I flew for the last time in 2006. As the advent of the TSA and Homeland Security began to entrench, and sink its tentacles into the American public’s civil liberties, I became very skeptical of the entire airport check-in process. I already was irritated at the plethora of paperwork needed to pass inspection, and also the lengthy delays at security zones. However, I forgave those in the interest of security, because in the long run, they are reasonable precautions. But when the shoe bomber did his thing and we were required to take off our shoes, things got way more ridiculous. After that, the requirement to put all liquids in 3oz bottles and place them in clear baggies came along, I snorted in disbelief. Still, I flew.
Then I got patted down.
Heading up to Maine for a vacation in 2006, I was randomly selected to be patted down by a TSA agent at the Atlanta airport. It wasn’t the intrusive pat-downs we see today, but it was a pat-down. A female guard snapped on white gloves, which is scary enough, and she took out the wand and passed it up and down my body. I hated that. Then she touched me on the back and the arms and legs. I HATED that. I was compliant. I was upset but kept my cool. I did remark to them that I felt it was an intrusion into my privacy and a violation of my civil liberties. The TSA agents vaulted into action. They threatened to take me aside and complete a more extensive inspection…they threatened to make me miss my plane…they threatened all sorts of things, all the while surrounding me. Another bunch of agents came out of nowhere and closed in. More threats on their side. I looked numbly at the circle around me and wondered where the land of John Adams went. I said no thank you and turned to walk into the passenger area. They did not follow.
At that moment I decided that the convenience of air travel was not worth personal violation at the hands of the government, and I never flew again. And I never will.