23 November 2010

Behr Rant: Air Travel

"Don't touch my junk!"

By now, most Americans - and our foreign friends too - have heard the now popular phrase uttered by a San Diego man who recently refused the body scanner and the physical pat down. The homophobic implications are the least of our worries.

Air travel has changed over the years, pretty much like everything has. In this day and post-9/11 age, we all know the inconvenience of air travel: removing our shoes, belts, and all metal objects and hoping that the walk-through scanner doesn't pick up on that pierced nipple or stray piece of chewing gum foil in your pocket. We can no longer carry liquids in our carry-on luggage unless it's only a few ounces. Removing our laptops from their cases. In addition, anything we have is scrutinized and questioned. Here's a personal experience hint: don't take a roll of quarters. It freaks them out.

We were first introduced to the full body scanners in Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Do you think that was a coincidence? We all knew they were coming. It was just a question of technology, development, time, and of course cost. But now they're here and a part of the air travel experience.

But now thanks to this one guy, people are now coming forward with their horror stories of being patted down by TSA and how violated they feel. My mother regaled me with a similar story about having her blouse yanked up while the agent patted her down. While I'm certain that women have a different take on it than I do, I cannot help but scratch my head and ask: if you know metal is going to set off the scanner why the hell did you wear an underwire bra? Yes it's a pain to have to plan one's air travel wardrobe so it is comfortable, stylish, and yet safe enough to pass through security. Thinking ahead and planning will help eliminate problems.

One woman recently complained about the full body scanner. She felt violated because it flooded her with the memory of being sexually molested. Someone could see under "naked" under her clothes. Perhaps I'm being insensitive but...standing fully clothed while ONE person looks is not a violation of your personal being. When I last flew out of the Oakland, CA airport I had the full body scan. Guess what: I did not feel violated. I did not care that anyone could see me naked under my clothes. We're all naked under our clothes, like it or not

I agree that the TSA agents who are conducting the physical pat downs need to be better trained in technique, sensitivity, and demeanor. But a reminder to those of you who insist on being patted down: it's not pleasant for the agent either. Can you imagine having to touch that many people to ensure the safety of all passengers?

And that's what it boils down to, isn't it. Safety. Protection. No one would dream of some freak idiot having an underwear bomb. But it happened. And tighter controls had to be implemented. We no longer live in a safe world. Even domestic air travel can be dangerous. And quite frankly, I would be suspicious of anyone - ANYONE - who refused both the body scan and/or the pat down.

I am of the opinion that - although the scanners are a pain - they do a job. One that is unfortunate but necessary. I don't want to be on a plane that gets hijacked or blown apart because someone had an incendiary device in his/her possession that was overlooked because TSA was lax in doing their job. I think a majority of people would prefer the inconvenience. Is the "perceived" uncomfortableness of a body scan or pat down really not endurable if the alternative means being blown up?

Our world has changed. And it continues to change. We must adapt. We must think of the greater good rather than our own selfish personal idiosyncrasies. The "Me" age is over. You don't want to have the body scan because you're afraid of radiation? Then get patted down. If you don't want that then take the train. Or drive. Or just stay home. Because the rest of us are going to do what is necessary to ensure everyone's safety.

Not to mention it's been a long while since I've been groped. If I have to fly somewhere to get it, then so be it.



Wonder Man said...

the groping could be fun

Stan said...

I wouldn't object to a grope either! (Tee, Hee!)
They need to send those scanners to Afghanistan and Iraq where they are really needed.

Cubby said...

I can tell you that I'm never going through one of those scanners. No way, no how.

They say it is impossible to save or print the images of the naked travelers, yet the TSA's own investigation found over 3,000 images saved. So much for impossibilities.

I'm happy for the government to feel me up all they want, but there is no way I'm letting them look at my naked image.

As for the gloved agents, do they change gloves between every pat-down? I don't want them giving me crabs.

I'm so tempted to go to the airport tomorrow and watch the chaos around the security area. It should be highly entertaining.

behrmark said...

@Cubby: I never thought about the transmission of rashes, crabs, or other stuff. Good point. But when it comes down to it, I will use the scanners because I'm a pervert. I think it's hot that someone is seeing me naked without my being naked - lol!

Phillip301s said...

behr, You said exactlly what I've thought all along. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy you've bought into the methods of security theater used by TSA.

The Israeli's have much more effective ways to weed out the terrorist element. They use profilers.

Not backscatter x-ray, but humans. Imagine!