dimanche 27 mars 2011

Dear flyer

Dear flyer,

This letter is addressed to people who are planning to fly, and concerns the invasive screening procedures (naked body scanners, groping pat-downs) in place by the TSA.

This letter is not addressed to you if any of the following applies:
  • You haven't heard about the invasive screening procedures
  • You support the screening procedures claiming "safety first", or "anything for safety".
In this case, instead of reading this letter, read my previous blog post, where I explain why these procedures are wrong, or, better yet, watch this video by security expert Bruce Schneier, where he explains why they are pointless security theater.

This letter applies to you if all of the following conditions are true. If any are not true, then this letter is irrelevant to you.

Condition 1 – You are flying
This letter applies to you if you are planning to fly a commercial airline in, from, to, or over the United States (or anywhere else where the naked body scanners are being used). You are flying for any of the following reasons:
  • Life or death emergency, or
  • Requirement for work, or
  • Leisure/vacation
This letter is primarily addressed to those flying for leisure/vacation, but does also apply to those who must fly.

Condition 2 – You disagree with the TSA screenings
This letter applies to you if you agree with at least one of the following:
  • The body scanners are ineffective, or
  • The body scanners are a waste of taxpayer money, or
  • The body scanners and/or pat-downs are a waste of time, or
  • The body scanners may emit cancer-causing radiation, or
  • The body scanners and/or pat-downs are an invasion of privacy, or
  • The body scanners and/or pat-downs are an attack on basic human dignities, or
  • The pat-downs can be likened to molestation or sexual assault, or
  • The body scanners and/or pat-downs violate the fourth amendment

Condition 3 – You are doing nothing to protest
This letter applies to you if you have not done a single action from the following list (it really should apply if you have done less than 4 or 5 items from the list):
  • Participated in a protest against the TSA screenings
  • Plan to, or have actually executed, a personal protest when going through security at the airport. This includes any of the following actions:
    • Wearing a t-shirt clearly protesting the TSA's actions. For example, a t-shirt which says "Hands off, TSA"
    • Handing out a copy of the Constitution (or at least the Bill of Rights) to the TSA agents screening you through security
    • Wearing messages on your skin or clothes clearly protesting the TSA's actions (ex: references to the fourth amendment)
    • Refusing to go through the body scanner and pat-down
  • Written a letter to your House of Representatives congressman about the invasive screenings.
  • Written a letter to both your senators
  • Written a letter to the president
  • Written a letter to the TSA
  • Written a letter to one or more airlines
  • Handed out flyers or other literature on the street raising awareness about the invasive screening procedures

    My message to you
    If conditions 1, 2 and 3 all apply to you, this is my message to you:

    I almost hope that you are selected for a naked body scan and a groping pat-down when you fly. Unfortunately, experiencing this humiliation first hand may be the only way to encourage you to take action toward stopping the invasive screening procedures.

    Please note that I am not hoping for any permanent damage (like cancer from the scanner, or serious emotional trauma from a pat-down).  I just believe that having an experience which is embarrassing or humiliating enough to spur you into taking some action would have a positive end result.

    If this seems offensive or immoral to wish this on anybody, I would like to point out that disagreeing with the TSA invasive screening procedures, and at the same time supporting the tyranny while continuing to fly, while doing absolutely nothing to protest these invasive actions, is the truly offensive and immoral action.

    I regret that I have to wish this humiliation on anybody, but for those who disagree with the procedures, yet do nothing about it (except contributing to it by continuing to fly), this is simply what is required to motivate them to take at least some action.

    If you find yourself offended by my message to you, all you have to do is choose as many of the protesting actions from condition 3 as possible (really, most of them are quite easy!), do these actions, and I will no longer wish this humiliation upon you :)

    (As a side note, I do also hope that those who promote the idea of "anything for safety" are also humiliated at the airport, pushing them into realization and then action, but it is more urgent to motivate those who already disagree to take action).

    Excuses for non-action
    If you believe there is nothing you can do to protest, please see above condition 3. There are several ideas.

    If you believe that you cannot make a difference, or that any attempt at trying to protest is futile since "this generation" is too apathetic to make a difference, I believe a scene from the movie Contact illustrates the flaw in this thinking. In this scene, the main character Ellie Arroway is frustrated that she is not chosen for a mission, based on unfair criteria. She complains that this is not fair, to which the person chosen for the mission, David Drumlin, basically replies "life isn't fair":

    David Drumlin: I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that's an understatement. What you don't know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world.

    Ellie Arroway: Funny, I've always believed that the world is what we make of it.

    The key here is Ellie's response: "the world is what we make of it". The world is what we make of it. If you believe the current generation is too apathetic to make a difference, yet you are not willing to even attempt to make a difference, or you are waiting for somebody else to take action, then the problem is really you. You and I decide what kind of world we want to live in.

    Thank you for your time, dear flyer.

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