Well, it finally happened. Airport security officers gave a pat-down to a baby.
Breaking the previous record for youngest kid to get a pat-down broadcast all over the Internet, the little dude above appears to be still in diapers. According to the Kansas City Star, the picture was tweeted by the Rev. Jacob Jester of Independence, MO, and quickly went viral. Says Jester, "An 8-month-old doesn't pose a threat to airplane or national security. I am grateful for TSA's willingness and desire to protect, but I believe in this instance that was extreme." The TSA, however, has a different take — a post on the TSA blog reads, "We reviewed the screening of this family, and found that the child's stroller alarmed during explosives screening. Our officers followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family after the alarm, who by the way were very cooperative and were on the way to their gate in no time." CBS correspondent Bob Orr concurs:
Privacy experts don't like it at all, the critics call it security theater, but we have to say the screener here appears to be doing her job. This patdown happens all the time ... somewhere in America. Whether we like it or not, the truth is it's part of the post-9/11 security.
Sadly, everyone here is pretty much right. Screening an eight-month-old baby is extreme, but that's also what post-9/11 security looks like. Terrorists could hide a bomb in a diaper, and we don't seem to have anything much better than pat-downs to detect it. As awful as patting down little kids seems, we can't really blame the TSA agents, who are just doing their jobs. What we really need is a form of airport security that's less invasive, and that doesn't make every screening into a useless-seeming partial striptease (the shoes, dear God, the shoes). Until we have that, we're going to keep seeing kids get frisked, although they can't get much younger — unless the TSA starts searching fetuses.