A student returning from the National Association of the Deaf conference in Louisville had this lovely run-in with the TSA:
While I was going through the TSA, some of them started laughing in my direction. I thought it might’ve been someone behind me, but I found out otherwise.
They went through my bag (for no reason), and found a couple bags of candy I brought. I was told I wasn’t allowed to fly with that (wtf? I’ve flown with food before — these were even sealed still because I brought them right in the airport). I was then asked if I would like to donate the candy “To the USO”. Since I know the airport there has an Air National Guard base, and I figured it would go to the soldiers, I (annoyed) said sure, why not?
The guards, as I was getting scanned, started eating the candy they just told me was for the soldiers. In front of me, still laughing at me (very clearly now). One of them asked why they were laughing, and one of them came up to me, pointed at my shirt, laughed at me and said, “Fucking deafie”. The Louisville TSA called me a “fucking deafie” and laughed at me because I was deaf, and they expected wouldn’t say anything back (or wouldn’t hear them). Make no bones about it — she was facing me and I read her lips. There was no mistake. I would later find out that they had called at least 4 other individuals the same thing.
It’s disgusting but not entirely surprising: there are assholes and they walk among us. But the real question is why did no one else do anything to stop it. Why did no one say anything? I’m sure some people just didn’t notice–you would be amazed at what people can miss. And I’m sure some people thought it was funny (again, assholes among us). But there were probably some people who were scared to speak up. Maybe the TSA agents would give you grief. Maybe they would make you miss your flight. Maybe you would be detained or even put on the Kafkaesque threat lists (the government doesn’t even have to confirm that you’re on the list, let alone tell you why) and always given the third degree. Better off keeping your head down and just avoiding trouble.
And it’s not just the TSA. It’s our various systems of governance, many of which are private. Don’t contest the ridiculous surcharges, they might just accuse you of being late, or find some other fine print to nail you with. Exercise your rights in court and they come back at you twice as hard.
The only way this stops is if these animals–and that is exactly what they are–are removed from their positions of power. It’s one thing to just go through the motions and not give a damn, but to actively wreak havoc? People must be punished, because appealing to the better angels of our–actually their–nature isn’t working.
And this is how it always starts: step by step, you are convinced to surrender your freedom, your dignity. Until we are one Nation, United Under Fear.