Why I Don't Mind IF TSA Employees See An Outline of My Penis

Over at The Daily Beast, I argue that TSA should be more explicit about the obvious fact that passengers are responsible for their own safety once they’re aboard a commercial flight. Since it’s a related subject, I want to address the controversy about full body scan machines.

…the technology has raised significant concerns among privacy watchdogs because it can show the body’s contours with embarrassing clarity. Those fears have slowed the introduction of the machines.

Jay Stanley, public education director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology and Liberty Program, said the machines essentially perform “virtual strip searches that see through your clothing and reveal the size and shape of your body.”

In a world of ceramic knives and plastic explosives, these machines make a lot more sense than the current system of metal detectors, and I must say that I’m unsympathetic to the argument that they’ll prove to embarrassing for people who bashful about the size or shape of their body parts. Get over it! That some anonymous TSA employee sees an x-ray image of your body for 15 seconds, in a stream of hundreds of other people everyday, will have not the slightest impact on your life, whereas every alternative is either significantly less safe or significantly more burdensome and time consuming.

Admittedly, I’m an outlier here: my hatred for lines is such that I’d gladly walk a gauntlet of TSA employees completely naked were it offered as a speedy alternative to arriving at the airport two hours early and standing in line for 45 awful minutes. But don’t the people who are apparently uncomfortable with this get checkups at the doctor? Didn’t they take showers after gym class? Shouldn’t ‘t be far easier for the modest person to stay dressed while passing through a scanner being viewed by a TSA employee they’ll likely never see again? So long as faux-nudity isn’t irrationally fetishized, I don’t understand what the big deal is here.

4 Responses to “Why I Don't Mind IF TSA Employees See An Outline of My Penis”

  1. Caitlin Kelly Says:


  2. friedersl Says:

    I too detest lines. I don’t want to do the naked gauntlet thing because of the time it would take to undress and redress. It annoys me every time I have to take off and put on my shoes! I would prefer an outline of my body to adding Stupid new regulations about carry-ons, lead time sitting in the airport, and PC rules that dictate that my 81 year old 5′ tall lily white mother gets “secondary” searched as often as a 30-year-old turban-wearing obviously Middle-Eastern male. Let sanity rule.

  3. Full Body Scanners Revisited - Conor Friedersdorf - Metablog - True/Slant Says:

    […] Mathis at Philadelphia Weekly has been kind enough to respond to my recent post on full body airport scanners: Conor Friedersdorf chalked the opposition to scanners up to […]

  4. ghowardjr Says:

    Again, it seems to me that this entire conversation misses the point. Body scanners and the like are just another infringement upon our civil liberties.

    The federal government believes that treating everyone like criminals equally makes it OK to violate our rights, and people just allow it because they are afraid of the terrorist boogeymen.

    If you continue to give up your rights in return for supposed security, you will end up with neither. As evidenced by eight years of us being subjected to post-911 “security” at airports and still have a guy with a bomb get on a plane–thwarted only by a faulty ignition mechanism–not by our gigantic homeland security department or TSA airport security.

    Wake up!

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