A Personal Argument Against Stop and Frisk

Sep 18, 2013

TSA-patdown-ladyDespite the fact that my name is Wing, I am not a frequent flyer. I travel by plane maybe three or four times a year for vacation or to visit my son and his family in Chicago. Maybe I’d take planes more often if I, like so many others, didn’t hate the experience of flying (coach). You pay hundreds of dollars to be herded like cattle, sit cramped in a seat for hours, fight for space for your carry-on, and be fed nothing, or nothing you’d want to eat. And I’m certainly not alone in hating the security check. (Oh that I had invested in a company that makes three-ounce plastic bottles). But I especially dread going through security because I have a prosthetic leg with titanium and aluminum components that always set off the metal detector. The cry for “female assist” rings out, and then I am told to step aside and wait for a woman from the TSA to pat me down. True, the agents are always polite and often kind. True, they wear plastic gloves and use the backs of their hands (or are supposed to). But, and here I am getting to my point, they are probing my chest, around my waist and all the way up my legs. It doesn’t help that I know it’s going to happen and steel myself each trip, that I’ve been through it for years, or that I’ve endured a hell of a lot worse. It is demeaning. I feel violated. Being patted down is more like being felt up—the crude term we used way back when. I am a white, middle-aged woman. I can shake off the icky feeling and be confident I will be treated more respectfully in every other aspect of my life. These humiliating experiences are brief and circumscribed. But what if I lived in fear that, no matter how careful I was about my behavior, someone in authority could subject me to a pat down at any moment? How would that change me? How would it change a whole generation of young people if they were treated this way? How would the people who care about them be made to feel? Maybe it’s a bit of a leap from my experience to theirs, but it’s why I believe that stop and frisk has to be ended. Our kids should not be profiled and defiled in this way. It is harmful to them and to the whole community—which is not just the few square blocks they live in, but all of New York City.