anyone that refuses a pat-down is free to leave. Our rights haven't been eroded quite that far yet.
You are incorrect. The law says once you enter the security screening area you may not leave without completing the security screening process. Google around there is a bunch of blogs and articles about people being slapped with fines and what I consider to be unreasonable periods of detention if they refuse to "complete the security screening process" as they are ordered to. They are certainly not free to leave.
"Once a person submits to the screening process, they can not just decide to leave that process," says Sari Koshetz, regional TSA spokesperson, based in Miami. - http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-11-20/business/sfl-airport-scans-pat-downs-refual-20101121_1_tsa-airport-checkpoint-sari-koshetz
There are a lot of examples the above link is just the first one Google ponied up.
I was car shopping last year and I wanted to test drive a Ford Fusion hybrid. Besides the speedometer, all other gauges on the dash are LCD. The salesman was trying to show me some of the features and kept getting lost in the menu system and at one point the dash became completely unresponsive. The salesman looked at me kind of sheepishly and then said occasionally when this happens you just have to turn the car off and let it sit for 10 seconds then turn it back on. At that point I had pretty much made up my mind to NOT buy this car but I kind of felt obligated at that point to finish the test drive so after the "reboot" it worked like he expected it to so he showed me all these neato features. In the car's defense there are some pretty cool display options on that vehicle when it is working correctly. Then he let me get behind the wheel for the driving portion. I went to put the car into reverse to back out of the stall it was in and there was a good sized stainless steel plaque at the base of the shifter on the center console that said "Powered by Microsoft" I just sort of sat there for a second staring at it, and the salesguy asked me if everything was OK. I then just put the car back into park and thanked him for his time and left...true story.
All because people are scared of offending muslims.
"But sir, no one worries about upsetting a droid"
"That's because droids don't pull peoples arms out of their sockets when they lose, wookies are known to do that."
Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman