Friday, November 19, 2010

Opt-Out Day ... Play Russian Roulette on Your Own Time Please UPDATED

Sorry, I have had this rant building for some time ... and here it comes ...

I have been reading more and more incredulously the protests about full body scans at airports, the tantrums thrown by people who then tape them to show everyone, and now comes "Opt-Out Day" ... which just seems like another way for a great many immature people to force their childish protests on the rest of the flying public.

For those who don't already know what this is about, this column from Eric Felten at the Wall Street Journal makes it clear.

In fact, it is his column that was the last straw for me.
Everyone is blaming the government.

What about blaming the terrorists?

They are the ones who are trying to kill you. By blowing up your plane.

They would be thrilled to kill my daughter when she flies home for the holidays.

They'd love to kill my sister, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who are frequent fliers.

We are at war. What I see is a lot of people who would have argued with the government about their ration cards during WWII instead of pitching in to win the war.

Think of the lengths terrorists are willing to go to in order to achieve their goal. Those explosive breast implants are real, not a joke. Only the scans can stop those.

Flying is not a "right."

Flying is not necessary. If you don't like the new rules then walk, ride a bus, drive, take a train, take a boat, or stay at home.

Got privacy or body issues with the scan? It still seems better than forcing the TSA to search you. Yes. Forcing. They don't want to grope you. They want to keep your plane from being blown up. How are you with that?

Don't like the scan because of radiation? The last I heard from a doctor on the news, you will get more radiation from being in the plane than going through the scan.

If you want to go one-on-one with the terrorists, that is your right. But do it where you won't take a lot of other people with you.

And otherwise ... just shut up about it.

Naturally, SNL has chimed in on this issue ... a coupla times.

Here's a clip you can watch about the pat downs that was sent by Frank ... I stopped 2/3 of the way through because, as happens so often, they just kept going and going.

Here's a transcript (couldn't find a clip) of a skit that Hannah remembered about racial profiling.
Saturday Night Live Transcripts

Season 28: Episode 2

02b: Sarah Michelle Gellar / Faith Hill

Trans American Airlines

Captain.....Chris Parnell
Stewardess #1.....Amy Poehler
Employee #1.....Will Forte
Stewardess #2.....Maya Rudolph
Employee #2.....Tracy Morgan

[ SUPER: "A Message From The Men And Women Of Trans American Airlines" ]

Captain: September 11th, 2001 changed a lot of things about the way we live.

Stewardess #1: But, if you've traveled by air recently, you know that new security procedures at most airlines can make flying a frustrating and unpleasant experience.

Employee #1: But at Trans American, we don't believe that endless lines, early check-in requirements, or confiscating tweezers are the best way to prevent terrorism.

Captain: At Trans American, we have a better idea. We screen our passengers with a system we call "Racial Profiling".

Stewardess #1: You see, unlike other airlines, we at Trans American have noticed that airline hijackers always seem to be Islamic males, age 15 to 45, of Middle Eastern descent.

Employee #2: That's why, at Trans American, any passenger who fits that description is put through the industry's most exhaustive secuity check - including sodium-pentathol interrogation, strip search, and full body cavity exam.

Stewardess: Any passenger who doesn't, we leave the hell alone. That's a promise.

Stewardess #2: Some of our competitors take issue with our policies, and even say that, if you allow racial profiling, the terrorists have won. But we don't agree. I mean, why would terrorists want racial profiling? That's how you catch them.

Captain: Rest assured, at Trans American, we have no intention of changing the system that's given us the best security record in the industry. Fly with us, and you'll see why. And, by the way, you can bring your tweezers.

Voiceover: Trans American Airlines. Security. Reliability. Racial profiling.

I believe that both sides have expressed themselves fully. Comments are now closed.


