Have you ever seen someone looking at you, and you just know they’re picturing what’s under your clothes? I read a story in my local paper the other day that galvanized me into action. I sent the following message to the Daily Show:
Tampa International Airport is installing new body scanners that CAN SEE THROUGH THE CLOTHES of travelers, which is transmitted to a closed room in a separate part of the airport to be examined. The idea of creepy strangers looking at naked pictures of you in a darkened room? Now a reality sponsored by our good friends at the Transportation Security Administration. A TSA spokesman says the images aren’t really that graphic, but the example image of a man wasn’t even printable in my local paper. You can see the other example photo here: New Airport Scanners Take a Peek Beneath Your Clothes (Saint Petersburg Times, August 8, 2008).
Please cover this story. It really creeps me out that the government wants to see us ordinary citizens naked.
It’s been a week since the first article was published about the full-body scanners, and since then there have been a couple of editorials and a strongly-worded letter or two in the same local paper. (All the articles and letters I saw were by women, interestingly.)
I didn’t do anything at first because security screenings have been growing increasingly intense for years now, and in a way this just seemed like a natural step after all the shoe-removing, water bottle confiscations and that clothes-puffing device. I felt so apathetic: we’ve come this far, why should we try to stop them now?
Plus a part of me is (still) afraid to speak out because I travel so much, and as the ACLU points out, that list of Scary Folks That Need Monitoring grows larger and larger with each passing day. I already spend enough time at the airport, thanks, I don’t need to be pulled aside so somebody can test my patriotism level. I’ve never had my phone tapped (to my knowledge) and I’d rather not start now.
But then I thought to myself: these people are taking nudie photos of us and viewing them amongst themselves in a separate room? If it wasn’t the government doing it, that would be criminal. So they shouldn’t be doing it.
I didn’t just write to the Daily Show. I’ve also prepared letters for my Congressman, both Florida senators, and Governor Charlie Crist. I’ve even got one for the President. Basically, I’m spitting mad and these guys are sure as heck going to hear about it.
Why write to the Daily Show, then? Humor is one way to defuse dire situations. It can be employed to question assumptions and to point out absurdities in the decisions and rhetoric of those in power. What happens at the end of the Emperor’s New Clothes? Everyone winds up laughing at the king. It’s difficult to follow a leader who leaves you in stitches.
I figured I’d ask all these guys who might be able to Do Something About It (seeing as they, y’know, help run the country and all) and since that’s probably not going to work I’d also see if I couldn’t get everyone laughing at the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. Pervy bunch of loons that they are.