TSA frisks a 6-year-old?


LAS VEGAS, NV — U.S. Transportation Security Administration supervisor Nick Fox, right, and another TSA employee demonstrate an advanced image technology (AIT) millimeter wave scanner using new Automated Target Recognition software being tested by the TSA at McCarran International Airport. (Ethan Miller/GETTY IMAGES)

I can’t believe the 6-year-old was confused by this process. I know many people are going to make jokes like, “I thought only my priest was allowed to touch me that way!” and “You don’t look like Uncle Bernie!” But I would not stoop to that level, because I worry that making jokes like this would point out the absurdity of patting down a child. And noting the absurdity might lead to a change in policy. Spare me that!

A change in policy might interfere with my favorite inalienable right: the right to have my thighs patted by put-upon-looking women at the airport who have the approximate dimensions of the state of Nevada.

No, I say pat us down!

Pat down the 6-year-olds and the grandmas. Sure, the grandmas claim that’s a metal plate in their hips, but if I had something like a metal plate, I would probably donate it to a linotype museum, not hide it in my hip. Pat down the people who have suspiciously low numbers of arms. Sure, they claim they “lost them in the service of this country,” but I am pretty sure you cannot just misplace an arm, no matter how focused you are on your country. Pat down the uncles. Pat down the kittens traveling in crates. Pat down the lonely, strange man who keeps buying cheap tickets and wandering through the gate looking like he is gratified by the experience. Pat them all down! As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men are created equal, and they are endowed.” That’s something you can learn more about by patting them with the backs of your hands only, explaining the process carefully as you go along.

Pat us down, then search our bags. We might have toothpaste in those bags. Do you know the way toothpaste can be used as an explosive? I don’t, but someone might. We also might possess nail clippers. Have you ever seen a man attacked with a nail clipper? I haven’t, but I imagine that it might be extremely painful, mostly because it would require him to hold still for a very long time and he could develop a cramp.

Whatever you do, do not attempt to talk to us or evaluate our behavior. That is the least relevant thing. Noting one-way tickets? Monitoring other forms of suspicious activity? Using intelligence to be, well, intelligent? In the immortal word of Cee-Lo Green, forget that!

More subtle policy? What are we, French? If we stop patting down 6-year-olds, we’ll have to stop patting down grandmas. Why become more sophisticated when you can be more invasive? I won’t feel safe until everyone has felt the reassuring brush of the back of someone’s hand against his inner thigh.

Evil may lurk in the heart, but the best way to see into a man’s heart is by patting him with the backs of your hands and inspecting his waistband. Or maybe they’ll come up with a scanner that can do that.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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