Blogs > Liberty and Power > A Salute to Phyllis Dintenfass

Jul 27, 2005 5:02 am

A Salute to Phyllis Dintenfass

I have lamented -- and often! -- the lack of protest that has greeted so many measures restricting civil liberties and stripping away the dignity of ordinary human beings going about their daily lives. Airport"security" has become the living symbol of those measures for me. As long as I am treated as a criminal rather than as a customer, I refuse to fly. I was both heartened and depressed by reading a news article that described Phyllis Dintenfass, a 62-year-old retired technical college teacher who did a 'tit for tat' -- that is, when a female TSA officer groped her breasts, she groped back and claimed self-defense. The heartening part: thank GOD someone is protesting the ludicrous and debasing procedures that pass for"security." You go girl!! The depressing part: she has been found guilty of assault by a federal court and will be sentenced on November 1st. She" could face up to one year in federal prison and a fine of $100,000." When the government swats a fly with a laser blast, then you know it is trying to enforce an entirely unreasonable law or policy.

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Brian Radzinsky - 7/27/2005

Overall, you're right. Just because your space has been invaded it doesn't mean that you have the right to respond with the same action. However, more importantly, I think, is Ms McElroy's final statement. "When the government swats a fly with a laser blast, then you know it is trying to enforce an entirely unreasonable law or policy." Instead of trying to quash all resistence to these draconian (and ineffective) measures, a resonable court would have considered this an act of civil disobedience and given the punishment that fit the crime.

I'm not saying her actions weren't justifiable or brave, but they probably weren't optimal. Still, she should not have gotten the punishment she got.

Jon Robins - 7/27/2005

She did invade another's personal space. Not quite the MLK Jr model of passive resistance, now is it?

Is it okay to hit a cop just because they're illegally searching you? Nope.

Max Swing - 7/27/2005

And I thought such stupid superiority of the federal agents is only on show in Germany (knowing we are all more statists here in Germany). Brave old lady, however! It's a real shame that she has to go to court for such a display of (one could say) satire.