Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Pat Downs, No Peace

Hey America, your privilege is showing.

     For about a week now, I have been trying to figure out why I am not outraged about the TSA "Enhanced Pat downs" taking place across the airports of America. Had I bought the propaganda about terrorism? Had I put to much faith in our government since the executive was someone I voted for? Was I just desensitized by the 24 hour news cycle and was waiting for the CNN's of the world to move on to the next topic?

     While reading today, I realized what it was, I've been getting patted down for years. Clubs, Airports, Random Stops, I've been frisked when given a traffic ticket. It's business as usual for a large portion of the population. Take New York City Police department's "Stop and Frisk" policy. They stopped and frisked about half a million Blacks and Latinos last year (490,000), in that same time period they stopped about 50,000 whites. The arrest rate was just above 6% for people of color and white Americans, even though there was large disparity in the number of people stopped.

     What that tells us is a big, largeenormous part of the POC population that was "Stopped and Frisked" were ordinary law abiding citizens who got stopped and groped for no reason other than they "fit a profile". At least in the airport you are aware of the possibility, there is an element of risk involved. I shouldn't have to be worried about being groped on my way to the store for a gallon of milk. So while these Americans are complaining about these new "intrusive" TSA pat downs, another group of Americans said welcome to the club.

     And least we forget, in the past there have been very specific threats regarding airplanes and airports and BOMBS IN UNDERWEAR! So there is at least, a specific, reasonable, good faith justification in some of these "intrusive patdowns". There is also a part of me that believes that airports are businesses, and if that's what they feel they need to do to protect their business you can opt with the full body scan, or vote with your wallet.

     Compare that with many of these "Stop and Frisk" procedures where there is no rhyme or reason. When an police officer does engage in said procedure, they has to fill out a form stating the reason. Approximatively 19% of the officers involved listed no reason and simply stated "other". That's about 93,000 people that we know of whom were possible stopped for illegitimate reasoning. Where is the outrage at this unconstitutional show of government force and power, where is the anger at Americans being subjected to this draconian rule of law.

     It's absent, because in America whats happens to THEM is sad, but as long as it only happens to THEM it's okay. America has told THEM to calm down, these places are high crime areas and the police need to have the tools necessary to stop crime. The police are keeping the streets safe, THEY have nothing to worry about if THEY are not criminals. And to the few people who's lives get disrupted, it's an acceptable price to pay to keep our streets safe.

     So to my fellow Americans annoyed by the intrusive patdowns, who are acting like this is some new procedure in America, and some new attack on our rights and civil liberties I say this: Calm down, the TSA needs the necessary tools to keep our planes safe, you have nothing to worry about if you are not a terrorist. And to the few passengers who's lives are disrupted it's a acceptable price to pay to keep our skies safe.


edit: 11/25/10 2:34am

I'm not going to change any of the original text, because I feel that it is important to see words as they were originally written, but due to this blog traveling to various parts of these hollowed "inter-webs", I will clear up a few things, with a 3 part addendum:

1.      The "bombs in underwear" paragraph is not an endorsement of the police, but an example of how there is at least some semblance of logical reasoning behind the intrusive patdowns (regardless of how horrible), as opposed to the sometimes utter lack of reasoning when the government engages in "stop and frisk". Additionally it was meant to imply that flying (for most, but not all) is a convenience, not a necessity and it can be avoided, while people walking to and from their own houses in their own neighborhoods have no chance to avoid "stop and frisk" policies. 
2.      The final paragraph is not an endorsement of the argument of these policies, but rather as some of you saw a tongue in cheek attempt to mirror the same argument meant to pacify POC communities in the face of this outrage, it was meant sarcastically. But the outrage that many of you felt at seeing someone attempt to justify these procedures with a weak argument mirrors the same outrage the POC communities have felt in the face of these "stop & frisk" policies for years.
3.      Those that didn't get those 2 points from this article , I can see how they were overlooked, and I will do a better job in the future to clarify my points in a more effective manner. Thanks for the criticism, it keeps me sharp.


  1. At $170,000 a pop, those x-ray machines are putting some nice coin in the pockets of Chertoff and his buddies. So when do the x-ray machines show up outside of bus stations, movie theaters and football stadiums? And yes, I was patted down at a Bills/Lions game years ago. It's great to be safe, but I don't feel safer knowing someone's colostomy bag was spilled.

