STFU about the TSA


Thanksgiving is upon us and as I reflect upon all of the things in my life I have to be thankful for one thing is certain, Life is Good.  Sure, there are things that could be better, but when put into perspective I really don’t have much to complain about.  There are people out there with no jobs this holiday season, trying to provide for their families.  There are people who don’t know where their next meal will come from.  There are people, brave men and women, who are over seas fighting for our country who will not see their families and are just trying to make it home in one piece.  I could go on and on with the examples of people who have hardships, more hardships than myself, but lets stop there.  So where am I going this this feel good story?  I am going to the topic that no one can seem to avoid right now, the TSA.

Whether I am on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, around the water cooler, listening to the radio or watching the nightly news I can not seem to escape people bitching about the TSA.  I know this is not going to be a popular sentiment with the readers of my blog, or most of my friends: STFU about the TSA and in particular the TSA Agents.  I get that people don’t like being touched.  I get that people don’t like being seen “naked”.  You have options though, drive or take the train.  Do I think the TSA has gone too far?  To some extent yes, but on the other hand, whether you agree or disagree the goal is to keep us safe.  I’m not going to make this post about whether or not the new procedures are actually helping to keep us safe.  That is a battle for another day.  What I am going to make this post about is how all your bitching, whining, and harassment toward the TSA agents is misdirected.

If you didn’t like a movie that was playing at theaters across the country, would you harass the person selling tickets to the movie?  You know, the kid behind the counter who sells the actual tickets for 8 hours per day, do you harass him?  I hope not.  He is just doing his job.  Whether he agrees with the theater’s choice of showing the movie or not he is trained to stand there and collect money for tickets.  He does it or he loses his job.  I look at TSA Agents the same way, they are doing their jobs.  Don’t like that comparison, ok here is another one.

Do you agree with the war in Iraq?  If the answer is no, do you then harass soldiers when you see them?  What about veterans, do you harass them?  If you do, then you deserve a punch in the face…twice.  You should be thanking them for their service.  You should be picking up their tab at the bar.  You should be glad they are out there doing what we can’t or won’t.  At the end of the day though, these men and women are out there doing their jobs (though a very dangerous one).  Whether or not you agree with the policy that puts them there doesn’t change the fact that they are serving our country and doing what is asked of them.  While I do not put TSA Agents on par with soldiers, I think their goals are the same, to keep people safe.  They are being asked to keep the skies safe by screening thousands of people per day who pass by them.  For the most part, they encounter normal people just trying to get from point A to point B.  Now what about that one passenger who isn’t trying to get from point A to point B?  Would you want the pressure of finding that one in 10 million passenger who’s agenda is to hijack the plan, or worse…blow it up?  I wouldn’t.  There is a lot of pressure that goes along with that job, so for travelers to say TSA agents “take their job too seriously” I’m not sure they understand what it is they are actually tasked with doing.

Lets say the TSA agent doesn’t do his job and lets say he lets someone through who later blows up a plane.  Imagine the backlash from the American public.  Because one guy was not screened thoroughly enough things can be turned upside down.  One could argue that is how we got to where we are today.  What about the agent?  His life will be turned upside down as well, as will every TSA agent currently employed.  It is a thankless job, and it just got a lot harder because now you are harassing these guys and gals.  You refuse to get scanned, then you threaten them about giving you a pat down, then you video tape it, post it on YouTube, and post to Facebook or Twitter for all the world to see.  Thankless doesn’t even describe the position.  For the record, yes there are some TSA Agents who step over their boundaries, but that is true in every profession from cops, to firefighters, to IT folks.  There are always going to be some bad apples.

So I leave you with this:  If you don’t like the policies and want to see them changed, write to your representatives and offer up suggestions on making the policies better but let the TSA Agents do their job and while you are at it thank them for putting up with us.  They want to get in their hours, get home to their families, and collect a pay check like the rest of us.

Hope everyone have a save and happy Thanksgiving.




2 Responses to “STFU about the TSA”

  1. 1 Peter Souza

    I agree – and well said…

    Happy Turkey day!

  2. First of all, I don’t really think your examples are very good examples. In the case of airlines, people don’t necessarily have that much of a choice, at least not on such short notice right now. This “outrage” has been building for only a few weeks, and most of these people are probably already captive audiences to their non-refundable tickets and the like. I like the war/soldier example much better, but people can still certainly bitch, not necessarily to the soldiers, but to the people who ultimately make the decisions.

    The same can be said about the TSA, but for a couple issues. The TSA is being very un-transparent and seemingly unwilling to discuss the issue at all. Every parent or child knows that only leads to more pushing. Second, this is government we’re talking about. If top policy angers people, then it is unfortunate to put the TSA agents in the middle. One would hope that the policy-makers work on *their* end to stop putting their own employees into that position.

    Secondly, while I won’t necessarily say which side of the fence I am on about TSA procedures (and I’m probably closer to the fence than away from it on either side), I won’t begin to start judging those people who do demonstrate or express their viewpoint, even if it means giving a little bit of grief to TSA agents. If that causes them to become an agent of change, then our governmental/cultural system may be working. I hate to denounce that process as long as we’re just inconveniencing people and not turning into violent protests. We’re amazingly blessed with our “civilized” ways of pushing back against government, and many, many other people do not have that privilege.

    Third, you hit on what I believe is a major, major, major problem in our culture, with your example about what if one guy gets through an agent and blows up a plane. I think it perpetuates the problem to think we need to cover our asses enough to avoid lawsuits. If that is your argument, then let’s go even further in our security/safety efforts at our airports, because we have to not let even a single person through for fear of a lawsuit against a government.

    Lastly, I think it’s a bad situation when the TSA agents just want to pick up their paychecks and go home. I don’t care what measures they implement, that sort of attitude will not prevent much. That is also part of the probem when we solve these “important” risks (arguable) with not-the-best-paid-people in the world. Many of them (no offense to the exceptions) seem a half step above baggage handlers in back.

    Other than our cultural issue with lawsuits and passing the blame around, I think this whole TSA issue is caused by a lack of transparency in TSA (lots of security measures are far more palatable when not surprise! forced on people), and lack of dialogue between policy-makers and normal people.

    There is also the problem of whether we’re going too far to solve a problem that isn’t solvable. It is almost always painful, even in cyber/computer security, when two people meet up with different viewpoints on security. If one person believes only in perfect security and the other does not and instead believes in incremental risk acceptance, sparks will *always* fly once the discussion/practice starts.

    Yada yada. 🙂

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