Civil Liberties

Dignity Doesn't Fly

The meaning of the TSA's latest intrusions


That the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has saved a single life is unproven and doubtful. But it did something good for the country last fall by provoking a long overdue reaction against bureaucratic bullying.

The TSA has been rolling out more of its "Advanced Imaging Technology" scanners, with the goal of having 1,000 in service by the end of 2011, covering around half of the security lanes at our nation's airports. These machines demand more of us than just striding through, as with the traditional metal detector. That can be done with some semblance of dignity.

The new scanners that stand between us and our right to travel freely—a right hallowed in Western tradition back to Magna Carta, where movement in and out of the realm was protected even for foreigners—require us to stop and spread our limbs submissively. We are then doused with X-rays or millimeter waves to produce a bizarrely inhuman yet laid-bare image for a bureaucrat to contemplate, ogle, or blankly run his tired eyes over. Anyone who refuses to submit to this electromagnetic strip search is required by TSA policy to undergo a very through pawing and pat down, including between the legs.

Yet shortly before Thanksgiving, one brave American, John Tyner, became a national hero for recording himself resisting a TSA agent's attempts to molest him at the San Diego airport, an incident that popularized the slogan "don't touch my junk!" The idea that the TSA was ramping up its assaults on our dignity and privacy for no discernable benefit swept the country. The push back culminated in organized calls for everyone to opt out of the scans on the day before Thanksgiving—overcome the system by overloading it.

The new technologies are undignified and meant to be. The illusion of choice surrounding their use is intended to funnel us into an even more undignified situation. Be exposed electronically in full, or physically molested, or go back home. These are unprecedented demands on Americans moving through the theoretically free world, not some penitentiary or asylum.

To read the rest of the story, go here.

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  1. There’s that fake TSA image again.

    1. Re: Anarchist,

      There’s that fake TSA image again.

      No, the TSA does not generate fake images as a matter of routine.

      If you mean that whoever created the image purported to show it as if it were generated by the TSA, then say so, instead of falsely accusing the TSA of generating fake images. You should be ashamed of youself…

    2. Holy shit are you tiresome, anonypussy. You’re essentially a nag.

      1. Holy shit you are obnoxious, anonybrat. Don’t post comments on a discussion board if you don’t expect (or can’t handle) them to be refuted, especially if, like your above statement, it’s incorrect.

        1. Can we at least expect you to have a third grade education?

  2. shortly before Thanksgiving, one brave American, John Tyner, became a national hero

    Whose name we have promptly forgotten.

    1. Sure, he said suck on this!

    2. Re: Anarchist,

      Whose name we have promptly forgotten.

      What’s with this “we” business, Kimosabe?

      1. 99.9999% of us Americans.

        1. I still haven’t decided whether your name is an inept dig at actual anarchists, or if you’re being sincere but are too clueless to understand that your views are about as far from anarchism as you can get.

    3. Apparently you didn’t read the article you commented on. He’s remembered quite well in it.

  3. I sent a complaint to the FCC that they should fine DHS for broadcasting monochrome titties and penises to those scanner monitors, the perverts.

  4. Don’t fly…..don’t take trains, don’t shop in malls (where this program is in place)! The only way to stop this is to hurt their bottom line wherever possible!

    1. Fuckin’ A! That’ll show ’em! Hit the gummint where it’ll hurt ’em – in the private marketplace!!!

      Wait a minute….

      1. Who said anything about hitting the Govt. They like it…either an excuse to hit back or to whine for more money! I’m not spending a dime on the businesses who quietly go along with every act of bureaucratic nitwittery and pseudo-capitalism the TSA (and other three letter orgs) think up!

        1. I’ve wondered If an airline could be started that did not use the TSA or are they all required which is why I think the government took the duties over in the first place so that no one could avoid it.

        2. How about “three letter ogres”?

    2. Strangly similar to AQ’s fundamental strategy.

  5. I flew over the holidays. These gizmos were set up in Dallas and Miami, but not being used.

    I was neither porn-scanned nor molested, although I was pulled from the line (randomly) in Panama City for a non-molesty pat-down.

    That is all.

    1. I flew over the holidays.

      Lucky you… I flew over the cukcoo’s nest.

    2. I didn’t see them being used in Washington Dulles. They were apparently being used in Houston if you set off the metal detectors, which doesn’t make much sense since one of the purported advantages is they can detect nonmetallic objects.

      1. they don’t even exist at Reagan. That’s because the congresscritters can’t be inconvenienced with a porno scan or a porno copafeel, lest the vote the TSA back to the demonic oblivion from whence it came.

  6. It’s funny that we can’t keep weapons and drugs out of our prisons and yet we expect to keep the rest of society free of them too.

    1. That merely means that society is becoming more like prison.

      1. this is true as a building designer I receive books and magazines on the latest builds. One featured both a school and a prison, I covered the titles and asked everyone in the building if they could tell the difference between the schools and the prisons. No one could tell.

    2. The TSA uses the war on terror as grounds for thier actions but its more about drugs than anyone wants to admit.

  7. I’m traveling not protesting…just trying to get through the hamster gates as quickly and quietly as possible…I have enough shit on my mind without worrying wheteher some TSA perv is getting a stiffy looking at my fat ass.

