Friday, November 26, 2010


Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and butter rolls weren’t the only things associated with Thanksgiving this year. For thousands of air travelers random pat-downs and revealing body scans were put on the menu beside the partial disrobing that is standard fare for the Transportation Security Administration.

A couple of weeks prior to the holiday rush at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field an Oceanside resident named John Tyner caused significant TSA consternation when he refused the newly enhanced security measure that puts thinly-gloved hands in close proximity to what used to be called “the family jewels.” Tyner used a less exalted euphemism—“my junk.”

Tyner recorded this encounter on his cell-phone—an essentially audio reproduction that captures most of the exchanges between him and airport security personnel.

On the one hand you have Tyner—an opinionated fellow who previously checked TSA Internet information to determine (mistakenly, as it turned out) that San Diego International Airport didn’t yet have the vivid-image x-ray machines about which he had health and privacy concerns.

On the other you have TSA officials who go strictly by the book and can’t fathom a person’s unwillingness to comply with a “groin check” of his “inner thigh”—“two times in the front and two times in the back.” Tyner’s comment to his pat-down professional (“If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.”) was greeted as akin to a remark about exploding loafers.

The stand-off between TSA and an American citizen unwilling to acquiesce to the latest indignity airline passengers are obliged to endure resulted in Tyner first being told to leave the airport and later advised that he faced a $10,000 fine for leaving without submitting to security procedures.

Apparently the unpromulgated law of the skies is that once a traveler enters the security area, the process must be completed to the satisfaction of TSA—or else. Thus, it would be wise to post large signs at security entrances that apprise folks of this crucial point of no return--something like “Abandon all rights ye who enter here.”

A recent CBS poll provides a countervailing perspective. This random sample of 1,137 adults found that 80% of Americans favor the use of full-body scanners at airports. The poll didn’t ask about “groin checks” or say how many respondents were frequent fliers.

More to the point, over 50% opposed any form of ethnic profiling for security purposes. Apparently these PC clones of “The View” favor the bizarre theatrical performance whereby screaming three-year-olds and immobile grandmothers are subjected to needless and increasingly invasive indignities under the absurd assumption that all terrorists are created equal.

No comments: