Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Talk Thursday: There's A Light At The End Of The Tunnel...

...and it's a backscatter X-ray machine.

Really, even though it's Talk Thursday, there's only one topic allowed by the general media this week. If you're CNN, MSNBC or even some random blogger in Nowhere, Texas, the only thing anybody's talking about is airport security, or lack thereof. It's like there's a ban on all other subjects. Or worse, if you're going to talk about anything else you need to submit to a backscatter X ray and an enhanced pat-down before you can--oh, wait. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sorry if you're reading this over breakfast, but over to the right here we have a scan of Mr.
Naked Guy. I wish I knew his real name because I'd apologize to him for using his, uh, nudidity in my blog without permission. This is apparently what the average traveler looks like in a full body scan, aka a backscatter X ray, aka the nifty new screening machines that are appearing in airports everywhere. The idea is to see if you've got anything hidden under your clothes. As you can see, Mr. Naked Guy doesn't. As you can also see, he carries slightly to the left. I'm sure you didn't need to know that to let Mr. Naked Guy board his flight. In fact, you probably could have gone the rest of your life without knowing that. I certainly could have. But never mind. Obviously Mr. Naked Guy is not a terrorist and letting him on an airplane will not threaten the lives or safety of the American flying public. In short, Mr. Naked Guy is okay-fine with us.

Now, the TSA has repeatedly assured us that the backscatter X ray is perfectly safe, carries a low dose of radiation and won't make anybody sick. What's more, the nude pictures are viewed in a remote location by one guy (for some reason I'm sure it's a guy) who doesn't know you and who deletes the photos as soon as he's sure you don't have any contraband stashed under your breasts or in your crotch. However, if you're not sure you wanna be viewed naked and/or you're concerned about the whole radiation thing, you can Opt Out (this being America and all). If you do, you're given an "enhanced pat-down." What this basically means is that a TSA agent, most of whom work for a little above minimum wage and get essentially no training, will grope you lots of places that your mama said only the doctor could touch you, and even then only if mama said it was okay. Horror stories abound, from the three-year-old (yes, they grope three-year-olds) who couldn't stop screaming to the celebrity magician (Penn Gillette) who was roughed up and then suddenly treated like royalty once they realized who he was.

(Pause here to contemplate the appropriateness of sitting in a Middle Eastern restaurant writing about airport security. In fact, I wonder if it's even legal. There's a police station across the street, too. If I abruptly break off in the middle of a paragraph, you'll know what hap

So what's it going to be then, eh? Nude-O-Scope or public sexual assault? If you think those options are scary, listen to TSA head John "The Pervert" Pistole go so far as to acknowledge that the new screening procedures "may challenge our social norms." He just don't get it, people. I don't know about you, but I'm a lot more afraid of my government right now than I am of terrorists. I haven't been on a plane since July and I may never get on one again at this rate.

Fortunately, there's a backlash starting to happen. This brilliant guy has started "National Opt Out Day," a day of protest scheduled for (naturally) the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year. Rep. Ron Paul, who is by no means my favorite person, has introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act, which states only that the TSA employees who perform the searches are not immune from U.S. law (as in, laws against assault, child pornography, etc.) -- something that would do a lot to stop the kind of overreaching I've been hearing about all week. And Janet Napolitano, whom I met once back when she was a mere lawyer in Arizona, has indicated, at least a little, that there may be some room for compromise here. So there may be hope.

In the meantime, though, we still have to pick. Nude or groped. At this point I'd probably opt for nude. It'd be safer for everybody. That darn purple belt in karate and plenty of post-traumatic stress makes it entirely possible I might forget myself and deck the poor TSA agent who drew the unpleasant task of feeling me up, which would land me in jail and her (presuming it's a her) on the sidelines with an ice pack. If I opt for the Nude-O-Scope, the only person in any danger is the guy in the back looking at the pictures, and if he passes out, it's not like anybody's gonna notice.

Here's a bunch of nifty t-shirts you can buy to get the point across. And the ACLU has free stickers (they always have free stickers) - request yours now for the busy holiday travel season.

Late breaking news! We have a verdict in the Burns case and it's in our favor!! Whoo hoo!!


Marcia Wall said...

I just won't be flying very much anymore.

Cele said...

I think the terrorist have far too much sway and control over us.

Jen said...

Check out "The Secret Agent" by Joseph Conrad some time - that's what it's about. That terrorists force a government to clamp down on its own citizens so hard -- in the name of security, naturally -- that the citizens eventually break out in open revolt, which is the end goal of terrorism. Prescient writing in English by a late 19th-century Polish guy. Oh, and he wrote "Heart of Darkness," too.

Anonymous said...

Right there with ya on the Nude-O-Scope. There'll be hell to pay if someone touches me or my kid. Screw that!

Glad you got to keep writing after the cops busted in the place!