NEW YORK--"Don't touch my junk!" Will this be the battle cry of the next American Revolution?
If you think about it, it's amazing. Why this? But thinking doesn't have anything to do with it.
There's a good reason. Which we'll get to.
"This," of course, is the intrusive new security-screening regimen at 68 major U.S. airports. You can walk through one of the new "backscatter" body-image X-ray scanners, suck up 2.4 microrems of radiation, and live with the knowledge that a high-res version of your nude flabby body is being stored on some government database so that the Palin Administration will be able to kill you for food and use your cyborg doppelganger as a slave laborer in the living hell that will be the year 2015.
Or you can choose the pat-down. But think twice. By all accounts, the pat-down procedure is thorough. Extremely thorough.
"I didn't really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants," schoolteacher Kaya McLaren, an elementary schoolteacher from Washington state told The New York Times about her experience at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. What prompted this feel-up? "The body scanner detected a tissue and a hair band in her pocket," reported The Times.
Verily, the end times draw nigh. The New York Times is talking dirty.
A visit to the TSA's official blog (blog.tsa.gov) furthers the impression that the Obama Administration has jumped the security shark. One citizen asks: "Is touching the genitals a mandatory or discretionary part of the pat-down? Will the screener give notice and ask for consent prior to touching the breasts, vagina, penis or scrotum?" Another asks: "Can they spread the buttocks to feel if something is concealed between them? Can they move the penis or testicles aside to see if something is strapped to a man's leg? Can they lift up breasts to feel underneath them?"
There's something terribly wrong when a federal government website gets too racy for online parental control software.
CNN's Rosemary Fitzpatrick reported that an airport screener "ran her hands around her breasts, over her stomach, buttocks and her inner thighs, and briefly touched her crotch." In Charlotte a flight attendant was ordered to remove and display her prosthetic breast.
It's happening to guys too. Men wearing baggy pants report TSA personnel, some of whom are convicted rapists and child molesters, sticking their hands down their trousers and ferreting out their naughty bits. In a bit of surrealism recalling my "Al Kidda" cartoon (in which terrorists take advantage of the fact that children aren't required to show ID to board a plane) there are now YouTube videos showing little kids getting felt up by the TSA.
TSA workers at Miami Airport got caught passing around printed scans of a man they deemed to fall short in the male endowment department. A 61-year-old cancer survivor from Michigan wound up "humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers" at the Detroit Airport. The oafs broke the seal on his urostomy bag.
There was, naturally, no apology.
Remember the good old days of the early 2000s, when the only thing the TSA did was announce their favorite color of the day?
Of all the indignities inflicted upon the flying public since 9/11, the radiation/molestation combo strikes me as relatively minor. I'm still scarred by the sight of the young Iraq War vet in front of me at Kansas City airport security. Both of his legs had been lost in an IED blast in the Middle East. Instead of respect or a free pass at the metal detector, TSA goons repeatedly grilled and humiliated him about the titanium in his body.
Contrast this with Iran. Yes, Iran. As at security checkpoints throughout the country, I was waved past the checkpoint at Tehran's Ayatollah Kholmeni International Airport in August as soon as I presented my U.S. passport. As guests, foreigners are not subject to most bag searches. Not even citizens of the Great Satan.
Don't touch our special parts, but feel free to poke around our frontal lobes.
If Richard Nixon had been accused of listening to every American's phone calls and reading their mail, there would have been riots. But that's exactly what the National Security Agency has been doing since 9/11. Bush started it; Obama made it official. They're reading your email and listening to your phone calls and tracking your bank statements. It's a fact. And no one cares.
Personally, I'd rather have the government touch my junk than rape my brain.
Now that they're feeling up our privates at the airport--with, truth be told, considerably more justification than the NSA has for reading your Facebook status updates--the American people are freaking out.
Which should come as little surprise to Obama's pet louts at the TSA.
The United States, after all, was founded by Puritans. The folks we're celebrating this week were religious fanatics, prudes, crazy repressed and so far off the charts that they were too uptight to get along with the British. Immigration has helped loosen us up, but that's still our national culture.
I had hoped that when the revolution came, it would be about economic injustice or torture or racism. But, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don't revolt with the revolutionaries you wish you had. If this is the beginning of the end, so be it.
Say it all together: Don't touch my junk!
(Ted Rall is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." His website is tedrall.com.)