I’m getting to be a pat-down connoisseur. In Raleigh-Durham it was a more intimate affair with Mr. TSA—I don’t even have his name or number—narrating the intimate details. “I will move my hands up your thigh until I encounter ‘resistance,’” he said. At Newark the pat-down was quicker, more business-like, almost as if Mr. TSA were embarrassed. In Raleigh-Durham, nobody batted a lash when I said full-body scanners were against my religion. At Newark, they laughed. The gate attendants began asking me what my religion is. Private. My religion is as private as my “resistance.” And I was being ridiculed for it. This is the Patriot Act vision of America. Regular readers of this blog know that I have never revealed my religious convictions. They are a very private matter with me, and I had supposed that I’d been born in a nation where that was respected. Instead, I am laughed at.
We extend religious liberty to those who wish to handle rattlesnakes. To men who wear black dresses and have an historic penchant for young boys. To people who believe the world was created in six days. To people who believe golden tablets only seen by one man through rose-colored glasses are the basis for sacred scriptures. To the traveler who believes in the integrity of the human body and cannot divorce it from the respect and dignity of human modesty, this does not apply. Religions arm military forces. Religions rape women. Religions murder children as well as adults. Who’s laughing at them?
I wonder if I might have a legal case here. When has the free practice of my religion—which decrees that full-body scanners are immoral—been opened to public scorn? And don’t tell me it’s the price of security. I walked through “security” with my eyes open; first class passengers do not get scanned like hoi polloi. It’s not a matter of security—it’s about control and money. When will the people take back control of their own country from officials inebriated with power? I feel no safer with a stranger’s latex-gloved hand on my resistance. I feel no safer when people who couldn’t cut college get jobs in the US government and look at their fellow citizens naked. You’ll blank out my face? That makes it even worse. If someone’s going to violate my dignity I want him to look me in the eye and realize that it’s a human being he’s humiliating, not just a hunk of meat. Or in the language of the TSA, mere resistance.