There’s a reason why the classic story of the frog and the boiling water is such an enduring parable. Time and time again, it’s proven to be a very honest reflection of human nature. You can get almost anyone to put up with absolutely awful conditions, if those conditions are introduced over a long period of time.
The TSA is a perfect example of that. That agency does things now that absolutely no one would put up with before 9/11. Even up until a few years ago, there was a widespread movement to boycott the agency’s body scanners. But these days, stories of airplane passengers challenging the TSA are few and far between. Over time their behavior has been normalized, and the average person has finally accepted them as an unfortunate, but unavoidable fact of life.
And it’s certainly not because the TSA’s behaviour stopped being disgusting and authoritarian. Their employees are just as abusive as they’ve always been. In fact, a man from Dallas recently filed a lawsuit against the TSA, after an agent injured him during a pat down last March.
In a federal complaint filed Wednesday, Stavropolous detailed how he was stopped after stepping out of a full body scanner by an agent who asked if he had anything in his pockets.
“I pulled out a dollar bill,” he said. “I asked if I should go through the scanner one more time and he said no, we’ll do a full body patdown.”
It was during that patdown, he said, that the agent drove a hand into his groin so hard, twice, that he was immediately hit by waves of pain.
“I turned around and said, you injured me,” he said. “I’d like to talk to your supervisor!”
Stavropolous claims that he still experiences pain and bleeding from the incident, and has to visit a urologist twice a month. His injury is so bad that he’s scheduled to have surgery in October to repair the damage. And unsurprisingly, he’s pretty hesitant to go back to the airport.
Stavropolous says not only did he not make his business trip to Dallas that day in March—he hasn’t flown since.
“I’m kind of fearful of going through TSA and having another event like I had,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to look forward to that!”
The fact that this story hasn’t been widely shared in the rest of the media is a testament to our ability to accept terrible conditions. Most people remember a time when a trip to the airport didn’t mean being treated like cattle, yet we still accept it as normal. Until Americans grow a backbone and demand an end to the TSA’s abusive practices, situations like this won’t stop happening. If anything, they’ll probably become more frequent.