With the new security measures of the Transportation Security Administration having reached Molokai, local grumblings have begun.
During the holiday season, getting to tutu’s house from Molokai often involves more than going over the river and through the woods. For people with off-island families, it now involves going through a metal detector and occasionally going through a full body scanner or the indignity of a pat down.
Larry Helm, one of the most well-known and recognizable kupuna on Molokai, tells the story of his recent experience with airport security:
“A couple of weeks ago, I was patted down at the Molokai airport. A TSA employee said, ‘Uncle this is new, stand here,’ and proceeded to do the body touch. You can imagine the response from me. A TSA boss watching did not like my antics and said to me, ‘follow procedure or you can get arrested.’ The guy’s hand brushed at my Ralph. How far can they go?
Uncle Larry continues …
“Here’s my point: if a parent searches their teenager for drugs and touches their privates, the child reports it to police. Parents can get arrested and convicted for molestation. How you figa in the name of homeland security they can touch? How about fingerprint, or lie detector machine, etc.? When we give up rights as such, the so-called terrorists have won. We are not going to stop hurricanes, tidal waves, etc. We always pick up and move on. When one 9/11 happens we give away our freedom as Americans in the name of homeland security! Government is slowly taking our rights. Are we really free? You go figa. Find another way.”
Another reader of The Molokai News, Bob Soares, who has family on Molokai, also spoke out on these new security policies:
“Let’s talk turkey here. In most of the news article I’ve seen on TV, the so-call quote of 81 percent approval is a constant drumbeat. Yet, most interviewed say the airport procedures are just not acceptable. I would venture to say that those 81 percent meant that they approve as long as others go through it but not them. It’s Thanksgiving now, and flyers have already committed to acquiring their non-refundable tickets. Reality might set in during the Christmas holidays. Will the public by-and-large change their travel habits switching to a different mode of travel such as using the trains, bus, or even private airlines?
“Middle-aged and older folks seem most likely to approve the scanners but not the pat-downs. This seem to say that their bodies are too old to interest anyone, thus safety and a longer life are higher priorities than an old naked body. Pat-downs, however, are still too invasive for them. This age group seem to feel its quite humorous people want to leer at their aging scanned naked bodies.
“Younger folks are less tolerable. Their bodies, created by God, and given to them are personal and most holy. They see TSA trying to steal that image for their own reasons. Knowledge of body contours will be shared only at the owner’s private discretion. Yet, all flyers want safety, but also believe there are ways to solve this problem without enraging the flying public.”
It seems like the conversation about balancing civil liberties (especially those guaranteed by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution) with national safety is just beginning.