Last week I had to fly to New York City for a quick business trip.

These days, I try to avoid flying as much as possible, not because I dislike flying, but because I loathe the airport experience. Or more specifically, I loathe the TSA peek and grope.tsa

I know in the big scheme of things, the TSA doesn’t represent the gravest threat to liberty. But it certainly counts as one of the most tangible. I can literally feel it running up and down my leg.

Every time I go through a TSA checkpoint, I leave feeling violated.

We’ve all heard the stories of TSA agents groping cancer patients, grandmothers and little kids. Of course, they do it for “security.” But it doesn’t even serve its advertised purpose. I worked in the airline industry for almost 7 years. I can assure you that the TSA mostly engages in “security theater.” Does anybody really believe it necessary to grope grandma in order to protect airplanes?

But even if it actually did make us safer, the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to serve as airport security, and many of its actions clearly violate the Fourth Amendment.

Still, many Americans defend the TSA, and they primarily advance one argument: if you don’t like it, you don’t have to fly!

This ignores the fact that the TSA vividly illustrates the concept of “mission creep.” Not content to violate our rights at airports, the agency now does unwarranted searches at bus stations, train stations and along interstate highways. I guess if you don’t like it, you don’t have to fly, drive, take the train or ride the bus. That leaves walking – as long as I don’t walk into a sports stadium for a major event, because I’m apt to find TSA agents there too.

But I find the “if you don’t like it” argument absurd on a deeper level. Why do I have to make a choice between convenient transportation and having my rights violated? How about this: the TSA quits violating our rights and then, if you don’t like it, or feel frightened by the lack of peek and grope, you can choose not to fly.