More on TSA pat downs

I feel good knowing I am not the only one shrugging off the new TSA rules. As a person with a disability, the type of pat downs I’ve had to go through for years is not much different from what I will now have to endure should I ever fly again.

For disabled, airport security hassles are old hat

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – For air passengers already fed up with being hauled off to the side of the security line for a pat-down or facing aggressive questions about bulky clothing or odd items in their luggage, advocates for the disabled have this to say: Welcome to our lives.

For the disabled and infirmed – many forced to go through security lines in wheelchairs with ample hiding places for contraband, wearing prosthetic limbs that could harbor drugs or explosives or lugging oxygen tanks that could really contain god-knows-what – the added discomfort and inconvenience that many travelers are now experiencing is something they’ve put up with for years.

(snip)

Since the new airport security screening procedures began Nov. 1, stories of travelers with disabilities or medical conditions being humiliated, perhaps inadvertently, by Transportation Security Administration agents have made headlines: A bladder cancer survivor from Michigan had to board a plane covered in urine after agents tore open his urostomy bag during a pat-down; a flight attendant and breast cancer survivor in North Carolina said she was ordered to expose her prosthetic breast to two TSA staffers.

(snip)

For Guinivan, speaking to The Associated Press by phone from her home, the concern for her son goes beyond pat-downs to worries that his wheelchair may get damaged or that he will have trouble sitting between two passengers on the flight.

“Our expectation when we fly is to be prepared for uncomfortable situations,” she said. “A lot of the things people with disabilities experience every day, the general public is now having to deal with.”

Eric Lipp, a partial paraplegic, said he had no problems when he recently took four flights over two days, though he definitely noticed the pat-down he received was more aggressive.

Lipp, executive director of the Open Doors Organization, a Chicago-based nonprofit group that focuses on accessibility in travel and tourism, said that TSA agents should get more training in how to treat people with disabilities in a respectful manner, but that he does not object to the new policies.

“It might be a little more intrusive now,” Lipp said, “but it’s expected.”

***
A dear friend of mine pointed out how the new pat down rules are exceptionally traumatic for those who have PTSD or have been raped/molested. I agree. And I consider them brothers and sisters who have had to endure this for ages now. I don’t feel that the few inches closer to their crotch wouldn’t matter in that case. They’re either immune to it at this point or they prepare themselves mentally for it. Or they don’t fly.

I don’t fly often, didn’t before 9/11. It isn’t a matter of packing a few bags and taking a cab. People who have never done it have no clue what it involves. I can’t take just any cab. I don’t pack just one bag. I have to let the airlines know ahead of time. Luckily, I don’t have to have my ass squeezed into one of those aisle chairs and endure that humiliation. Then there’s the fear that my chair won’t be waiting for me when I land. Or it won’t be in the same condition. Every time I fly, something on my chair breaks. So the idea of being touched in private areas in public spaces doesn’t bother me that much. Been there, done that.

TSA ‘pat down’ rant

About the new TSA pat down rules:

[rant mode on]

Where the f* y’all been? People with disabilities have been physically frisked for decades. We get touched, rubbed, scanned. We get catheters tugged, feeding tubes yanked, and questioned about private stuff. We have had hands in bras, prostheses removed, medications discussed. We’ve been ignored, put down, treated like mental imbeciles. Have been for, like, ever. Nobody but us cared or complained or noticed. It has slowly gotten better, though, through *massive* education of TSA staff. It isn’t perfect but it has gotten better.

And now you TABs get frisked and you freak? Please. So your tampon or pad shows. Do you really think these people care? Do you really think those over worked, underpaid, constantly watched TSA people are really truly getting their jollies feeling up millions of people a day? Do you really? If so, paranoia is a treatable illness ya know. And those scans? Get over it. They are viewed remotely, way far away from you, and no one even knows who you are. Next time you are at the docs office or an emergency room, take a look at the xrays being viewed by anyone who walks by. Look at the breasts being profiled, the fat revealed, the ‘junk’ shown. Right there. Right there with very visible names on them.

You bitch and complain about privacy. You ought to ask frequent flying crips how they handle it. They’re experts since they’ve been experiencing it for far longer.

But then, TSA could stop doing all of it, get back to the other routine. And when that plane full of people crashes somewhere, who is going to get blamed? Those same over worked, underpaid, constantly watched TSA agents you are treating like un-registered perverts and pedophiles.

[rant mode off…maybe]

On other notes, the pic going around of the nun being frisked by, gasp, a woman wearing a hijab? That’s from 2006. And the one of the woman in the new scanner? That’s from, I think, 2004. I can’t find their exact origin now because they were taken from people’s sites and reused without permission (except the one I found that had links to their original source) so now they are, as they say, ‘viral’.

Free Speech

This is a case of not having enough hands as I ponder the points.

The US Supreme Court is faced with a decision concerning Free Speech. Free Speech is a right granted to Americans in the US Constitution. Basically, we have the right to say what we want. I agree with that. I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend your right to do so.

The particular case is Albert Snyder vs Westboro Church. Snyder is the father of deceased Matthew Snyder and Westboro Church is where the Phelps are from. The church members picketed outside the funeral of Matthew (who died in Iraq). They held signs that said their usual acidic “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “You’re going to hell”. The Phelps and their followers believe the US is being punished because of tolerance toward homosexuality and abortion.

So on the one hand, Phelps and his idiot followers have every right to stand out there and protest.

On the other hand, this was a soldier killed in action. As his father said, “I had one chance to bury my son and they took it from me.”

On another hand, the Phelps are idiots who are wallowing in the media attention as they always do.

On still another hand, Matthew Snyder is still dead. The money awarded to the father via the lower courts will not bring him back but it will smack the Phelps down a peg. Maybe.

