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November 02, 2004

In other news

While the rest of you are totally obsessing about Democratic spin on the exit polls (obviously intended to suppress the Republican vote and make it sound like a Kerry win is inevitable so that anything else is theft by Bush), I've been looking at the other big stories.

The New York Times has a piece today on lawyer-groping. That's right, lawyer-groping. I had to say it twice so that people will get to my blog by googling "lawyer groping." Oops, I said "lawyer-groping" a third time. I mean, fourth.

(These google searches are strange. I had a post last month about a survey on people's satisfaction with sex lives, by political affiliation. I called it "Sex lives of Elephants and Donkeys," and now I have perverts coming to this blog by searching "sex with elephants" or "sex with donkeys." And by repeating this, I'll only get more.)

Anyway, back to lawyer-groping (fifth time). The Times's article is called "When a Pat-Down Seems Like Groping" and discusses new screening procedures of the Transportation Security Administration that allow more frequent pat-down searches. The entire article focuses on a lawyer named Rhonda Gaynier, who suffered through one of these searches, and not in silence.

"Listen, I don't particularly like it when my doctor gives me a breast exam, O.K.?" said Ms. Gaynier, who is 46. "And now I'm supposed to accept a breast exam, in public, at the airport? Next time I'll drive rather than flying."
The new policy is this:
The policy states, in part, "Additional screening, including pat-down searches, may be required of passengers based on visual observations by screeners, even if the audible alarm has not gone off." Another provision states, "T.S.A. policy is that screeners are to use the back of the hand when screening sensitive body areas, which include the breasts (females only), genitals and buttocks."
So Ms. Gaynier, a lawyer, complained to a supervisor and started throwing around legal mumbo-jumbo:
As a lawyer, Ms. Gaynier specializes in real estate and landlord-tenant litigation, not criminal law. "But I thought, well, I'll throw these legal terms out and see if I can back him down," she said.

She could not. According to Ms. Gaynier, the supervisor said, "Well, ma'am, since you're some legal eagle, did you know that you consented to this screening procedure when you purchased your ticket? And that if you don't consent to the screening, you don't get on your plane?"
Well, she consented, but it didn't go well even then.
But then, she said, she got the pat-down deluxe. "The agent comes over and starts on my left side. Under my arm, over my shoulder, down the side of my body to my waist, around my waistline, and then she comes up to my bra strap in the back and goes across to my right side, under the armpit, over the shoulders, and then she comes around front and touches me right between my breasts, and then follows the edge of my bra cups around both breasts.

"I was like, 'Whoa! What are you doing?' and I backed up. The supervisor was right there and he says, 'You're not allowing the screening to happen.' And I said, 'You're kidding me. You can't be touching me between my breasts.' "

The supervisor summoned the police. Four officers promptly arrived on the scene. "Real cops - guns, clubs, the whole nine yards, all for me, this big security threat," Ms. Gaynier said.

She does concede, "I pitched quite a fit" at the intervention. To make a long story short, she did not make her flight. The police escorted her from the gate area.
Brought to you by TSA, whose motto is: Better that 100 innocent lawyers be groped than that one suspicious Arab be inconvenienced.

UPDATE (11/23/04): I've posted today about Joe Sharkey's follow-up article on the same subject in the Times.

UPDAT (11/30/04): Another post on Rhonda Gaynier.