A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Touching Junk

There certainly was a lot of bitching during the last few weeks about the new TSA procedures in place for anyone traveling by air. The newest wrinkle is full body scanners — think MRIs without the cold, detached analysis of a medical professional who is duty bound to the patient’s privacy. The scanners should, theoretically, show if anyone is packing any sort of weapon, or even a bomb.

Those fliers who are too squeamish to go through the scanner are allowed to object and decline standing inside the scanner. In these cases, the flier has then implied that they will allow the TSA agent to pat them down. The pat down is, unfortunately, more invasive than many people prefer to have done by someone — a total stranger - who hasn’t even gone to the trouble of trying the stupidest pick up line on them.

One person has seen this new procedure as just one more instance of the big, bad federal government over reaching their authority. This fellow, identified as John Tyner, recorded his encounter with the TSA and warned them, “Don’t touch my junk!” As expected, the man posted his recording on YouTube, where it went viral and he became a folk hero.

Some people have even gone as far as to label him a “patriot”. This title is debatable. One moment of civil disobedience does not necessarily a patriot make. Then also his declaration “Don’t touch my junk” cannot, in my humble opinion, compare to Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death”. Oh, it will make a nifty T-shirt slogan, but a phrase of defiance to spur massive protests and outrage? Nahhh!

Another man, genuinely concerned about the effects of the body scan on his young daughters, called for a massive action of civil disobedience on the busiest day for travelers all year — the day before Thanksgiving. His plan called for travelers to reject the scanner and force TSA personnel to run their hands over them. The TSA responded with warnings that such actions would slow down an already slow-as-a-snail’s-pace security process to a dead stop. The agency made further predictions that many flyers would miss their flights, connections, and perhaps actually re-enact the travails suffered by Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Flyers heeded this warning and chose not to protest too much. The great demonstration against big government overreaching died before it had a chance to begin. There could be several reasons why the protest was a bust. Maybe many travelers had an urgency to get to grandma’s house on time. Perhaps people weren’t in a patriotic mood. Or perhaps the thought of waking up in a strange motel somewhere in the American midwest with the hands of a burly traveling salesman between their thighs was too much to bear.

The media duly reported all these goings on about the controversy: the procedures, the protests, the demonstrations, and the whimper of an aftermath. Others naturally chose sides and weighed in with their views. Mystery writer and part-time humor columnist Lisa Scottoline took the route of common sense — as many passengers did on Thanksgiving Eve — and determined that the three minute pat down, while invasive, was not as inconvenient as being blown out of the sky by a suicide bomber sitting in the First Class section.

Then there were the self righteous who railed against government intrusion and, in this instance, conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer had the most provocative response. He not only proclaimed the “Don’t touch my junk” man a patriot, but also called for stepped up profiling of certain passengers so that the rest of the air traveling public would not be inconvenienced. This would leave the federal government to fend off discrimination lawsuits for the next 200 years or so, but so what? At least the planes would fly on time; they might not be 100% safe, but they would leave the tarmac on schedule.

Still, the profiling suggestion did not offend me as much as Krauthammer’s echoing the phrase, “Don’t touch my junk!” Okay, I like to believe I’m a very open-minded person, so I will allow that Charles Krauthammer is going through life with the same biological equipment as the next man, myself included. Also, he has every right to proclaim his right to privacy of his most private parts. What I don’t need is the thought that he feels the need to loudly proclaim that he has “junk” at all. This is waaaayyy more information than I ever wanted to know about Charles Krauthammer.

If he and so many others are so upset about the TSA, then they should do what Anne Marie and I do: we take the train!

(Thank you for reading! Please mind where your hands are at all times, and you won’t have time to worry about other people’s hands!)


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