Analysis: Injustice that even a child can comprehend

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not those of St. George News.

OPINION – Few things tend to raise our hackles like the mistreatment of a child. Even in prison, the abusers of children are correctly viewed with unalloyed contempt.

Two years ago, my child was sexually assaulted in broad daylight at a public park. Though scores of people were nearby, no one recognized that the assailant was unlawfully detaining my child while groping the child’s body. It was only after being informed of the man’s actions that police were notified and the assailant was arrested. He was charged with felony sexual abuse and is now a convicted sex offender.

I share this harrowing experience to underscore a similar affront to decency that took place recently when Transportation Security Administration personnel mistreated a 4-year-old at a Kansas airport. The youngster had run to and hugged her grandmother while the woman was awaiting a pat-down at the security checkpoint. TSA agents yelled at her, calling her a “suspect” and manhandling her, and threatened to shut down the airport if the child didn’t submit to additional screening.

The youngster was understandably frightened because, in her grandmother’s words, “‘(s)he saw people grabbing at her and raising their voices. To her, someone was trying to kidnap her or harm her in some way.” The TSA casually excused the overreaction on the part of its agents by explaining, “procedures were followed.”

This latest outrage occurred in full view of scores of people, who, while clearly observing what was happening to the child, dared not lift a finger to stop the groping.

To put this into perspective, if a stranger gropes your child’s body he or she could go to prison for sexual assault. But if a stranger wearing a TSA uniform gropes your child’s body, the act is sanctified by the state and you as a parent are absolutely forbidden to intercede.

How on earth did a nation that prides itself on being the freest country on the planet come to accept the kind of surly police-state behavior usually reserved for “Third World” dictatorships? Worse still, how did an American people whose ancestors tamed a continent and stared down some of the most tyrannical governments in history become so timid that we have chosen to voluntarily geld ourselves of our rights in the name of promised security?

If we are willing to silently suffer the indignity of ourselves or our loved ones being electronically strip-searched and allowing our private parts to be physically groped by strangers acting under the color of law, where exactly would we draw the line regarding government demands to which we submit?

Those who wish to fly on a commercial airliner are given the option, for now, of either submitting to being irradiated while having naked images taken of their bodies or to being thoroughly groped by TSA officers who demand complete submission. Rolling one’s eyes or uttering even the most minute protest to their actions brings a virtual guarantee of being pulled aside, interrogated, and threatened with missing your flight or even with arrest.

The pat-down itself has been described by a number of recipients as ranging between vigorous and rough with clear and deliberate contact with the breasts and genitals through the clothing. Any protestation, any tears or recoiling from the screener’s fondling fingers and the pat down has to start all over again. Make a big enough fuss and you’ll be detained while law enforcement comes over to escort you out of the airport.

The actions of these TSA workers are lending credence to the findings of the Stanford prison experiment. This experiment demonstrated that in a situation with prisoners and guards, some of those placed in a position of authority over others would gravitate toward sadistic and abusive behavior toward those over whom they have power.

A similar dark tendency was also confirmed in the Milgram Experiment in which individuals ignored their consciences when prompted by an authority figure to inflict, what they believed was actual, harm via electrical shock upon another person. In this same manner, TSA employees have shown a clear tendency to excuse the distress of those they’re screening by claiming that they are only following established policies.

Abusive behavior under the color of authority is intolerable in a free society. How is it that a little girl accurately recognizes this menace for what it is, while millions of adults complacently stand by like so many sheep? Too many Americans have forgotten that mere lip service to liberty is no substitute for the positive action required to defend it.

email: thebryanhyde@gmail.com

twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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