The alarm clock buzzes at 6:00 am. You jump up out of that great early morning dream, slam your hand down on the snooze button, and try to catch an extra seven minutes before the interminable alarm goes off again. If you're lucky, and you fall back to sleep fast enough, you can continue that great dream until the alarm brings you back from never never land. Maybe you won the lottery. Perhaps you were kissing the girl of your dreams, or Michael Myers was chasing you through a corn field. Whatever you were dreaming, it probably wasn't about TSA pat-downs, or the thought that they may be coming to a workplace near you very soon.
The TSA is concerned (rightly so) about possible terrorist attacks on or from our airplanes. After 9/11, it became obvious that terrorists could hit the USA within its own borders. As a parent of three and a semi-frequent traveler, there is no doubt I want to ensure the safety of my family and myself when I decide to endure eight hours of hell - packing, driving to the airport, waiting in lines, lugging suitcases, paying $25 a bag (arghhh!), boarding the plane, sitting in seats too small for a kindergartener, knees falling asleep as the passenger in front of me leans back in his or her seat, crying babies, food carts banging into your elbows, passengers stepping over you or on your toes as they make their way to the gawd-awful bathrooms, no food unless you spend $50 for five cans of Pringles, finally landing but sitting on the runway for thirty more minutes, waiting at baggage claim for another 30 minutes and hoping that your suitcases arrive, getting your luggage to your vehicle, arriving at home or your vacation destination - I digress, but when I endure eight hours of hell to get to where I want to go, I want to get there without worrying about blowing up or being used as a missile.
Do I care if I get patted down? No, even though I'm a little leery about my wife or daughter getting felt up and down by some stranger. In the grand scheme, it's over with quickly, and if that can ensure that I get home or get to my vacation spot safely, then oh well. However, what I don't understand and can't answer is, where does this stop? Where does civil liberty end? Blowing up an airplane is not the only way a terrorist can strike at America or its citizens. Are we going to ensure that we are 100% safe every time we take a step outside of our homes? As someone very smart once said (not sure if it was James Bond, Kevin Costner or my dad), if someone wants to kill you and they're willing to die to do it, there is not much of anything anyone can do to stop it. What's to say that a terrorist who brings nothing on a plane but himself can't kill me? What if he gets a seatbelt loose and starts using it like a sling or a mace? What if he rushes to the door and opens it up? Does a pat-down stop that?
When I go to a college football game, should I start to expect a pat-down to ensure that I'm not bringing in a weapon of mass destruction? I know they don't want flasks sneaked into the stands, but where does it end? When I go to my child's 4th grade play, should I expect a pat-down to ensure that I haven't brought more than 3 ounces of liquid into the gym? What if I sat there while the Velveteen Rabbit was on stage and mixed up a liquid bomb. When I go to the mall, should I expect my naked body to be shown to a store employee as I leave with an x-ray filled body to ensure that not only didn't I steal something, but that I didn't have a nuclear bomb in my pants? My point is, there are ten million ways that I could die, and the government is not going to be able to protect me from all of them....or are they?
In five years, would it really seem that far-fetched to imagine walking into your workplace through a metal detector, a full-body scanner and past a security guard who administers pat-downs as he deems necessary? Oh...wait...that is already happening in some worksites. You may think that you will never work in a place that requires this type of security, but you would be wrong. We write rules and policies in the workplace for the one or two people who go over the limit and screw it up for everyone else. We manage more often to the 10% than we do the 90% of the employees who just come in and do a good days work. All it would take at a workplace is someone to bring in a gun and start blowing people away, and for the survivors to sue the workplace for failure to provide a safe work environment, and then...wait, that has happened as well. What will insurance companies require a company to do to attain insurance after a workplace incident as described above? They will want the company to ensure that the incident can never happen again. They will start by implementing metal detectors, and full body scanners, and security guards, and cameras...and pat-downs...
If the government has shown anything, it's the propensity to under react until the boiling point occurs, then overreact to show how they've fixed the problem. Do you really think that pat-downs will stop terrorists from killing more of us if they really want to kill us and don't mind dying in the process? Heck no it won't. Think about that the next time you're watching the Velveteen Rabbit in the elementary school gymnasium. You could be sitting next to a terrorist getting ready to carry out an attack. Were you patted down as you entered the school?