Robert Knight
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While 22-year-old Rory McIlroy was teeing up on June 16 during the first round of his historic victory at the U.S. Open, another drama unfolded outside Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

A Montgomery County inspector busted some kids for running a lemonade stand at which they were setting aside half the proceeds for pediatric cancer victims. The charge? No permit.

One of the dads involved got a $500 fine. After a TV station's tape of the bust went viral, the county backed off, canceled the fine, and let the kids set up on a side street. The children decided to donate the entire take to cancer kids.

Although it ended well, the incident became news because it illustrates how bureaucrats can abuse power and bully citizens – even kids.

Along the same lines, many Americans were outraged upon seeing footage in April of a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) agent patting down a six-year-old girl at the New Orleans airport and an eight-year-old boy patted down in Portland (Oregon) International Airport.

But wait. TSA topped that in Kansas City, where they patted down an eight-month-old baby on May 7 after the infant's stroller caused the scanner to beep. A pastor, Jacob Jester, who was in line, snapped a photo, and Twittered it.

What got into those agents? As far as I can see from the picture, the baby was not dressed in a black burqa with a suspicious bulge, nor maliciously brandishing a bottle or pacifier. Jester, who said he respects the TSA for trying to ensure everyone’s safety, commented, "I'm not out to embarrass the TSA But I do believe there has to be a line drawn. I do not believe that an eight-month-old constitutes a security threat."

Stung by criticism, the TSA blog responded: "Our officers followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family after the alarm, who by the way were very cooperative and were on the way to their gate in no time. The child in the photo was simply receiving a modified pat-down …." Oh, well then.

To cut the TSA some slack, they're more skittish than a hockey goalie in playoff overtime. They'll be blamed if something, anything, slips by to bring down an airliner. And they know that Muslim extremists use children as suicide bombers. Of course, the kids in these American airports have not been dashing through gates with explosives strapped to them.

Public exposure and outrage is the best medicine for curbing overzealous bureaucrats. On June 22, the TSA said it would do less intrusive checks on children. This will reduce but not abolish such procedures. Wouldn't want al-Qaeda to get the green light to hot-pack the Pampers.

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Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.