Category Archives: politics

TSA

My mother, who is a wonderful, caring, sarcastic, snuggly, amazing woman, went through TSA security a few weeks ago from SeaTac airport. She refused the new scanners, and was “treated” to the new uber-invasive, horribly insulting public feeling up that is now common-place–and disgusting.

My mother is also a breast cancer survivor. Three years ago, she discovered a very small, very “well-behaved” tumor in her left breast (quote from the oncologist). Instead of chemo or any other type of treatment, she decided to get a bilateral mastectomy so that she would never, ever have to worry about breast cancer again. Don’t worry, this has a very happy ending; she’s still here, still kicking, walking, making amazing quilts, trading snarky comments with me, and being the fabulous person she’s always been. She didn’t get reconstructive surgery; she doesn’t wear a bra or undershirt with prosthetics inserted. She wears what she wears with dignity and grace, and other than the occasional scarf, she doesn’t hide the fact that she clearly doesn’t have breasts.

This is the part where I really get going, and you’ll see why I described my mom in detail. I read an account written by a woman who recently went through TSA security to get on a plane so she could go home. This woman, who is a rape survivor, describes how she was treated in this TSA “pat-down”, as they’re calling it. Here’s the link to that article:

http://www.adn.com/2011/04/16/1813827/i-was-gate-raped-by-my-government.html

My mother, who refused to go through the new TSA x-ray machines on the grounds that these machines are not as safe as TSA and the government say they are (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/03/tsa-radiation-test-bungling/), was also treated to one of these “pat-downs”. In full view of everyone else in the security line, the TSA screener did her job. She did ask my mom if she wanted to go into a screened area for some privacy, but my awesome mom said, clearly, “No. People need to see what you do here.”

Thankfully, my mom doesn’t have a horrifying sexual assault in her past whose memories were triggered by the TSA pat-down. She said she stood and let the TSA screener do her job, in full view of all of those people. She described the gloved hands that felt along the inside of the waistband of her pants, down around inside the edges of the collar of her shirt, down both legs and arms, and then down the center of her chest and under her breasts.

Wait… Remember how I said my mom had that bilateral mastectomy? The screener swept her hands down the center of my mom’s chest, as though my mom was wearing a bra, and then swept her fingers underneath…nothing. Apparently the screener was a little bit puzzled by this, but she was very professional and went about completing her job. My mom put her outer layer of clothes back on (the shoes, the belt, the jacket, etc.) and went about getting on her plane.

Wil Wheaton, star of TV and screen, also recently had an encounter with a TSA screening:

http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/wwdnbackup/2011/04/i-dont-feel-safe-i-feel-violated-humiliated-and-angry.html

And then there’s this poor little girl who was selected for further screening:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tsa-congress-vow-to-review-pat-down-of-6-year-old-girl/2011/04/13/AFZD9LYD_story.html

I am going to be getting on a plane in June to fly across the country for a yearly convention I attend. I will most definitely be opting OUT of the x-ray machine. If that means I get the pat-down, then I’ll take it. But TSA should know: I’m not going to be quiet about it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything to get myself arrested or kicked out of the airport. I will, instead, blog about my experience, tell everyone I know all about it, and add my voice to the thousands of people who are being singled out, humiliated, and even violated by the new TSA screening processes. Hopefully, my small voice will help this issue to be heard, and force TSA to make changes–to the x-ray machines and to the pat-down process.

gp

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for wisconsin, from washington state

For WordPress, written 2.18.11, posted 2.21.11

We didn’t have a very busy day today at work; consequently, I did quite a bit of internet surfing. I usually spend time on things like music or writing my own fiction or looking up interesting things when I’m not working. Today, though, I found myself looking for news articles about the protests going on in my former home state–Wisconsin.

In the November 2010 elections, Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle, was replaced by Republican Scott Walker. I didn’t hear any of my friends back in Wisconsin rejoicing or lamenting one way or another; in fact, I didn’t even know it happened.

Then last week, I started seeing news about Governor Walker introducing and attempting to push through a bill that would remove collective bargaining rights from the state employees’ union. I worked for the State of Wisconsin for several years–first as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then as an actual employee of the University itself once I had graduated. I didn’t know anything about the money, the insurance, the benefits, or any of that. All I knew–all I saw–was that I was making more money than I ever had (which was still a relatively small amount compared to private sector jobs, btw), and I had my own health insurance. And it was good health insurance!

During that time, I was only supporting myself on my wages (which were under $11). If I had been attempting to support a child, children, or another family member, it would have been much more difficult. At one point, I was informed that my union was doing some bargaining for me on health care for the new year’s contracts. I didn’t even know I had a union; I didn’t pay dues. Turns out it’s not that kind of union. Being employed by the State of Wisconsin automatically means you’re a union member, and you have people looking out for you.

Anyway, I never had any complaints while I worked for the State of Wisconsin, other than that they actually wanted me to WORK for the money they paid me. 😉 But that’s a different story…

I have friends–very good friends, though some more along the lines of acquaintances–and family who still live in various places in Wisconsin. Many of them have Facebook accounts, or have been emailing various things to me (as forwards, mostly). I have seen anger at closed schools, pride in the people of Wisconsin standing together to protest something they see as unfair, resentment toward the protesters and their various attitudes, and some indifference toward the whole thing. I’ve done some reading about the bill being proposed (and I continue to do so), and given a lot of thought to what I would be doing if I were in Wisconsin, whether I worked for the state or not.

I was going to say something soothing and practical now about everybody working together to make needed cuts and keep needed benefits throughout the state. I think every state individually needs to do this–and so does the federal government, as well as every person in the United States, richest to poorest. What we’re doing–all the “gimmie gimmie!” and “me first, all mine!” is not working for everyone; it’s hardly working for anyone, in fact, except for the richest 1%.

Instead, I have to let a tiny rant out.

<rant on>
I am appalled that Governor Walker is trying to bully this legislation through without the popular support of the people in the state who elected him. I am appalled at the sheer gall it takes to become a public servant–someone who is duly elected by the people for reasonable government–and then turn around and push his “my way or the highway” agenda. Passing this bill will hurt more of the middle class in Wisconsin than it will benefit–including all of my friends and family still living there and attempting to earn a living, whether they are employed by the state, self-employed, or otherwise employed.
</rant off>

Now, I need to say something else: I am SO PROUD to be from Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a great political history, including the beginnings of at least one major political party and some amazingly dedicated public servants–not to mention being on the ground floor of passing measures to protect workers in both public and private sessions. I take pride in being from Wisconsin, and it’s not just because my football teams do amazing things like go to the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl (though I do look very good in cardinal and white, as well as green and gold!). It’s because the people there are not afraid to stand up for the things they believe; because of the work ethic I learned from the people around me; the solid humanist values I inherited from my family and friends (no matter their religion or skin color).

And finally, to all the protesters: be peaceful. Be fair. Be strong. You’re not alone outside of Wisconsin; there are people all over the United States standing beside you–even if we can’t actually be there.

gp