The Alternative To Invasive Airport Scanners

23 Nov

You know, I’m not much of an air traveler.  A quick jaunt to Chicago now and then, if I only have a couple of days and don’t feel like driving the whole time, that’s about it.  The farthest I’ve flown is Las Vegas, and I’m sure that went just fine.  But I’ll tell you my favorite part of flying, in my relatively limited experience – it’s always been the part where the plane lands and hasn’t exploded and the wheels stay on, and the pilot parks it right by the door so we can easily walk out of it.

Taking millions of people and then blasting them through the air to different cities all over the country – that seems pretty complicated.  I’d say that’s probably tough enough to pull off in post-9/11 America without all the bitching.  I know I don’t expect anyone to kiss my butt and throw flower petals in front of me all the way to my seat.

It seems that we might be taking for granted the rather miraculous nature of this mode of transportation.  Yes, not so very long ago, we would have been mistaken for gods by any of our fellow human beings right on up to the Pope himself, if they saw us traveling in such a fantastic manner.

Especially the inside, where you can sit there with a whiskey rocks and watch a movie or chat or complain about the screaming baby or unpleasant odors or how drunk Greeno is and where he keeps grabbing you.  A surreal set of things to have on your mind as you’re humming along through the air at a thousand miles per hour, with the curvature of the Earth visible right out your window.

We don’t get to really interact with the pilots anymore – gone are the days of Billy and the creepy cockpit tour from Airplane! – and without the pilots, we apparently feel free to treat everyone we encounter at the airport like they personally work for us and are on the verge of getting fired, and that starts long before we even get on the plane.

I’m always amazed by the petulant, put-upon attitude we toss at the people in charge of keeping bombs and terrorists off of the airplanes we’re about to board.  I’m watching the news and everyone’s acting like the airport security guys are waitresses at Bob Evans and they ordered their pancakes hours ago.

I’m certainly no Zen master, so I definitely understand being frustrated and acting like a jerk because of it.  But you know, Thanksgiving weekend has always been a frustrating time to travel.  It was most likely going to be frustrating – and you were most likely going to act like a jerk about it – anyway.

And yes, the security crew isn’t always the most well-trained and professional crew you’ve ever seen, either.  That’s because we don’t pay them very much so they aren’t a bunch of rocket scientists.  We could certainly stand to pay them like rocket scientists, but I’ll bet there’d be a bit of an uproar when it came to the multi-billion dollar price tag. 

No, instead we pay them very low, and we give them general, unbreakable instructions – like search every single person thoroughly unless they agree to go through the naked scanner.  You don’t want to say, search everyone unless they’re obviously a white business traveler, or search everyone except attorneys’ wives.  Yes, I know it’s frustrating.

Speaking of frustration, I imagine it is also frustrating trying to try to keep bombs off of airplanes, especially since folks can make them out of shoes now.  If you’re someone who thinks all of this is “ridiculous” – there’s a word gets used WAY too much – then I’m curious, do you have any experience keeping bombs off of planes?

Why exactly are you so certain that this is ridiculous?  Please tell us – what’s the best way to go about this?  Just kind of use the Campus Bar Door Guy attitude?  Hot girls, local celebrities, and roommates just buzz on by?  Sounds awesome til your roommate blows up your airplane – I’ve had some roommates pull some pretty crazy shit before.

Yes, I know, the new scanners show you naked.  And if you don’t want to get scanned, then they get to pat you down thoroughly, in a manner best described as “groping.”  You guys all act like you’ve never been to a concert before.  It’s possible to hide bombs in between boobs and thighs – huff and puff all you want, it’s just the world we live in. 

I truly don’t understand it.  Exactly how many times per year does someone need to try blowing up an airplane before we take this completely and permanently seriously?

I mean, I’m really trying not to be flip and condescending here, but damn it – just because you know you’re not here to blow up the plane doesn’t mean the rest of us know that.  And you might think that we should just check people with turbans, but I’m pretty sure, right now, that’s about the last thing you’re going to wear if your plan is to try something crazy on a plane.

