Analysis We are free... to choose our means of humiliation
Naked body scanners or sexually abusive pat-downs?
It was the year 2007, and there was Waldemar Januszczak teaching us that (Britain Channel 4: Paradise Found, Islamic Architecture and Arts - 2007),
In modern Iran, the morality police can forcibly submit you to a virginity test.
This as the producers screened scenes of Iranian women wandering the alleys of Isfahan, perhaps -- we were forced to imagine -- a mere step away from facing a brutal deprivation of rights and dignity.
After all, what could illustrate better the arbitrary nature of a sinister regime than the sexual harassment of its citizens? As any fanatic distortion of reality though, this one by Channel 4 was bound to recoil.
It was not just the fact that the incumbent Iranian government demonized by Januszczak in 2007 achieved its reelection precisely by (World Public Opinion),
Garnering majority support among women who went to the polls.
But even more significantly, how the recent outrage sparked by victims of ever more humiliating airport 'security' measures in England and the United States, has evidenced yet another classical episode of our projection of own sins onto others overseas. As Mike Adams at NaturalNews has put it,
The message is clear: Go through the naked body scanner or we will sexually molest you.
Sexual molestation of citizens: Iran or our West?
The blowing up of airplanes was not even a new concept on September of 2001. Already in 1976, the now proud American citizen Luis Posada Carriles signed up as the worst terrorist in the history of Latin America by bombing the Cubana flight 455 and killing its 73 passengers (FBI).
In spite of such a long precedent, the sexual humiliation of airplane passengers did not arrive until the so-called War on Terror (Nur ein Wort). In the last decade, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the US Department of Homeland Security has deployed so-called 'full body scanners' so widely that (ABC News),
More than 300 body scanners are now being used in 65 airports across the United States alone.
And a thousand new naked body scanners have been announced for 2011 also in that country alone. Britain does not stay behind (BBC).
Behind the euphemisms
'Full body scanners' actually refers to millitimeter wave scanners not just causing hazards to human health (AFP, Daily Mail), but capturing images of people's fully naked bodies with a great detail of genitalia, to the extent of bumping into child pornography laws (The Guardian).
The claims of the TSA and the British Department of Transport arguing that the images are discretely handled by personnel who do not store them, have been thrown overboard in repeated opportunities. In February of 2010, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan reported that revealing images of his naked body scan were circulated around Heathrow airport of London by the staff (Huffington Post). He further described his experience,
I was in London recently going through the airport and these new machines have come up, the body scans. You've got to see them. It makes you embarrassed. You walk into the machine and everything - the whole outline of your body - comes out.'
Our freedom to choose... how shall we be humiliated
Although air travelers are seldom informed about it, there is an alternative to presenting their naked bodies to strangers of unknown moral standards. Up until recently, the pat-down modality of searching for weapons on passenger's bodies was performed with the back of the hands on sensitive body parts.
However under brand new guidelines, security officers are instructed to make use of their palms and fingers to probe people's bodies, including on breast and groin areas (LA Times), in what some people have called a 'humiliating X-rated' pat-down technique.
In the first weeks of November 2010, the concerns have even spread to pilot unions in the United States, with some of them advising members to opt out from naked body scanners in order to avoid cumulative radiation exposure, but warning of the gruesome nature of the personal intense pat-downs.
One pilot union president reported that a US Airways pilot selected for a pat-down (ABC News),
Experienced a frisking that left him unable to function as a crew member. The words the pilot used to describe the incident was 'sexual molestation'. He afterwards vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work.
Regimes sexually harassing their citizens
An increasing number of Westerners conclude that American and British airport security agents either want to see your naked body or feel it with their hands. Mike Adams points (Natural News),
If a security guard at a grocery store groped little children with his fingers and took naked body scanner pictures of customers, he would be arrested as a sex crime offender. So why are we letting our own federal government commit sex crimes against us when we'd be thrown in prison for the same lewd behavior?
Not a far shot from Januszczak's story on Iranian women submitting to virginity tests by the supposedly evil moral police of Iran. Unlike that tale though, the violation of basic human rights and of dignity taking place in our airports is no fiction, but a reality for tens of thousands of people who are submitted to naked body scanners or aggressive pat-down searches every single day only in the United States.
The question is left for those who trivialize their own humiliation and deprivation of rights while claiming our West to be free: What could illustrate better the arbitrary nature of a sinister regime than the sexual harassment of its citizens?
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither.