If airport security suspected you of being a threat and you were given two choices to help rule it out, which of the following would you choose? 1) Getting felt up by an airport security guard in an embarrassing hands-on search, or 2) Walking through an X-ray scanner that takes a picture of you naked.
When I first heard about the naked X-ray scanners being rolled out in airports across the nation, and coming to New York very soon, I reacted like a lot of people probably would: No. Friggin. Way.
My knee-jerk was to opt for the pat-down, hands down. But now, seeing from these demo shots at left that my photo would look nothing like the Playboy photo spread I'd imagined and more like a grotesque Crash Test Dummy, I've changed my mind.
Go ahead, guard, take my picture.
I've been searched before, a long LOOONG time ago, way before 9/11, during a college trip to London with a girlfriend. It was during my punk phase, which I failed miserably at, so I did look a little shifty. Or rather, a little dirty because of all that gel in my hair. Anyway, I couldn't blame airport security for singling me out, but it was creepy, and I'd gladly skip it again.
These new naked X-ray scanners are quickly becoming the norm. Right now, 142 are deployed at US airports, and the TSA plans to install another 450 before the year's end, reports the New York Post. Lots of people think they're a bad idea for many reasons, many of which Jenny Erikson points out in her post about the 12-year-old girl who was forced to go through an airport scanner against her will. Privacy, government intrusion, and common sense are all valid arguments.
I'm one of those that believes the government needs to stay out of my life as much as possible. But public safety is one of the few areas where I'm glad the government butts in from time to time. Seat belt laws and smoking warnings were another. Sometimes people are plain stupid and need to be told what to do for their own good, and sometimes you just don't know how creative a terrorist psycho is going to get with his underpants.
Of course, all those terrorists that continue to slip through the cracks will find a way around this, too, and start looking for other places to stash their explosives, if you get my drift. These are people who have no problem strapping bombs to children so I would not put it past them.
This makes me wonder if these scanners aren't intrusive enough. Maybe these machines should be given medical-grade power so we can see inside the body as well. Since they've already got the machine set up, maybe the TSA folks could get together with the Health Care Reform folks and conduct a vacation/medical check-up two-for-one and start saving this country some money for a change. Women could get their routine mammographies and, with a few extra staff on hand, men could get their colonoscopies. On second thought, I think I'll shut up now because someone in the government might actually start to take me seriously.
Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty