What to do about the naked body scan and grope regime

Homer writes:

I have been a reader of your blog for a little more than a year. I don’t agree with you on every matter, but I respect what you do and have benefited tremendously from your work.

I am writing because I wonder what your thoughts are on a dilemma I am facing. Now that the naked body scanners are in full deployment and those who opt out are being put through the security grope, I am at a loss. My wife, our two daughters and I are scheduled to fly together in a few months. I don’t know, as the leader of my family, if it is best to direct my family to submit to being photographed naked or fondled. What would you do?

And what do your readers recommend?

LA replies:

It’s a hideous problem. My instinctive reaction would be to say, “You are not going to scan me.” But then that leads to the more intrusive groping, which apparently is done publicly. So I guess they would grope me, while I would very vocally and loudly denounce what they are doing, and hope that others in the line would back me up and say the same. That might lead to my being detained and missing my flight. They can detain one troublesome passenger. But would they detain an entire line of troublesome passengers? So this seems the way: mass, vocal protests by passengers.

So long as we passively go along with the Bush / Obama / Goggle-eyed Napolitano regime, they will keep doing it to us. If we resist it collectively, and if there are repeated incidents of loud vocal resistance by groups of passengers in airports (not one passenger at a time, but at least several at a time), our controllers will realize they can’t get away with it.

- end of initial entry -

Matthew C. writes:

Homer presents a problem which I too have struggled with. I thought he might appreciate hearing the opinion of another reader on this matter.

It is very tempting to view airplane travel today as a “necessity”, or even as a “right”, but it in reality is neither. It is a convenience and a service to be bought or sold like many others. So the question ultimately comes down to this: is the cost too high for the service?

Like Homer, I also have a family, including a wife and a young child. About three years ago, I had a particularly obnoxious security checkpoint experience. It was after this that I came to the decision that, although it makes travel quite a bit more complicated and inconvenient, I am simply unwilling intentionally to submit my wife and son to these types of procedures in exchange for the convenience of flying.

Instead of flying, we have taken long family drives and are presently planning a trip this summer down the East Coast via railroad. I’ve presented the railroad trip to my son as something to get excited about, as opposed to lamenting the fact that we’ll have to dedicate about three days to travel instead of a few hours.

Each time, since I made the decision to stop flying, that I have driven or made alternate arrangements in lieu of flying, I have felt good about my decision. I can now only shudder to think of how I would really feel if I gave an airline many hundreds of dollars in exchange for the “convenience” of watching them pat my wife down and view naked images of my son, or vice versa.

So, my personal advice to Homer is to “opt out” of flying. It is certainly not the easiest or most convenient choice, but I can say from experience that I have not regretted my decision to stop flying. I have of course left the door open for future air travel in the event that some modicum of sanity is introduced into the security procedures for airline flights.

Chris R. H. writes:

“Captain Bates suggests that pilots refrain from being put through the scanners and if necessary opt for a pat down by TSA officials instead.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one struck by the surreal absurdity of making pilots pass through security checkpoints. It’s not as if the pilot needs to smuggle a weapon on board if he wants to do harm, he’s got control of the plane!

David M. writes:

First some background. I stick out in a crowd because I look like and am built like an aging Viking. Because so many broad-shouldered aging Vikings have hijacked aircraft I get a lot of second looks from the airport police and (alleged) security. When I pass through the metal detector the beeping and the blinking lights all take place because I sport two titanium and plastic knee joints. This means being taken to a place with seats, mats to stand on, and posing in a position reminiscent to the Crucifixion while they run devices over me that make noises when it finds Something It Thinks Is Bad. Generally, the TSA people have been quite kind and decent, recognizing this for the invasion and blow to the dignity that it is.

The level of manners and politeness goes in proportion to how many American black women are on duty. Nashville, with a virtually all white staff, are the height of courtesy. Detroit airport, on the other hand, is staffed almost entirely with people who would find a challenge in composing declarative sentences longer than five words. With these people, it is little more than a game of “hassle the honky.”

My first experience with being asked to step into Madam Napolitano’s Porn-O-Matic(r) machine was at Washington Reagan a few weeks ago. I politely but firmly refused. The young man who asked then asked me why. “Because I have chronic lymphocytic leukemia and refuse to be x-rayed or scanned for purposes not directly related to my health”. (And in fact I do have it, darn it). No, it was not his business, but I don’t care who knows, and it had the velvet sledgehammer result I sought. His look of shock and embarrassment was priceless.

The result was my usual hand inspection, conducted with as much decency and consideration as such things could be done, and the man doing it was polite, professional, and informed me of each step before doing it. He even asked if I had sensitive places to avoid, etc. But, remains a blow to the dignity and offends my sense of what is right on so many levels, let alone the Constitutional issues.

