I’ve been thinking about what punishment, if any, TSA front line workers deserve from us. Eric Schneie’s Classical Values blog has helped me come to a firm conclusion.
Front-line TSA workers deserve all the contempt, ridicule, harassment and non-cooperation that we can heap upon them. Let’s make their jobs miserable. Well, even more miserable.
Amazing as it may sound, the government is trying to get people to feel sorry for the TSA screeners.
“Our concern is that the public not confuse the people implementing the policies with the people who developed the policies,” said Sharon Pinnock, the union’s director of membership and organization.I love it.“Don’t blame me! I was just following orders!”
It would be nice if Ms. Pinnock could have at least provided a few names of those who deserve blame. As she says, “the people who developed the policies.”
But of course, the “the people who developed the policies” are anonymous apparatchiks too.
Because they have created an insular and near-anonymous system, no one is really accountable and there is no one to blame — as even members of Congress discovered when they tried ever so gently to ask TSA administrator John Pistole if he might consider backing off just a little.
I’m not saying everyone should get kicked off flights or get themselves arrested. But the right thing to do is to make sure every TSA goon knows exactly how you feel. If they decide to give you extra crap for having a bad attitude, what of it? Be sure you have your cell phone recording every time you go through gate-rape. Give the system a little heartburn every time you encounter it.
It doesn’t matter that TSA agents didn’t make the policy. It doesn’t matter that many of them are perfectly nice people. It doesn’t matter that were you in their place, you probably wouldn’t quit your job either over the new policy.
People keep saying that they don’t want to be treated like cogs in a machine. Let’s treat TSA workers like adult moral agents. They have also earned the contempt that everyone up their chain of command deserves too.
But wait a minute. Isn’t this a little like Tim McVeigh holding accountable the day care workers and little kids in the Oklahoma City federal building? Uh, no, not really. There were probably very few people who died in that bombing who supported or contributed to Ruby Ridge or Waco. Had McVeigh gone after Lon Horiuchi (the federal sniper who murdered Vicki Weaver and whose trigger-happy behavior probably sparked the Waco disaster), I would certainly have not considered McVeigh a moral monster, even if I might have disagreed with him about vigilante justice.
And I’m not talking about killing TSA agents. I’m not even advocating here for civil disobedience. I’m only talking about shaming them.
All TSA agents are fully aware of the new policies and are participating directly in their enforcement. In deference to Godwin’s law, I will omit analogies to concentration camp guards and will skip pasting in Hannah Arendt quotes. Instead, I’ll just ask, What kind of a dumbass do you have to be to think that TSA front-line agents aren’t actively morally involved and accountable for this?
I’ll let Eric Schneie deliver the coup de grace:
In the old days, people didn’t go for that “just going my job” crap.” They held the guys who did things to people responsible for their actions and they resorted to things like tar and feathers.
What else could they do? Petition King George? A lot of good that would have done.
Might as well petition Congress, which lacks the authority to petition John Pistole, because after all, he is only doing his job, and he really isn’t ultimately in charge. (As to who really is in charge, they’re anonymous as well as interchangeable, and for their own safety you little people have no right to know who or where they are.)
POSTSCRIPT. Just to be very clear, I’m not advocating the assassination of Lon Horiuchi. But if I ever met him, I wouldn’t shake his hand and I’d tell him to his face he’s a miserable little murderer. Remember all the shit people gave OJ Simpson after he was acquitted? Horiuchi should be similarly ostracized. He probably would be were he as instantly recognizable as the Juice Monster.
Horiuchi’s behavior at Waco very probably was the proximate cause of all those deaths. He was accused of firing several shots without orders, but denied it and got away with it. Tim McVeigh was seriously pissed and blamed Horiuchi for Waco. Then Horiuchi gets assigned to Ruby Ridge, and he murders Vicki Weaver, shooting her dead while she’s holding a baby. Horiuchi claimed “oops, I missed–I meant to kill one of the men. Lucky shot, wasn’t that?” Sorry, that second bite gives me all I need to refuse Horiuchi the benefit of the doubt about the malice of the first one. The government finally settled a wrongful death suit for millions with the Weaver family, refusing any admission of wrongdoing. And, once again, Horiuchi kept his job.
Now, imagine you’re Tim McVeigh, convinced, and probably correctly so, that Ron Horiuchi’s bloody recklessness caused the deaths of 74 people. The government protected its own and let him get away with it scot free. Then, a little while later, Horiuchi kills a woman who is literally holding a baby. And, once again, the federal government turns a blind eye. Had McVeigh taken out Horiuchi, we’d have understood. We cheer this kind of revenge in the movies.
Take this thought experiment a step further: Assume that McVeigh understood the points quoted above–that the problem wasn’t just Horiuchi, but the faceless, unaccountable Borg bureaucracy that used him as a weapon and protected him when he misfired. The bureacracy doesn’t care about collateral damage, and are attacking his friends purely because of their “radical” beliefs. Why not tit for tat, an eye for an eye? I’ll see your 20 children and raise you 19…
Here’s where McVeigh turned into a terrorist. When you start seeing it as ok to target and kill people only because they are associated with an organization or group you don’t like, you’ve crossed a bright line. You are a terrorist at heart if you believe some people deserve to die just because they’re “part of the machine,” not because of having personally committed actual crimes worthy of capital punishment. (Yes, this applies to Muslims who support suicide bombings, even if they’d never strap one on themselves.)
McVeigh wanted to kill random federal law enforcement officers, preferably from multiple agencies, and either he didn’t care or he thought it was poetic justice, to blow up a daycare center to get the job done. At the end of the day, the genocidal mindset is just a subset of the general terrorist mindset, and there’s no logically limiting factor in who you can justify killing once you push off and start tobogganing down this very slippery slope. McVeigh went very quickly from wanting Ron Horiuchi brought to justice to condemning all federal law enforcement officers to it being ok to murder their children too. Why not keep going and indict all taxpayers who voluntarily pay salaries to the feds?
This is what demonization means, and how it works psychodynamically.
Now, ask yourself , was the government behavior at Waco and Ruby Ridge consistent with the terrorist mindset as I’ve described it above? Reckless disregard for collateral damage; a belief that any level of violence is justified to deal with the problem; Demonization of a hated group of people that you treat as an existential threat to your own culture and goals; reckless disregard for collateral damage, or perhaps even an ugly satisfaction in inflicting it.
Under Janet Reno, the US Justice Department really was a terrorist organization.