Interesting Times

Nobody seems to know for certain where the phrase “may you live in interesting times” originated. No matter. During more than a month of absence from posting here, I have come to understand those six words are as much curse as blessing.

A pre-election day trip to Philadelphia reminded me of the vast differences between Benjamin Franklin’s time and ours, but the trip also reinforced a nagging sense that Tyranny remains the same in every age.

Consider the current flap (links here, here, here) over full-body scanners (FBS) newly installed in airports. Maybe the picture to the left offers a clue about what comes next?

On Thursday evening (10/14), my mother and I arrived at STL.  We entered the Southwest terminal with plenty of time to spare (or so we thought). Neither of us knew much about FBSs … much less that they were in place. No more than a handful of the multitude in line with us knew either!

People in front, behind and to either side in the zig-zag security line expected, like my mom and me, to board flights set for departures around 7 p.m.. Long story short, most were still standing in line past the appointed hour of departure! (Remind me, please:  what’s the point of an “A” boarding pass??!) The culprit:  a so-called “rapid scan” FBS.

Having learned a few things about traveling from my younger daughter, I had already removed any incidental metal on my person. Choosing the magnetic scanner line, I moved smoothly through … no problemo.

But my mom lives with a titanium stint implanted just below her heart; without fail, she’s going to set off the *@#&! equipment. Keep in mind, this is an 84 year old woman who might weigh all of 125 pounds. Security threat? You be the judge. [Yes, she has a doctor’s note somewhere, but doesn’t travel often enough to recall where she put it!]

We were already stressed due to the security line boondoggle. The magnanimous bullies … er, employees … of the TSA offered her a choice of full-body scan or invasive pat-down. Ever the “model” citizen, Mom cheerfully complied, entering the full-body scan device.

Having made my way through the magnetic scanner, I was so busy retrieving my scattered belongings, I didn’t notice until this gentle lady was posing for the peepshow! Then, all I could think was how dare they subject my aging mom to this humiliating farce!

So naturally, when I heard about the young man warning a TSA employee “don’t touch my junk,” I rejoiced. BRAVO!

In much the same way as Americans expressed their convictions en masse on November 2nd, thirty-one year old John Tyner has drawn his own courageous line in the sand. I applaud him for his steadfastness.

Tyner’s refusal won’t be nearly enough. The TSA will continue trampling our personal privacy, with the pretense these measures somehow enhance our “safety.” [Why, pray tell, is the TSA so hell-bent on discouraging airline travel? That will surely be the subject of a future post.]

But this shot across the bow, line in the sand, push-back against “the man” … it’s a start, and the reason I say we live in interesting times. One election isn’t going to stem the tide toward socialism. A lone man standing against the bureaucracy (or staring down a tank in Tienanmen Square) isn’t the big win. But it’s a start.

Is this what it felt like for the Founding Fathers? A bewildering mix of exhilaration and trepidation?

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