Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TSA "Opt-Out" Day.

Now that the idea of an "Opt-Out" Day has penetrated the public consciousness, there are a growing number of counter-protest news pieces.  One suggests that you should go about your business, citizen, because you're not being kind to the TSA agents who don't enjoy handling your junk.  Another suggests the protest will be ineffective, likening it to former "mass protests" that didn't work due to poor planning and general disinterest.  These pieces are finding a foothold with some of the populace.  For every five individuals who speak out in favor of the protests, there seem to be at least three who decry it, who want everyone to simply "shut it" and go along.

"Don't bother to show your disapproval, citizen: we don't care and you'll only make yourself look like a jackass," these articles effectively state.  That's not really true.  TSA agents may not care if you make your flight, but they really don't want to handle that many thighs and genitals.  Your fellow passengers may think you're being ridiculous, but they will quietly note the number of "idiots" making the effort.  It will be an obvious protest by the citizenry AND likely generate a susurration in the ranks of the workers.

Sending a letter to someone in Congress results in a return form letter three months later.  Inconveniencing yourself and the TSA workers generates a lot of quiet and not-so-quiet frustration.

The number of people trying to stop a simple protest in favor of OUR REGAINING CIVIL LIBERTIES really fucks with my head.  It's an outcry in favor of intrusion because the intrusion is convenient.  Illegal wiretaps?  Convenient: no need to bother a judge, no risk of an alleged criminal getting wind & disappearing.  Full-body x-ray scanning?  Convenient: step in a box, let someone look at an image of you nude1, move along.  "Thet's all background stuff.  I'll never know it if they monitor my location via GPS or rifle through my luggage and find my vibrator.  JUST DON'T MAKE ME LATE FOR MAH PLAAAAAANE!!"

The biggest issue I see with this protest is one that, sadly, DOES make me think the whole thing is a bit ill-conceived: it's not likely to inconvenience one's fellow passengers.  They have the simple option of stepping in the radiation box, waiting a moment or two, then heading to their gate.  That's also the biggest reason why, if you think this whole thing is pointless, you should simply shrug and let it go.  If you don't want to be late, go through the scanners.  If you don't care about the protest, don't participate.  Just, for fuck's sake, don't try to stand in the way of others by saying "That's dumb.  Look at that.  Think that'll work?  Guh, that's dumb.  You're so dumb."  The protestors are trying to gain redress for what they consider a legitimate grievance.  Note it, turn away, and go about your business as the TSA wants.

1 I know there are two camps regarding the fidelity of backscatter-generated images.  Some of the "genuine" pictures they're supposed to create are blotchy, blocky monstrosities that only vaguely seem like human forms.  My question: if those are the actual images, how is an agent supposed to notice some sort of foreign object?