  1. The thing is, this does not really prevent terrorism. If someone is crazy enough to blow themself and others up and smart enough to get through the systems we already had before these scanners, they won't hesitate to put their bombs where the scanner can't find them. The scans don't go past your skin. Our security is woefully inadequate in many other ways which could be easily remedied without sacrificing everyone's dignity. Fixing those errors would lower threats much more than virtually strip-searching or patting down every scared small child, every grandmother, every tired college kid who just wants to go home. We can never be truly safe, but we can make things safer, and we can do so without breaking the Fourth Amendment.

    If we let this go, the terrorists have won: we are living in fear, treating everyone as a potential enemy. If everyone is the enemy, then why do we only screen airline passengers? Why not city buses, or really, any area that could be crowded, devastated by a bomb? Where do we draw the line?

  2. If you're job requires flying then it is a necessity...and the terrorists are not to blame for poor security decisions or poorly trained security personnel.

  3. that should simply be "your" not "you're"...I went to public school. =]

  4. Um, yeah, ahem... "we are at war." So here is an idea: let's adapt what has worked successfully for others who have combated terrorism effectively without turning flying into a total nightmare.

    Where everyone isn't treated like an exploding black box. The Israeli model for example with profiling at every level and bomb containment spaces in buildings that we refuse to adopt. 25minutes from parking to the gate. You can even keep your shoes on.

    Semper Fidelis

  5. You know, Frank, I actually did think about that Israeli model. Think about it ... profiling at every level ... as my husband says, "The only thing more sacrosanct than privacy is the requirement never to profile."

    As we have seen from what happened at Fort Hood.

    I have a pal who flies international flights for American. She says that the gyrations she had to go through in order to make sure that the people who would normally be profiled were searched were astounding. That is a major reason that grandmothers with walkers, etc. wound up being chosen. In order to show that no one was "profiling."

    Our current climate doesn't seem as if facing plain facts so one could profile, much less ask what are sure to be called "invasive" questions that would result in lawsuits.

  6. Oops, rereading my comment I realize it looks as if I am defending searches and scans to the last ditch. I am not.

    But what I am saying is that if there is a better way, while it is being developed, then this is what we have right here, right now. None of those protests or videos or t-shirts with "junk" slogans are helping. Now if they got busy and came up with a comprehensive profiling, interview, etc. plan that could be gotten through the powers that be .. then ok. I'm for it. :-)

  7. Well, ration cards are an economic measure; politically they have to do with labor reproduction, etc. I think the better analogy would be people during WWII who objected to internment camps. Now there is a measure taken for the sake of security that people objected to on the grounds of civil liberties and overreaching government. Although I'm not sure what moral weight we can attach to historical analogies.

  8. Julie, as it stands now, I have the choice of exposing my children to an unknown amount of radiation (and I'm not sure it's safe) and having nude pictures taken of them, or having them allow someone to touch their genitals.

    I'd like you to think about the message this sends kids: "We don't want to do this, but you have to let this man touch you between your legs because he's an authority figure." Or, "Don't protest when they take pictures of your body -- this is an authority figure."

    I don't want my children told they have to allow their bodies to be manipulated or photographed. This is the crux of it. And again, they say the scanners are safe, but how many things have we been told were safe when in reality they were rushed to market and are not safe after all?

    I'm VERY upset about the new screening procedures and I will not be flying if I can help it. But what if there's a funeral for a relative who lives two thousand miles away? What if my husband has to travel for his job? There are times when flying is the only way to get there, and those people are the ones subjected to what seems to be unreasonable searches.

    I'm not sure this kind of protest is the best way to go. But on the other hand, these procedures shouldn't have been implemented in the first place. has a nice discussion of the issues. These offensive searches don't even find the things they're supposed to be finding. :-(

  9. I forgot to add this. Rape and abuse survivors are going to be forced to endure having a stranger (an authority figure) photograph their bodies or touch their bodies (or both) in a public place. And they cannot do anything about it.

    There's a woman on my parenting forum who has to fly in a few weeks, and she's already been having flashbacks and anxiety attacks because that kind of touch is triggering to an abuse/rape survivor.

  10. Ok, let's hang on here a sec.

    First off, I work in the travel business. In fact, I was at trainer for the original Ground Security Coordinator training when the FAA mandated it back in the late '80s.

