Wednesday is one of the biggest travel days of the year, and if the idiots behind National Opt Out Day have their way, you'll never get to Granny's on time for Thanksgiving dinner -- if at all.
They're urging Americans not to fly at all on November 24. If you must fly, they want you to "opt out of the scanners" that the TSA has set up in American airports, then "protest the gropes creatively." If that's not enough, they are then asking the faithful to organize meetups at their local airports to start proselytizing educate the travelers who just want to get to their turkey eating and football watching.
In other words: You should drive six (eight? twelve?) hours on clogged roads over the river and through the woods instead of taking that relaxing two-hour flight. Or if you fly, you should make your fellow passengers stand around -- reading the "educational" opt out propaganda you forced on them -- while you fight with the TSA. (Good luck to you once you're all on the plane together.)
Sounds like National Opt Out Day is just asking American travelers to opt out on sanity.
Let's just opt out on opting out, shall we? Here's why.
1. You'll be adding headaches on top of headaches. AAA already estimates air travel on Thanksgiving weekend will be more popular than it was in 2009, with 1.62 million holiday fliers expected to hit the air. If everyone opts out, you'll be lucky to get to Granny's house by Saturday.
2. The scanners are safe. There are two types of scanners in use in airports around the country, the backscatter and the millimeter wave machines. Each has been evaluated by federal regulators and declared safe at least in terms of health. According to the TSA, "Backscatter technology was evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL)." As for the other option, "the energy projected by millimeter wave technology is thousands of times less than a cell phone transmission."
3. There's no indication you'll be yanked for a "groping." The TSA has not implemented a "pat-down everyone" policy. In fact, according to the government, "Only passengers who alarm a walk through metal detector or AIT [Advanced Imaging Technology] machine or opt out of the AIT receive a pat-down." So if you don't want to be touched, opting out of the scanners is your dumbest move yet.
4. The scanners don't save images. The news that 100 scanner images had been saved and leaked onto the Internet sounds terrifying. Until you read the mainstream media reports about the images. They came from a Florida courthouse, NOT an airport.
5. The scanners don't show facial details. Even if images of you butt nekkid escape the airport, people are going to have a tough time actually tying them to you because they're pretty vague (see examples here). If you can tell who that is, you don't need to fly -- you've got superhero vision, so you might as well use the rest of your superpowers for travel.
6. You're nobody's hero. A CBS poll shows four out of every five Americans support the use of the scanners in airports. So not only will you be making other passengers wait on longer lines, but you won't even be fighting their battle.
Will you be opting out?
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