    1. Now that’s the right attitude….go along to get along. Resistance is futile!

    2. Then you won’t mind at all when told to take a right and toddle off down the hall to the Zyclon shower.

  8. The TSA is like the BATF- unelected, unaccountable, unconstitutional. Airport security should be handled by individual airports and not by yet another bloated federal bureaucracy.…..uring.html

  9. New at Reason: Brian Doherty on the TSA’s Intrusions on American Dignity

    You mean like pretty much everything the TSA does?

  10. So what does it look like if Blue Man Group go through it?


    1. We’ll be distributing those images we don’t save shortly…

    2. Is it just me or does everyone’s computer crash clicking on Urkobold?

      1. Why would anyone click on Urkobold?

        1. Because has assholes like you infesting it?

      2. Using Vista with Internet Explorer by any chance?

        1) Get a non-shit OS
        2) Use a non-shit browser.

          1. Ch?rie, c’est pour le meilleur…

            1. Fuck. “il est pour…”

  12. If Rep Boehner, Heap Big Chief of the Oompa Loompa clan, wants to cut waste, fraud and abuse, he can start with the TSA.

    I’ll be over here holding my breath.

    1. Don’t start with the TSA. You know how they get.

  13. Support high speed rail. That would allow you to skip half of your potential encounters with the TSA.

    The chicks are hotter, too.

    1. TSA has already claimed jurisdiction in rail and bus travel.

      1. What about cabs they get attacked all the time!

        Trains are too easy to derail.

    2. Sorry Chad, Amtrak is already onboard with ID requirements and goons with dogs on patrol. The rest isn’t far behind.

      p.s. HSR is a non-starter in most of this country, the population density won’t support it. And if Amtrak is involved, they are not competent to run it. I was a regular on the Northeast Corridor for three years… their regular trains can do 130 mph (I’ve clocked them), but they keep that speed for the shiney new Acela so they can scream for more HSR funding. Meanwhile the Regional regularly gets stuck behind freights, commuter rail, and suffers from the NYC bottleneck. True, common, HST is not going to happen in the USA.

  14. Don’t TSA me, bro!

    1. That’s really funny.

    2. oh Yeah. that knucklehead. didn’t bro go the way of peace signs and afros?

  15. Give them a chance to get this right.
    TSA gropes to balance traveler safety and satisfaction…..m=20101126

  16. I appeal to all Americans to email your congressmen and senators telling them to stop these ridiculous security measures. Exposing us to radiation and gropings that God knows what kind of trauma that is going to leave on most people. Have you seen the people being groped!!!! Seriously old people and kids mainly. Is grandma and grandpa terrorist. Is your preschooler making bombs at the daycare. What is going on in this country. We wont let Canadians become citizens, yet we have no problem letting people from the middle east becoming citizens. Apparently our government missed the memo on who is likely to be terrorist. Oh wait thats profiling they cant do that, unconstitutional. Yet they can force me to either go through a radiation machine or have some stranger touching me in spots only my doctor and husband have touched. If we don’t stop this now what is next. Your boss having the right to grope you on your way into work. STAND UP PEOPLE BE HEARD!!!!! The terrorist is now our own government

    1. teh radiashuns! You could fly every day for the rest of your life and never get enough of a dose to do you any harm. The real problem is the invasion of privacy. Confine your complaints to this or risk sounding crazy.

      1. I do not believe I mentioned the risk of the radiation. If you actually read my post I believe I commented more on our freedom than I did that. However, since you brought it up. If your ok with untrained individuals shooting radiation at you, more power to you. Radiologist have to earn degrees to do that. You should also study the long terms effects of radiation. You should also look into why it is more dangerous the older you are. There is all kinds of reasons why these security measures are insane. Calling me crazy I guess is the only point your could think of making on your own.

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  19. These security measures are for our protection! You anarchists are begging for another 9/11. If you don’t like being safe, go live in Somalia, the Libertarian capital; drive on their non-government subsidized roads while you’re at it, too! I swear you fools don’t understand that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms and the only way for us to win is for our government to take those freedoms away.

    Grab your ankles for freedom. Bend over for America, patriots! When the TSA tell you to turn your head and cough, do it with pride!

    1. And the Typical American will keep saying these things when the scanners are made small enough to be mobile and every police dept in the country gets them and the courts rule that the cops can irradiate whomever they want.

      1. Enjoy: I read about those in the past day or two, they have them and they are already being used in airports.

    2. You had me going there a first… good job!

    3. Squeal like a pig.

  20. If the TSA/Government is so concerned with our safety in flight where was these security measures after 9/11. Why has it taken so long? I am pretty sure they could of changed the way they felt us up a long time ago. Its not about that. Its about the politics as usual. Big brother could give a ……. about us. Michael Chertoff, former Department of Homeland Security secretary, has been touting the full-body scanners, while at the same time maintaining a financial interest in the company that makes them.

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  22. I’m with Paul on this, “If the TSA/Government is so concerned with our safety in flight where was these security measures after 9/11. Why has it taken so long?”

    The TSA has lost their minds though here lately its been nothing but a mess. All it is is a control thing. The Gov. wants to make sure they know we know they still have a thumb on each and every one of us.clear iPhone cases

  23. I’m with you Paul.

    “If the TSA/Government is so concerned with our safety in flight where was these security measures after 9/11. Why has it taken so long? ” They could have if they wanted to….

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