We all want to be safe when we fly, and the TSA has implemented many measures to help us be safer. While "profiling" would most likely further improve our safety, this approach is taboo. The reason being that profiling is immediately equated with racial stereotyping. For example, holding a person as suspicious due to them "looking like Islamic extremists" is wrong because it targets unfairly all of the innocent Muslims.
The more tolerable solution has been to treat everyone as a potential terrorist, making them strip and taking away their water bottles and sun screen. Or, in my daughters case, baby formula.
The security officials informed my daughter that she could not bring baby formula since it exceeded the allowable amount of fluid. She insisted that she needed food for her baby, so they said they could test it. Somehow, it failed the test (I've heard of security detection equipment being designed to give false positives for some purpose I can't seem to recall). Because of her failure to comply with procedures and due to the failed test, she had to submit to a "pat down". The female security person courteously informed my daughter where she would be touching her and when it came to the area of her breasts, she said that she would use the backs of her hands (apparently to be less of a violation of decency). Meanwhile, her infant son was crying, since he seemed to detect in his innocent state that what was happening was wrong.
I don't know in what kind of world a mother with her infant son would consider performing an act of terror. I think it is about time we started "profiling" for people that no one in their right mind would consider a risk. I call this "reverse profiling", since instead of trying to find dangerous people, we do the reverse and identify harmless people. So I decided to create a list of people we don't need to partially strip, pat down or take away their fluids. We don't need to rip crying babies from their mother's arms and no one needs to drop their pants revealing their collestomy bags.
My "reverse profiling":
- Mother's with young children
- Young children (anyone under 12 years old)
- Anyone over 70 years of age
- Handicapped (maybe we can give them an extra handicap placard to show to TSA)
- People with terminal illness (Cancer patients, etc.)
- Attractive women
This select group of people seem to be the subject of embarrassing news reports of unseemly TSA gropings (try searching YouTube for "TSA"). The "groping" will still continue, but surely the TSA's public relations will improve as "pat downs" of average citizens proves less than newsworthy. Maybe if this approach works, we can expand my list to include "frequent flying businessmen" and "middle-aged white guys going on a cruise".
Update Aug 31, 2012
It's nice to see that the TSA has been reading my blog. Here are some signs I saw posted at the security line recently. That takes care of items 2 and 3 above (Not sure why they skipped my #1 issue, Mother's).