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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Groin or not to Groin?

You want to fly this Thanksgiving to get grandma's turkey?  Well, if you do, you better be ready to get some of your stuffing checked by a groping TSA official.

Alas, we have reached the point in U.S. history where it is legal for another person of the same-sex to touch you in an area where only you or your spouse have exclusive rights. This open nothing off-limits touching policy only applies if you opt out of or refuse to have an x-ray picture taken of your naked body as if that is even a viable alternative.

Do we deserve to be subjected to such a sexual assault in the name of national security? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Some will say absolutely not. Others have said if "I have to be touched in a private area in order to fly safely, then I am all for it."

To Groin or Not to Groin is finally upon us.

I fall in a gray area. While I am not at all enamored with the idea of a minimum wage TSA employee putting his hands on a No Touching Zone, I also understand that in an age of  terrorism we have to loose some of our rights to ensure our safety. However, I would only accept such a blatant and gross  infringement of privacy if it actually protected us from terrorism.

In this case, the x-ray images and invasive pat downs which we are now accustomed to in U.S. airports are not protecting us from terrorism or airplane hijackings at all. In fact, they are being implemented in such a way that terrorists could easily walk right through security without being targeted for pat downs or even x-ray images.

As far as I am aware, you only need to choose between an x-ray image of your naked body or a rather intrusive touch-up of your intimate areas if you are specifically asked to be targeted for the body scanner. Otherwise, you walk through the security checkpoint like its always been done before.

This is not proper or efficient security.  Moreover, it will not protect us from another attack as people are randomly being subjected to the intrusive treatment whether they resemble terrorists or not. Children as young as three have been patted down in an intrusive manner as has 80 something year old grandmothers in walkers. Whereas, Middle Eastern women with Burkas or Middle Eastern men with one-way tickets to a far away island somewhere routinely stroll by security with little fanfare even though they are more likely to fit the profile of a suspected terrorist.

It is because the body scanners and the pat downs are useless in the fight against terrorism that I am adamantly opposed to them.  No one should be subjected to having their groin examined let alone by a High School dropout TSA official. However, if  we have no choice but to subject ourselves to such a treatment, then let it be worth something. Unfortunately, our children and elderly among the rest of  ourselves are forced to be publicly humiliated in the name of government incompetence rather than national security simply because we have opted to cash in on our freedom to fly.

At the end of the day, pat downs and naked body scanners should only be permitted if there is a reasonable suspicion that the traveler is a threat to national security. If there is no viable threat, the  citizenry 's privacy should be the government's paramount interest.

The problem is of course TSA officials are not competent enough to decipher whether a Middle Eastern looking man from Saudi Arabia is more of a threat to national security than a three year old American boy from Kansas.

If you really want this invasive policy to change, I suggest that you contact President Obama at the White House and demand that he preserve the privacy of the American people since he is the one who authorized the TSA to carry out these pat downs in the first place.