I don’t use the “H” word lightly, but when it comes to the TSA — Transportation Security Administration or Thousands Standing Around, depending on your perspective — I make an exception. Oh, how I hate thee, let me count the ways…
While acknowledging that my horror experiences with airport security are far from unique, or even unusual these days, at least, dear reader, you can be sure these stories are real and not some made-up Internet hoax. My most recent run-in with the TSA involves the recently-discovered deadly threat of carrying toothpaste on a plane at 30,000 feet.
When the TSA banned Colgate and Crest a couple months ago, most of us thought: 1.) That’s just plain stupid. 2.) That’s par for the course over at the TSA. The good news, however, is that some air travelers aren’t taking such stupidity sitting down on their flotation devices any longer. They’re speaking up and speaking out. They’re letting the TSA have it. And they’re finding kindred spirits all across the nation, thanks to the Internet (God bless Al Gore for inventing it!).
So under public pressure, the TSA, in its infinite bureaucratic wisdom, recently relaxed its prohibitions against deadly Sensodyne, Speed Stick and Listerine. You may now bring these potentially lethal items onboard with you — but only if they’re in small quantities and only if packed in a sealable, clear plastic bag. (Apparently the notion of three terrorists all buying a ticket on the same flight and then mixing their toothpastes together to obtain the quantity necessary to bring down a jumbo jet never occurred to the world’s leading airport security organization.)
So on my recent trip to our nation’s capital, I packed miniature containers of toothpaste, deodorant and mouthwash in the sealable, clear plastic toiletry bag which came with my suitcase (proudly purchased from a non-union Wal-Mart) and took off for Reno International Airport. And that’s where the fun began.
Airport security under the TSA generally encompasses three separate operations: There’s the well-known long, snaking lines for the document verification phase (“Papers, please.”). There’s the take-off-your-shoes-and-walk-through-the-beeper-machine phase. And then, if you’re unlucky enough to set off Mr. Beeper, there’s the spread-your-legs-and-extend-your-arms perp-search phase.
But in Reno they’ve now added a fourth layer for those brave passengers who dare to pack personal hygiene items. Before you even get in line to show your boarding pass and photo ID, you now must stop at a new table manned by three full-time, government-trained, taxpayer-funded Barney Fifes. There you must present your bag of lethal weapon toiletries for close inspection to assure that you are carrying only 3 ounces of toothpaste and not 4 – and that said toothpaste is contained in a government-approved sealable clear plastic bag.
Alas, while my toiletries passed the size and quantity test, my sealable clear plastic toiletry bag — which was manufactured for the specific purpose of carrying…well, toiletries — did not.
According to the Einstein who inspected my bag, a sealable, clear plastic toiletry bag designed for the expressed purpose of carrying toiletries was not acceptable to the government. If I wanted to carry potentially lethal toothpaste on the plane, Goober explained, it had to be packed in a government-approved sealable clear plastic bag designed to carry…sandwiches. And if I wanted to get out of line and go back downstairs, Mr. Gump informed, I could purchase a proper sandwich bag for my miniature tube of toothpaste in the gift shop.
My head, which was not at the time considered by the TSA to be a potentially lethal weapon, was ready to explode.
Not wanting to miss my plane, I opted, without good cheer, to allow Deputy Dawg to confiscate my Crest. But here’s the kicker. While this TSA security professional removed and confiscated my toothpaste, the bonehead missed two double-edge razors in the same bag, as well as a banned cigarette lighter. Boy, don’t I feel secure now!
But you know what? This kind of bureaucratic stupidity isn’t what I hate most about the TSA. And it’s not their inefficiency. It’s not their incompetence. It’s not the unnecessary inconvenience. It’s not even the expensive false sense of security TSA is giving the traveling public.
No, what I hate most about the TSA is how it’s turned so many supposedly freedom-loving American citizens into sheep who mindlessly stand for such indignities and inanities all in the name of some illusory feeling of safety. The TSA has made random search-and-seizures without any cause, let alone probable, a perfectly acceptable practice.
And woe to the traveler who raises his voice in objection to being searched like a common criminal all because a machine beeped because you foolishly forgot to remove 73 cents worth of coins from your pocket. Your fellow passengers won’t cheer your knowledge of constitutional rights or your vocal opposition to having them violated by gun-toting, badge-wearing government agents. No, no, no! You’ll be mocked and ridiculed. You’ll be eyed as a trouble-maker deserving of even more scrutiny, if not a cavity search. After all, if you have nothing to hide then what are you getting so worked up about, right?
I may hate the TSA, but I loathe the government school system which has systematically destroyed the pro-liberty/anti-government heritage our Founders passed on to us. “Give me liberty or give me death”? Give me a break. Patrick Henry would be stoned with miniature tubes of AquaFresh by fellow passengers were he to utter such nonsense in a TSA line.
When exactly did we lose the spirit of George Washington who once said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and fearful master"? Or Thomas Jefferson who said, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive”?
As you wait in line to show your government-approved toiletry bag, filled with your government-approved portions of mouthwash and toothpaste, before presenting your identification papers to an armed government agent, you realize Jefferson’s spirit of resistance is largely dead.
May God have mercy on the political souls of the idiot Republicans who brought this plague of airport security federal bureaucrats upon us. May they rest in TSA hell.