don’t want someone to see our bodies naked.” This of course meant that a pat-down would be issued for both her and her daughter, which Abbott refused to consent to. From her own words, she clearly believes the pat-downs to be molestation and she wanted to protect her daughter.
This is where the details get fuzzy because, all of a sudden, Abbott did an about-face and “allowed” the pat-down of her daughter. It seems much more likely that she was threatened and bullied to the point where she was worn down. Knowing that something very wrong was happening, Abbott decided she should record the events and pulled out her cell-phone to do so. The TSA then — illegally, to my knowledge — ordered her to put her cell phone away, so there is unfortunately no video of this injustice. For obvious reasons, this upset Abbott and her “yelling” prompted the brave TSA guys-and-gals-in-blue to feel so threatened that they had her arrested.
No word yet on whether Southwest Airlines refunded her ticket or posted her bail, but, based on their poor track record, I’m inclined to think that Southwest did not show any support for this poor mother. The media has decided to paint this woman as unstable and plaster an unflattering arrest photo on the stories. In reality, all mothers (and fathers) should be this upset when anyone wants to take naked photos or molest their daughter (or son). There is nothing absurd or unstable about that and, if we were to hear of a private criminal requesting this of Abbott and learned that she did not fight back, we would question her character and indict her as a bad mom.
[H/T Boycott Flying]
Update: I wasn’t paying attention this morning, but the rest of the TSA’s statement about the scanner is actually hilarious now that I think about it. Birge said, “No, it’s not an X-ray. It is 10,000 times safer than your cell phone and uses the same type of radio waves as a sonogram.” Millimeter-wave scanners do use radio waves, which is a type of electromagnetic radiation. In contrast, a sonogram is a picture created from an instrument that uses sound waves. Of course, I don’t expect a TSA goon to know the difference, but the fact that she lectured the mere ungrateful, disobedient, citizen on the safety of the scanners using this falsehood is telling. Thanks to Bill Faust for bringing this to my attention.8:33 am on July 13, 2011 Email Kathryn Muratore