Tuesday, November 24, 2015         


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Woman accused of groping TSA agent strikes blow for fliers everywhere

By David Shapiro


I don't know why I got so much of a laugh out of the story about a Colorado woman who was arrested for groping an airport security screener, but it seems I'm not the only one.

Yukari Miyamae, 61, was arrested after she became frustrated in a Phoenix airport security line and allegedly squeezed the left breast of a female Transportation Security Administration agent who was explaining to her that she needed to submit to either a body scan or a physical pat-down.

"Oh, like this?" she was reported to have said as she grasped the agent's breast.

For all I know, she might be exactly the kind of crazy person we need to keep off airplanes, but the story has such a delicious "turnabout is fair play" ring to it for passengers tired of being manhandled by the TSA.

Miyamae has been embraced by the "don't touch my junk" movement, has a Facebook fan page, and her attorney is painting her as the victim.

And she's free after a judge declined to entertain the felony sex abuse charges the government wanted and released her while local prosecutors decide whether to bring lesser misdemeanor counts against her.

Americans have decidedly mixed feelings about airport security checks that have become increasingly invasive and degrading as terrorists have become increasingly inventive in plotting ways to blow up airplanes.

We remember Sept. 11, 2001, and don't want it to happen again, and most of us recognize that TSA agents are just doing their jobs and don't likely take any more pleasure from the pat-downs than passengers do.

But it's hard not to resent going through the inconvenience and personal degradation to do our part for national security, only to read about 36 Honolulu TSA agents being fired for slacking off on checking bags for explosives.

It's a special adventure to go through airport security in a wheelchair, as I do.

The good part is that they take you right to the front of the line, which can save a ton of time in a busy airport. The bad part is that because you can't walk through the metal detectors or the body scanner that shows you in all your naked glory, a burly guy gives you a pat-down that leaves fewer places untouched than a Bangkok massage parlor.

They used to assure me that they'd touch the most delicate parts with only the back of their hands, as if that made all the difference, but on my last flight they dispensed with even that nicety.

When I asked if I could at least have a female agent do the honors, I think it got me on the terrorist watch list.

Reach David Shapiro at volcanicash@gmail.com or blog.volcanicash.net.

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