Pictures Of My Penis

TSA: Your naked pictures are safe with us!

A few weeks ago I was catching an AirTran flight from Orlando back to Asheville. This story has nothing whatsoever to do with AirTran, Orlando, or Asheville. I’m just giving you some context here.

As I waited (relatively) patiently to get through the security checkpoint, I noticed they’d installed one of those new Backscatter X-ray scanners. The type that basically takes a naked picture of you when you stand in it. “This should be interesting”, I thought. I’d heard a lot about these gadgets on the news, but this was the first time I’d ever encountered one personally.

It’s pretty simple, really. You go through the same rigamarole you’ve always done for the metal detectors. Empty your pockets. Take off your shoes and belt. Take off your jacket. Put all that stuff on the conveyor (where your carry-on bag just disappeared into the machine) and you step into the machine and turn sideways. The guy tells you to put your hands over your head, there’s a pause of about 10 seconds, and then he tells you to step out.

Say Cheese!

It definitely takes longer than the basic metal detectors, because once you’re through the machine you have to stand there for a minute or two until the guy in front of you gets the All Clear signal, presumably from the dickhead-in-a-box in a remote location who was just checking out your nudeness. Then, assuming you don’t have a dozen blocks of C4 stuffed into your tightie-whities, the guy waves you by, you collect your crap and go on about your business.

So I went over to the conveyor, slipped on my shoes, shrugged on my jacket, stuck my belt in a pocket, and grabbed my carry-on. When I grabbed my camera case another TSA guy behind the counter said “Photographer, eh?” I said “Strictly amateur, but I take a lot of pictures.” He kind of chuckled and I said “It always shocks me that you guys never want to inspect the camera case.” He said, “Oh, none of us are photographers. We wouldn’t know what we were looking at in there anyway.”


See, I don’t mind all this backscatter garbage on a privacy level. If somebody wants to look at me naked, what do I care? You ever take a crap in a big room, full of people, with about 100 toilets in it, no stalls, no dividers? I have. Trust me, the Army has a way of permanently eliminating any sense of privacy you might once have had. So I don’t give a rat’s ass about the privacy aspect of it. I can understand why that bothers some people, but I figure the worst that can happen is some poor TSA bastard making $8 an hour has to look at a picture of a chubby dude with a penis much, much larger than any TSA employee has ever had.

Of course, you can choose to “opt out” of the backscatter machine if you want. Then they have to frisk you by hand, and they’ve made it clear that this will be a highly invasive frisking, in order to discourage people from making them do it. They basically have to feel you up right out there in front of God and everybody. I don’t think I could go that route. It’s bad enough making that poor TSA bastard look at a penis much larger than his own. Making him hold it seems almost cruel.

My camera case. Nothing to see here.

I guess what really bugs me is just how useless it is. Security theater. Put on a big show, make the sheep think they’re safer because of it. I mean, just look at my camera case. Seriously. Click on the picture. That’s what I always fly with. Do you have any idea how much insanely dangerous crap I could cram in that? So they’re going to delay me, and take a naked picture of me, but not bother to look in the damned box because “we wouldn’t know what we were looking at in there anyway”?


Even forgetting this whole camera case thing for a minute, what if I just put something inside my body? Drug mules smuggling cocaine from South America have been swallowing condoms full of the stuff for decades. We’ve got terrorists in Saudi Arabia trying to assassinate honchos over there by cramming their assholes full of explosive, and basically turning themselves into human bottle rockets. I didn’t make that up. They call them suppository bombs. Ask a prison guard sometime about the amazing variety (and volume) of objects that can be hidden in the average human orifice.

Well, that's unfortunate.

This backscatter gadget wouldn’t detect any of that stuff. So is that next? We all get our stomachs pumped, and a little anal and vaginal probing before we can get on a plane?

Somebody’s going to have to buy me dinner first, I can tell you that. Maybe a movie. Flowers wouldn’t hurt.

