There’s No “Us” in “Me”

You and your comfort zone can go to Hell if you want to get on this plane!

Source of Gag Reflex: | Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

If Michael Jackson were to rise from the dead tomorrow – no wait, if Osama bin Laden announced he intends to surrender, but only to Eddie Murphy – the news would burn up the Net less than the white-hot topic of airport security screening. It’s an issue that isn’t going away soon, and with my own holiday travel fast approaching, it’s one my big mouth and I will have to face head-on, hands held for fear of what the other might do or say.

From websites to news outlets to blogs of all stripes, positively everyone is jumping on this. I was able to hold off only as long as it took to discover National Opt-Out Day and this pure negligence near the top of the home page: “This day is needed because many people do not understand what they consent to when choosing to fly.”

Now cover your ears kids…people who subscribe to BS like that can blow me! Talk about an excuse! Unless you’re a lazy jerk who hasn’t looked at a TV or computer since before 2001, nothing the TSA does should surprise to you. And if you’re confused about what they might do, look it up before you buy a ticket! Seriously, people, it’s the government, not a serial killer. No TSA drone’s gonna jump out at you with a pop cavity-search, though that may come as a secret disappointment to some.

In large part, National Opt-Out Day is being sold to air travelers as civil disobedience, a chance to stand up for travelers’ rights and demand change. Never mind that your choice of the X-ray or the Rated-X is the change: we demand more change! Never mind that requesting the Grab ‘n Squeeze over the Body Imaging is no big deal. Never mind that the whole thing is about as disobedient as choosing Pepsi over Coke.

With portraying the X-Ray Imaging Booths as “naked body scanner machines,” the use of fear and alarmism to sell its point becomes obvious. More than anything, it feels like a pretext to play victim, to perpetuate hysteria, to bash lefties and fascists and insist on being heard above all the other knee-jerk behavior that accompanies a challenge to Americans’ sacred comfort zones. I bet it’ll soon be reduced to rich vs. poor like everything else. Don’t agree? With a Florida congressman already pushing private security contractors over the government’s TSA program, I’m personally getting ready for tiered security. I can hear the ad now: “The more you pay, the less we bray.”

And if that future SNL sketch isn’t far from being realized, neither is the next reality show superstar. Yep, Mr. “If you touch my junk” himself, John Tyner, quipped yesterday to a San Diego ABC News affiliate, “Well now I’ve arrived. They’ve mentioned me in the Senate.” Quite a feat there, John.

Then there are deeper psychological – if not yet abundantly relevant – issues of why we as a society have decided that so-called “enhanced” pat downs performed by a member of our own sex are safer or less susceptible to assault. Will I now proceed through the security area wondering if that perfectly straight-looking TSA dude wasn’t actually salivating during that ickiness? Surely they could hire chimps to do this instead. Surely a monkey wouldn’t ask me to read his screenplay while he insinuates with his grope that I might be hiding something. (Have a nice flight Mr. Abrams, Ms. Bigelow.)

And what’s this Internet cackle about Muslim women being allowed to pat themselves down? Sounds like more cross-eyed conjecture. I don’t even want to think about the tantrums such a thing as that would cause! And what of this clown from The Atlantic who wants men to head through the screening area wearing Scottish kilts as way to show “low-paid federal government employees” just how low their station in life really is?

Here’s the most stunning joke of National Opt-Out Day: Hi-ya, welcome to 2010; there are too few self-sacrificing Americans to pull it off! That’s right; Americans would first need to reclaim what it takes. Sound cynical? Sure, but no less true. Are you going to do it? Or you, Tweets? Or you, with “Princess” embroidered on your ass?

Has any one of you seen an effective Don’t-Buy-Gasoline-Day?

We’re all so ready to lash out at the first sign of inconvenience or interrupt someone trying to do their job in our daily lives, are we going to suddenly abandon our own righteous holiday schedules, throw a rock into the pond of our itineraries, and watch the ripple effect destroy our hopes for making the gate or satisfying whatever itch lies around the next corner? And are we gonna drag our spouses and kids through that, too? If we can’t handle a little nuisance or, God-help-us, a full-blown capitulation for the benefit of others, what in hell makes anyone think we’re going to drop our precious devices, plans, and appetites for a National Day of Action?

It isn’t going to happen, and that, my friends, is the good/sad/indifferent news here. So fly – or not – for the holidays, and just know that if you’re wearing a kilt, no offense but I’m getting into a different line.