We may never know for certain what happened to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.
While passing through airport security, Rand was kept from boarding a flight after refusing to undergo a pat-down. Or detained. Or something.
His father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), tweeted: “My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner in Nashville. More details coming.”
The TSA claims that Rand Paul wasn’t detained. He was simply prevented from boarding the flight because he refused to continue with the screening process.
I have to say: Rand Paul may have a point.
If a stranger is asking me to put my hands above my head, either there’s a robbery going on or I’m going through airport security.
If a stranger is asking me for my wallet, keys and cell phone, either there’s a robbery going on or I’m going through airport security.
If a stranger is asking me to remove my sweater and boots and begins lightly stroking my arm, either I’m on a great date with a socially awkward person or I’m going through airport security.
The things we do to get on planes! “I would do anything for love,” Meatloaf sang, “but I won’t do that.” We’ll do that to get on a plane.
But enough is enough.
Airport security screenings, most of the time, are like putting on a sweater because your mother is cold. “Look,” the TSA says, “it would just make us feel a lot better if you stuck your toothpaste in a bag.”
Hundreds of people travel every day by train. By bus. By car. Walking. On fixed-gear bicycles, those durn hipsters. All of these forms of transportation could result in great loss of life, if only because the hipsters bother us to death.
They do not have to go through airport security.
But at airports, it’s a game of pat-down chicken. Walk through a scanner? Okay. Put your shoes on the scanner? Okay. Walk through another, more invasive scanner? Okay. Stand with your arms above your head? Okay. Shake it all about? Sure. Come with me to this closet for seven minutes of unrestricted touching? Anything to stop the terrorists!
Look, we Americans are basically nice people. We hold doors. We like to use those recyclable bags at the grocery store, even though we keep forgetting them. We’re glad to make you happy by doing little things that don’t inconvenience us.
If this is going to help the country, then, sure, we are going to let you search our cavities. Have at ’em!
But it’s getting a bit ridiculous.
Toting a 6-year-old from place to place takes enough toll on you without strangers in blue uniforms treating that 6-year-old like a potential terrorist. I know we’re all equal here. But I thought the equality bit would apply when it came to dividing up something we all actually wanted, like Safety or Cake. Please, give my share of the screening to the sweaty man with something that looks like a violin case. When you intentionally blind yourself to the differences among people, you wind up fumbling around in the dark, bumping a lot of people’s junk in the processs, and no one’s any safer.
I am a millennial, and we tend to approach these things with an attitude of Optimistic Fatalism. The idea that somehow, my putting my toothpaste in a plastic bag will prevent Terrible Things from happening seems completely absurd. The only way to stop Terrible Things is to do what the ATF does and give out free guns.
But there comes a point when we have to put our foot down. Rand Paul hits that point, generally speaking, before most people. He hates those squiggly, new light bulbs! His toilet doesn’t work! He wants people to know! Probably the only reason he objected to the pat-down was that the screeners would discover his full-body tattoo of the Constitution in Braille.
But the man has a point.
I know that inAmerica all people are created equal. But I didn’t realize that this meant we all had to undergo this much airport screening. Grandmothers. Granddaughters. People with metal hips who fought in the wars. Sen. Rand Paul.
“We are happy to make you feel better, TSA,” we say.
But give us a break.