Pictures Of My Penis
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.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.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.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.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?