PORTLAND, Ore. - A man who said he was fed up with being harassed by airport security stripped to his birthday suit while in an airport screening lane Tuesday evening and was arrested. According to Portland police, 50-year-old John E. Brennan took off his clothes while going through airport screening at Portland International Airport just after 5:30 p.m. and stood naked before other passengers, including children.
Sure, it was just another “naked man at an airport story.” How many of us haven’t considered doing just what our intrepid hero did? “Security theater” has little, if anything, to do with whatever threats the American flying public faces. More than anything, it’s about creating a security facade, in order that travelers FEEL safe. And it long ago exited the realm of the sublime for the domain of the ridiculous.
Think about it: how is it that a 400ml bottle of liquid is a threat, but four 100ml bottles aren’t? And what about the “no-fly” list? How is it that 21,000 people are too dangerous to be allowed to fly…but not dangerous enough to arrest? Time was when current airport security protocols might have made sense. That’s long since ceased to be the case, but the charade continues. Meanwhile, millions of American continue to shuffle through security checkpoints in mute, sheeplike acquiescence. The moral of the story is that, if you want to fly, you should plan on leaving your 4th Amendment rights at home.
If a terrorist somehow managed to sneak a suppository bomb onto a plane, how long do think it would be before all travelers are subjected to a digital rectal exam?
OK, sir…. Drop your trousers. Bend over. Turn your head to the side and cough….
Yes, that’s an absurd scenario…but can anyone say with certainty that it’s outside the realm of possibility? Then again, getting a free prostate exam might appeal to some folks looking to save money on health care expenses.
Despite repeated requests from Transportation Security Administration screeners and airport police, Brennan refused to put his clothes on and was arrested, the report said. He later told authorities he flies often and “disrobed as a form of protest against TSA screeners who he felt were harassing him.”
What John Brennan did was to give voice (figuratively speaking) to the frustration so many travelers feel. In order to be granted the supreme privilege of boarding an airplane and thereupon being treated like livestock, an American traveler must endure whatever invasion of privacy TSA deems necessary. I’ll own up to having considered doing exactly what Brennan did; how else is one to shine a light on the theater of the absurd that is airport security? How else is a traveler to protest degrading and demeaning invasions of privacy and the suspension of the 4th Amendment rights in the name of the war on terror?
Airport security is a must; I get that. What I fail to understand is how the demeaning and degrading of travelers achieves that. Why are we required to succumb to whatever lunacy a TSA screener decides to visit upon us? Why is the mere act of protesting the silliness deemed a criminal event? Try as I might, I can’t understand why standing up for our 4th Amendment rights in an airport is a criminal offense.
Until and unless more Americans raise their voice (and perhaps even drop trou) in protest, nothing will change. TSA screeners trample the Constitution, as well as the privacy and dignity of travelers, with impunity- because travelers are too scared to stand up for themselves.
Most travelers put up with the insults and indignities because they think they have to trade their constitutional and human rights for security. Hmm…wasn’t it Benjamin Franklin who once said that those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither?
It looks like we’re getting what we deserve, eh?