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“Don’t touch my junk”

Will John Tyner become the latest American folk (mass media) hero for uttering those words?

As you will learn from this video, Tyner refused to be scanned by one of the new, full-body Advanced Imaging Technology machines at San Diego airport. He then resisted a TSA agent's attempt to swipe his hand over his body, including his genitals.

I think there are many civil liberties generally - and privacy rights in particular - that are compromised today and should be defended. But something about Tyner's complaint just strikes me as a distraction from a serious discussion. Tyner expresses worry that the agents could see him naked, when, to my knowledge (and discussed here), the images of people's private parts are blurred and/or made into a cartoon graphic. Other people - as the Fox News interviewer quickly suggests - complain about the supposed radioactivity of the machines, which is surely a red herring.

If terrorism is considered omnipresent, and in particular a threat at airports, most people will say that image machines themselves are worth any privacy embarrassment (especially since there really isn't much to be embarrassed about from them). Yes, the airport security ritual is a constriction on freedom and largely nonsensical, but we need to challenge a bigger picture argument - that we need to reorganize our lives around fighting terrorism - if we are to get back to sensible security precautions.

By the way, how did Tyner get his cell phone through security in order to record the exchange with the TSA agent?

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