Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Visible full-body scans going too far just to go on an airplane

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Originally published on on Mon, 07/21/2008 – 10:46am

There was a story earlier this year that starting on July 5, there would be nude 1-hour flights between Erfurt in southeast Germany and the Baltic Sea island of Usedom. The passengers would fly naked, but they could only undress once they were on the plane.

But for those who aren’t quite ready to fly nude on a flight, you might get the chance to “be naked” while keeping your clothes on.

Air travelers going through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago will soon have the opportunity to be literally exposed to a revealing full-body scan before boarding planes.

The concept seems degrading, especially when you haven’t been accused of a crime, and your only “violation” was to want to fly in an airplane out of O’Hare.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The new full-body imaging machines that will arrive at O’Hare this fall look through clothing to create an explicit silhouette of the traveler — showing shapes, folds of fat and other anatomical characteristics — to identify possible hidden objects.

Even though facial features are blurred to protect privacy, the images reveal breasts, buttocks and other private parts, prompting some civil liberties groups to call the machines an unacceptable intrusion.

You can judge for yourself: here are pictures of what the full body scan is supposed to look like.

The issue isn’t so much about nudity but vulnerability. I got inspected at Canadian Customs at the train station in Vancouver, BC on July 3. The guy went through everything in my suitcase, including my underwear. It’s not a fun feeling.

When I went to the emergency room on Wednesday last week, there were numerous times where near nudity and vulnerability collided. And that wasn’t a fun feeling.

The implication is that the full body scan would be an alternative to a pat down, and some people really don’t like to be touched. So some in those circumstances might choose the full body scan.

I would choose the pat down over the full body scan. But my luggage already goes through the X-ray machine, and I walk through the metal detector — all of which I can accept. I might even take a pat down if necessary. But I draw the line at pictures that might come close to showing off what I have.

I don’t have a problem with nudity in the right context. I could see the fun of flying with a bunch of Germans in the nude. While on that same vacation, I visited the famous Wreck’s Beach in Vancouver. I just like nudity on my own terms. And TSA workers and O’Hare International Airport is where I draw the line.

Yes, we need to be safe and protected. But enabling technology that would do more to embarrass us than make us safe isn’t the answer. We already remove our shoes without asking, we put liquids in small containers. We would likely hop on one foot while touching our nose and rubbing our bellies if it would help ease the mindset of the TSA workers.

We just want to fly somewhere and see different parts of the world from where we live. There have to be methods that keep us safe and yet treat us like we are adults, that we all aren’t treated as potential criminals just because we want to go on vacation.


Written by democracysoup

July 21, 2008 at 10:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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