Monday, November 22, 2010

Touch My Junk, Please

The newest tempest-in-a-toilet that is gripping the short attention span of the nation is the kerfuffle over the new and improved search procedures at the nation's airports. Boarding passengers are now given a choice of being irradiated by body scanners or felt up by clumsy, unattractive TSA agents with cold fingers. Mind you, this is after they get to the airport two hours before they can even think about leaving, and before they get herded onto a cramped, crowded airplane by a surly, disinterested, underpaid airline employee. That little plastic cup of tepid orange juice is going to taste mighty fine while your butt is tingling from all the anti-neutrinos or whatever the hell the scanning machine doses you with.

This latest development seems to be a concerted effort to get as many people as possible to permanently give up air travel and is due, at least in part, to the infamous underwear bomber from last year. This simpleton, who apparently is not too good when it comes to "thinking things through," tried to get on a plane with explosives in his undies. Now, thanks to this dimwit, the Transportation Safety Agency has spent untold millions developing and deploying some kind of scanner which peeks underneath your clothes to see if you have any explosives hidden in any bodily crevice or orifice. Eww.

Despite all the assurances of enhanced privacy the TSA is making, a number of people are a little bit leery of having their naughty bits digitized and stored on some computer chip somewhere. A while ago they demonstrated a prototype of the scanning machine "live" on one of the morning news shows and the result left little to the imagination. I can't conceive of what a horrible job from hell it would be to look at people's junk all day long. Can you imagine the mood you'd be in after eight hours of that? I would think there would be some strange interest in seeing celebrities' crotch-shots and maybe that would be a revenue stream for the TSA: peddling celebrity-peekaboos plus "enlarging" certain things to more enhance their image.

Some people are understandably not that anxious to have their sticky parts broadcast all over the place so for them the TSA is offering body pat-downs. But these pat-downs are considerably more thorough and explicit than what the American public sees on television cop-shows (which is where a lot of people get their conception of reality). Reportedly there is a lot of upper-thigh action and some people, in typical overreaction mode, have likened it to molestation. Um, not quite that bad, I'm sure, but bad enough to get some people bent out of shape. Americans hate to have their crotches fondled except under very specific circumstances, which usually involve dark, dirty parts of town and cheap liquor.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel days. Some are calling for a "National Opt-Out Day" where passengers boycott the scanners and throw the whole system into disarray at airports when they are at their most crowded. As for myself, given the choice of scanner vs. being groped, I would opt to stay home. Back in the day, air travel used to be fun and exciting and pleasant. These days, it's a toxic mixture of frustration, boredom, aggravation and annoyance, topped with a heaping-helping of humiliation.

And if they want to touch my junk they're going to have to do a lot better than that.

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