I was traveling by air again yesterday. As usual, I went through airport security and, as usual, I set off the buzzer with my platinum hip, which try as I might, I just can’t get into one of those gray plastic trays. As usual, I was directed to the cattle pen waiting area until an agent could give me my enhanced pat-down, because also as usual, the quick, convenient, preferable and unjustly maligned full body scanners weren’t available.
I was asked if I was familiar with the new procedures, to which I answered, “You have no idea.” And the nice, friendly, professional agent game me the full-body massage, but with a difference: now, as he pointed out carefully, he was directed to use only the back of his hand when approaching my happy places, and he was extremely careful to avoid any touching that would make Sean Hannity complain on the radio.
All the bitching, you see, worked. I’m sure the new version of the pat-down won’t satisfy the critics that compare it to rape, and it won’t end calls, including mine, for rational discretion and limited profiling. Still, the fact that angry and vocal complaints from travelers, bloggers, columnists, prominent figures, civil libertarians and conservatives persuaded the Transportation Security Administration, whose initial reaction to them was to shrug and say, “Tough noogies! We’ll do what we damn choose,” to alter its procedures so quickly demonstrates how critical is for citizens to follow their instincts, voice their outrage when they feel mistreated by the government, and refuse to back down just because would-be Big Brothers in government agencies order them to. In this democracy, there is a duty to bitch. Make the government accountable; don’t let it get away with lazy, half-thought out, inconsiderate measures that make us the victims of their arrogance and incompetence. When America stops bitching, or the government stops paying attention when it bitches, all is lost.
To all those editorial staffs, liberal columnists (don’t ask me why so many liberals defended the feel-up pat-downs; you won’t like the answer), and Obama officials who said, either literally or in effect, “Shut up and stop whining!,” I say: You were wrong. And you owe us an apology.
And next time you fly…you’re welcome.