Maybe it’s just one of those pre-coffee grumpy mornings, but here’s a story that’s got my back-fur (*) up. It’s about a TSA agent (those
uniformed Nazis sweetly smiling public servants in the airport who care about nothing more than the safety of the flying public) who allegedly stole an iPad and took it home.
We have a lot of anti-government rhetoric flying around in the U.S. right now, mainly, it seems, from idiot teabaggers and freakazoid anti-American Republicans using it as a screen for their racist hatred of President Obama.
The line they’ve drawn is so extreme, so viciously nutty, that I have been surprised at times to find myself on the same side of the line as government.
But then a story like this comes up.
In the latest apparent case of what have been hundreds of thefts by TSA officers of passenger belongings, an iPad left behind at a security checkpoint in the Orlando airport was tracked as it moved 30 miles to the home of the TSA officer last seen handling it.
Confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad, but ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport.
One of my theories of government – in fact, of all sorts of authority – is that a crime committed by someone in a position of power must be punished MORE harshly than the same act committed by an average citizen.
Yeah, except “less than one-half of one percent” translates as “no more than 1 in 200.” I wonder: What if you got a guarantee from your local school district that no more than 1 in 200 teachers would molest your kids? Or a solemn vow from Chevy that no more than 1 in 200 of their cars would burst into flames on the highway?
According to the TSA, 381 TSA officers have been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012.
The agency disputes that theft is a widespread problem, however, saying the number of officers fired “represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed” by TSA.
We have some sort of monkey-obeisance to leaders that lets them get away with things with great frequency. We’ve all heard the stories where a prominent businessman accused of insider trading might get off with a few days in jail and a short probation. Because, after all, hasn’t this fine man, this upstanding pillar of the community, suffered enough? Or oxycontin king Rush Limbaugh can stroll back to his multimillion-dollar radio and TV empire after that embarrassing doctor-shopping drug addiction thingie blows over.
We seem particularly forgiving of our “heroes” in uniform. Here where I live, Schenectady’s shitbag former CHIEF OF POLICE got off with an 18 month prison sentence for being involved in a drug ring, where a street dealer might have gotten decades in prison for the same offense. You would assume that someone charged with enforcing the law, a former police chief, no less, would be punished more harshly, right? Because, after all, you and I might arguably be ignorant of certain laws, or driven more by desperation, than a former cop, retired on a cushy pension. But no. Wrist slap, finger wag, happy retirement, sir (he got to keep his pension), and we wish you the best in your post-prison life.
So when I read about TSA agents stealing things like this, or rifling through people’s luggage and helping themselves to particularly juicy items (as also happens), it makes me think “What if there was a 35-year mandatory federal prison term for this?”
I’d support a law like that with all my heart.
( * Yes, at my age, I do have back-fur. Plus, get off my lawn.)