The op-ed cometh: "A Three-Ring Circus of Failure, Waste and Abuse"

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by CelticWhisper, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    So I finally forced myself to sit down and hammer out the op-ed I was meaning to write. In a way, I think my train trip took some of the fight out of me by showing me I wasn't as trapped as it felt like I was. I credit the TSA@CUS video for restoring the feeling of urgency.

    So here's the first draft. 1195 words as of now, so per the guidelines given to me by Lisa and others, I have a fair bit of trimming to do. I tried to give a little background, some quick narrative leading up to the present, and mention noteworthy abuse cases and incidents of TSA having egg on their face (You're welcome, Affection. :cool: ) Plugged TUG by name and made sure to nail Durbin and Schakowsky to the wall as best I could without using too many words to do it.

    Copy follows. As always, suggestions are welcome, requested, pleaded and groveled for. Once this battle is won I vote for a TUG meetup where I'm buying everyone a round of drinks in exchange for the invaluable help you've given me.

    I also want to mention the Union Station appearance, but I'm torn on whether that would be better discussed in a separate op-ed in the event I'm welcomed back for a follow-up article (or even if I'm not :))
  2. I want to give you an edit, but I'm wondering if anybody can help me figure out how to do Track Changes (or whatever it's called, editing mode) in Open Office. If not, I'll do a low-rent edit, making up my own format.

    ETA: Never mind, I'm into working on the edit with bold and underscore.
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    singular/plural agreement: "attack like those" should be either "attacks like those" or "attack like that"
  4. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    maintains “Master Lists” of abuses and cases of TSA personnel arrested ...

    We should make sure they're up-to-date before this op-ed is distributed. I presume Bill has been updating them for both Bill & Lisa since I set up his FTP account. I'm no longer receiving either in email but I haven't been checking that they're updated.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    This is a good piece.

    Shortening it won't hurt, but you know that. :)

    You can probably get a passable non-Illinois version by eliminating references to Durbin and Schakowsky, and then applying any still-meaningful Illinois edits to what remains.
  6. RB

    RB Founding Member

    I'm certainly no writer but if you could say everything you wrote in about half the words I thing the piece would have more impact. Tighten it up a bit if you can. That being said I like the article.
  7. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Agree with RB. It's a difficult thing to do, especially when there's so much passion involved.
  8. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    How about the Savannah train station VIPR episode, where the TSA lied to passengers about where their baggage could be picked up, searching passengers as they disembarked from the train?
  9. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Caradoc - I'm hoping to write a companion or follow-up piece titled "Train Stations: A Very Bad Place for TSA" where I'll go into that.

    Mike - When you talk about removing the references to my legislators, are you thinking in terms of releasing two separate versions or just taking it out for now, in order to get the flow perfected or the word-count under control? Sorry, but for whatever reason I'm having trouble wrapping my head around where you're going with that.

    I'm at 1349 words right now and so I have some major paring-down to do, but I'm trying to get all my logic and arguments to flow right first.

    On that note, here's the 2nd edition. Can you folks read through this and see if there are any glaring factual errors that could either get it rejected, see me made a fool of, or give TSA easy points to latch on to for rebuttals? I'd like maximum impact for this article and I fear that won't happen if minutiae are able to drag it down and distract discussions about it away from the point of the whole.

    (P.S. MAJOR thanks to Phoebepontiac, who sent me a PM with a long list of edits and explanations thereof. That was seriously worth its weight in gold.)

    phoebepontiac likes this.
  10. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    I'm suggesting removing the Illinois policiticians to make a more general op-ed piece applicable to the other 49 states.
  11. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    A few quick questions before I turn in for the night:

    -Both my local paper and the WSJ (first result when I googled op-ed guidelines) include a clause stating the article must be exclusively written for their publications. Does this translate to "choose one and only one paper to publish in, because we won't consider anything that's been published elsewhere?"

    -Also, in terms of copyright, can I be prevented from republishing anywhere else (e.g. TSA News Blog)? I mean...I wrote it, so I can still send it elsewhere, right?

    -WSJ cites a desired length of 600-1200 "jargon-free" words. I'm currently at 1142. Not sure if that means "do not exceed 1200 and don't you dare use what we consider to be jargon" or if it means 600-1200 words with "jargon" being excluded from the count.