    The main error in your rant is the idea that the security procedures at the airport are effective. In reality, for the most part, it's nothing more than theater. In fact, if you know anything about security and the travel biz, you know that it's really devolved into the theater of the absurd.

    9/11 worked because the bad guys knew how flight crews would react. They won't react that way again. What's keeping your daughter safe when she flies is the fact that the bad guys know we won't react the same way, the armoring of the cockpit doors, and the fact that they know the other passenger will rip them limb from limb if they try anything.

    I've talked, on a professional basis, with active duty military, Customs and Border Patrol, and acknowledge experts on the subject. They all say the same thing. The TSA and their screenings have never - NEVER - stopped a single bomb from getting on a plane. You can't go to the archives and show me the evidence that TSA prevented anything because it doesn't exist.

    Sorry, Julie, but I do this for a living. Your rant doesn't add up to me. Sorry.

  11. Julie ~ I agree with you and with the others who protest.

    I've been watching this closely, too, and from a standpoint of someone who DOESN'T have to fly (I couldn't fly right now if my life depended on it...I'm so broke I can barely even drive!).

    I've considered it from a law enforcement standpoint, having done searches on men and women, using the back of my hand to search private areas. Of course, that was before exploding breast implants.

    (I won't be satisfied there is equality until I hear news of exploding testicle implants, though.)

    I've considered it from the perspective of those who have been violated, and I cringe for them, for of course, their PTSD would greatly come into play. (for many of them, something as simple as taking a shower every day brings it back...this would be so much worse!)

    I've considered it from the perspective of average everyday people who have no knowledge of the other side, having never been there or considered it, and how awful this is.

    And I've also learned that the searches go far BEYOND the way I was trained to search, and allow men to search women, not in the way I was taught, but far more invasively.

    I don't relish being felt up by some guy in a TSA suit with less education and training than I had myself!

    This IS a problem, and in fact, I'm reversing what I said about it on a blog a few days ago. I've learned more and more about it and think our TSA is doing too much.

    I used the argument, too, of safety, in the terrorists wanting to kill us. yes, they do, just as demons want to kill us just because God loves us. Same damn thing.

    But there's more to this story and what works for other countries won't necessarily work here. They probably DID look at what Israel and other countries do. To suggest they did not is utter stupidity.

    But then again, our country isn't known for great intelligence. (I'm so sad and embarrassed to admit this fact.)


    There isn't a good answer here, but I DO think something will be ironed out.It's economics: the airline industry can't stand the loss of venue, and the American public can't stand to lose their "right" to fly.

    Welcome to America: land of the entitled, home of the holy grail of Terrorism.

  12. Mark's comment seems to have vanished between when I read it and now, but in response: no, TSA screenings don't work.

    The Atlantic had an article from a guy who talks about all the things he's gotten onto airplanes and the ways he's gotten around airport security.

  13. Tammy Espinoza11/19/10, 8:36 PM

    Thanks for the post Julie. I haven't been following this closely but a couple thoughts...

    To me a body scan is less invasive than a pat down. I was one of those people "randomly" chosen at an airport to receive one and it was just plain intrusive.

    No, most of us don't HAVE to fly, but if we are too scared or too invaded to do so, does that mean the terrorists are doing exactly what they've intended?

  14. Tammy (and any who care) The terrorists want us dead. That's their goal.

    They don't care whether the airlines make money or whether we stay home or drive or take the train.

    They want us DEAD. D.E.A.D.

    THAT'S what they're after.

    They're sitting back laughing at our little pitiful "debates" about the TSA's searches. Sure, it hits things economically, but no, they haven't "won" because we're having pissy-fits and pity-parties.

    They will celebrate as they did on 9-11 when they kill THOUSANDS of human beings in one or two fell swoops.

    They find the TSA's intimate ministrations to be a humorous by-story in their agenda.

    To them, it's just Infidels diddling Infadels and if they can't kill us via air, they'll move to trains. Ironically, it's ridiculously easy to turn the average train into a weapon of mass destruction.

    Don't kid yourself; they're not after our economy; they're after our LIVES.

    I guess I'd rather be felt up by a TSA agent (I'd demand a search by a female agent) than be blown up by the guys we defeated in the Battle of Lepanto.

    Then again...the only way I'll ever be a Saint is if I die for my Faith so, well, let the Scimitars rule, that way I can maintain my purity and still be a martyr. I'll make sure the Sons of Ishmael know I'm a Catholic before they blow me up.

    (Not saying the TSA searches are necessarily effective, but really, they're more effective and less time-consuming than peeing in a cup).

  15. Hannah just heard a story yesterday on NPR about how they are working on software so that the computer will take the actual images and transform them into something more like a cartoon that would just indicate if there is a problem area that should be further investigated.

    I will say that I checked with my bro on the details of all this and he's placed where he knows much more than any of us in this debate about keeping us safe and what the officials are up against. His rant was essentially the same as mine, from a highly informed point of view.

    I'll also mention that, of course, they know how much radiation these are putting out. They manufactured them and have the stats just like they do for x-ray machines.

    As for the rest of it, I stand by what I wrote and my previous comments. People managed for thousands of years without airflight. To consider that we just can't give it up only means that we don't want to give up something else ... like time to travel a different way or a letter or video Skype at Christmas instead of a visit.

  16. Mark, sorry your comment somehow got stored in spam by Blogger and I have set it free!

    My comment to that is I know you're in the biz. But my brother is deeper into the big biz of stopping these guys. I've gotta go with him on this one.

  17. As a matter of fact, flying IS necessary for some people. For a lot of people. For business, for visiting family members in other states or countries. There is often no alternative.

    They are targeting women who dress modestly, that includes women belonging to all the Abrahamic faiths - modest Muslim, Jewish and Christian/Catholic women - and those who have to wear loose clothing for medical reasons (like me). It's a violation of privacy and religious freedom.

    And I do not believe that it will be effective in preventing terrorist attacks anyway.

    I guess I won't be reading your blog anymore.

  18. I'm sorry for the last comment as it sounds inflammatory ... it's just that this upsets me very much. Several of my close family members are victims of sexual abuse, and as a previous poster mentioned, this is very upsetting in that respect. And I was targeted by the TSA the last time I flew because of how I was dressed. I am not a terrorist, just a young woman with a sense of modesty and also medical problems that mandate a certain kind of clothing.

    This should not be happening in the United States.

  19. But in ten years since 9/11 we haven't had a single plane hijacked or blown up. It seems to me the current policy has been working just fine. I don't see the need to go to this extreme. It's an over reaction.

    The SNL clip was hilarious!!!

  20. Julie, these machines may be calibrated to give a certain amount of radiation, but then they've got to be maintained properly at that calibration. Considering that I know of someone who got COOKED at a hospital when he was given a very high dose of radiation during radiation therapy for cancer -- I don't trust that the TSA employees will necessarily keep those machines properly calibrated or maintained.

    That's the first thing. The second issue about the radiation is that they're saying the amount we get is minuscule, but we have to consider the type of radiation and how it's distributed. Those machines give a highly concentrated dose of radiation to the skin. It's not something our bodies are necessarily designed to deal with.

    I'm intrigued by one thing: if this had happened during the Bush administration, we'd hear no end of skreeching about having to sacrifice our personal liberty for safety, and how Benjamin Franklin said that anyone who sacrifices liberty for safety deserves neither. But with Obama in office, everyone's curiously silent about the administration.

    Why is no one pointing up higher? Where are all the civil liberties groups that normally come out of the woodwork when our personal privacy and our rights are being violated? Am I to believe that these same people who feel deeply wounded by the presence of a nativity scene on the front lawn of a church are perfectly fine with having their major labia and breasts stroked by a total stranger on the authority of the government?

  21. Calling these "pat downs" is like me calling goosing someone a "palm hug".

    These searches are clearly unconstitutional and do nothing to keep anyone safe - in particular since ladies with Hijabs will probably be able to get away with a "self-pat" because we wouldn't want Muslims to be inconvenienced. That would be racist.

