By Theresa Camoriano
I have been trying to figure out why I became so angry as I was going through my most recent airport screening. I had been through the routine numerous times before. Stand in line. Show my boarding pass and driver’s license. Get into another line. Take off my shoes and put them in a bin. Empty my pockets and put the contents in a bin. Remove my laptop from my bag and put it in a separate bin. Take out the one quart zip-lock bag with my toiletries in containers smaller than three ounces each and put it in the bin with my shoes. Wait to be called to go into the machine. Push my bins toward the machine. Follow the instructions. Go through the machine and out the other side. Gather up my belongings and put them all back into their proper places, put my shoes back on, and continue to the gate. I have done it numerous times and remained calm. So why did I become so angry this time?
Was it because they made me take off my lightweight cardigan and put it in the bin, telling me I had to remove my jacket? Was it because they made me put my hands over my head in a special way when I was in the machine? Was it because they made me lift up my arms and wanded me as I left the machine? I don’t think so. Those things were all irritating, but I don’t think that is what made me so angry.
As I look back on the experience, I think that, ironically, what made me so angry was the TSA screener who was trying to be nice. On the way into the machine, he asked me whether I would like to put my cardigan in the bin. I told him I didn’t want to, but I guessed I was going have to do it anyway. And on the way out, he said, “See, it wasn’t so bad after all.” As I contained my anger, I told him, “I am old enough to remember what freedom was like.”
Why would I become so angry at a person who was just trying to be nice? I think it was because he was trying to paper over the compulsion and raw force involved in the process and pretending that this was a normal, pleasant, voluntary exchange, when it most certainly was not. He and the other screeners were essentially pointing a gun at my head and forcing me to remove articles of clothing and jump through numerous hoops. I could handle the abuse, but I became angry at the suggestion that I should enjoy it!
I have a similar reaction when politicians and pundits speak as if paying taxes were voluntary. They say that “the wealthy” should want to pay more to the government in order to help their fellow man, but then they point the guns at people’s heads and force them to hand over the money. Raising taxes is an act of force, not voluntary charity. To pretend otherwise is a lie, and lying makes me angry.
There is a big difference between voluntary activities and compulsion. The people who want to increase the use of compulsion in the form of taxes and regulations should at least be decent enough human beings to tell the truth about what they are doing.
I wonder whether the Nazi guards smiled and exchanged pleasantries with the Jews as they “asked” them to remove their jewelry and clothing on the way in to the gas chambers.
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