TSA Gropings Unite Women, Angry White Dudes

Illustration for article titled TSA Gropings Unite Women, Angry White Dudes

"I didn't really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants," a teacher told The Times. In Charlotte, a breast cancer survivor was forced to expose her prosthetic breast. Getting rough out there for the TSA.

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Another woman said of her patdown, "I was shaking and crying when I left that room. Under any other circumstance, if a person touched me like that without my permission, it would be considered criminal sexual assault."

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Not all of the incidents that are being reported took place in places where the body scan machines are in effect, or since they were implemented, but the rising criticism has clearly opened up the floodgates. Partly that's the TSA's own fault, according to The Times:

For passengers, one frustration is that the agency, citing security reasons, has declined to release specific guidelines about how the pat-downs are conducted or what agents are permitted to touch. Law-enforcement officials, on the other hand, conduct searches subject to state laws and long-established guidelines after extensive training on what is, and is not, allowed. They are also generally searching only for weapons in a stop-and-frisk encounter.

The TSA has already been slammed with lawsuits from pilots and from privacy advocates. It's become a bipartisan issue, where libertarians and liberals are strange bedfellows with ultimately rather different priorities. As Adam Serwer points out, some of the people yelling "Don't Touch My Junk" are simply upset that someone is touching an affluent white person rather than profiling Muslims. Or as pro-profiling columnist Charles Krauthammer put it:

Don't touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter. Don't touch my junk, Obamacare - get out of my doctor's examining room, I'm wearing a paper-thin gown slit down the back. Don't touch my junk, Google - Street View is cool, but get off my street. Don't touch my junk, you airport security goon - my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I'm a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?

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Note that there are no women in this imagining. Unfortunately, the rage of the angry white guy is so much more marketable.

Cancer Surviving Flight Attendant Told To Remove Prosthetic Breast During Pat-Down [WBTV]
Woman Says Her Lambert Security Screening Was Sexual Assault [KMOV]
Touch His Junk [WP]
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/business/19security.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all Patdowns At Airports Prompt Complaints [NYT]
Earlier: What The TSA Screenings Mean For Sexual Assault Survivors

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DISCUSSION

I know people are going to jump on me for this, but here goes...

I think the policy is CRAP, I think it's an invasion of privacy and completely insane. I don't think it's effective as a security measure etc. etc. It needs to go.

But if you are physically able to go through a scanner, they are NOT that bad on a personal level. I have gone through them several times and seen the screens, and it's just not an enormous deal. It just sounds a little crazy to me when people decline to fly, not because they want to make a statement, but because they're afraid of the scanner. If there isn't a medical reason you cannot use them, would you really sacrifice your travel so someone won't take a blurry pic of you? I am all for doing it out of protest, but the other thing I don't really understand. Someone enlighten.