    I'm no fan of terrorists, but if the terrorism industry is the new economy I'm opting out. I guess we've always been at war with Eastasia.

  2. GREAT POST! I will be re-tweeting this post.

  3. "Calm down, the TSA needs the necessary tools to keep our planes safe, you have nothing to worry about if you are not a terrorist."

    I think that survivors of sexual abuse- including myself- have plenty to worry about knowing that we're walking into a situation where we have no choice but to endure a policy guaranteed to trigger post-traumatic flashbacks and breakdowns.

  4. There's no faulting your anger that having Due Process revoked in the name of security being just now taken notice of because of the white majority being effected, as opposed to the years of little to no notice being taken at all because it was happening to the minorities of the country. It would even be understandable if every minority in the country were willing to endure the extra indignity for the opportunity to watch the white people get theirs for once. I don't say that sarcastically, I could seriously understand it. Lord knows, it would be the least we'd deserve and that's the honest truth of it.

    But you know what I'm going to say next, I suppose. You probably know because you do know what its like to have your Constitutional rights taken away as easily as they were supposedly given. You've seen them given to some people and not you. You know that even if this were about privilege, and even if it were about profiling, its also about people having to choose between being violated and being able to move freely about the country and the world. All people, you included.

    I am not trying to tell you that what you endure is right and the scanners are wrong. However, to say that your rights are constantly violated and just put up a "Welcome to Hell" sign and laugh at the idiots for not noticing what they've never experienced may be temporarily cathartic, but it won't solve the actual problem.

    You can make fun of us for our ignorance. It's easy, because we ARE ignorant and we have an entire culture built on horrific and constantly willful ignorance. We are an easy target and I'm not asking, nor expecting you to be the one to educate us. When we get it though, when we do catch on to something, maybe there's something better to do than just point a finger and laugh and say, "What? You're just *now* getting this?" Yeah. We are just getting it. You're right. It's ridiculous and pathetic. Now what? Do you want to sit there and just point out how stupid we are, or do you want to stand up with us stupid people and help us start to change things and maybe we can make things better for everyone, like you said we should have been doing a long time ago?

  5. @meganphntmgrl - I agree the last paragraph was a mirror image of the excuses given POC communities, and was not meant to be taken as a ringing endorsement of the current policy.

    but there are survivors of sexual abuse in the POC communities, there are survivors of police brutality in these communities, these are not new issues, and have been raised before, my overall point is that, now only that it has started to effect the majority do any of these arguments seem to hold credence.

  6. @Melody

    points well made. The blog article does have a bit of "told you so" mixed in with "oh now it's a problem".

    and you are correct, it is not my job to educate, but there have been many like me who attempted to educate throughout the years, there have been studies, and articles, and statistics, and newspaper articles written by people far better, and more qualified than your truly. The problem is we have been largely ignored, and told "its for your own good", so to see those very same arguments utilized against the majority, and to see that same majority react as we have is not "satisfying" but there is an element of chickens coming home to roost, with a dash of hope that we will be taken seriously in the future.

    I bring up the stop and frisk, not only as a way of saying "we told you so" but also as a way of sayng.. LOOK here is this thing we've been saying for years... please take us seriously when we say its a problem. There may be some people who did not see the similarities between the TSA patdowns, and the Stop and Frisks in many POC communities. If now they see it, good. And I'm sure there is time for coalitions to be made, but:

    When I tell you my neighborhood is being overrun by packs of wild canines and the response is it's not our problem get over it.....
    and then next week people are asking "here in the hell did all these dogs come from" ... there is going to be a moment where people sit back and take in the moment....

  7. Haha, I was going to reply and be very reasonable and agree with you and add in a BUT....but then I read the comments more closely and your responses to people's comments--which dealt with the majority of what I was going to say anyway--and decided that what I was going to say sounded an awful lot like a derailing comment sort of along the lines of wut about teh whites! And I realized I was being stupid.

    Thank you for this blog post. It's very thought-provoking for me, especially after reading this morning. I will be looking at the TSA thing differently now. Thank you!