Dude, have you seen these new Whole Body Imaging™ machines at the airports? I was at the Atlanta airport on my way back to New York last month when I found myself wandering past what looked like an upright tanning bed or that thing the guy in Star Trek stands in before he tells someone named Scotty to beam him up (I’d know what that thing’s called, but I’m not a dork). I don’t really know what I thought it was, maybe some kind of bomb material detector or something, but holy shit am I glad I didn’t get sent through it. Unbeknownst to me — and probably to the guy ahead of me who did get sent through it — it’s the 2009 version of those X-ray glasses they used to sell to pervert 12-year-olds in the back of Mad.
What these newfangled contraptions do, apparently, is offer the TSA agent a naked image of the person standing inside the unit. Peep this one:
That’s a pretty clear picture, isn’t it? I can see this woman’s privates, man! I don’t know about you, but I’m not all that stoked about the idea of some random TSA jackass seeing me naked, even if the photo does look less like me than it does an image that belongs in a Tool video.
Needless to say, I’ve found a few problems with this device.
- I’ve yet to see an article or news feature about these new machines that explains to me what they’re going to find that a regular metal detector couldn’t. In the photo above, all I see is a gun and a cell phone or some shit. A metal detector would pick both up. They claim that this device allows the TSA to see everything one has on one’s person, including items as small and thin as a receipt. Uh, OK. I wasn’t aware that paper was illegal. I suppose these machines might make it possible for us to keep our money clips, cell phones, beepers (I really want a beeper), pens, coins, burritos, etc. in our pockets, but I haven’t heard any mention of anything like that. As it stands, we’ll still have to empty our pockets and send all our shit through the regular X-ray unit, and then walk through this new machine, which will alert the TSA to the fact that we forgot to leave our Glocks at home, Glocks that a regular metal detector would pick up. (I saw that stupid Clint Eastwood movie, too, but is anyone really rolling through airport security with a custom-made wooden gun? And if so, where the fuck are they keeping the metal bullets?) And another thing. How is this thing going to speed the line up? As of now, we’ve got the choice to either stand in this fucker for like a minute while it X-rays us and transmits the photo to the TSA dude, or to go through a frisk. It takes way longer than the metal detector either way. The whole thing is stupid. I think I smell a few Homeland Security officials with ties to L-3 Communications.
- Last time I checked, you needed to establish reasonable suspicion before strip searching someone. Am I to understand that, because I want to get on an airplane, the TSA thinks it’s reasonable to suspect that I plan to kill someone? I already put up with having strangers see everything in my luggage, going through a metal detector, having my shit searched, removing my shoes and walking around barefoot where a bunch of suits with athlete’s foot have just been standing barefoot, and all types of other annoying shit. That’s about enough. If the TSA can’t figure out whether I’ve got a gun or a knife without strip searching me, then maybe the TSA’s too stupid to trust with our security. Oh yeah.
- This shit can’t be good for your health. They claim it’s got 1/10,000 of the radiation of a cell phone (not that I think a cell phone isn’t bad for one’s health), but I’m sure that’s bullshit. I mean, really, where does the burden of proof lie here? Not with me. I say it’s bad for you until these motherfuckers prove otherwise. See you in 50 years.
- Is the TSA really asking me to believe that the cretins who work for them won’t use these new machines to get a peek at the… uh… “areas my bathing suit covers”? Sure, there’s one guy who decides who goes through the machine and another guy who looks at the screen, but the idea that they’d make an agreement to send the chicks with big boobs through isn’t exactly beyond the realm of the things I can imagine (remember, I invented unicorns). And I never even thought of this, but the Esquire mentioned LAX and the number of celebrities that roll through there in the average month. As if some $9-an-hour TSA agent with a camera phone couldn’t snap off a naked shot of a celebrity and sell it (or a shot of anyone else, for that matter, for personal use or whatever). Not that I give a shit about the plight of our poor celebrities or anything, but still. Privacy and shit.
- This device has greater negative effects for women than for men, which would really be a big deal if there was an Equal Rights Amendment (but it’s cool for now since we still don’t qualify as human and thus don’t warrant equal rights or protection). There is a greater risk that this machine will result in an invasion of privacy for women, and that the images that result will be misused (not that there is a proper use for them). Sorry, dude, but if you want to create a culture in which our bodies are seen as nothing but sex objects, then you don’t get to claim there’s no pervy intent when you sneakily try to look at us naked.
This shit ain’t cool, dude. We’re already living in a situation in which we’ve got to accept being filmed, having our photos taken, and being listened in on constantly, but I’m not ready to let strangers see me naked every time I fly for basically no reason other than to make a profit for some corporate war crimial.