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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/21/18

When Granny Goes to the Airport

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The 96-year-old mother of Jeanne Labrier Clarkson undergoing airport security procedures
The 96-year-old mother of Jeanne Labrier Clarkson undergoing airport security procedures
(Image by Jeanne LaBrier Clarkson)
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A veteran friend of mine shared this video click here of a 96-year-old woman being searched intensively by TSA airport functionaries at Dulles Airport in Washington. Needless to say, the film has provoked some outrage from those who have witnessed the security screening, which was more intensive than all but one such screening I have personally witnessed.

Unless the relatives of the lady file reports, backed by the video, and more comes of it, we shall not truly know why she was singled out in this intrusive way, and the two other ladies, also in wheelchairs, accompanying her were not. And thus I can only speculate as to any motive besides mere insensitivity.

However, I would suggest that the TSA's point, or their attitude, is to make sure we all know that they are at least an equal-opportunity institution, that absolutely everyone may (will) be subject to this degree of gratuitous scrutiny.

THEY know the 96-year-old woman in the wheelchair is not carrying anything dangerous or otherwise illegal. But apparently the TSA wants to convince Muslims or whoever might want to claim that they are being discriminated against because of their ethnic or religious background that even the most saintly Caucasians are also subject-- at risk, if you will-- of this kind of, uh, abuse.

There is another possibility: watch carefully, and you will see that this TSA employee is not ranked. She is not even a one-striper. The second stern-faced TSAer who at first stands in the way of the camera's view appears to be a one-striper, who is clearly supervising the one doing the investigation.

Thus, it is at least conceivable that this is a training exercise. This does not remove the possibility that it actually is also for the public-relations purpose I suggested before. But in fact, setting aside the ludicrous overdoing of the procedures, the trainee was actually not being unpleasant.

However, given the absolute inability of the very elderly disabled woman to resist anything she did in any way, overuse of procedure, without some clear warning that some great-granny is going to be trying to go out in a flash, constitutes abuse.

Ya know, I have been a professional traveler for this century, as an international touring musician, and have therefore had the ability to watch, and be a part (don't ask unless you've got a few minutes), of airport security operations in this country and 26 more. I have been part of a couple of what could have been international incidents, had the security apparatuses (neither in the US) decided to push harder. My threat of calling the US embassies worked both times.

We as Americans have a different prevailing attitude toward government than European countries, Down Under countries, Asian countries (I've barely been to South America, and never yet to Africa). Sometimes much different indeed. It bugs us more as US citizens to see abuse in the guise of serving us all than it would bug others.

A Turk would shrug his shoulders as his grandmother was searched. And some places are so polite (like the Scandinavian countries) that something like this would never happen.

I would suggest that the ubiquitous technology of today's private citizens, as well as government of course, makes possible-- indeed, makes unavoidable-- a greater appreciation of rank stupidity when it occurs.

The relatives of the old woman had their camera going, and one commented that this film would "go viral," so clearly they were planning to let the public see what happened. And indeed, by the time I saw the video, 3,939,602 people had seen it in the 6 days since the occurrence.

My attitude is that I am responsible for my own security and that of all those around me in all transportation situations, on the ground and in the plane. I grab the exit seat whenever possible, because I want to be the one opening that door and pulling people out, not some casual flyer who hasn't given a lifetime of thought to it.

And most important, I hold security to account, both verbally as things are happening, and in the filing of reports. And for my money (and it is, at the end, my money and yours), the TSA is in most ways quite benign. One can even use the words "bomb" or terrorist" out loud, as long as you are careful how you phrase it.

Never forget that you are permitted to school the employees on what their responsibilities as citizens to their fellow citizens are. If you speak courteously and without profanities, they must listen to what you are saying, and when you are correct, the great majority will act upon it, or find some supervising three-striper who will.

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William P. Homans Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

My name is William Perkins Homans the third, but probably more people know me as the bluesman (and artist) Watermelon Slim.

I've been in the fight against war, fascism, injustice and inhumanity for 47 years. I was at MayDay, 1971, (more...)

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