The Giant Milgram Experiment

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Cartoon Peril, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    Most people posting here probably have heard of the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments. I find this entire TSA nudie scope and/or dope grope to be a vast expansion of the lessons learned in those exercises. Consider this:

    1. The faces (but not the breasts, penis, vulva and buttocks) of the passengers are concealed from the Transportation Security Officer in the viewing box. This dehumanizes the passenger.

    2. The viewing officer is not the person who does the actual physical contact with the passenger, further separating the viewing officer from the passenger and making easier to direct a physical contact of an extreme nature with the passenger's body.

    3. The passengers will already have been forced to remove significant amounts of clothing, including the shoes. Meanwhile the officers remain fully clothed and shod. This encourages compliance by the passengers and increases the willingness of the officers to issue and carry out commands (such as feeling of a child's buttocks, or the breasts of an elderly woman) that would under any other circumstances be considered well beyond social acceptability. This type of interaction was particularly demonstrated by Zimbardo.

    4. The entire regime is fenced about with euphemism. Hence, we see that forcing amputees to remove artificial limbs, or dislodging ostomy bags, and covering a traveler in urine, is called "screening".

    5. Milgram found that people were less willing to do harm to someone if they had to personally do the harm themselves. Hence, the weak point in the TSA regime is precisely the point where one human being, the Transportation Security Officer, must physically grasp another human being, the passenger, who in almost every case will be perfectly innocent of any offense. To permit the officer the psychological distance to do this, all passengers are dehumanized as potential threats, and, as I have previously posted, body parts such as "penis" and "vulva" are renamed "resistance." So important is it that this illusion be maintained that there has been at least one report where a traveller insisted on using the word "penis" when asking what the officer would be touching, and he was threatened by the officers as a result.

    6. We see that officers are sometimes reported to have said "pretty hair" and other similar remarks to children after having rubbed the child's buttocks and so forth. Some people attribute this to a sort of mocking maliciousness by the officer. Of course, this is always a possibility, but I think the explanation may be somewhat more subtle. The mind can only depersonalize people so far, and when it is obvious that the person whom the officer has just groped (and I mean that literally) is in fact a person after all, and not a thing, there is a desire by the officer to recognize the fellow humanity and almost ask for forgiveness. This type of conduct was also observed in the Milgram experiment.
  2. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    CP, I've grown blue in the face citing Milgram, Zimbardo, and Solomon Asch in comments all over the blogosphere. TSA apologists don't want to hear it. Just like they don't want to hear myriad other rational arguments.

    First time I blogged about it at the Coblog was almost a year ago:
  3. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    I believer there's something else going on here, as well, something more disturbing. It's another way of coercing compliance, and of enlisting the victim in his/her own abuse: "Gee, I guess maybe this thug isn't so bad after all." It's rock-bottom creepy. Kind of Milgram, Zimbardo, and Stockholm Syndrome all tied up into one sick package.
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  4. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    It is impossible to take the remark "pretty hair" apart from passenger violation and the sexual content of this sordid spectacle.
  5. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    The instructions from the Milgram experiment sound very much like TSA material:
    • Please continue.
    • The experiment requires that you continue.
    • It is absolutely essential that you continue.
    • You have no other choice, you must go on.
  6. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    I have tried to assign a non-malicious explanation for this, but I agree that it is very strange and upsetting.
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  7. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    The context of the TSA experiment is degredation of privacy, dehumanization, though violation of body spaces that are personal, intimate, and sexual. The message of violation received requires no mal-intent from its issuer.
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  8. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    I agree, and I think we see this in multiple ways, for example:
    1. The classic "don't like it, don't fly."
    2. Characterizing the problem as one of "modesty."
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  9. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    Correct. The system cannot function if evil intent is required, because that cannot be depended upon.
  10. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    I read a news report this AM where a groper called her victim "Sweetheart" after she was done pawing at the victim's breasts and the passenger was finally free to leave. That really makes my skin crawl. It enforces the impression that something disgusting is definitely taking place in the mind of the groper.
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  11. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    No doubt. I suggest that one component of this is a psychological need by the officer to ask for forgiveness.
  12. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Yep, that was the Baltimore Sun article by TSA Apologist Extraordinaire Michael Dresser. I had the same feeling, Elizabeth, when I read that line. Made my skin crawl. But Dresser doesn't get it; he included it as an indication of how "nice" and "friendly" the TSA groper was. I put that in my original comment at the article, but took it out in favor of other stuff to accommodate the 1400-character limit.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  13. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    That's just gross.
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  14. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    I really hate being addressed by strangers with terms of endearment (dear, sweatheart). It just comes across as so condescending. In this example you have the added insult of being groped: Thanks for the feel, now run along, sweetie.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  15. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Mike, agreed. Only exception I will make is for the ubiquitous locution "hon" here in Charm City. This is hon country, every which way but sunday, and I love it! :)
    KrazyKat likes this.

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