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Private Eye

Airport Fondling

Now you can be afraid of terrorists and pat-downs, too.

By John Saltas
Posted // November 24,2010 - I have seen my share of airports this year. Over the past several months, it’s become clear that the traveler’s desire to have a terrorist-free journey has blurred with the airports’ more aggressive attempts to keep those passengers safe. Procedures that were formerly accepted by most travelers as a minor but necessary inconvenience have morphed into a national discussion about the potential dangers lurking in passenger cavities, and I don’t mean teeth.

Earlier this year, I had my first body scan. (Actually, it wasn’t my first. That one took place during the Nixon presidency—in Butterfield Canyon, if I remember right, or maybe it was the Motorvu Drive-In on 3300 South about 3500 East. I forget. I do remember the movie, though—The Reivers). But this was my first airport body scan, and I think it was at Los Angeles International Airport. And, I forget for a very particular reason—to me, a full-body scan is no big deal. I’m the opposite of Jason “No One Gets to See My Goods” Chaffetz. I figure if anyone is so insufferable that they could stand looking at my fat ass in the name of national security for more than a few seconds, more power to them.

This past weekend, I was in Sacramento. All over California these days, signs are posted, warning about this hazard or that. For example, at the airport you will find signs that warn that you’re about to inhale jet fumes as you board the plane. In a restaurant or pub, before you ever see a menu, you will find warnings that “chemicals” that could kill you might be served there. You know what’s coming next: graphic pictures of people who are on life support thanks to them breathing airport air in order to better demonstrate the peril of walking down an airplane walkway; and photos on menus of babies born with birth defects because Mommy or Daddy mistakenly ate a fried hamburger and washed it down with a porter instead of a root beer. For those and other reasons, California remains one of the crappiest places on the planet to live. Body-scanning warnings are coming.

Yet, it’s not I who suffers in a body scan. it’s the scanner, and I do concede that a warning should be placed on airport body scanners—not for me, mind you; I’ve been radiated by the sun for nearly 57 years now, and I don’t really care about body-scanner radiation (which is less than the radiation emissions inside a jet plane, by the way). I’ve burned at the beach, so a little radiation won’t hurt me now. My warning would be directed to whomever that poor person is on the other side of the body-scan curtain. My guess is that with just one look at my repulsive naked form, he or she will have an increased chance of a cardio event by a factor of about six—compared to the normal person, who is only at double risk of suffering a myocardial infarction upon seeing me fully clothed. People who never see me incur no increased health risks, except those considering downing a bottle of antidepressants after reading a column like this one.

Am I worried that those gray images of me might end up on the Internet? Hell, no. In fact, doing so might be the death of the Internet and if it expedites the demise of Facebook, I’m all for it.

That said, I’m no fan of body searches. That’s too much. The first time I went to Greece, a guy—or lad—at London’s Heathrow airport shoved his hand so aggressively up my crotch I thought he was going to yank out one of my teeth. That was my first body search of the uninvited kind—scanning a body is one thing, searching a body is another, and it doesn’t matter what movie is playing if you don’t get to search back.

Some people say they feel violated during airport screenings. Again, in Sacramento, I felt violated, and I was just watching—or being a voyeur, if you really must know. A middle-age woman was going through the security line and her random number for frisking was pulled. The agent’s hands were all over her, front and back. She was wearing one of those ancient “lift and separate” bras (which I recognized from my Butterfield Canyon days). Right there for all the world to see, she had to pull her blouse up nearly over her head. I thought, “You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.” If not for my son Pete pulling me along because he was embarrassed for the both of us, I’d still be there, gawking.

It wasn’t in a sensual or sexual way. I was gawking because I couldn’t believe for even those few seconds that what I was seeing was taking place in a U.S. airport. I’m not familiar with LDS garments, so I don’t know if that was what she was wearing. However, she clearly had on some kind of undergarment that, for whatever reason, made the whole episode even more gawkish and surreal. I felt a little bad for her, but I felt terribly bad for the rest of us.

Some say such episodes are proof that the terrorists have won. That’s bunk. It’s proof instead of how far we’ve sunk. We have allowed the erosion of our personal freedoms and, along with them, our very dignity. We’ve been buying the fear sold to us by our politicians for nearly a decade now. You know what we’d find if our senators and representatives had their body cavities searched? The cash from the folks who make body scanners and surgical gloves. 

John Saltas

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Posted // November 29,2010 at 12:29

Okay, so my understanding is that TSA is only supposed to do body searches if you set off the alarm going through the scanner. So - don't wear any metal, make sure you empty your pockets, etc., and wear easy-to-remove shoes, etc. I haven't had the "pleasure" yet, though I have one more flight this year...

Nor can I understand why so many people were willing to sign over their freedoms out of fear. Remember to watch what you say when you're on the phone - the computers listening in are just waiting for the right word to be said before it begins recording your conversation.

But poor Michael- just wait until you watch your wife or your cute little teenage daughter go through the process of being hand-searched by agents looking for a bomb or a gun. THEN tell us how "free" you feel. I'm so sorry you are willing to give up your freedoms - I am not willing to give up mine.


