The idiocy of airport-scanner ‘Opt-Out Day.’ - By William Saletan
This Junk Won’t Fly
The idiocy of airport-scanner “Opt-Out Day.”
By William Saletan
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a big holiday coming up. No, I don’t mean Thanksgiving. I mean the day before it. Wednesday is the busiest air travel day of the year, and a horde of paranoid zealots—techno-libertarians, Tea Partiers, rabble-rousers, Internet activists, and congressional demagogues—has decided to make it even worse. They’re calling it “National Opt-Out Day.” Rather than endure an electronic scan of your body at the security gate, they want you to “opt out” and force the Transportation Security Administration to physically inspect you. Their hero is John Tyner, the man who recorded himself a week ago as he warned a TSA officer not to “touch my junk.”
Ignore these imbeciles. Their plan would clog security lines and ruin your holiday for no good reason. They don’t understand the importance of the electronic scans. They’re wrong about the scanners’ safety. And from the standpoint of dignity, their advice is insane. If you opt out of the scan, you’ll get a pat-down instead. You’ll trade a fast, invisible, intangible, privacy-protected machine inspection for an unpleasant, extended grope. In effect, you’ll be telling TSA to touch your junk.
Here’s what one of Opt-Out Day’s instigators, an outfit calling itself We Won’t Fly, is telling the public:
If you have to fly on November 24, opt out of the virtual strip search body scanners for your own health and privacy. Say “I opt out!” Tell your friends, family and community so they know how to protect themselves, too. Be prepared for delays and intimate TSA groping. At least you will avoid the risk of cornea damage and skin, breast and testicular cancer and the humiliation of a virtual strip search.
It’s hard to know where to start with this idiocy. The body scanners aren’t dangerous. Their safety has been certified by the Food and Drug Administration, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and other scientific reviewers. You get more radiation from being at flying altitude for two minutes than you do from a scan.