Yet, it goes back to that first hand. The idiots have every right to say whatever idiocy they want to say. Take away their right to do so and it will open up all sorts of issues. How can the Supreme Court word it so it has enough ‘howevers’ and ‘buts’ that it won’t happen otherwise? What if the situation was reversed? What if, when Phelps dies (the good die young so he’ll be around a long time) soldiers stand out there with signs that praise God that the vitriol from Phelps’ mouth is now stopped? That God Loves Fags? That God is Dancing with Joy that the Earth is now cleansed? What if Phelps’ family took those soldiers to court, saying they couldn’t do that? We would all be a lot more comfortable with that scenario, wouldn’t we? Would the case had even made it to the Supreme Court?

No matter how painful it was for the father to see that sign about God being happy his son is dead, the idiots had every right to hold it up. Just as he had every right to take them to court for it. There are groups now that block the view of the signs from funeral attendees just as the “angels” did for Matthew Shepherd trials and stuff. The Phelps had the right to hold up signs and the angels had the right to wear big huge wings to block their view.

I’m truly sorry, Mr. Snyder that your son is dead. He was a man of honor, I am sure. I am even sorrier that you had to bury him with that filth so close to you. I wish you didn’t have to experience that. God doesn’t hate your son and God didn’t have him killed in order to prove a point. That’s not how God works. At least not the God I know. Are you a homosexual? Was your son? Have either of you funded an abortion? If not, then why would God kill him and punish you?

But, I’m also sorry I have to agree that the Phelps have the constitutional right to stand out there with their signs.

The other issue, and perhaps the one the court will latch onto, is how “private” was the funeral? Were they the proper distance away, as set by the local laws? Did their follow up internet posts that were derogatory toward the Snyders cross the line? I don’t know if the court is ready to make a judgement on the internet aspect. But I think the privacy issue of the funeral will play a huge part. They want to shut Phelps up. That’s evident in the fact they are having problems with the case. No sane person truly believes what they (Phelps and Westboro) have to say. The problem though is whatever the Supreme Court decides will set a precedent for future cases. Just because a picket sign is painful and hateful and full of shit and it severely and permanently hurts someone, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to be there with the sign. Who decides what is painful enough to be wrong? Many many people believe gays shouldn’t marry and that we are all sinners and that for the governments to say we can marry is so very very wrong. If gays were picketing them, and the signs gays held were painful for the others (the truth hurts), then do the gays not have the right to picket?

As much as it hurts me to say this, the US Supreme Court has no choice but to say it was within their First Amendment Rights to be assholes with dumbass signs that severely hurt an already hurting family.

Linkages:
Justices struggle with funeral-protest case – First Amendment Center (good linkages at the bottom)
First Amendment – Wikipedia

Kindle vs the ADA

In a round-a-bout way, Kindle just got smacked by the US Govmint. Hopefully they (Amazon.com) will start listening to the complaints they’ve had since the Kindle was first released. But then, a lot of the ebook readers have fallen short of the accessibility issues.

(bolding and underlining of the paragraph is my doing)

Justice Department Reaches Three Settlements Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Regarding the Use of Electronic Book Readers

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced separate agreements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Pace University in New York City and Reed College in Portland, Ore., regarding the use in a classroom setting of the electronic book reader, the Kindle DX, a hand-held technological device that simulates the experience of reading a book.

Under the agreements reached today, the universities generally will not purchase, recommend or promote use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless the devices are fully accessible to students who are blind and have low vision. The universities agree that if they use dedicated electronic book readers, they will ensure that students with vision disabilities are able to access and acquire the same materials and information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use. The agreements that the Justice Department reached with these universities extend beyond the Kindle DX to any dedicated electronic reading device.

(…)

A handful of universities participated in a pilot project in cooperation with Amazon.com Inc. to test the viability of the Kindle DX in a classroom setting. The terms of the Justice Department’s agreement with each university become effective at the end of the pilot projects.

The current model of the Kindle DX has the capability to read texts aloud, so that the materials would be accessible to blind individuals, but the device does not include a similar text-to-speech function for the menu and navigational controls. Without access to the menus, students who are blind have no way to know which book they have selected or how to access the Kindle DX Web browser or its other functions. The technological “know how” to make navigational controls or menu selections accessible is available.

Other universities, such as Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, also examined the utility of the Kindle DX as a teaching device and decided that they would not use the Kindle DX until it is accessible to blind individuals.

(source)

More On Custody Case

I’m in love. I found an article today in the Washington Post about the Jenkins/Miller custody battle. And I’m in love with the article writer, Petula Dvorak. Why? Read the excerpts below:

Miller told Newsweek two years ago that letting Isabella live with Jenkins would be like giving her child to the milkman.

Well, yeah — if you lived with the milkman, made love to him, bought a house with him, entered a civil union with him at a quaint resort blanketed in snow and bedecked with greenery, sat through fertility treatments that he helped pay for, let him catch the baby as you pushed and shared midnight burping and diaper duties — it would be just like giving your child to the milkman.

(…)

Miller has a right to her beliefs, certainly, but she also has a moral and legal obligation to keep the people who love Isabella and are legally bound to her in her life.

Miller’s legal team said in court that a move to Vermont, with a new school and new friends, would be disruptive for a 7-year-old.

And going into hiding isn’t?

I think it’ll be a lot trickier to explain to a child why one mommy is in jail than why another mommy likes girls.

Lisa Miller, come out of hiding and face this like a mom.

Sigh. I wish I could write like that. Oh, wait, I do! That’s why I love this writer so much. She’s a sarcastic smartypants who is not afraid to say it like it is. May we be a breed that never dies.