I refuse to participate

November 13, 2010 8:30 pm

I was going to wait to write this post until I'd written the letters I intend to send, but I want to write this now while there is some media attention on the matter.

I refuse to participate in the TSA's X-ray backscatter devices. I refuse to participate in the TSA's "enhanced" (read: extra-invasive) pat-downs.

Given that we purchased our plane tickets for Christmas many weeks ago before the TSA changed its pat-down procedure, December will be the last time I fly on a plane until some semblance of rationality is restored to the screening process.

I put up with the normal pat-down; it was an inconvenience but no worse than being frisked at a concert. However, I won't put up with the new pat-downs.

I don't consider a full-body scan a reasonable condition for boarding a plane. I don't consider a full-body pat-down a reasonable condition for boarding a plane. I will travel by means that have sane security checks or I will not travel.

I plan to write a letter explaining my position and sending it to all the major airlines, the FAA, the TSA, and my congressional representatives. It will be sad if the only way to get this to change is to destroy the air travel industry. But apparently we need to convince some large corporations that the TSA is hurting their business.

Yes, not traveling by air will be inconvenient. But there are options. I've been looking into long-distance travel with Amtrak. You can book private bedrooms. They're not amazingly cheap, but I'm willing to travel less often and spend more if it means maintaining some semblance of my civil rights. I've already written to Amtrak explaining why they have a perfect opportunity to make me happy to travel again. I really hope they don't disappoint me.

I hope more people will join me in refusing to participate in the TSA's invasive and demeaning security checks. We are law-abiding citizens. We shouldn't be treated like criminals just to travel within our own country.

I felt completely safe boarding planes with an X-ray scan of luggage and a simple metal detector. I will feel perfectly safe returning to that level of security.

4 thoughts on “I refuse to participate”

  1. Good luck. Just don't gripe too much about your civil rights being violated on your upcoming trip or you may get more attention than you want.

    I'm afraid we will never see you again. It is a long way from CA to CT and unfortunately Amtrak is a joke. However, at least there is a route that runs pretty directly across the country from where you are to where we are. It will take 3 days each way though. Still that's better than train travel in most areas where you can't get anywhere near where you want to go. Amtrak will solve that for you by putting you on a bus. So unless you want to spend a week just getting here and back and spend several times the cost of airfare, we'll never see you again.

    Aunt Joyce and I took Amtrak from Springfield, MA to Provo 7 or 8 years ago and it was a nightmare. First we were seated in a commuter car that was every bit as cramped as an airline seat. You could not get anything out from under your seat. There wasn't room because your knees hit the seat ahead of you. When we switched trains in Albany we saw that some people were in real train cars which are quite spacious so we asked what the deal was. We were told they were for people going "long distance" not like the short jaunt from Massachusetts to Illinois, I guess. Anyway, Chicago was the end of the line for that train. We did get moved to another car but the door didn't close on this one unless you pushed it manually which no one did because they're supposed to close by themselves. This meant every time someone walked thru the car the door was left open. It was February and the temps were below zero outside. It was like traveling across Siberia. The wind howled thru and snow blew in and just laid on the floor without ever melting. To top it off the toilet didn't work. Since Joyce and I were seated in the back near the broken door it became our job throughout the entire long freezing night to get up and close the door every time someone came thru. The conductor did it for a while but he went to bed at night. We got no sleep at all as we were desperately trying to find a way to stay warm and continually getting up to close the door.

    The train we boarded in Chicago broke down in Kansas leaving us stranded there for several hours.

    On the return trip we had the opposite problem. The train was so hot I couldn't breathe. Finally I got up and went to the cafe car and despite dirty looks from the staff for spending hours just sitting there, spent the bulk of the return trip there. I decided I was done just passively putting up with the crap.

    I'm in favor of train travel. I like trains and I don't mind the time they take. However, when they can't keep the temperature in my comfort zone -say somewhere between zero and a hundred and the toilets don't flush on a 24 hour trip and they put you on a commuter car with no leg room because they have no spare "rolling stock" etc. the traveling becomes unpleasant.

    This country does not value rail travel other than for commuting and has not invested any money in maintaining that option for decades. I don't see any hope for improvement. I'm afraid you'll have to resign yourself to only going where you can drive. Well, there's always the bus! I hear that's always a swell experience and you meet the most interesting people.

  2. Maybe with enough hub-bub the TSA will cut back on their "security" measures before we have to fly at Christmas. I'm really not looking forward to a)letting everyone see an essentially nude picture of me or b) letting someone rub their hands all over me. Eeeew.

  3. Thought you'd like to know I emailed both of our senators and our congressman and President Obama to urge support for eliminating the new TSA procedures. I expect things will change immediately now that they've heard from me.

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