Have you ever noticed that when the mainstream media produce stories about TSA agents humiliating the elderly, abusing children, and otherwise behaving badly, they hide the identity of the agents? Why do they do that? These are public employees, paid with public funds, in positions requiring them to deal with the public. When they violate the public trust, they should be personally accountable like any other bureaucrats.
Deference to the sensibilities of TSA goons is contrary to the spirit of the times. Americans don’t want wrongdoers’ identities protected, even—if not especially—when the wrongdoers are government employees.
When Amy Alkon of the Advice Goddess blog was assaulted by a TSA agent at LAX, she wrote about it, and she named the agent: Thedala Magee:
Nearing the end of this violation, I sobbed even louder as the woman, FOUR TIMES, stuck the side of her gloved hand INTO my vagina, through my pants. Between my labia. She really got up there. Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left. In my vagina. Between my labia. I was shocked — utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there. It was government-sanctioned sexual assault.
TSA thug Thedala Magee got herself a lawyer, Vicki Roberts (“, Esq.”); in July Roberts sent Alkon a demand letter: take down the post, apologize, and pay Thedala Magee half a million dollars. (First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza’s response is a thing of beauty; read it!)
Why does Roberts figure Alkon owes Thedala Magee five hundred grand?
These outbursts in public and writings on the internet have subject my client to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, and have injured her in her reputation and her occupation. Furthermore, as a result of your actions, my client has suffered and continues to suffer damages including but not limited to severe emotional distress, fear, difficulties performing her duties, and other problems as a proximate result of your tortuous actions.
(I think Roberts means “tortious,” but I could be wrong: maybe she needs Alkon to use simpler sentences. And smaller words.)
Conspicuous in Roberts’s pathetic attempt at extorting money from Alkon is the absence of any challenge to the facts on which Alkon based her blog posts. Roberts does not deny that her client committed the conduct that Alkon described as “sexual assault.” Nor does she deny that Thedala Magee had sexual intent when she committed that conduct. Instead of denying any element of the sexual assault that Alkon says her client committed, Roberts claims that “[a]t all times [Thedala Magee] followed proper procedure.” Maybe so. “Proper procedure” and “sexual assault” are not necessarily antonymous.
It’s not Alkon’s words, but Magee’s job that has subjected Thedala Magee to contempt, ridicule, and obloquy. And rightly so.
That assaultive conduct is “proper procedure” does not (do you need me to tell you this?) make it right. But TSA agents are protected by sovereign immunity from civil suit; they are protected by craven state politicians from criminal prosecution. Because they are insulated from the other sorts of sanctions that civilized society applies to conduct of which it disapproves, when they step out of bounds—even when stepping out of bounds is “proper procedure”—they should be subjected to public vilification.
Abusing and humiliating travelers is a crappy job. From society’s point of view, that’s a feature, not a bug: in a perfect world, the job would be so crappy that nobody would agree to do it. The more unpleasant the job becomes—because of the contempt, ridicule, and obloquy of the public—the fewer people will be willing to do it, and the closer we will be to that perfect world.