The TSA agent who left a very special note in my suitcase last weekend has been suspended. I am still fairly shell-shocked (and not in a good way) by the amount of attention this has gotten, especially since it’s turned from what I thought was “funny anecdote with bigger political point” into a very different animal. I realize when you put things on Twitter they are certainly public and out of your control, and I’m not going to act brand-new here, but I had no idea this would hit such a nerve. It’s very overwhelming, and I want it to go away. I am still in Ireland and would like to get back to focusing on my actual life, instead of worrying about being known as the GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL for the foreseeable future (I know, wah wah, tiny violin, etc). But to that end, here’s what I have to say about the suspension, and what is basically getting copied and pasted to anyone who asks:
It’s easy to scape-goat one individual here, but the problem with the note is that it’s representative of the bigger privacy intrusions that the U.S. government, through the TSA and other sources, levels every day. The invasion is inherent to the TSA’s mission, regardless of whether a funny note is left behind — the note only serves to highlight the absurdity of all this security theater. As much as this is a funny and titillating story, when I put the note on Twitter for what I thought was a relatively limited audience I was hoping it would open up a bigger conversation about privacy rights (or lack thereof) in post-9/11 America. It unfortunately hasn’t done that, and instead has turned into a media circus. I would imagine that the TSA agent in question feels the same way I do at this point: I just want this story to go away. The note was inappropriate, the agent in question acted unprofessionally when s/he put in in my bag, there should be consequences and I’m glad the TSA takes these things seriously. But I get no satisfaction in hearing that someone may be in danger of losing their job over this. I would much prefer a look at why ‘security’ has been used to justify so many intrusions on our civil liberties, rather than fire a person who made a mistake.