Recently our bud Ryan shared with us the following video, which he took on New Year’s Eve. It details his “families experience with TSA at Sky Harbor International Airport.” Below the video are some of my favorite lines and a bit of analysis.
Ryan: “This is blatant disregard for everybody’s individual rights. Blatant.”
TSA agent: [inaudible] “Then don’t fly”
Ryan: “Don’t fly? That’s a false option. That’s a false choice.”
Ryan: “If that man was not wearing a blue shirt and a little tin badge, what he’s doing, would you not consider that sexual molestation?”
Phoenix cop: “It is not sexual assault. You are submitting to screening.”
Ryan: “I don’t want to get molested by another man.”
Phoenix cop: “Then take the bus.”
Overall, Ryan did an excellent job. He was prepared – he had a camera and was knowledgeable about the issue. And he stood up for his rights, questioning the arbitrary statements the TSA agents and cops hurled his way. And most-importantly, he stressed the fact that those with badges don’t have extra rights (heard not only by those with badges but the larger audience of others in the vicinity).
When a TSA agent told Ryan that he’s “interfering with our screening process” (a phrase the TSA likely trains their agents to use, hoping its veiled threats will deter people from exercising their rights and holding them accountable) Ryan reacted not by backing down but by asking questions. The TSA agent was caught off-guard to such an extent that he not only didn’t answer Ryan’s questions but attempted to block his camera with a plastic bin. Real professional.
Though admittedly difficult to do while recording and conversing, it would have been good if Ryan would have captured the names of those individuals with whom he was interacting (I didn’t go through the video frame-by-frame to see if I could discern their names but that may be possible).
If you find yourself in a similar situation, try to get a clear, steady shot of each of the name badges of those with whom you’re interacting and spell their name aloud. Doing so communicates to them that they personally will be held accountable for their actions (which helps to safeguard your rights while on the scene and assist in any call flood or other follow-up). Otherwise they are protected by the anonymity of being just another “TSA agent” or “Phoenix cop”, and we’re already well-aware of just how difficult it is to hold accountable these government agents who purport to work for us.
It’s probable that some may take issue with Ryan’s more-extreme claims – likening TSA practices to those of Nazi Germany, making them less-receptive to his message. But personally, I believe such parallels need to be made, to demonstrate the gravity of the situation we face.
Two more small critiques (again, from an interaction that overall was superb) are firstly, that Ryan, at least initially, allowed the Phoenix cop to control which direction his camera faced (away from the checkpoint area). And secondly, that Ryan got a little off-topic (~8:45) when he shifted from asking questions to making statements. Though he was pointing out the gross inefficiencies of the TSA (a valid, related point) it changed the direction of the conversation and gave the cops more wiggle room since they were no longer discussing their actions related to Ryan and the immediate situation.
Keep up the great work Ryan!