Wil Wheaton is one of the supporting cast on the SyFy show Eureka, which films in Vancouver. When he flew from Los Angeles to begin his work on the show yesterday, he exercised his right to opt-out of the nude radiation bath and submit to a pat-down instead. As his blog post explains, he was subjected to near molestation levels of aggressive groping.
I have ranted about the TSA and the nonsense “security theater” more than a few times in these ramblings. The current options of humiliation or humiliation + radiation do not make the skies safer. A terrorist who wants to hide explosives will eat them or shove them up a body cavity, invisible to the scanner or groping. TSA-sanctioned irradiating or molestations are a violation of our civil rights in the hopes of creating an illusion of security. But until there is a sustained public backlash, the TSA will not voluntarily change (nor will the U.S. Government bother to change it).
I was very saddened to read about Wil’s experience. As an actor I’ve followed since the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation, he has a higher profile than many other Americans who have felt equally violated. Perhaps his story will be more widely distributed, and start the conversation again. Who knows. But either way, this is not an issue that simply “complainers” whine about but means nothing—this is a real civil rights issue. The more we allow our rights to be whittled away because we let others deceive us into thinking it’s for “our own good,” the more likely we will wake up one day in a police state, wondering how we let it go that far.
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
—Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759