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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feeling frisky for an airport frisking

By Charles Memminger

The older I get the less I'm concerned about personal privacy when it comes to my body. So it's hard to get excited about the controversy over full-body X-ray scans at the airport. In a way, it's kind of nice that someone is interested in my body at all, let alone complete strangers wanting to take computer images of my entire bod, the naughty bits and all. And if such technical intrusions improve my chance of not getting blown up by some dude carrying C-4 in his Depends or his Fruit-Of-The-Jihad underwear, so much the better.

More airports are starting to use full-body scanners. Officials say the inspectors have no idea who they are scanning and the private parts are blurred so that the screeners aren't actually getting anatomically correct pictures of the whole body. Nevertheless, there have been complaints that such scans violate our personal privacy, the most recent, ironically, coming from some in the Muslim community. It's ironic because the need to conduct full-body scans of everyone getting on an airplane is so that members of certain religions are not singled out as potential terrorists, even if just about every highjacker and plane bomber since D.B. Cooper happens to be of one particular faith.

America has instituted this high-tech infringement of everyone's privacy just to avoid a more coherent policy, which is to drag everyone who looks like a potential terrorist out of line and give them a complete pat-down search. That would save 91-year-old Presbyterian grannies in wheelchairs the silliness of having to take off their shoes, pour out their denture creams and be subjected to the hand-held magic terrorist-recognizing wands that seem to only pick up stray paper clips in your pockets and metal hip replacements.

I'm sure there are some Muslims who feel that the full-body scan machines violate their religious sensitivities, but they'd be even more upset if everyone dressed in a burka was frisked. According to a recent news report, an Arab ambassador called for a divorce after discovering his Muslim veil-wearing fianc e had a beard and was cross-eyed. If a potential husband doesn't know what's behind the curtain, what chance does a TSA inspector have without using the latest in high-tech equipment? I respect the Islamic faith, but it seems to me you can't have it both ways. Either you agree to a screening system that focuses on cutting out of the herd 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim males who bought their ticket in cash and have no baggage, or you put up with the electronic screening that everyone getting on the plane has to go through.

The fact is, flying on a commercial jet is not a right, it's an option. If you don't like the security screening before you get on the plane, take a bus, train or boat. If it were middle-aged, heavyset Protestants who were responsible for most of the terrorist attacks around the world, I'd proudly submit myself for a body search. Heck, I might even like it.

Read Charles Memminger's blog at http://charleyworld.honadvblogs.com.