"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, November 19, 2010

Krauthammer Doesn't Want His Junk Touched Either

Charles Krauthammer today pens a funny, biting piece on the controversy over the TSA's new security policies in which airline passengers must either (a) submit to a full body scan in which images of their nude body will be available for view by TSA workers; or (b) submit to a "pat-down" that can involve touching passengers' genitalia... their "junk" in the truly appalling current slang.   Here's the money quote:
This has nothing to do with safety - 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling - when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.
The junk man's revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.
But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else? This time you have gone too far, Big Bro'. The sleeping giant awakes.
I have struggled with where to come down on this issue.  On the one hand, I have never been too put out by the inconveniences of security during air travel.   Wait in line a little while?  So what?  That's what Blackberries are for.   Take off your shoes?  No problem; I wear slip-ons to travel.  Show I.D.?  Shit, brother, I want to show I.D. more often, say, when I'm going to vote!  And, frankly, if it was just me, I wouldn't care if somebody had a gander at my "junk" on a body scan.  I, mean, I'm reaching the age where the next few decades are going to be pretty filled with young nurses using catheters to do unspeakable acts to my person.   Life ain't all pretty, you know.   It's like the old Army saying, "Excuses are like assholes, everyone's got one."   Everyone has a body; every body gets older and nastier; in the end, no one is too pleased with the vessel God gave us, and so we trade it in for wings.

On the other hand, I have a relatively shy wife, and at least one relatively shy daughter.  (The youngest I'm not too sure about.)   And I have six relatively shy nieces ages 13 to 26.   And I have two sisters (not so shy, but still).  And I have two sisters-in-law (ranging from shy to very shy).   And I have a mother-in-law who ought to be canonized.  And I have an eighty year-old Mom.   If someone tried to touch Mom's junk, airport or no, TSA or no, terrorism threat or no, I can tell you that I'd be over the barrier in a New York second and up in somebody's grill.   Touch my junk, fine.  Touch my womenfolk, and it's on!

Look, we have 100,000 or so troops in Afghanistan, including by beloved nephew with the 101st Airborne.   They are not there by accident, are they?  No, they are there because certain kinds of people -- radical Muslims from the Middle East -- flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11, killing 3,000 Americans.   I assume they are not randomly flying Predator drones, or randomly firing artillery, or randomly shooting at Afghanis.  I assume they are very carefully targeting those individuals who are identiably our enemies.   Is it too much to ask that our government's TSA agents use the same kind of care in identifying individuals who might actually pose a threat to airlines?  

We have a government that thinks it's OK to shoot Predators at Talibanis in Pakistan -- to commit murder, to call a spade a spade -- without a trial, without presenting evidence, without reading them their rights, etc. I agree with those actions.   But the same government is somehow too principled to observe Abdul Ahmed Rahman, traveling on a Yemeni passport on a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, and make a rational decision that maybe, just maybe, they should pull him out of line and have a pointed conservation with him about where he's going and where he's been?   Instead they want us to blithely allow them to inflict indignities on our daughters and nieces and wives and sisters and mothers?   That's not just idiocy, it's hypocrisy.

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