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Thanksgiving Traveling (And TSA Jokes)

I don't think something has really changed, but what sparked all this hoopla was the viral recording of the guy refusing to get his "junk" touched. Seems to me the ball just kept rolling after that, but this problem is not very new from what I can tell, it just got more attention. Which is good I guess.

I think that guy in particular was just being a jerk to the TSA agent though. Anyone who has worked dealing directly with customers, knows that they are as much of an asshole as workers, but we as customers usually feel in a superior position and complain that we are always treated horribly. I think it's just cognitive bias, we only remember the times when the employee was a jerk, but not us. I've been both a pissed customer and a pissed worker and customers are just as annoying, and as often, in my experience. It's just people, we are like that (not an excuse though). By the way, always tip your waitress/waiter.

So, to these customer types, the counterargument:

  • They say the holiday protest against the TSA, in which people were planning to opt out of the machine, failed. Kimmel may have the explanation. (Youtube)

  • TSA jokes.

    "TSA says they are going to crack down on the invasive pat-downs. In fact, one agent was transferred to another parish." —David Letterman

    "People are concerned that the new airport security scanners could lead to pictures of their genitals ending up on the Internet. Apparently no one has told them that without pictures of genitals, there would be no Internet." —Conan O'Brien

I am a little uneasy with all the indiscriminate sexual jokes though. There have been women who were sexually assaulted and are traumatized. But then I don't see that much of a problem with the machine though, you only get touched if you opt out of it.



So, not to make the post too long and to expand on my stance. I think people aren't focusing as much on what's really the issue, the effectiveness of these machines. It's been questioned, sure, but I feel like the general public is complaining about issues that aren't really that much of an issue. Or is it that I'm being too comfortable with my "junk" that I don't mind somebody who probably doesn't want to, checking it out?

people aren't focusing as much on what's really the issue, the effectiveness of these machines

Actually, you seem to be missing what's really at issue, which is an inalienable Constitutional right to avoid unreasonable searches.

But I can illustrate the depths of your fallacious thinking without relying on any tired old chestnuts like that.

As you may or may not know, current TSA policy allows you two options; option a) being the "nude" scanner, and option b) being a frisking which involves patting a person down until they "meet resistance" at the groin.

Anyone, loyal citizen, or dangerous terrorist, is allowed to opt-out of the scan at any time.

Furthermore, said frisking does NOT include a cavity search.

Ergo, any rational person can understand that a threat remains, and will continue to remain, until either a) all passengers are forced through the nude scanner or b) frisking is expanded to include cavity searches.

Furthermore, scanner technology not withstanding, you simply can't beat the hands-on approach of a good old fashioned cavity search. It make sound perverse, but I'm being dead serious. So long as I can sneak a boxcutter onto a plane via my ass, any thoughts of your own safety are self-delusional at best.

So to bring this two a point, here are your choices:

a) Accept that some risks cannot be reasonably prevented, including the threat of terrorism.

b) Demand cavity searches on all children traveling via the air.

So what will it be? I realize you how no moral objection to photographing children naked, so how far is too far? Where do you draw the line, if ever?

How about this: what if I told you that if you carried an egg up your ass all day without breaking it, you would be able to reduce the risk of being struck by lightning by 90%. Would you do it?

What the fuck happened around here? What happened to the pursuit of rationalism? I'm done ranting. And I'm sorry for being rude. I just see us driving straight into an iceberg, and after so many years of fighting, I'm just exhausted.

If you fuckwits want to enslave yourselves, fine. Leave me the hell out of it. And rest assured, you photograph a child in my custody with one of these porno-scanners, and I'll break your fucking jaw.

I'd rather sit in jail than allow such a thing.

Jesus christ

I get the constitutional argument, I just think that if these machines work, they are not wholly unreasonable. The reasonableness can be debated of course.

And actually I'm for no frisking at all. I'd rather have everybody or randomly chosen people go through the scanner, but only if it and its method are shown to work beyond reasonable doubt.

Ergo, let's focus on if these machines work.

Also, you of all people apparently need to see the last video.

OK. So the question is: are the machines effective? Well, it's a relative term: are the machines more or less effective than making you strip naked? They have the same effect. Why not avoid the expense to the public purse of buying this expensive technology and just make us strip at the airport? The whole operation could take place in a booth with a peephole. Isn't that the same thing, only cheaper?

