A video of a boy receiving a pat-down search by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer is going viral on Facebook, and causing a considerable amount of outrage from people on the internet.
The boy who received the 2-minute long search was stopped after his laptop triggered an alarm as it was put through security screening.
The video, taken by the boy’s mother, shows the boy being briefed on the impending search by the TSA officer, who then proceeds to administer what is undeniably a thorough search. Starting at the boy’s backside, the officer searches head to toe, to include inside the waistband of his shorts. Once complete, he moves to the front, and appears to double back on some areas that have already been searched before.
The TSA is standing by their officer’s behavior, saying “TSA allows for a pat-down of a teenage passenger,” and “all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.” TSA has said the laptop triggered an explosive detection machine.
These types of searches are not at all uncommon in airports throughout the country. But the mother of the boy who received the search is particularly outraged, saying she was ignored by the TSA officers when she requested they perform a different type of search.
Having received multiple pat downs searches such as this during many trips through airports in the United States and abroad (including an especially thorough and invasive one in Israel), I can attest to the feeling of “privacy violation” that comes when a law enforcement officer conducts a search like this one.
Many would cite this situation as excessive, especially considering the boy’s young age.
Call me a contrarian, but I could not help but feel at least a little bad for the officer conducting the search. The TSA has already come out to say he did the right thing, and there were reportedly multiple law enforcement observers on the scene to ensure that the search was conducted appropriately.
I also can’t help but think that the TSA officer’s appearance is likely contributing to this internet pitchfork mob mentality. Look at the video. He’s an older gentleman, with a bizarre haircut, pasty white skin, and is overweight. I have to be honest, when people make jokes about child abusers, or guys that ask kids to “get in their van” for some “free candy,” I am about 95% certain this guy is the character they have in mind.
Featured image courtesy of Reuters