    Also, while I'm on the topic, who curates TSA News Blog? Is it Lisa? If it is, or if it's someone else at TUG, would they be willing to run a longer piece if I wind up having to cut out too much from this article?
  12. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    TSA New Blog is Christopher Elliott's baby. However, I think Lisa pretty much has full editorial capabilities. If you work with her, it'll get published.

    A lot of WSJ pieces ultimately are reprinted elsewhere. If you can get them to publish it, it would be worth going along with their terms -- you would have an enormous initial audience.
  13. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    I've updated mine but haven't received any from Lisa. I'll gladly upload hers if she sends them to me.
  14. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Revision 4. Many thanks to Lisa and (again) to Phoebepontiac for their invaluable guidance, and to everyone for bearing with me. Wish I didn't have to be such a perfectionist but I want to make sure to hit this one out of the park.

    I hate that I had to cut out a passage explaining that sometimes freedom is dangerous, but it was just too many words and as much as I hate that nobody takes a stand on principle anymore, I have to face facts: practical arguments have a better shot at getting through.

    Down to 976 words now. At this point I do wonder - if WSJ allows up to 1200 words, would it be better to send them a previous revision (I've been saving these as separate files) that's a little wordier to make it sound better? Or would packing more detail into the newly-available ~200 word space be a better way to go? How much informational density are WSJ (and other) readers normally able to process?

  15. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    ^ Awesome, CW! Simply awesome! <*standing, applauding, throwing roses and kisses*> It gave me goose-bumps!
  16. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Alright, I've decided it's time stop hemming and hawing. No guts, no glory and all that jazz.

    The last revision posted is where this is at and I'm gearing up to send it to WSJ and see if it gets accepted. Before I do, I'm inviting one last round of suggestions - if there are any errors that have the potential to seriously discredit the article, me, or the general Flyers' Rights movement, let's hear 'em. Any other major revisions, same goes. Otherwise, I'm going to submit this either tonight or tomorrow morning. No sense in letting it linger.

    And one more great big thank-you goes out to all the folks who helped me polish this up to the point it's at now. If it gets published, you share in the glory. And if it's rejected, I'm coming after you with a very large trout. :p

    Incidentally, if this does publish then here's the point where I lose all pretense of anonymity. I'll still go by CW since I've had this username forever and have grown rather fond of it, but you'll all know who I am. *dramatic chord*
  17. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    I do not think that you have to worry about "us" (i.e., TUG members) knowing who you are; however, if I were you, I would worry about "them" (you know, DHS, TSA, FBI, <*insert other, ominous three-letter acronyms here*>, etc.) knowing who you are...just sayin'.
  18. LeeAnne

    LeeAnne Original Member

    Okay, just one comment: I don't think you have enough numbers in there about their crimes. I saw a comment on an article the other day that really resonated - I think it was posted by Fisher1949, and it was just a brief by-the-numbers rundown of the number of agents who've been arrested for sex crimes, theft, etc. My personal opinion is that one short paragraph with a few statistics like that would be pretty punchy, and would drive home how out-of-control they really are, and could be done without adding too many words. Your list could also include some of the more famous names of those abused, such as Nadine Hayes, Stacy Amato, Ruth Zimmerman, Tom Sawyer. etc. People HAVE heard those stories, and reminding them of just how prevalent they are could possibly get some folks thinking "Hmmm, y'know there really have been an awful lot of those, now that you mention it..."

    Full disclosure: I have not read your earlier versions, so you might have already weeded out that type of information. If so I apologize. But I think the article is less forceful without it.
  19. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    No need to worry - they already know who we all are. :D
  20. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Can you link me to that if you find it? Alternatively, Fisher1949, can you repost it here (and can I snurch it for my op-ed)?

    Also, regarding the lists, I'm trying to find a way to word it so I can include the prodigious size of these documents without calling too much attention to the fact that they haven't been updated in the past couple months.

    The last thing I want to do is apply pressure or come off like I'm making demands, but it probably would be a good idea to update them so we can at least have the timestamps reflect a recent update. Maybe just add in a few high-profile cases and flesh the rest out later.

    Revision 5: (up to 1071 words but within WSJ's guidelines)


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