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According to various media outlets, on Wednesday, November 24th, a bunch of misguided idiots are attempting to get people who, on average, fly twice a year, to participate in something called “National Opt-Out Day,” wherein they’d like all of these twice-a-year travelers to refuse the Backscatter technology TSA scanners at the airports, and instead, ask for pat-downs.
The flawed logic of these massively misguided protest organizers is that if everyone does it, it’ll slow down security lines across the country, resulting in massive flight delays, and “will show the government that we object.”
Holy crap on a stick, the end of days is coming – I’m actually leaning towards siding with the TSA on this one.
First off, let’s establish a few ground rules.
a) The TSA is security theater, primarily designed to give a massive “show” of security. Frisking an 89-year-old grandmother of nine? A six-year-old child? PILOTS, who have the ability to bring down the damn airplane in the first place? Keeping us safe from Shampoo since 2004, I really don’t believe that the TSA has ever done anything to effect change on our nation’s skies. Another attack like 9/11 hasn’t happened because another attack like 9/11 hasn’t happened. The TSA has nothing to do with it.
b) The amount of inconsistency and bureaucracy within the TSA astounds even me. This is the agency who spent 20 minutes arguing with me because I didn’t open my iPad. (It’s an IPAD. It doesn’t OPEN.) The same geniuses who’ve decided that I have to take my conditioner in film-canister-size jars, have never, even ONCE, stopped me with the Hook Knife that’s attached to my sport parachute. Don’t even get me started about the time they opened my carry-on to examine it, and managed to leave one of their hand-held magnetometers inside.
So yes – The TSA is primarily for show, and the fact that no other planes have crashed into buildings is a product of fortunate happenstance, and alert passengers, ready to kill anyone who does something stupid in-flight. (See how the shoe-bomber was brought down.)
But… With that said, let’s look at what these opt-out geniuses are doing by their idiotic “opt-out day” plans.
1) They’re holding “opt-out day” on the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year. Their logic: “Let’s disrupt travel for tens of thousands of Americans, who will get so pissed off, that they’ll write to their congressmen and have the backscatter technology repealed!
But here’s the problem – THAT WON’T HAPPEN. The busiest travel day of the year? It’s less than 5% of the people who travel during the rest of the year! We’re all smart enough to know NOT to travel on the day before Thanksgiving! By inconveniencing Mom, Dad, and little Joey, you’re NOT getting the people who could actually effect change involved – You think that Mom and Dad are going to give a damn the day after they get home?! No! They’re going to think that you people are morons for delaying their Thanksgiving dinner with Grandma. Well done. Way to back your cause. Want to really effect change? Target the people who actually pay the airline’s bills – Hold “opt-out day” on a random Thursday in February, when all the business travelers are trying to get home. That might do something. Or, you just might piss off a few hundred thousand business travelers. I’m going with the pissing-us-off option.
2) Drama much? Let’s blow apart the myths of the Backscatter technology on which these opt-out fools are basing their entire premise:
a) It’s tons of radiation that will mutate my genes and turn me into a combination of Tom Arnold and Janet Napolitano!
a1) No it’s not. That’s called “sounds good for the TV cameras.” If you travel once a week, you’re getting tons more radiation on the flight across the country than you ever could from a Backscatter scan. You’d literally have to take 150 scans in a ROW to equal one cross-country flight. As far as I’m concerned, pilots should be exempt from Backscatter – They’re the ones who actually do that much flying – and as I said before, they’re the ones already with the power to crash the plane. An X-Ray is going to help prevent them taking the yoke of the plane and pushing “Down?” But the rest of us? Even four times a week for an entire year is equal to less than two cross-country flights. Come on, really? This is worth freaking out about? Get real.
b) It’s a naked photo of me! Oh my God! No one should see my cottage-cheese thighs but my husband/No one should see my pot-belly and man-boobs but the woman stupid enough to marry me!
b1) Let’s take a look at a Backscatter scan:
All the people running around calling Backscatter scane “nude photos” are, sorry to say, idiots. This isn’t a nude photo. This is an x-ray at best. I personally like to think, as I’m walking through the machine, that the x-ray tech, a few hundred feet away, is sitting there, looking at me, and when she gets to my crotch, goes “Damn! That’s fine!” But hey, that’s my little fantasy, just like the “opt-out” people have theirs.
c) Opting out of the scan means an invasive pat-down.
c1) Yes. This is true. Don’t want some idiot who last week was working at Jiffy Lube and this week is a TSO copping a feel? Walk through the damn scanner. You’ll be back to grabbing your three slices of pizza from Sbarro’s as you make your way to the gate much quicker, and no one has to touch you. Are the pat-downs invasive? Yes – No doubt. But that leads us to our final point:
d) IN THE UNITED STATES, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FLY. According to some guy named Kendall Clark, who made use of his constitutional right to Tweet by calling me an idiot, apparently my wording here is incorrect. Apparently, citizens do have the right to fly. i guess that also means they have the right to safety, thus, my statement below still stands. Thank you, Kendall Clark, for correcting me. Although I do believe that your calling me an idiot was uncalled for. But hey, that’s the beauty of this country, right? (And yes, I called people idiots above – But no one was personally called out. So that should save me about 50 unneeded comments below.)
BTW – Kendall – It’s not an “ego bot” – It’s a smart use of social media. I would say that if you have a blog and you’re not keeping up on what people are saying about you, then you’re an i… You’re not making the best use of the tools around you. 🙂
No where in the US constitution does it say “You have the right to walk onto a plane without being searched for dangerous weapons that could kill hundreds of people.” Unreasonable search protection doesn’t apply here, because (wait for it, this is gonna be good,) YOU DON’T HAVE TO FLY! You could do what stoned college kids who want to transport their pot home for Christmas do every year, and take a Greyhound bus, or an Amtrak! You could rent a car! You could bike ride across the country, or take a ship to Europe. This isn’t a legal issue, nor a constitutional one. Don’t want to go through a Backscatter machine? Don’t fly, the same way that if you don’t want to have the 0.0001% chance of having your bag searched, don’t take the NYC Subway. Doesn’t stop millions of people from taking the NYC Subway each week, though!
Do me a favor – If you’re traveling next Wednesday, and you happen to see a Backscatter machine, don’t be stupid. Don’t opt-out, then complain when you get felt up. Take the five seconds, walk through the machine, and be done with it.
You really want to affect change? Do it with your pen, your email, your vote. But to hold up Mom, Dad, and Joey to prove some stupid point you’re not going to be able to do anything with in the first place? That makes you as bad as the policies you’re supposedly trying to change.
Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels.
Peter Shankman200k+ mile per year flyer