March 19, 2002
TREND IN AIRPORT SECURITY
I am outraged.
night I watched as Glenda Hood, mayor of my hometown Orlando,
made the rounds of the news shows defending Orlando's new
airport x-ray machine. When I was a little girl growing up
in the 50's, it was every prepubescent schoolboy's dream to
have Superman's x-ray vision and be able to see underneath
a girl's clothes. Not all the way to her bones, of course,
just to her skin. Just to see what was underneath those pesky
snaps and buttons.
now that day is here. Only it isn't prepubescent schoolboys
with the x-ray vision; it's scanners at the airport. And it
isn't with furtive, guilty glances, it's with the full knowledge
and order of the federal government. Orlando Airport is the
test case, and if we don't start screaming right now, these
light x-ray machines will spread to every airport in the country.
And in order to get on a plane, you will have to pass through
the scanner, putting your unclothed body on computer display.
exactly do these scanners do? They take off your clothes.
Virtually. Instead of x-raying you right to the bone, they
see just through your clothes. To your skin. Great.
to tell you, it isn't a pretty sight. Playboy Magazine it's
not. The image appears in eerie black and yellow glow, enhancing
the creepiness and detachment from human dignity. The pictures
of the volunteer scannee Glenda brought with her looked to
be a man in his 50's, with rolls of fat around his middle
and plumber's butt--if only he had pants on. I know, that's
a gross image to discuss, but I want you to get the picture
of the kinds of conversations these images will spawn in the
Glenda smiled brightly for the cameras as she assured us that
scanning will be anonymous. After all, the scanners will not
be able to see the passenger and the picture at the same time,
so it isn't exactly like having someone look at your nude
body. Well so what? You think they can't count? You think
they won't be able to figure out which babe belonged to the
D cups? Or which guy is carrying the tiny package?
just as brightly, Mayor Glenda added that the images are immediately
discarded if no weapons are detected, as though that should
end our anxiety. Nothing will be saved. Yeah, right. If it
can be photographed on computer, it can be captured on computer.
And whether it's legal or not, these pictures will show up
on the internet. Combine these x-ray images with the video
cameras that scan airports, taking pictures that leave our
clothes intact, and it will become the latest craze to play
Match the X-Ray Image with the Video Person.
greater concern, one must wonder what kind of people will
apply for a job that requires/allows them to stare at pictures
of naked people all day. I don't even want to think about
it. But we could end up with more to worry about than airplane
bombs when these folks go home at night.
not allow this invasion of our privacy to be approved! I am
so angry that I'm boycotting the Orlando Airport, even though
it is my second home. In fact, I am driving from New York
to Orlando for spring break, rather than flying there, as
a protest against this outrage. These machines are a violation
of our Constitutional right against unwarranted search. The
mere fact that a person wants to board a plane is not sufficient
evidence that he is going to commit a crime, nor should his
resistance to being searched be construed as such evidence.
We have a right to privacy, and a right to travel without
being virtually strip searched. Metal detectors, baggage checks,
and yes, profiling, are far better measures against terrorism
than this Orwellian tactic.
the starkest images that remains in my mind from the move
Schindler's List is the sight of hundreds of Jews being forced
to parade naked in front of their tormentors. Filmed in black
and white, the moving images of the actors and actresses who
agreed to portray this aspect of the Holocaust look remarkably
like the x-ray images we saw last night as Glenda Hood strutted
her stuff. The Nazi commandant smiles provocatively as he
surveys this scene, not unlike Glenda Hood's bright smile
as she assured us that this is a necessary measure in the
government's effort to protect us from death in the skies.
Mrs. Hood, but as Winston Smith learns in 1984, there are
some fates worse than death, and some prices too high for
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