A TSA officer at the Los Angeles International Airport allegedly offered an inappropriate, and pretty creepy, critique of a 15-year-old girl’s traveling attire while she was en route to a college tour with a group of high school students over the weekend.
Blogger Mark Frauenfelder, recounted the incident on a blog he edits called Boing Boing: “Here’s what happened, as my daughter described it in text messages to us: she was at the station where the TSA checks IDs. She said the officer was ‘glaring’ at her and mumbling. She said, ‘Excuse me?’ and he said, ‘You’re only 15, COVER YOURSELF!’ in a hostile tone. She said she was shaken up by his abusive manner.”
The blogger also included a picture of the outfit his daughter was wearing at the time of the incident. The outfit is demure in comparison to many of the fashions on the right side of legal public decency.
And unless indecency laws are being broken, the government employee has no right to comment on how a person is dressed as they travel. That’s why the incident underlines bigger problems: TSA agents have been given power that they are often unqualified for and frequently abuse.
As Frauenfelder notes, “It doesn’t matter what she was wearing, though, because it’s none of his business to tell girls what they should or should not wear. His creepy thoughts are his own problem, and he shouldn’t use his position of authority as an excuse to humiliate a girl and blame her for his sick attitude.”
But as with most all government-enabled positions of authority, TSA actions that would be deemed unacceptable for private sector security employees are often met with impunity, or excused, because Americans have been instructed by government to fear terrorists more than sexual harassment or assault. This is why there are so many incidents of TSA officials acting surprised, even hostile, when travelers refuse to have genitals groped in order to board an airplane.