Posted // November 26,2010 at 10:27

I am with Hayduke. We have bought the fear lingo hook line and sinker. We listen (not me) to the likes of Beck and Limbaugh to get our daly dose of fear forgetting that they are paid entertainers. We buy the undie bomber scenario because we want to be safe from the bumbling idiots we so fear. We cower in front of the TSA even though most of us get paid more at Hobby Lobby than they do and have more education. We decide not to join the opt-out the day before Thanksgiving because we don't want our idea of holiday and Grandma upset. (Sheeple). Who are we afraid of? When will we stand up? Read your world history. And follow the money.


Posted // November 25,2010 at 16:14

Brilliant! Why, I can just FEEL the love.


Posted // November 24,2010 at 18:27

I completely agree with your statement..."We’ve been buying the fear sold to us by our politicians for nearly a decade now." Rather than comfortably arriving at their various destinations in jets (that the US taxpayer pays for), I think politicians should have to go through body scans. I highly doubt that they would be willing to go through what the "normal" citizen has to go through in order to take their seat on a commercial airplane!

Damned politicians and the TSA!


Posted // November 30,2010 at 09:12 - Nicely replied to, BlackMamba - I, for one, totally and completely discount ANYTHING that is said by someone who "WILL NOT respond or even read any reply by you". He may as well have not written anything.


Posted // November 24,2010 at 10:53

Damn straight, John. I've said several times that, in order to understand this age of fear, all you need to do is find out who's cashing in on it. I've suggested several times to my wife that there must be certain politicians profiting from this scanner business, not to mention war and destruction.

Like you, I don't so much mind the scanner. But I hate the forced molestation by TSA representatives. I cannot tolerate having some strange TSA power-tripping thug rubbing his hands all over my thighs and ass and genitals. And I feel the same way watching some hoochie-mama rub her burley sausages all over my wife's body. It happened before, and I just about lost it. Writing about this now makes me angry. I can feel my blood pressure rising.

What really makes me sick is when I see interviews on TV in which cowardly sheep state that they're more than happy being molested if it keeps them safe. What they do not know is that they are part of the problem. People like that are willing to give up not only freedom but dignity in exchange for a false sense of security, and there are too many people like that.

For one thing, the so-called undie bomber was given up to security forces by his own father. Even after telling them that his son had gone off the deep end and was planning on doing something destructive, they allowed the guy to board a plane. Too, his name was on international no-fly lists, and he was allowed to board. And they didn't find his explosive undershorts before doing so.

I mention this guy because they're constantly using him as an excuse for these increased "security" measures without mentioning that they couldn't have caught him, anyway, even after being provided credible intelligence. It is ironic to me.

It doesn't seem the TSA could catch a terrorist if one walked up and introduced himself. Today, no potential terrorist would waste time trying to elude security at the airport. But the TSA has found all kinds of nifty knives on travelers. That's something, I guess.

I think that if there were as many terrorists as the government would have us believe, all kinds of shit would be blown up and burned up and shot up all the time - it cannot be that difficult a thing to do and there are many more ways to incite terror than with airplanes.

No, these are control measures meant to ensure obedience among the populace, and there's money to be made here. We started truly giving up personal freedoms out of fear during Bush's reign. We continue to do so now under Obama's. And everytime it is noticed that Americans aren't scared enough to submit and cower, a "shoe bomber" or "undie bomber" will be produced to remedy that situation.

Normally, by this time of year, we've already purchased plane tickets to someplace in the world. So far, though, I haven't even been able to tolerate the thought without becoming pissed off. I despise flying anymore and blame that as much on our crappy American-based airlines, which have reduced us to cattle, as I do on Homeland Security and the TSA, which have reduced us to submissive cowards.


Posted // November 27,2010 at 09:31 - This is an opinion/comments section, Michael. If you want to insulate yourself with happy talk about TSA at a time when they seem to be both clueless and out of control, go to their web site where you can just gargle from The Fountain of Knowledge, rather than actually drinking from it. And by the way, I'm not really here to engage you in any meanigful discussion or exchange of adult ideas, Michael. I'm like you, I just want to open the door, yell that I think you're being a "poopy head," state that I shan't return for follow up because I'm far too advanced intellectually and I'm going to leave you hung upside down in the net of your depression. And then I'm driving to Granny's to knit humorous toaster cozies.


Posted // November 25,2010 at 12:31 - How easy it is to criticize! Calling people "power-tripping thug", "hoochie-mama" etc, and putting people down like that! It seems your self esteem has reached such a low you have to stomp on others to make yourself feel better!! How much more low can you get! It's B.S. like this commentary that will be the death of us all! Do you have ANY positivity left? I feel a sad swell of pity for people like you, lost in such dismal negativity. Do what you want with yourself, but don't drag us into your pitiful depths of depression as well!! I have no doubt you'll respond with all kinds of negative and derogatory subterfuge, so rest assured I WILL NOT respond or even read any reply by you. It is, after all, a CHOICE to be positive or negative about all things. If you can't say things publicly in a positive and encouraging attitude, don't say anything at all!!! For the sake of us all, I truly hope you can some day dig yourself out of the dungeon you create for yourself. Try it, I challenge you! Say what you want, but the warm fuzzies is where it's at! It's YOUR CHOICE!


Posted // November 25,2010 at 08:44 - TSA's always playing catch-up to the latest failed bomb attempt. While I'm getting dressed and undressed with a group of brand-new total stranger-friends at the airport, I have to be thankful that some terror-retard hasn't stuffed something dangerous where the sun don't shine, 'cause TSA would pull down my pants and go exploring and then post on a TSA employee's web site how humiliated THEY are to do prison body cavity searches. We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.