Tag Archives: United States

Now I know where to go to get some action!

2 7 10 Bearman Cartoon Airport Body Scanner

Image by Bearman2007 via Flickr


I got into a debate on Facebook last night about the new security measures in place at airports in the US.  It started when one guy, Cowboy, posted to his wall that he had one thing to say to all the people posting articles and complaining about the new security measures:  “don’t fly.”  He said this is being done to protect us from terrorism, and as long as he gets a pat down from “a hot female with TSA,” he’s okay with it.

Both sides weighed in on this, and it was, for the most part, a cordial discussion.  I was actually quite surprised that no one started hurling insults.  Both sides stated their opinion and made points, and argued against the other side’s points.  There was only one issue, I think. 

I don’t think most people who were arguing for scanners and enhanced pat downs had any idea what they were talking about.  I will admit, when this was first instituted, there was an email discussion amongst several friends.  Two were very unthrilled with the new security measures, and one who went through the scanner said she “felt dirty.”  (I hope I’m quoting her correctly!)  My opinion, at the time, was, “Eh.  Whatever.”  I wasn’t happy with it, but I didn’t really see the big deal.  However, since then, I’ve read more about them, done some research, and read firsthand accounts of the “enhanced” pat downs.  And now I can say, with full sincerity, that I am not okay with this, and I am not looking forward to the next time I have to fly (Christmas).  In fact, I’m starting to get a little sick about it – not quite to the extent that Nicole  is, but talk to me again as the date gets closer.

Here are the main points brought up in the FB debate:

I agree with the original Facebook post – If you don’t like it, don’t fly.  Some people don’t have that option.  This can affect people’s livelihoods – do I want to continue working to support my family (by traveling, as my job requires) and give up on these civil liberties, or do I want to stand up against it and not fly (and lose my job in the process)?  Here’s the point:  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.  Know what you’re facing the next time you go to the airport.  Have all the facts.  This is your body, your health, and damnit, the government has no right to tell you what to do with those two things.  Once you know the facts, then make an INFORMED decision based on your personal belief system.  If you want to debate the merits and/or faults of the new system with me, please have something more to say than, “TERRORISTS!  9/11!  The sky is falling!”

Wednesday, November 24th (yes, the day before Thanksgiving, yes, the busiest travel day of the year), is National Opt Out Day.  The organizers are urging everyone flying on Wednesday to “Opt Out” of the scanner and instead have the “enhanced” pat down.  They want people to understand what the pat down entails, and to determine for yourself if you are okay with receiving it…and if you’re okay with your spouse, mother, father, and children (the 15 year old girl, the 4 year old boy) receiving it.  

I was listening to the radio today, to some radio personality on AM radio (sorry, I couldn’t figure out who it was).  The guy was telling people, don’t opt out.  It’ll only slow everything down, and it won’t make a statement of any kind.  He was recommending, instead, that people go through the scanner and salute the TSA – with one finger (guess which one).  “Free speech!” he said.  “Make a statement!”

All due respect, but what exactly is that going to do?  I have nothing against the TSA agents themselves – they’re just doing their job (although, if it were me, I’d be looking for another job right quick).  Flipping off the TSA agent is not going to make any statement, other than, “I’m an immature asshole.”  Let me explain the idea behind Opting Out:

IT’S A FREAKING BOYCOTT!  Why do people boycott a business?  To make a statement.  To make the business sit up and take notice.  To make them realize that people don’t like what they are doing, people are doing something about it, and it’s going to affect the business’ bottom line.  This is what the Opt Out Day is for.  Although the organizers state that the intention is not to slow down air travel, it will obviously slow down the security lines if even half the people going through decide to opt out of the scanners.  It will show TSA (and the government) that we don’t agree with the scanners.  It will show other people that there are people willing to make a stand against them, which will in turn make others more likely to do so.  It will affect the airlines, possibly causing delays, certainly upsetting passengers when they miss their flight due to the long wait, who will demand some sort of compensation.  It is the American people, en masse, saying, “We are not going to put up with this.”  And just like with a boycott, if enough people do it, maybe someone will take notice.