No, anyone who wants to get on these planes from now on needs to be checked for weapons and bombs, and it’s 2010.  Technology is shrinking both of those things.  We have to check pretty thoroughly, or what’s the point of checking at all?

Yes, I know that for many, many years we weren’t nearly so invasive about it.  How’d that work out for us again?


Posted by on November 23, 2010 in News/Commentary, Unpopular Viewpoints


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3 responses to “The Alternative To Invasive Airport Scanners

  1. Deirdre

    November 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. My husband flies nearly every single week, and if anyone were going to bitch about the process, it would be him, as he is REALLY good at letting people know when he thinks something is crazy. And from the wife’s perspective, whatever it takes for him to walk back through our door at the end of the week is good with me. The naked machine causes cancer, it’s been said. Well, I am of the belief that if you live long enough, one of a trillion things is going to give you cancer. And the enhanced pat downs, come on! I hardly think the TSA guys are thrilled to be doing them either, and are we as a society really that modest? Would someone really rather risk being blown out of the sky because they didn’t want someone to touch their boobs? Really? Just seems like there are more things in the world to bitch about than this. Get “groped”, sit on the plane, have a drink, and arrive wherever you’re going all in one piece. There are worse things.

  2. Kimberly Kinrade

    November 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I was thinking of blogging about this, but you beat me to it. And honestly, I hadn’t decided my feelings on it yet. My friend and her kids just went to Hawaii via a large international airport, and no invasive scanners or groping. I read of one woman who is suing for sexual harassment because she did not know about this, the scanner wasn’t an option, and she was not forewarned of the “labia and breast” groping. I can see how this would be shocking and traumatizing. So, I’m on the edge.

    I believe we need safety. And it’s crazy that our world has come to this.

    But, I don’t know enough about this. Do children have to endure this? I would assume so since us mommy terrorists could just drop a bomb in the diapers. Right? (Ok, the pun was unintentional, but I’m leaving it.)

    4 years ago, when my youngest was 2 weeks old and my oldest girls were 2 and 3 yrs, I had to travel from LA to Seattle by myself with them. I was 2 weeks postpartum via C-Section. It was HELL. Seriously, if you end up in hell, you will be gutted, have a human yanked from your innards, then forced to fly via LAX with 3 kids. Over and over. For eternity.

    Anyways, they stopped me and insisted on a full pat down. Because clearly I looked ready to blow up a plane. ( Maybe I did, but honestly, who has the time?) They wanted me to put down my baby, but I didn’t have a stroller. I was carrying her in a wrap thingy. My kids were too young to hold her. They were crying. I was crying. My baby was crying. My middle child walked up to the TSA person and said “That’s my mommy’s baby. Don’t touch my mommy’s baby!” Love that girl. Finally, a kind Samaritan offered to help, and so I handed my newborn infant to a total stranger so I could get patted down. The rest of the trip went down hill from there.

    But I get it. Post 9-11 is a scary place to live. And I’d endure that to keep my kids from getting blown out of the sky by an insane person. But what about when they are, say 11 or 12. And flying. A scanner that could cause cancer or get posted by some perv on the internet? Patted down in places NO ONE should be touching. They are too young to understand. Too young to have their breasts and other parts groped by strangers. I don’t know the rules about this, but it disturbs me.

    Also, what about those whose religions are violated by the invasiveness of these scans and pat downs. Or places that don’t have scanners and REQUIRE pat downs?

    And, I have serious issue with the fact that you can’t refuse and decline travel. If I walk in and the scanner isn’t an option and I don’t want my 12 yr old daughter groped, I should have the right to say “Ok, thank you but no. We will drive.” But no, you do this and you get sued or fined or whatever.

    So, yes, I see your point. And I don’t entirely disagree. But I don’t entirely agree either. I realize that’s not a very decisive stand to take, which explains my lack of blogging on this. But it’s a problem for me. I don’t know what stand to take because there are such huge problems on both sides. But thanks for giving an alternate view to consider.


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