Tag Archives: security

The TSA’s War against Reality

It's funny because it's true. Actually, it's not funny because it's true.

It’s funny because it’s true. Actually, it’s not funny because it’s true.

These are all true stories, every single panel. I did overhear a TSA agent laughing about a dildo in a carryon bag on the X-ray conveyor belt. My husband did get detained because the TSA determined that gluten free flour tested positive for explosives. A TSA agent did take my unopened packages of hummus and yogurt, insisting they were liquids, because, if you turned them upside down, they would fall out. My father does say what he says in panel 4, female Israeli soldiers with Uzis do interrogate you if you walk through the door of El Al, and I really did accidentally carry a switchblade through security, and a TSA agent really did find it, decide it couldn’t possibly be mine, and ask me what I wanted him to do.

Airport security in this country feels broken, perhaps because we’ve given the TSA so much power, and so many of those agent don’t seem especially intelligent, generating a system where ignorant bullies have carte blanche to take out their insecurities on people who just want to go see their families. It would be nice if we weren’t all treated like terrorists, considering that the TSA apparently couldn’t catch a terrorist if they ran naked through security with a stick of dynamite in their mouth. Everything about airline travel is pretty messed up, but security is just a joke. I can’t count the number of times people have told me they didn’t even realize they had knives in their bag until they got home. The TSA misses all the dangerous stuff, and then ruins people’s day over 3 bags of gluten free flour. Plus, they talk to you like you’re the idiot.

It’s frustrating, and all we can do about, as far as I can tell, is bitch on the Internet. I actually wrote the “hummus is liquid” story on one of my old blogs, and I get a lot of mileage out of the switchblade story at parties. We’ve given up real freedom for imaginary security.

Dragon Comics 88

Also, dragons are so pretty they'll get everything for free.

Also, dragons are so pretty they’ll get everything for free.

This comic is about privilege. White privilege, class privilege, cis privilege, hetero privilege, whatever. It’s pretty much all the same. I should know, because while people who know me will attest that I’m a freak on, like, a lot of levels, to the casual observer all of that is hidden. What shows on the surface are the lucky accidents of birth. I’m super-privileged.

I think about it a lot, even if I’m not talking about it. But it happened again yesterday: I got waved through to the pre-screen security line in one of the world’s largest airports. I didn’t have to wait in line, I didn’t have to take off my shoes or my jacket or take out my computer or my phone. A guy sized me up as I took 3 steps toward him and determined I was not a security risk and forced a privilege upon me.

And it occurred to me that this happens as often as not in any big airport. I’ve gotten waved through to the special lane lots of times, and I never get pulled out for extra scrutiny. The only time my luggage has ever been searched was when I borrowed someone else’s suitcase, and unbeknownst to me, this person had left a 6-inch switchblade in the side pocket. The TSA agent pulled it out, laughed, said, “This isn’t yours is it?” and let me go.

I was caught carrying a switchblade through airport security, and the federal employee whose job it is to address crime took a single glance at me, determined I was not capable of criminal activity, and laughed it off. We laughed about it together. There was a heartbeat when I thought, “Well, I’m not going to LA today; I’m going to jail.” But I look white, and female, and straight, and well-off, and not like a security risk, so that TSA agent never suspected that I have carried contraband through airport security on more than one occasion.

And then there’s all the times in my life that I was doing something illegal and cops didn’t even bother to look twice.

Privilege means knowing that mistakes are going to be made in your favor. It’s the freedom to assume that the rules don’t apply to you. It’s a careless security.