Above, I made note of the American blacks. The young man who called for the screener after my refusal was black, and had an accent that said he was not from here. It was quite melodic, his English grammar and syntax hinted at French. He was genuinely polite and seemed embarrassed to be putting me through this. Maybe he is one of those TSA folks who recognizes all this for the nonsense that it is.

In December, I am traveling from Alabama to California to be with family when my mother has a milestone birthday. I’m driving.

Kristor writes:

I hesitate to say this, I really do. It could weaken the impression that some readers of VFR might have formed of me from the preponderance of my comments: that I am an irenic, ethereal being, interested primarily in theology, Platonic-Thomistic metaphysics, philosophy of science vis-a-vis Darwinism, and the grand sweep of history (thereby rendering my commentary on such topics less compelling). I am all that, I suppose. But there is more. For the reality is that, like David M., I am a Viking. I have real life experience backing up the hunch that I would have fit in quite well in a longboat full of berserkers. So what the hell.

The solution, it seems to me, is quite clear. When male VFR readers are asked at the airport to submit to irradiation, they should refuse. When they are asked to submit instead to groping by a male TSA official, they should refuse. They should insist that if they are to be groped, it must be by a female TSA official. God forbid that they should be groped by a man; for who knows, perhaps that could subject them to molestation by a defrocked priest (than which, what greater horror could be conceived?)(not that there’s anything wrong with homosex)! Now, female TSA officials fall into one of only two categories: lesbians, and heterosexuals. As a rule, both of these classes of women will be strongly disinclined to spend their shifts palpating the genitalia and buttocks of strange men. Their being forced to do so will create a work environment for them that is grounds for litigation against the TSA, on the basis of a claim of sexual harassment. The enormous weight of the liberal legal juggernaut will thereby be roused and directed against the practice of groping, and thus against the practice of unreasonable search.

What should female readers of VFR do? They should insist that if they are to be groped, it must be by a male official of TSA. Then, they should complain loudly that those male employees have taken undue advantage, and touched them with an intimacy unwarranted by the situation. They should lay claims against the TSA for battery.

I recognize that this would place an extra burden on female traditionalists; so much so, that they might find it preferable to let their menfolk suffer the lion’s share of the groping. The men will not, perhaps, so much object to this duty. Indeed, if those menfolk can find it in themselves to muster a coprophagic grin while bearing the attentions of their TSA overladies, that could only tend to exacerbate the cognitive dissonance of the situation, thus bringing it more readily to a head. So to speak.

It would be a spectacle sublime in its absurdity, and wholly edifying, were we not all ourselves paying for every particle of it.

There was an old Marxist aphorism that I learned, back when I was a Marxist: Amplify the Contradictions. It can work for trads, too.

I am scheduled to fly to Chicago Thursday morning. I shall find out if I am quite the berserker I should like to think I am.

November 10

N. writes:

Let us all never forget that this latest incarnation of security theater is justified by the attempted bombing last December of an aircraft flying into Detroit. The passenger who attempted to bring down the aircraft was, of course, Moslem. As was Richard Reid, the attempted “shoe bomber,” whose actions require millions of Americans to remove their shoes prior to boarding an aircraft. As were the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers. And so forth, and so on.

As you so ably pointed out, so long as people are allowed onto airliners who wish to destroy them or crash them into buildings, this security theater will be deemed “necessary,” for ever and ever. This is the future for the U.S., an ever more intrusive harassment of honest, normal Americans because the alternative would involve discrmination, the mortal sin of liberalism.

PS: At some point, a jihadi man or woman will succeed in smuggling explosives onto an aircraft by hiding it in a body cavity. I hesitate to contemplate how Homeland Security will react to that.

JC writes:

I have a suggestion to avoid being subjected to either the scan or the grope. When flying simply wear Muslim garb and carry a copy of the Koran. Bet you’d be waved right through the checkpoint!

LA replies:

That’s a good one.

Homer writes:

I don’t know if you’ve seen this site.

Reading the horror stories of people who have clearly been sexually violated in these grope downs is almost too much to bear.

I liked Kristor’s suggestion of insisting that a woman grope me. I had thought of it previously, but had not thought that doing so might lay the ground for a lawsuit. If I do ask for a woman to grope me I will insist she buy me dinner first.

November 11

David M. writes:

This is a comment about the subject at Pajamas Media.

Since about 2002, I’ve been placing a copy of the koran in the top layer of my carry on. Since I have to take out my laptop to place it on the belt before the x-ray machine, I must take the koran out first.

Of, course, I have some difficulty removing my laptop so the koran is out & clearly visible for a while before the screening station.

Since, I’ve already slowed down the line (& drawn the attention of the tsa’ers), I just happen to leave it out when I put my carry-on through.

Somehow, I never get searched or selected for further screening

Coincidence I’m sure.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 09, 2010 01:39 PM | Send

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