Thank you for participating in security

“Thank you for participating in security.”*

This statement from the TSA is one of the more annoying aspects of flying today.

Because the statement assumes 1.) That what they’re doing is helping avert disasters 2.) That our compliance is in no way coerced 3.) That we have to need of 4 year olds to receive positive affirmation 4.) That we’re players.

And I’m just gonna stop there.

The statement appears on the first signs in the Secure Area (of at least the LAX/Ontario airport in California), which helps to manipulate all of us into compliance by assuming we will be.

The condescension also assists in putting everyone in their place by subtlety demonstrating that whatever power we may think we have disappears upon entry into the line. It’s the tone people who dislike children take when they think the kid’s being smart.

Every time I encounter the sign, I have the urge to do something that asserts my independence and voice. I don’t because what immediately follows is the pragmatic cost/benefit analysis that places more weight on making it to my destination on time and without spending extra money.

Becoming complicit with the demeaning and belittling of myself and everyone else who walks through TSA’s security stage is the most annoying aspect of walking past that sign and, by extension, flying in the U.S. currently.

Not knowing how to use the system to fix itself, without extreme personal cost, is the second. I remember the events and steps that brought us to this point, and I remember not enough push back from society, and utter contempt for those who voiced dissent. So for those of us who still search, ten years later, foe ways to keep our power and authority, but need to fly, what’s the best way? Do the channels of change even still exist?

I wrote most everything above on my flight to Kentucky. I was lucky when I walked through security, in that I had a choice to opt out of the full-body scanners by picking the metal detector line. (It’s a sad statement on our current policies that I feel lucky to have made it through the security area without being hassled by the agents) I was going to hold off on this post, for no other reason than not to post too much today.

But then I read** Lori Dorn‘s experience on the same day at a different airport, and my heart broke for her and sparked my anger. In the U.S. we have rights that we never should relinquish, regardless of how safe it makes some people feel. I choose to speak. We all need to be treated as humans. Which means every person (and I mean every) is treated respectfully and with dignity. We don’t cease to be people simply by walking past a sign.


*Apparently the signs went up several years ago, but I had a very difficult time finding a picture online.

**Thanks BoingBoing!