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Moving the immovable. Yes, with a simple letter.

NOTE: At the bottom of this article are links to lots more intellectual ammo against the porno-scanners and the TSA’s new “enhanced” pat-downs — a technique designed (as far as I can tell) to persuade fliers that they’d find life easier if they submitted to radiation and porn, rather than opting out. Use that info for your own letter writing or send your less-aware friends here for an eye-opener.


Last week, I picked up on Arthur M. M. Krolman’s idea and suggested a “Letter to Disney” campaign against the TSA’s porno-scanners.

The idea was (and is) threefold:

  1. Write a polite letter to the Walt Disney Company, telling them you can’t take your kids to Disneyworld (or go yourself) because you can’t put any of your family members through either the porno-scanners or the “enhanced” patdowns now upon us. Ask Disney to use their influence (and their self-interest) to change the situation.
  2. Copy your letter to the media, either local or national (e.g. USA Today and CNN). Local Orlando, FL, media is a good bet, too.
  3. Spread the word to others, encouraging them to do the same.

My post drew lots of comments. I want to deal with some of those as I go on to say that, even though I’m not a mass-campaign kinda person, I still stand behind the Letter to Disney idea and hope thousands of people will carry it out.

Comment #1: Why stop with Disney?

A lot of people objected, “Why only Disney? We should write to every airline, resort, hotel, local Chamber of Commerce, etc.”

Well, if you want to, sure. I never said anybody shouldn’t. I only said that a) If you want a campaign to take off, it needs to be simple and focused, b) by pressuring one prominent corporate body, you can send an unmistakable message to all, and c) that while maga-corps and governments can (and routinely do) ignore individual protests, money talks to money. If enough people politely explain to Disney why they’re not traveling to its parks any more — and if attendance continues to drop — then Disney is motivated, and has the money and clout, to agitate.

What are people more likely to do? Write 30 letters? Or one?

If you want to send 30, send 30. Or 100. But when it comes to asking somebody else to do something, you’ve got to use some basic marketing principles. Simple and focused is good.

Comment #2: Man up and protest the porno-scanners!

Several people thought that we who object should “man up,” go to the airport, and refuse both the porno-scan and the “enhanced” groping.

And some people will do exactly that. That pilot, Mike Roberts, who said no to both the scan and the paw-down — he had guts. We’re also going to hear from frequent flyers who suddenly decide while standing in line, “That’s it. Screw it. I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it any more.” And no doubt, a few naive infrequent travelers who don’t understand what’s in store for them in the “security” line will suddenly wake up on the spot and say NO WAY.

Hat’s off to them all.

But the tens of thousands who simply won’t fly any more (at least from U.S. airports) aren’t cowards. We’re realists.

Seriously, now. Does anybody expect that masses of protestors will “man up” by 1) spending hundreds of dollars on an airline ticket, 2) taking the hours necessary to go to the airport, 3) standing in the “security” line with shoes and belts off and valuables in a tub, then 4) refusing to be scanned or sexually molested, which means that the’ll be denied boarding and/or possibly arrested?

Can anybody really expect people to go through all that trouble and expense solely to lodge a “manly” protest? Get real.

Mike Roberts knew he was risking his job when he said his “NO heard ’round the world.” And bless him for his courage. Others will do it knowing (or naively not realizing) that they won’t make it to their business meetings or their vacation destinations. Bless them, too.

But not one in a million is going to go through all that just for the purpose of making a statement. As a mass protest, it’s a non-starter.

If you want to do it, more power to you. But figure out some way to get the media or at least a friend with a camera into the security line with you. (And that costs money, too. Not to mention the trickiness of filming in a TSA line.) Otherwise, very few people are likely to hear you shout.

Comment #3: It won’t do any good. The TSA is immovable.

As Mr. Krolman found out, even Disney can’t be moved. Not with just one letter. A Disney spokesperson didn’t bother to answer his questions and simply claimed corporate powerlessness against the TSA.

If the money-motivated DisneyCorp can’t be easily moved, then surely the TSA, with all the wealth of lobbyists, the power of politics, the terror of the security state, and the blockheadedness of bureaucracy behind it, will never budge.

And you know what? Maybe it won’t yield. Maybe, in response to every form of protest, the TSA and the wealthy and growing “security industry” behind it will grow ever-more brutal, ever more adamant, ever more determined to herd us like cattle and probe our bodies like demented proctologists.