After all, there's no constitutional right to dignity. We should all therefore be prepared to have it taken away by the state for the sake of a tiny reduction in risk.

Not the same thing by a long shot, come on.

Why do you say that? As things stand, they look at you naked or fondle your genitals. What's the difference?

If buying a plane ticket means they can take a picture of your junk, what can they do when you buy a movie ticket? just upskirts?

What annoys me so much about the Constitutional argument is that this isn't an unreasonable search. Yes, you are required to have a warrant to search someone's house, things, or person without their permission. You do NOT need it if it's done voluntarily. If you line up at the checkpoint, and don't decline to go through the body scanner or get the pat down, it's not illegal or unconstitutional. Of course, if you decline both the pat down and body scanner, you aren't getting on the plane. But then, the 4th amendment doesn't say anything about the right to fly.

If it was at all the case that they're violating your 4th amendment, then you've been violated for all the decades they've had us going through a metal detector. People simply aren't thinking when they throw out this 4th amendment malarcky. In this Tea Party era, misconstruing the Constitution has truly reached a peak.

That said, I thought we were overreacting the day we had to start taking our shoes off. In my mind, we have to accept the risk of terrorist threat, in the same way we do when we go to a crowded mall without passing a metal detector.

the 4th amendment doesn't say anything about the right to fly.

Does it mention walking down the street or driving a car, or buying lunch?

If they find things that are not a threat to security but illegal, such as drugs, or a gang tattoo, suspicious political materials. Do they arrest you? Keep records?

Yes, If it was simply about security, I could take a joint on.

Your slippery slope point is duly noted, but there still isn't a constitutional violation occurring. A better argument is needed to combat these efforts.

The words and intent of the fourth amendment say that the government can't search citizens without cause and process.

How is that not exactly what is going on here? It doesn't give bloody, "unless it colludes with a private company supplying a vital service and is pretending to make you safer."

The words and intent of the fourth amendment say that the government can't search citizens without cause and process.

The loophole most people point to is that when you buy a ticket you are voluntarily waving your rights (which is a problem for those who are dependent on air travel). But there's a bigger issue being ignored.

Kent v. Dulles, held that, "The right to travel is a part of the 'liberty' of which a citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment." Therefore, if the condition to exercise this right is based on an relinquishment of the right to be secure against unreasonable searches, then that's a problem.

Now we know why they call it a junket.

Junket: A pleasure trip cruise or outing.

Opt-out day failed? As far as I can tell it was a great success: they managed to push the TSA and the airports enough so that they turn off the nude scanners for that whole day. Proves that ordinary folks do have influence over their machines.

I didn't look into it cause it was the setup of his joke, but now I'm intrigued.

From a quick google I get this.

I didn't even know about opt-out day until this morning. It seems it was the airports' decision if they wanted to disable them.

"But then I don't see that much of a problem with the machine though, you only get touched if you opt out of it."

Or if the screener notices something "odd" about you when you pass through the machine -- like a sanitary napkin.

But what kind of a woman would wear one of those?

2 things- and i'm coming from a specific place geographically that is providing the world standard for airport security effectiveness WITHOUT the use of these infernal machines. i've recently seen a number of articles on the "israelification" of airport security standards but am too lazy to look up the links. anyway:

1: what's so special about planes? i get it- if the plane goes down everybody on it dies. but there are many situations like this in life- speaking from horrific experience, buses, theatres, pizzarias, you name it- if these machines are so "effective", why only airports? why not x-ray/cavity search anyone who enters any enclosed area containing lots of innocent people? if it's about "terrorism", believe me, airplanes are only one of many potential (and real) targets of the kind of people these machines are designed to catch/dissuade. wtf is so special about a plane as opposed to a bus, or a boat, or whatever?

which brings me to 2:- the constitutional issue. slippery slope, etc. why is a search of this nature more "reasonable", constitutionally speaking, at an airport as opposed to, say, the staten island ferry?

israel's success in this area doesn't involve machines, rather security personell who are specially trained to recognize potential threats, (yes, including racial profiling) and they're not high school dropouts making minimum wage. so, to avoid training and paying their personell properly, and perhaps avoid the sticky constitutional issue of profiling, the tsa/various gov'ts and the airlines themselves are willing to pony up for these incredibly expensive machines- but only for airports? wtf?

in tel aviv, even an arab pulled aside for a humiliating 2-hour "interrogation" doesn't get his/her "junk" touched. i'm not saying it's a wonderful thing, or that abuses don't occur, but statistically the results speak for themselves. profiling sucks, the need for it sucks, but for the uninformed, any muslim man would suffer the indignation rather that have his wife's nude body become available to strangers perusal, especially untrustworthy strangers who might do who knows what with the photos. he might, in fact, become violent at the prospect.

wtf is with this tsa thing? how stupid can they be? how many american civil rights are they willing to negate in order to continue paying clueless, untrained people bubkis to use a technology that won't help and could cause serious damage? and if they do it, why not everyone else? at what point will you have to allow yourselves to be photographed nude just to enter, say, a mall, or a theater?

again, speaking from the eye of the storm: what's so special about airports? where does it stop?

Yeah, that's what I'm saying... let's discuss the effectiveness of the methods.

But your first point though, come on. The people on the plane aren't the targets.

...your first point though, come on. The people on the plane aren't the targets.

if by this you mean that the specific people on the plane (who are unknown anyway to the "terrorists) aren't the "target", but rather the governments and their people with the object of "terrorising" them, than i agree. but the people on the planes don't see it this way, and i don't think the tsa sees it this way either, and in any case it doesn't matter. if someone were (god forbid) to kill your family in order to "make a point" to you specifically, well, you may be technically the "target" but that doesn't help your family. they're the ones who actually die. part of what i was saying (and i think you agree) is that these machines, rather than being helpful, are actually harmful, by allowing tsa etc. to hire unqualified people, pay them next to nothing, and rely on this technology which by itself will do more harm than good in the long run, even leaving out the constitutional issue. the success of the israelis is based specifically on trained personnel and proven methods (some of them legally questionable) and if anyone thinks these machines can compete with these proven methods they're delusional. it's about people, not machines. technology can always (ALWAYS) be gotten around. an actual human being, trained to recognize suspicious behaviour, while also not foolproof, is a much better method, with all it's faults, and, generally speaking, less invasive and, frankly, quicker- that is, if the goal is to save lives and not to save money/face. the stats bear this out anywhere you look.

americans, in their concern for "politeness" and "political correctness" are putting their own people in danger of their lives, and encouraging/pressuring/influencing other countries to do the same, and it isn't the first time, either. many lives could have been saved in iraq, for instance, with less concern for meaningless protocall, especially at the beginning. this is only one example of many.

jewish israelis are putting themselves in danger merely by choosing to live here, so they were much quicker to dispense with the politesse. so now they have a bad reputation as being rude or something. so what? fact is, their methods are being studied (and in many cases adopted) even as we speak, because they work. the day i see one of those machines at the tel aviv airport i'll shut my fat trap, but i sure ain't expecting it.

re:"meaningless protocall" in iraq: i (and pretty much everyone else) am well aware of the americans abandonment of "protocall" once a suspected "terrorist" was in their hands- abu ghraib, etc. but their methods of deciding who to arrest were horribly misinformed, useless, and restricted by said "protocall". i don't know the percentage of innocent people arrested/interrogated/tortured in these cases but i'd be willing to be it was pretty high. probably still is. as is the percentage of truly dangerous people who slipped thru the system by knowing this protocall and taking advantage of it.

americans, in their concern for "politeness" and "political correctness" are putting their own people in danger of their lives

Actually, its called "Democracy" and "Freedom". They are dangerous things, but well worth it.

red, you are good person and i have no doubt that you mean what you say, and mean well by it. but you've just given me a chance to offer an abbreviated version of one of my favorite rants (yay!):

democracy and freedom are pretty nebulous concepts, both definitionally and in practice. they are very much like the bible in the sense that they may be used to justify almost anything.

you guys are in the unenviable position (we all are, really) of sacrificing bits of one to bolster bits of the the other. those are not easy choices, and when the people of the country in question don't have any say in them at all, the difference between "democratic" america and "democratic" venezuala/cuba/every petty dictatorship you can think of gets smaller and smaller. the fact that we (citezens of countries which claim to be democratic) have the right (freedom) to elect the people who make these choices for us is small comfort, sometimes, especially when those people turn out to be complete idiots who do damage that lasts far beyond the length of their terms in office. ah, democracy.

so, yeah, nebulous, self-contradictory, a scathing indictment of human character- the bible? no. "democracy and freedom".

you can't have both, they can't coexist. it's a meaningless juxtoposition that can be used to justify almost anything. i think americans probably invented the phrase but it's used everywhere, and accepted blindly, without any understnding of what it means.

just like the bible.

democracy and freedom are pretty nebulous concepts, both definitionally and in practice. they are very much like the bible in the sense that they may be used to justify almost anything.

I am only interested in what they can justify not doing.

i also see now that omegavader addressed some of what i'm talking about (perhaps from a different perspective) and makes some good points that i didn't mention.

and norm's "junket" joke was pretty good, despite the serious nature of the subject. ;)

jonathan, you make some good points.

Enhance airport security with better profiling

It's unreasonable to believe that all 450 or so international airports in the United States could adopt the full security blueprint of the one major airport in a small country like Israel.

But the U.S. government could turn over responsibility for air travel safety to the individual airlines, while offering the backup of plainclothes security in airports and on planes.

And our government could stop its hypocrisy — if all American travelers can be told to abdicate their privacy under the current security measures, then our nation can certainly engage in profiling some travelers, like the Israelis do, to make us all safer, like the Israelis are.

re: Junket joke. The best yet.

re: Screening. Yea, the whole constitutional deal is weird. "Well", they say, "You don't HAVE to fly if you don't want to so it's voluntary." We say, "ok, that sounds fair." Just like some did when they agreed to mandatory drug testing of our kids in public school (first athletes, then anyone who participates in any 'voluntary' after school activity (like debate club or chorus). What did that teach our children about their rights and their choices? It taught them they have none.

I'm so discouraged that too many Americans have bought the notion that all the word "freedom" means is the right to keep arms. IMO Damn right it means that, but it also means so much more, and freedom from unreasonable search is one. "Fairness" they say to justify searching everyone. Like, it's ok to lose your right to privacy because everyone else loses theirs too. Funny how in some ways that same mindset seems to spawn such nonsense as Newt Gingrich saying religious freedom in NYC ought depend on the caprice of some Saudi Prince.

Sorry TSA, I don't feel safer. Maybe because I don't worry about threats morning and night. Sometimes bad stuff happens. "Get over it" is a really good response. If, perhaps, the theater of fear is the game being played, it would be so much cheaper and equally useful to simply issue comfort blankies to every American. Have 'em made in an American textile mill.

I'm not sure that it's that black and white.

In my country of birth when I was growing up we had terrorism. The fear of a car bomb just going off at the airport or pretty much anywhere public (banks, shopping centers, etc had been targets too) was clear. We heard them blow up, and we also were very familiar with gun fire sounds at the distance. I wasn't of going-out age yet, but people a bit older than me tell me they couldn't even go to the movies in peace.

Then by 92 the new president's efforts yielded the capture of the two big terrorist groups' leaders. Terrorism stopped in its tracks. I and people my age are extremely lucky that we didn't have to live our teens and adulthood in such fear.

The problem was that the president and his intelligence agency committed what was called a "self coup". Dissolved congress and let people vote from a blank slate again. His presidency is described by many as a "dictatorship" though for most of us it felt just like any other democracy.

Then came the torture and human rights violations accusations. Corruption. By the fall of his presidency his top intelligence guy was already a known criminal, and videos were found of him paying off people of power including the most famous celebrities who in the surface had no political presumptions.

So, when Bush came, it all sounded too familiar. I think Becker here could probably understand my point the easiest.

Oh, and we also had curfews. I remember having to get back to our house when visiting family, before a certain hour, and the empty streets, save for some military people.

Probably you guys are right, no one should have their rights taken away like that, but my own experience prevents me from feeling that much of an outrage over airport scanners.

I'm with you. I don't get the big deal over naked bodies. We all have them. If someone gets a kick out of my naked sillhouette, well good for them. I'm not offended if some woman doing her job rubs up against my breasts or crotch.

I'm mainly concerned about security and it's clear that as far as airport security goes, the Israelis have that one down pat.

I also have no problem with naked bodies. I'd be happy to strip for them while they searched my clothes.

What I don't like is having exposure to a new type of X-Ray machine, which has not been studied by an independent body to determine the actual level of cancer risk it represents.

I know with certainty that dentists are not allowed to give me oral X-Rays as often as I could conceivably be subjected to back-scatter X-Rays.

Total citizens lost at 911. 2,977.

Current cost of War on Terror: IRAQ: $743,810,830,000 Afghanistan: $369,084,530,000 Dept Homeland Security 2009: $50,500,000,000

Iraq war us military fatalities 2003-2010: 4429. Afghan war us military fatalities 2001-2010: 1403. Iraq war us military wounded: 31,827. Afghan war us military wounded: 2,309.

Just for perspective, Total US drunk driving fatalities in 2007 = 15,387.

Just sayin', Revenge for random acts of madness or cruelty sure do cost a lot.

It's not the scanner technology, but the mindset driving it that has me concerned.

Total citizens lost at 911. 2,977.

What, if anything, do you think should be done to avoid death by terrorism?

Just for perspective, Total US drunk driving fatalities in 2007 = 15,387.

What, if anything, do you think should be done to avoid death by drunk drivers?

It's not the scanner technology, but the mindset driving it that has me concerned.

So you're okay with the scanners?

Is it your conclusion that shit happens, and therefore no security measures should be undertaken because they get in the way of freedom? Is that it?

The problem is the mindset that we should be affraid to die in this one way that can be answered by military spending and multi million dollar invasiond of our privacy.

When the same billions might save more people from cancer or car accidents, or inner city violence.

ITs this idea that we should say "well, if it makes me safer, its ok." but we shouldn't have a real conversation about whether or not this actually makes us any safer.

This Device seems to make us no more safer.

The reality is that the amound of explosives you can hide in your underwear can't blow up a plane. It can probably only injure a few people without being confined in a pipe.

This is all a pretty stupid reason to sacrifice our freedoms.

It isn't about civilian safety, that is the lie used to sell the war. It is about securing natural resources and starving competitors like China of them. This is what most US wars are about.

Great points! Of course, 9/11 was just an excuse to secure a major oil field or two (a tactic described beforehand in the PNAC white paper where a pearl harbor type event would foster the necessary political environment to set up permanent bases in SE Europe and SW Asia)

I'm okay with the scanners. Not so much with the groping.

What if they imagine groping you while looking at scanner images of your junk.

Lemme know cause it would work wonders for my self-esteem?

I'd be interested to know how many people who worry about their cell phones causing cancer who are not worried about the scanners causing skin cancer. X-rays break bonds. If they can penetrate clothing then it seems likely that a significant fraction of the radiation penetrates further than the dead skin cells on the surface. I'd like to know just how good the data is that makes "the authorities" complacent about exposing people to x-rays on a routine basis.

re: JoAnn|11/26

"So you're okay with the scanners?"

comment: Both our response to terrorism and our response to drunk driving demonstrates pretty clearly to me that the CALIBRATION of our public policy is in need of adjustment.

What did we do about the first problem? We bankrupt our country, kill and maim tens of thousands of our armed forces and other innocents in response to loss of 2977 lives.

What do we do with the second problem? We manufacture and market highly caffeinated alcoholic beverages, and promote alcohol consumption through the media at every opportunity.

It does little good to focus on a single item (like our freedom of choice between xrays or groping) when the thought process behind either is so badly scrambled.


"democracy and freedom are pretty nebulous concepts, both definitionally and in practice. they are very much like the bible in the sense that they may be used to justify almost anything."

The ultra-libertarian Robert Heinlein (in his boo kthe Puppet Masters) takes it for granted that modern scientifically oriented people would go completely nude, naked, emperor's new birthday suit, if it makes sense.

The hypocrisy of Americans criticizing the Taliban's burqas, the tribal-rube Saudis hijab, niqab, etc. but Americans are practically shitting their pants over some functionaries scanning their "junk ". It is so typically American:

As shallow as graphine, as astute as Sarah Palin.

Your customs are what is junk. Your culture is twaddle.

Your precious freedoms are sheep dip.

You Americans, are peer-oriented kid-brained Untermenschen,

incapable of following any leaders, but trapped in a circle jerk-cum-but-fuck of the blind leading the blind (following? never!) to what end?

Armageddon is too dignified. Petty Libertarians at the mercy of corporate mini-governments and commercial lite-fascists, you are doomed to be the decadents of decadents, the sheep of sheep whilst thumping your chests about your irrelevant "freedoms".


The TSA says they se something that looks like this: series of images. Has anyone here had a chance to look at an image? At least the new scanners should allow my mom to go through with her defibralator.


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