I don’t think we’re getting the full truth.  I was going to do a summary of what TSA says about the scanners and what I’ve heard and found, but I’ve spent way too long on this post, and besides, this post does that pretty well.

Some additional interesting links:

  • Ron Paul has introduced H.R. 6416, The American Traveler Dignity Act, to the House.  You can read about it here.
  • FedUpFlyers was started by a pilot, and has several first-hand accounts from crew personnel and passengers about the security measures.  I suggest you read them.  Yes, they are touching your genitals.  If you’re a woman and you wear a skirt, they WILL slide their hands ALL the way up to your panties.  If you wear skimpy underwear, your labia may be touched.  Are you okay with that?  Are you okay with your wife, your daughter being subjected to that?
  • WeWontFly – Act Now.  Travel with Dignity.

As a final note, let’s look to the people who do this for a living – the pilots and flight attendants who go through this daily.  Pilots unions are urging pilots not to go through the scannersFlight attendants have contacted the ACLU and may file suit.  These are professionals, and they’re not okay with it.  I’m not either.

***ETA – OMG!!!   I just found this online, and laughed hysterically. 

Freedom of Speech – unless I don’t agree with you

I was reading an article in Time recently about “Islamophobia” and the public uproar regarding mosques being built in communities across the country.  One key paragraph stood out to me:  “Those railing against new mosques also use arguments of equivalence:  Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow churches and synagogues, so why should the US permit the building of Islamic places of worship?”

My immediate, disturbed, vocal response:  “Um…how about a little thing called freedom of religion?!”

I’ve been somewhat following the debate surrounding the building of Cordoba House, aka “Ground Zero Mosque.”  I say “somewhat,” because I can’t say I know all the ins and outs, who’s said what, and count off facts on the fingers of my hands.  I’ve been more interested in the broader issue.  I love politics and religion, the philosophical theory of each, though not exactly the practice of either.  The practice gets people involved, and it’s the people who spoil it.

Should they build a mosque in Manhattan, just blocks from the World Trade Center?  What if instead of being two blocks away, it was four?  Six?  Would it be okay then?  How far away is okay?  One of the main concerns is that if you go to the memorial, you will know that this Muslim Center isn’t too far away.  Does the fact that your loved one is dead, killed by extremists, become worse, because this center is two blocks away?

Is it insensitive?  Possibly.  You know what else is insensitive?  Blaming an entire group for the actions of a very small few.  I can’t tell you how much this issue is upsetting me.  It is showing how ugly and small-minded people can be.  Islamophobia – bad name for it, IMO.  Islamo-hatred, more like it.

On the other side, you have the Florida minister who intends to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11.

You know, there’s nothing that drives me more insane than hypocritical actions.  It’s hard to preach forgiveness when you can’t forgive.  It’s hard to teach acceptance when you can’t accept.  Turn it around – a mosque in Saudi Arabia is going to burn a bunch of copies of the bible.  Is that okay?  If the answer is no, then why not?

Who’s right and who’s wrong?  They are both wrong, and they are both right.  That’s the beauty of this country. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech are two of the most incredible rights we have as Americans.  Black, White, Asian, Mexican, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, none of that matters.  We are Americans.  The laws of this country do not apply to this group only.  They apply to all of us.

Religion has been the basis of war and fighting and intolerance for thousands of years.  Seems to me it might be easier if we were all Atheist – then what would we fight about?  I’m sure we’d figure something out.


Postscript:  After writing this post, a friend sent me this article from Slate.  “This is how it feels to be judged by the sins of others who destroy in the name of your faith. You’re no more responsible for 30 Christian extremists in Florida than Muslims are for the 19 hijackers of 9/11.  Yet most of us, when polled, say that no Muslim house of worship should be built near the site of the 9/11 attacks. In saying this, we implicitly hold all Muslims accountable for the crime of those 19 people.”


Post-Postscript – Also after I wrote this post, we have *Breaking News* – The Pastor will not be burning copies of the Koran