Monday, November 15th, 2010 -- 1:07 pm
You want to feel up my junk, mister air security worker? Let me help you with that.
That's the basic idea behind a clever twist to the "National Opt-Out Day" campaign, which seeks to backlog the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with as many forced frisks as possible on Nov. 24.
Campaigners are calling for the national day of action as a response to the TSA's use of backscatter x-ray machines that take nude pictures of flyers at security checkpoints.
Since the Department of Homeland Security ordered enhanced screening measures, anyone who refuses their random assignment to the backscatter machines has been subject to invasive pat-downs that, in many cases, have seen screeners groping passengers' genitals and breasts. Not even children are exempt.
Many fliers choose to opt-out over concerns about the health effects of exposure to x-rays, or because they do not wish to be seen in the nude by a stranger.
Techniques being employed against American travelers are actually more invasive than methods used by the US military to screen Afghan civilians. Military policy holds that overly invasive searches of Afghans might inflame anti-American sentiment and violence in the region. That's apparently not a concern with Americans.
The "superfantastic" twist to "National Opt-Out Day": If you feel the screenings are humiliating, let the government share your embarrassment (pun intended) by wearing a kilt. And if you're, ahem, ballsy enough, join the protest wearing it like a true Scotsman, sans underpants.
The idea was first suggested by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who writes:
Think about it -- if you're a male, and you want to bollix-up the nonsensical airport security-industrial complex, one way to do so would be to wear a kilt. If nothing else, this will cause TSA employees to throw up their hands in disgust. If you want to go the extra extra mile, I suggest commando-style kilt-wearing. While it is probably illegal to fly without pants, I can't imagine that it's illegal to fly without underpants. If you are Scottish, or part Scottish, or know someone who is Scottish, or eat Scottish salmon, or enjoy Scotch, or have a vestigial affection for "Braveheart" despite Mel Gibson, you can plausibly claim some sort of multicultural diversity privilege -- the term "True Scotsman" refers to soldiers who honor their tradition and heritage by wearing kilts without drawers underneath.
The snarky and unsanitary proposal seems to evoke images of recent stories, like the man in San Diego who told TSA screeners, "I'll have you arrested if you touch my junk," only to be escorted out of the airport and threatened with a $10,000 civil lawsuit.
"[Nov. 24 is] the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an 'enhanced pat down' that touches people's breasts and genitals," the organizers of "National Opt-Out Day" declared on their web site. "You should never have to explain to your children, 'Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK.'
"The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change. No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent."
An unscientific poll by Reuters which had nearly 70,000 votes cast at time of this writing showed that over 96 percent of respondents planned to alter their travel arrangements to avoid invasive screenings.