I finally made it to the plane, and on the flight back to Asheville I spent a lot of time thinking about the implications of all this security theater. At first, I was thinking about what kind of security procedures you’d have to implement if you wanted to do something more than just putting on a nice show. When that seemed hopeless, I started wondering where the authority comes from to put people through all this useless harassment in the first place.

Looking at it from a Libertarian point of view, I thought “OK, this aircraft is the private property of the airline. Morally and legally, it is their right to impose whatever conditions they want before they allow someone on this plane.” You with me so far? Property is property. Nobody has a right to fly on an airplane. You have to buy a ticket, and if the airline wants to make you jump through some hoops before they let you onboard, then they can do that – as long as all the hoops are spelled out clearly before you put your money down.

It’s no different than if we were talking about my house. If I declare that no one can come inside my house until I have first shoved a speculum up their ass and taken a good look around, then I am perfectly within my rights to do that. I probably wouldn’t get a lot of visitors (although you never know…) but I could do it. Anybody who doesn’t want their asshole probed can just hang out in the yard and bitch about it, but they can’t come in.

Anjelina Jolie

But (and here’s where we come to the part that really bugs me about all this) could I demand that the government come over and do it for me?

Well, I could demand it all I wanted, but something tells me that Caldwell County‘s finest wouldn’t be scrambling all over themselves to get over here and perform this little service. As well they shouldn’t. It’s not the role of law enforcement to be implementing the wishes of private citizens. Unless of course, Anjelina Jolie was wanting in my house for some odd reason, in which case all bets are off.

But you see what I’m getting at here, don’t you? Privately owned aircraft. Privately owned airports. Private citizens wanting to go from one to the other. Federal government in there taking pictures of my penis.

Which of these things doesn’t belong?

And don’t give me any crap about how these are Federal requirements, so the Federal government is just enforcing them. I’m in the Occupational Safety business, remember? I pretty much spend my life making sure construction companies comply with Federal safety regulations. But you don’t see the Federal government providing me with some taxpayer-funded jackass to stand by the gate of every project every morning to make sure all my employees are wearing safety glasses.

So why are they doing it, instead of the airlines doing it for themselves? And where do they get the authority to be doing it at all?




11 comments to Pictures Of My Penis

  • You said it all with, “Where are they getting the authority?”. I’ve got a huge problem with it. They don’t have the authority as far as I know or care. Not that it means anything, but there’s a hell of a lot of other people that agree.

    What I really despise about this is that they’re conditioning people to think that this is acceptable. What better industry to start with? The airlines have conditioned people to believe that getting flung through the air in a pressurized aluminum tube at 500 miles an hour is nothing to be afraid of. I know, statistically you’re safer, but it’s an entirely valid fear and if someone’s afraid of it, it makes sense. I’m not afraid of flying, but I do a lot of things that don’t make sense. Point is, this shit is just going to keep growing until there is absolutely no privacy.

    Homeland Security is doing anything they can to justify their existence and their sham jobs. It’s not going to stop here. When Napalitano came out and told everyone that Vets were actually a threat, a few took pause to that, but dismissed it. There’s a ton of things they’ve done like this that were dismissed. Now that they’re getting they’re genitals grabbed by someone they’re taking notice. A little late I think, but better late than never.

    The Israeli system isn’t perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than this and they don’t get hijacked. A blueprint that is effective is already laid out for us, but we chose this route. I can’t imagine anything that isn’t sinister as the reason.

  • […] the rest here:  Pictures Of My Penis | This entry was posted in Orlando and tagged always-shocks, camera, few-weeks, guy-behind, […]

  • kate mckinnon

    National airspace is always going to be subject to federal control; that isn’t going to change. Any mode of transport that involves border crossings is taken seriously. Airlines operate in our national airspace with permission from the government to do so, and that permission comes with security restrictions.

    Fly into any country’s airspace without permission, see how far you get.

    I agree that they do a rotten job of screening travelers. I also carry a lot of electronica with me and feel that I could get anything through security that I wanted to, with minimal effort.

    As Kyle says, “TSA, you’ve had a decade. A class of ninth graders could design a better system.”

  • If the government takes over boarding security under the guise of control of airspace, then they should most certainly have to abide by the 4th amendment which prohibits unreasonable searches right? If feeling up a little kid just for no other reason than they are going to Disneyland isn’t unreasonable, I don’t know what is.

    Sure, you can skip the molestation if you choose to submit to a dose of radiation.

    They want to search or radiate the crew and I find this to be a glaring example of how your security is not what they have in mind at all. So the pilot gets groped or x-rayed and he boards. This is the same guy that has a gun and control of the plane too right? What are they searching him for? Good intentions?

    Follow the money. Many well politically connected wealthy people are getting rich from this. Sure, this is all about your safety. These people are only looking out for you by investing in companies looking out for you. If folks believe this, maybe a sexual assault from the government will wake them up? Is this what it takes before people start understanding their rights?

  • Ray

    Well, Ken- I really appreciate the “tounge-in-cheek humor you have! You points are well-made, and I agree with this. Like you, I’m not at all worried about the nude photos and body scanners and what they reveal. I must also say that if scanning each and every one of us makes the plane safer then, well, I like to feel safe on a plane. I attribute this whole thing to 1] life during wartime, and 2] greedy and powerful SOB’s making $$$ off the whole thing.

    And I’m hoping that the photo of “Well, that’s unfortunate.” isn’t one of you… [laughing]…

  • When the fat cats boarding their private jets at the general aviation terminals start getting molested, then this madness will end. Until then we’re screwed.

  • […] This time I’m flying American Airlines, and RDU is one of the handful of airports that have the new porno-scanners. AA uses Terminal 2, and I don’t recall seeing the porno-scanners in Terminal 1, so there was a possibility I could’ve been scanned. So far I have not been selected to pass through one but I intend to submit to alternative screening (i.e. “fondling”) should I ever get tapped. I think our airport-security bureaucracy has crossed a line of decency with these scanners. Also, as my buddy Ken Thomas pointed out, these machines don’t really make us safer. […]

  • HarryEtta Thomas

    You have some good observations on the security problem and I can appreciate what your saying. My question is, what’s your answer to the problem? We can all find fault with the procedure but if your getting on a plane with Vicki, Marshall and William, and some dude has an explosive in his underwear, don’t you want some extra precautions taken? If you look at this as an infringement issue then you have a valid point. If you see this as a safety issue then should we really care what they X-ray, or where they pat.
    Love, Mom

  • ken

    Good question, Mom – but part of what I’m saying with this article is that none of this nonsense makes us any safer than we were before. I believe it’s just designed to make passengers feel safer, so they’ll keep buying those overpriced airline tickets. As long as there are people who are willing to kill themselves in order to blow up a plane, then there’s going to be a risk involved in flying. I think either a person has to accept that risk or stay home. Just like putting your family in a car and getting behind the wheel.

    But as one alternative, a lot of people are talking about The Israeli Solution. El Al is considered one of the safest airlines in the world, and it’s also the one most targeted by suicide bombers. They don’t do any of this pat-down or porn-scan nonsense. They just train airport security people to monitor behavior, and it works.

    Read about it here: The Israeli Solution

  • Jaded Empath

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: They need to stop pussyfooting around and compromising and all this other watered-down half-actions, and implement “Coma Class”.

  • Security is crucial but there are glaring gaps within the efficiency of individual airports. Things mistakenly get placed in handbags and so on but not discovered by screeners in addition to big mistakes that may ended up costing our lives! We have politicians asking for restrictions on the amount of individuals that receive pat downs and verification, that achieves nothing at all! It ought to be all or not any! It seems to me the old technique was doing the job, exactly why did these people change it out!