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It’s Body Scanner Opt-Out Day but I Don’t Support the Protest

I know it’s Wednesday and I should be going dark, but with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided to switch things around and post today instead. Here we are on November 24, and if one group has its way the lines will be jammed at airports. If you’re flying today, get to the airport very early just in case. I hope that most people don’t participate in this, but if they do, you should be ready. So while you’re sitting in a long line nervously hoping you don’t miss your flight, let’s talk security.

TSA Opt Out Day

The idea behind National Opt Out Day is to fight the latest Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security measures. As we all know by now, in those airports where there are body scanners, you either have to go through them or opt-out and get a full body pat-down instead. That would be fine except for the fact that the new pat-down is very invasive. Instead of using the backs of their hands, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) use the fronts of their hands and get right up into your “junk” as the saying now goes.

Do I like these new procedures? Certainly not. I don’t think it keeps us much safer, and there are plenty of other recommendations out there for ways that we can do things better. (Israelification seems to be a nice buzz word these days, and I agree with the premise.) But I don’t agree with how people are going about protesting this.

First of all, the TSA is not going to listen to opt-out protesters. The problem with security is that they can always just claim that it’s a “national security issue” and keep doing what they’re doing. Sure, maybe if the President told them to back off, things would change, but I can’t see these particular protests making that happen. There is plenty of noise being made right now about this, and if it’s going to change, people should just keep up the noise as is. But an opt-out day? It’s not going to do anything but ruin travel plans for people trying to see their families for Thanksgiving.

Those TSOs get to go home at the end of their shifts regardless of how long the lines are. But the passengers who opt-out of the body scanner and try to overwhelm the line with lengthy pat-downs? They just get delayed and might miss their flights. More importantly, they delay the people behind them who really want to get home. If someone misses his flight home, there’s a good chance that he’ll miss Thanksgiving because flights are very full at this time of year. Not good.

And while we’re on the topic, let me address the issue of the TSOs. Go easy on them when you fly. These are people who are just doing their jobs. They don’t make the rules, but they are paid to enforce them. Do you think they like feeling up a 500 pound dude? I don’t think so. But they have jobs to do. I’ve heard some people say they should quit their jobs in protest. Are you crazy? You may be gainfully employed, but the job market is very weak at best. If I had a good job with good benefits, I wouldn’t be walking away.

I have heard that TSOs hate this rule just as much as you do. It’s awful to get yelled at by people all day long, and they don’t deserve it. If I fly, I’ll flash a smile and maybe even say thank you. If I get the pat-down, I won’t be pretending to enjoy it. It’s bad enough for these guys. I may not support what they’re doing, but I do support them doing the job they’re given.

So with that, let me say that I hope you all reach your destinations on time and without any trouble. I’m already with my family (we drove), and this is my favorite holiday of the year. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’ll put up a discussion topic on Friday and then I’ll be back again on Monday with a new post.

[Original photo via Flickr user silas216]

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