I have a friend — very non-political — who loves to travel. But even she, who basically trusts government to do the right thing, was nervous about the porno-scanners now being deployed for the benefit of the security industry and peeping Toms in the TSA.
Somehow this topic came up while she and I were on a long drive Friday. She said she longed to return to her favorite country in Asia but “didn’t want anybody looking at my boobs hanging halfway down to my waist.” But! Then she recently saw a news item on TV that included video footage of the scans. “Oh. Not so bad!” she thought. “Those don’t show anything too awful. Just vague fuzzy shapes with no details.”
I had to tell her that she was seeing doctored images, and that the real scans were so clear that TSA porno-peepers could, for instance, tell if a man was circumcised. Her face fell as far as the boobs she was so worried about.
On a roll (and having recently written an article on the subject*), I went on about the TSA’s other lies — about the machines not having the capacity to store or transmit images, about possible health problems.I talked about being singled out for extra screening the one and only time I’ve flown in the last 13 years, and how stupid the criteria were. I told her I probably wouldn’t be flying again. Not if I could help it.
Then she asked me one of those put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is questions: “Well, did you speak up when they made you go through extra screening?”
“No,” I said. “I didn’t think it would do any good.” (All I did was make a flippant remark. They chose me for extra screening because I was wearing loose cotton pants with baggy pockets. Baggy pockets are apparently inherently suspicious, even though in my case the fabric was so light that the single mint I carried visibly weighed one of them down.)
“Well have you written letters to people in charge telling them you object to the scanners?”
Sigh. I replied, “Writing letters to Washington doesn’t do any good. There’s too much money in airport ‘security.’ I definitely blog about the problem, hoping to raise awareness. But you’re living in the nineteenth century. Nobody in DC politics or bureaucracy pays attention to letters from a few disgruntled citizens.” But. Then I told her about this one letter I’d seen on LewRockwell.com, not written to the government but to the the Walt Disney company. It asked, politely, please tell me how I can take my children to Walt Disney World when I can’t possibly put them through porno-scanners or allow strangers to grope their crotches. In other words, this is your problem. It’s going to hit your bottom line. It’s for the children. Solve it.
Maybe, I said, if bloggers started printing the addresses of the bosses of the top 10 tourist destinations in the U.S., and if thousands of people said they’d regretfully have to boycott those places because of the scanners and the “enhanced groping” (reportedly to begin at the end of this month for those who refuse scans) it could make a difference. Then money would talk to money and something might get done.
We talked about what the 10 destinations might be. But it quickly became apparent that you didn’t need 10. The original letter writer, Arthur M.M. Krolman, had it right. All you need to do is get a letter-writing campaign going toward the Walt Disney company. Focus on the one big one. Make it for the children. And if enough people get behind it, the media will pick it up. And you won’t need to write to the other 9 destinations because they’ll get the message, loud and clear without a word being written to them.
Now, I’m not an organizer of campaigns. But I would like to see other, bigger blogs pick up this idea. So I’m going to send this link to a few other bloggers and/or online freedomista news sources. I hope you’ll do the same. In the right hands, it could Start A Movement.
If you have children, or if you yourself love an occasional trip to Disney World or Disneyland, use the contact infomation on Mr. Krolman’s original letter to write one of your own expressing regret that, as long as scanners or crotch gropes are part of travel, sorry but you just aren’t going. Then copy that letter to your local media outlets. And USA Today or CNN. Send it to friendly bloggers or to columnists who’ve shown that they care about privacy and/or the Bill of Rights.
Maybe nothing will come of it. Or maybe the only result will be some rule exempting children under 12 from being scanned or some such. But even at that, the public consciousness-raising could still be tremendous, and the long-term impact powerful. We could give people the knowledge and courage to resist.Possibly some lonely soul who’d been afraid to resist or object will suddenly realize he’s not alone. And every individual who asserts his or her own rights is worth having. Worth a try. Let the Walt Disney Company know that if they don’t want to lose customers, they’d better pressure the fedgov to lose the porno-scanners and the groping.
* Which appears in both S.W.A.T. magazine and The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship.