ESSAY- C'ville groper: He should work for the TSA
Did you hear about the C'ville Groper? If you've been keeping up with the local news in the past few weeks, you've heard about this guy who attacks young women around UVA. He accosts them and puts his hand up their skirt and gropes their genitals.
Not the kind of experience you want to arrange when you send your daughter off to college. You don't want someone you love to experience hands-on groping any more than you want her to be a victim of the virtual groping that results from "upskirting" or "downshirting." That's when some jackass sneaks a photograph as a woman goes up or down a staircase, and he then posts the photo on the Internet.
We want to keep our kids safe. We remind them not to walk around alone at night, stay in well-lit areas, yadda yadda yadda.
However, consider that when you buy your son or daughter a plane ticket, you may well be underwriting an all-inclusive experience: not just a plane ride, but an assault by a stranger on your loved one's genitalia – plus your child may get to pose, hands over head, for a naked photo.
But we're told: It's okay! The person having a gander at your loved one's naked body is only seeing it on a screen, not for reals. That person is not even in the same room! No worries. And if it happens to go out on the Internet, those people ogling her body won't be in the same room, either. So that's okay, right? It's practically medical! And these TSA workers are trained professionals who derive no pleasure whatsoever from seeing such images. Right?
That's what's going on in airports all over our country: The appropriately-named "stimulus" funds have been used to purchase these $150K machines that see right through your clothes – the fantasy of every 12 year old boy who has ever been entranced by those ads for X-Ray specs advertised in the back of comic books.
A "stimulus," indeed, for the guy who's secreted in a room somewhere, watching the naked parade.
And once you're selected for the virtual strip-search scanner, or for the probing genital exam, there's no turning back and deciding you'd prefer not to fly. You would then be considered a terrorist who's looking for a weak link in our security fence. You must submit to the will of the TSA employee.
As I type this, I'm more than a little concerned that publication of this essay will land me on the list of people targeted for the see-me-naked machine AND the in-the-pants body search.
What does this say about the state of American freedoms? If I may refresh your memory, here's what the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution says about such things:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Apparently, "wants to get on an airplane" now qualifies as "probable cause." Now that we are in freefall down this slippery slope toward utter lack of privacy, "probable cause" can easily be expanded to "wants to ride the subway" or "wants to enter a shopping mall," or "wants to drive a car."
Are you prepared for this? Sadly, I suspect you are.
But we have laws against such assaults on our privacy, including the federal Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004:
"Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, has the intent to capture an image of a private area of an individual without their consent, and knowingly does so under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."
While traveling home from Chicago in October, I was photographed by one of those intrusive scanners at O'Hare International Airport. No explanation was given about the kind of image they were capturing, and no one asked for my consent. I was given no information, and nothing to sign.
And yes, I had the expectation of not being seen naked by some TSA guy in front of a video screen. Here's what I was told: "Stand over here. Raise your hands and make them look like moose ears."
Somebody explain to me how that does not violate the Video Voyeurism Act of 2004.
TSA tells us that they do not save the images, but what's to prevent the employee with a cell phone from capturing all the images he wants?
(And I don't even want to think about who is maintaining those machines, monitoring the radiation levels to be sure there's no malfunction, and no "oops!" overdoses. And the guy who told me to make moose ears with my hands wasn't sporting a lead apron, either. How much radiation is he exposed to?)
To the best of my knowledge, Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport does not yet have one of these see-me-naked body scanners. I'm not sure whether or not they have begun the up-your-skirt and in-your-pants style of body search.
Whenever that is implemented in our very own airport, we should recruit the C'ville Groper to work for the TSA. After all, dude has experience, and apparently is quite comfortable with government-style genital examination.
The author is rumored to always be naked, underneath her clothes of course.