    The TSA people are not police, they're not professionals. They are mall cops with a license to assault.

    And, BTW there are plenty of us with medical devices who don't have the option of having our naked pictures stored in hard drives to be distributed at a later time (wait until the pictures start to leak out - they will). If I want to fly, which I DO HAVE A RIGHT TO DO FREELY AND WITHOUT GOVERNMENT INTRUSION ONTO MY PERSON WITHOUT CAUSE, I am now forced to have my glorious genitals touched by a stranger.

    Here's a question: The TSA goes out of their way to have the person fondling you be of the same gender. The obvious reason for this is a sexual one. This established, is the TSA likewise making certain they're not putting homosexuals in these positions? The same sexual issues exist, no?

  22. 1) Ever since I started slaughtering chickens, we haven't had a single fairy invasion. Clearly my chicken slaughtering strategy works.

    2) The pictures already *have* started leaking out.

    3) Thank god the founding fathers never decided that government intrusions were better than the risk of harm to themselves or their families.

  23. There is always the need for a watchdog to guard the sheep from the wolves. And yet the sheep continue to bleat...

  24. Well, okay, then, everyone, that was fun, now how about some lovely iced tea out in the back yard?

  25. As for the rest of it, I stand by what I wrote and my previous comments. People managed for thousands of years without airflight. To consider that we just can't give it up only means that we don't want to give up something else ... like time to travel a different way or a letter or video Skype at Christmas instead of a visit.

    A woman on my online parenting group has a son with a very rare mitochondrial problem. There is only one specialist in the country who deals with this condition, and he's 2000 miles away from her. That means once or twice a year, they must fly to see that specialist.

    I admit that's a very rare circumstance, but this child has severe mental and physical disabilities and yet he's always subjected to screening. They cannot get the child or the parents exempted. According to her, the child has to have a highly specialized formula that isn't available at their destination, plus seven medications. She's also got a lot of gear that this child requires -- *and* he melts down if separated from his mother. He will not tolerate being touched by a stranger.

    So while you say flying isn't a right, and people should just figure out how to skype if they don't feel like getting patted down, in this woman's case, your solution would mean the death of her child. To me, that's unacceptable (and I think I know you well enough to say it's unacceptable to you too.)

    Again, I don't know if a national opt-out day is the way to protest, but I don't see that giving up our freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and authorizing the TSA to grope strangers' genitals and take nude photographs is the way to go.

  26. And when a terrorist has blown up a plane with plastic explosives that have been inserted into a body cavity, bypassing all this screening, will we all then have to submit to a full body cavity search? Where does this end? When no one is flying? And won't the terrorists then turn their malevolent eyes to another target, say another attempt at a car-bomb in some busy location? Honestly, there are two reasons why we haven't had a large terrorist attack (outside of Ft. Hood). We have been able to infiltrate their networks and many of their volunteers are completely inept.

  27. Is everyone completely missing the fact that what annoyed me was the protesters?

    That I said above that I am not defending the pat down system or scanning system but that we have no better alternative at the moment?

    That I pointed out that they are already working on a way to turn the scans into cartoons (etc.) ... the implication being that the system is only partway done (though it seems a lot to expect anyone to draw implications at this point I suppose).

    That I said the preferable way would be to do profiling and interviews?

    Since everyone seems to want to ignore these things I am going to ignore further comments ... and move on.

    Philangelous ... you are right that is unacceptable but so is the assumption that presented with these circumstances and with enough notice the authorities would not find another way. They are not inhuman monsters.

  28. If the American people goes along with these guidelines, those in authority have no reason to change.

    I've written my representatives in Congress today. I will keep writing them every week until these guidelines are changed.

  29. Oh, and thank you John for popping in and commenting! :-)

    Philangelus ... YES, that is the right way to do it! Which was my point in the first place. Though, natch, implied. And therefore not noticed.

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  31. Comment above removed for vulgar language ...