The Transportation Security Administration has identified the agent that left an inappropriate note in the luggage of a woman telling her to “Get Your Freak On Girl” after the agent found a “personal” item during the screening process. According to the TSA blog, the agent has been removed from screening and is facing disciplinary action for the stunt. “The handwritten note was highly inappropriate and unprofessional, and TSA has zero tolerance for this type of behavior,” the agency stated, and said it was reaching out personally to the woman in question.
But for the feminist writer who received the note, an apology is nice, but what would be nicer would be an honest conversation about sacrificing personal privacy rights in exchange for the fictitious appearance of security.
It’s easy to scape-goat one individual here, but the problem with the note is that it’s representative of the bigger privacy intrusions that the U.S. government, through the TSA and other sources, levels every day. The invasion is inherent to the TSA’s mission, regardless of whether a funny note is left behind — the note only serves to highlight the absurdity of all this security theater. As much as this is a funny and titillating story, when I put the note on Twitter for what I thought was a relatively limited audience I was hoping it would open up a bigger conversation about privacy rights (or lack thereof) in post-9/11 America….I would much prefer a look at why ‘security’ has been used to justify so many intrusions on our civil liberties, rather than fire a person who made a mistake.
Firing, suspending, or otherwise punishing the screener doesn’t address what’s really wrong with the TSA situation — that rather than simply using xrays and scans on luggage, the security personnel are going through by hand to inspect every aspect of our personal lives, all in the name of “protecting us.”
The screener’s crime, the TSA response confirms, isn’t that he or she violated privacy, but instead broke the unspoken code that the officials put in place so that customers can pretend it isn’t happening.
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