Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Touching Our Junk

Apparently, the diabolical TSA is divided between its desire to sexually humiliate air travelers and its desire to kill them slowly with radiation.

This, at least, is the impression you might get from reading the headlines and a great many blog posts lately. One of Father Z.'s readers, arguing that the choice of a thorough scan or a thorough pat-down was an unacceptable assault on what in Rome-speak is called "the dignity of the human person," proposed that all Roman Catholics ought to refuse to fly until the rules are changed.

As Studs Lonigan and his friends used to say, "Oh, bushwah."

A CBS New poll reveals overwhelming support for the new security measures:
... Americans overwhelmingly agree that airports should use the digital x-ray machines to electronically screen passengers in airport security lines, according to the new poll. Eighty-one percent think airports should use these new machines -- including a majority of both men and women, Americans of all age groups, and Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. Fifteen percent said airports should not use them.
And, incidentally, most disapprove of ethnic and racial profiling, which the TSA does not use. Bottom line: the current approach is pretty popular.

More Americans think 9/11 was an inside job (16%) than oppose naked X-ray screenings at airports (15%). But the ones who oppose the X-rays happen to have access to your televisions and computers, so America is freaking out about the TSA.
The last line is prompted by the case Ben Smith has made at Politico, that the brain behind the anti-security rebellion has been Matt Drudge, a guy who sometimes flies to Europe for breakfast. This line of reasoning sees the anti-scanning ruckus as a class war, pitting the frequent-flyer elites against the reg'lar folks who don't fly as often, but want to live through the experience when they do.

On second thought, as Gawker says, it's less of a war than "a bunch of rich people whining into an echo chamber and passing it off as an uprising." But of course the elites control the media, so they win. We hope that makes them feel better when some guy wearing explosive underpants explodes midflight over the Atlantic.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Why haven't there been more warnings about all the radiation one is exposed to when flying high in the sky? Or when mountain climbing? Or when sun bathing? I'd better just stay in my basement....Oh yeah, I forgot, my basement tested high for radon gas. (Truly.) Might as well die and go to heaven. Oh yeah, that is Up There where there is more radiation.

Pastor Joelle said...

I think we need to listen to the people who handle the security at Israel's airports. Nobody gets on board there with a bomb in their underwear but they also don't show their underwear in machines either.

It's not that I mind being felt up, might be fun for a change...I just think we are being fed a load of BS that this is making us any safer and I 'm sure SOMEBODY is getting rich off this because that IS the American way...

Father Anonymous said...

I'm extremely interested in Israeli airport security, and even more interested in how they manage to maintain a reputation for customer satisfaction. After all, most large US airports were portals of hell even before 9/11.

The difference is size is significant, though. Israel's busiest airport, Ben Gurion, only processes about 10 million passengers/year. That would make it something like the 33rd-largest airport in the United States, and of course we have many more of them.

My guess, based on a very limited understanding of how the Israelis do it, is that our airports would need to be made much larger, to provide room for all those personal conversations with security officers, as well as for the people. That's easy enough for new and growing airports in the suburbs, but almost impossible for an already-cramped JFK or SFO.

I long for the day when most flights (including international ones) come and go from smaller regional airports, which have grown up with the infrastructure needed to provide both security and comfort. But that isn't how US air travel works right now, or is likely to soon.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I heard a radio report (public radio) about the Israeli airport security. They prescreen the cars/occupants coming into the airport. The thinking is that if there is a potential problem, then they can deal with it without shutting down a whole building. The other screening relies more on talking with the passengers, looking for nervousness, etc. as implied above.

I've flown from two smaller airports rather than driving to the Big City airport, 4.5 hours away. But these days, the price difference has made the trip worth it. In the early days of the screening, the screeners and procedures at the local airport were a joke. But once you go through that, you don't get screened again in the Big City. Sheesh. The guy looked through people's purses and brief cases, then left the area for a coffee break.