But you see where this is going, don’t you?

Yes, maybe even that is potentially a form of victory. For freedom.

Three reasons:

  1. The purpose of a protest isn’t necessarily to move the TSA. The purpose of a protest is to wake people up. Get them to realize there’s a problem. Tell them there’s a reason to refuse — and that they won’t be alone in their refusal. It’s about encouraging self-ownership. And courage.
  2. When it comes to mass protest, even defeat and seeming ineffectiveness make a long-term difference: “[Y]ou lose, you lose, you lose, you lose, they give up. Disney can easily blow off one letter. But that’s why you keep ’em coming.
  3. And ultimately, nothing is immovable. Seriously, in 1988, did anybody think that the Berlin Wall would be down within the year? The Soviet Union gone from the earth within three years? Communist China on its way to becoming one of the most capitalist nations on earth within a generation? In 2007, would any pundit have bet his career on a prediction that Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers — those financial giants — would be swept away within the year?

Things change. Often in unanticipated ways. Immovable objects … move. A drip of water makes a stalagtite — or bursts a dam.

In fact, when it comes to human institutions, the most seemingly immovable objects are often the most vulnerable. Empires fall because … well, they do all the stupid things that empires do. They over-extend themselves. They alienate their own people. They invisibly undermine themselves. Then along comes the right group of barbarians — and believe me, we are barbarians in the eyes of our governments — and BOOM!

So yes, it’s worthwhile to write a letter to Disney. And to get your friends and neighbors and strangers out there in the blogosphere to do it, also.

The address is:

Robert A. Iger
President & C.E.O.
Walt Disney Co.
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

One letter won’t do a thing. Two, it’s just an annoyance. But thousands of letters? With coverage in the media, the blogosphere? Different story.

And yours aren’t the only voices. People with clout in the airline industry are starting to object. The former head of Israeli airport security famously mocked and damned the porno-scanners.

And remember, even if the TSA never budges, it’s worth it if more people wake up and start owning their own lives.

What if they had a government — and nobody obeyed?


Links to more information on porno-scanners and “enhanced” groping:

TSA Test-Markets More Aggressive Frisking

TSA Introduces New Pat-Down at Airport.

For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance (This one’s actually pretty funny; and it’s from the mainstream.)

Scientists express concern about scanner safety (.pdf)

Michael Roberts: One Man Against the Surveillance State

Body scanners unveiled at JFK Airport; Homeland Security Sect. Janet Napolitano doesn’t volunteer (Hm. Wonder why?)

The scanners are a money-making scam for cynical former government officials.

Lots more links here


Oh yeah. Um … There’s also a really good essay about TSA lies regarding the porno-scanners in The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship. It also appeared in the October 2010 issue of S.W.A.T. magazine.

Not to toot my own horn or anything …


  1. Arthur Krolman
    Arthur Krolman November 3, 2010 9:19 am

    Possible evidence that Disney is indeed budging here. Wishful thinking that our letters might be indeed making a difference? Hard to say.

    ABC is owned by Disney. One week after my first letter to Mr. Iger, this ABC affiliate news story appeared on News8 Connecticut/New York City. I think it is wonderfully slanted AGAINST new TSA procedures and ends with the reporter shocking viewers, “Get set to be felt up a little bit on the way to grandma’s house,” and the other news team members sympathetically dismayed. Did they get a nudge from Mr. Iger to start some media momentum against these TSA “security” shenanigans? Who knows.

    Youtube search “Pat-down Procedures”

    I wrote a congratulatory message to the reporter, Matt Scott at

    Thanks so much for all your support on focusing on Disney. We’re going to win this.

  2. Judy
    Judy November 3, 2010 1:17 pm

    And people wonder why I refuse to fly? The irony of my being a retired aircraft employee isn’t lost on me either.

  3. Weetabix
    Weetabix November 4, 2010 11:29 am

    I think next time I’m going to fly, I’ll request the pat down and appear to really enjoy it. Maybe they’ll get creeped out, too.

  4. Weetabix
    Weetabix November 4, 2010 11:30 am

    And, interestingly enough, there’s an ad on the sidebar right now to “search employment opportunities at TSA today.” Gotta love smart advertising.

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