Enough Already: No One Wants To Touch Your Junk! (Our Inevitable TSA Article)

Everyone loves a crusade. Nothing gets the blood pumping in our sedentary veins like an opportunity to “fight the power” without damaging our social standing or basic comfort level. There’s a reason the recent TSA brouhaha has been such a headline-maker recently. For one thing, the powers that be would rather direct public ire at a bunch of baggage handlers than have Wikileaks dominate the news entirely.

Nevertheless, it’s true that the TSA is “invasive, annoying – and unconstitutional”. Yes, I know, airports are private businesses, they can impose whatever rules they want, blah blah blah. But the fact of the matter is that the TSA is a government agency, and it is a proven fact that scanned (and thus nekkid) images of American citizens have ended up in storage on government (the U.S. Marshals admit to having at least 35,000 such images) computers.

That’s messed up. I’m not okay with it and you shouldn’t be either. But the people trying to “fight” the TSA – namely whatever idiots were behind that aggressively stupid and justly failed Opt-Out protest – aren’t making the situation any better.

That said, there are a few things to understand before you can successfully deal with the TSA:

First: The TSA Is Not Big Brother

I’m not even sure the TSA rates as high as Special Cousin Who Visits Only on Thursdays. By and large that fellow wanding you makes between $29,000 and $43,000 a year. Probably closer to the low end of that scale if he/she’s young.

They may not have a high school diploma. For most TSO jobs, one year of full-time experience in “security work, aviation screener work, or X-ray technician work” is enough. This isn’t exactly a coveted job either. Only very specific perverts enjoy running people through X-Ray machines, getting dirty looks all day long and getting bitched out constantly by harried passengers, their bosses and the occasional investigative journalist.

It’s important to keep in mind that the pimply 19-year-old drop-out asking you to walk through the genital-revealing ray isn’t evil. He’s just a poor schlep working a shitty job because, hey, gotta pay the rent somehow, right?


Lining Up the Usual Suspects, Barcelona Airport © atomicjeep

2nd: The TSA-as-an-organization Is Not Malicious

It is a giant government agency, which means it has the collective intelligence and tact of a duck with a TBI. You want the reason for these ridiculous security measures? You and me, baby. We panicked after 9/11 and said, “Do whatever you need to do to stop crazy people from murdering us!“.

The assholes responsible? The politicians and policy-makers who prey on our fear and push ridiculous security laws for a quick boost in the polls aren’t going to deal with this mess. They have private jets. Or lobbyist friends with private jets.

If we bitch loudly and often enough now, the TSA will back off. They have their moments of rationality – see their stance on iPads and netbooks. But nothing worthwhile is going to happen overnight. Dinosaurs can’t think that fast. I’m not asking you to be patient because they deserve it. I’m telling you that patience is the only way to be a sane frequent flyer.

C: Your Protest, However Well-Intentioned, Will Not Have Any Long-lasting Effect

… unless you’re a porn model with a smartphone. Are you really good looking and okay with your naughty bits going viral? Then protest away.

Otherwise, stay in line, know your rights, and be courteous the entire time. Even if they cross a line. You have the Internet. If they actually do something awful, you can broadcast it to millions of eyes before your gate closes. Good behavior will only make you more sympathetic.

For now, eat the bullshit. Listen to some Bill Hicks after you pass the checkpoint and fire off an angry email if you feel like it. Your protests – individual or collective – will not change Jack. Shit. They cannot. The only people you will inconvenience are your fellow travelers, yourself, and a bunch of people who have to be here for another eight hours anyway.

Don’t be a douchebag like John Tyner. I won’t link the video here, but I’ll summarize for those of you who wisely avoid YouTube fads:

A software engineer refused a scan, bitched out TSA employees, opted for a pat down and taped all of it so he could shout out a pre-planned catchphrase. “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested!” As soon as Tyner’s video went viral, he came out with a line of branded T-Shirts and appeared on news shows as a pretend folk hero.

Don’t be like John Tyner. History will remember him as a man with a silly catchphrase and a poor grasp of how to effectively wield a video camera.


Exit, Ottawa Airport © C.P. Storm

Four?

80% of security checkpoints do not have the full body scanners. They aren’t even used very often when present, but you can find a full list here. Know your rights. A pat-down only happens if you refuse a full-body scan, or if a medal detector / scanner finds something “anomalous”. Make sure your pockets are empty and smuggle any illegal narcotics inside your rectum. Simple.

Lastly:

Like John Tyner, you have the right to video tape an encounter with the TSA. You should absolutely make use of that right if you feel abused, harassed or molested. If you sincerely believe some perv TSO wants to see your birthday suit, then complain. But don’t expect us to assume that every scan is conducted at the behest of an erection.

If you cry wolf while Full of Shit you do harm to every single person who has legitimately suffered at the hands of our half-competent police state. You wouldn’t call 9-1-1 because someone keyed your car. So don’t take to the Internet because you lost the Airport Lottery and didn’t want to show your pudgy ass to some kid daydreaming about Call of Duty and maybe getting with that cute girl who works at the Terminal G Sbarro.

10 Responses

  1. Marty

    While I understand your points, it’s really important to keep up the pressure on the TSA. They are, in fact, big brother. The problem is that they enforce whatever rules they want however they want. If this is allowed, where does it stop?
    While I’m not going to be an ass at the checkpoint, it’s important that we keep bringing attention to it. Otherwise the answer will continue to be “because we said so.”

    Reply
  2. Sara Benson

    Get your facts straight before you start arguing with those who rightly object to the new TSA procedures.

    You wrote: ‘A pat-down only happens if you refuse a full-body scan, or if a medal detector / scanner finds something “anomalous”.’

    Untrue. A pat-down also happens at random, so any traveler can be subjected to the full-body pat-down at any time. This is the gross and unconstitutional uninvasion of privacy that sensible Americans are objecting to.

    Also, in what way is it fair that those with disabilities or medical devices in their bodies will be subjected to the pat-down every time they are required to pass through an airport security checkpoint with a full-body scanner? It is discriminatory and against ADA principles.

    Reply
  3. Michael Critz

    Robert,
    Let’s pretend it’s not the TSA and the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

    Let’s pretend it’s FBI and your First Amendment right to free speech on this blog.

    Now, let’s pretend someone told you that “the FBI isn’t malicious” that the average FBI agent has a difficult life and doesn’t need to be bothered with your desire to protect your rights, or that 80% of blogs aren’t being censored by the government, or any of the other arguments you made.

    I doubt you’d feel so smug.

    With regards,
    Michael

    Reply
  4. Turner

    I’m glad to see a slightly different perspective on this, but I just can’t buy your first argument, with this “gotta pay the rent” mentality. I know it sounds extremely arrogant on my part, but we should hold ALL professions to higher standards in terms of education or – if it’s not possible – longer training periods. I know there’s little point in yelling at the worker bees for carrying out orders issued by the queen, but we’re not bees; TSA employees must see how wrong this is, and have got to take a stand against it.

    That having been said, I agree nothing will change with the occasional YouTube outburst. I think opt-out day was kind of defeating the purpose, too, by inconveniencing fellow travelers more than shining a light on the TSA. We need to address the head, but so far that hasn’t worked.

    Reply
  5. dpkworldwide

    Medal detector? So, if you aren’t a military hero or winner at the Olympic Games, the machine isn’t going to go off, right? :-)

    And yes TSA–if not already “Big Brother”–certainly aspires to the role.

    A creative way to solve the dilemma: install naked scanners at the US Capitol and require all legislators to be scanned or opt out every time they enter the building. Follow this up with “accidental” internet posting of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi’s naked scan pictures “that aren’t kept on government servers”. (EWWW!)

    Short term, and perhaps more realistically, airports and airlines should take Representative Mica’s advice and opt out of the TSA “services” and use their own people and procedures. Private industry employees need to put food on the table too and I’d rather have that cost reflected in my airfare instead of my tax bill.

    Reply
  6. Reannon

    I get what you’re trying to say and I absolutely agree that it’s unfair for people to take out these new regulations on the poor people unlucky enough to be getting paid to enforce them. As someone who used to work to at an airport, I can sympathsize with how much it sucks to get screamed at about something that you have absolutely no control over.

    While I think the machines are a giant waste of money, I don’t really care if a few TSA agents see an OUTLINE of my naked body and don’t understand why anyone else would either.

    Reply
  7. Todd Bradley

    “It’s important to keep in mind that the pimply 19-year-old drop-out asking you to walk through the genital-revealing ray isn’t evil. He’s just a poor schlep working a shitty job because, hey, gotta pay the rent somehow, right?”

    That excuse/explanation holds no moral water. Senator McCarthy, Josef Mengele, the Khmer Rouge, and King George’s army were all just guys trying to pay their rent. But like you, me, and every TSA employee, they each had an individual choice of what job to perform and how to perform it.

    Reply
  8. Kristina

    Headlines and outbursts won’t sway TSA, that I agree with. Fact is the people part of TSA are taking advantage of their position. This is where invasion of privacy comes in. There should be a rulebook on TSA manners regarding pat downs and scanners.

    Reply
  9. Rummy

    Another fact wrong: due to numerous videos of TSA now circulating, if you’re caught taping them you will be arrested.

    Clearly they don’t listen to their own, unspoken motto: “If you’ve got nothing to hide then you won’t mind showing it.”

    Reply

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