Holiday fliers may want to exercise in advance

Kevin VanAntwerpen

Thanksgiving break is finally here, and I hope those of you traveling home by air have kept up on your aerobics. That’s because you may be baring it all – at least digitally – for an airline security guard before you’re allowed to board your flight.

New machines created by a company called Rapiscan have been appearing increasingly across the country. Last August, reported 150 were already in use at more than 40 airports across the country, and the TSA planned to have almost 500 in operation by the end of the year.

The machines use backscatter technology to take detailed X-ray images of a traveler’s body. How detailed? Let’s just say you probably wouldn’t want your grandmother to see these pictures.

On a side note – Open Office’s spell check does not recognize the word “Rapiscan,” but suggests that it be replaced with the word “rapist.” Coincidence? You decide.

But don’t worry. You’re an American citizen, privileged with the best set of rights in the world. You can always opt out of the full body scan … so long as you consent to a pat down, which includes a groin check. Don’t like being felt up by a total stranger? You can opt out of the pat down for the reasonable cost of a lawsuit and a $10,000 fine.

I know some of you will advocate these scanners by saying, “I’m not guilty, I have nothing to hide.” But what about those of us who are guilty? Every holiday season, I’m guilty of indulging in far too many helpings of mashed potatoes (smothered in butter and turkey gravy) coupled with far too little exercise.

Last week, The Christian Science Monitor’s editorial board wrote a column justifying the new machines. The board wrote: “This new technology, if it can work well, might eliminate the need for passengers to take off their shoes.”

See? There’s a bright side. Sure the TSA is taking nude photographs of you, but at least you don’t have to take off your shoes.

Seriously, though. I understand these machines were created to help protect America and everything it stands for – such as freedom, liberty and individual rights. But don’t those rights include freedom from the government’s hands probing underneath your clothes? Does it make sense to sacrifice freedom in order to protect it?

The goal of terrorism is to terrorize a population and cause it to live in fear. Based on these machines and other laws implemented since 9/11 (see the Patriot Act), we might just be able to say they’ve been successful. Maybe it’s time we all remembered why we’re so passionate about protecting America in the first place.

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