At the airport


My husband was not pleased. He had driven me to the Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport after our honeymoon (we will have to be apart for a few weeks), and learned when I got home that I had submitted to the TSA full-body scanner.

We had talked about this in many past conversations, and he said we would resist it, but in the end how easily I submitted without a peep. I will say in my defense (not much of a defense) that I have walked through similar-looking metal doorways in many a building-in not a few prisons, and at the Empire State Building-where sensors beyond my ken detect the presence of car keys and even underwire bras, while looking for pistols and shanks. Thus, I was already habituated to the custom and slipped naturally into this new, notched-up form of search.

I had followed the queue in removing shoes and coat and depositing them in the plastic boxes on the conveyor belt. From there I meekly lined up behind people taking turns to step inside the mechanized threshold, place feet firmly on the indicated footprint patterns, and raise hands above the head. Everybody did it without resistance. It came upon me so quickly that I scarcely had time to remember my conversations with David. The thought flitted though my mind that I could make a little fuss, but that it might detain me long enough to miss my flight.

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After committing the act, while putting my sandals back on, I asked the uniformed attendant if I had just been X-rayed. She said no. On the airplane I asked the flight attendant if I had been X-rayed and she said yes. My seatmate told me about rumors he's heard about the men who view the images from their catbird seat. I do remember the case of the ex-Miss USA who felt violated by a quite invasive TSA pat down that was administered when she refused the scanner; the price of conscientious objection can be undesirable.

When I got home and told David about my experience he was angry-not at me but at the TSA. He said, "This is the way the Antichrist system will come about-people just accepting it without a fight, people becoming like cattle, acquiescing to a totalitarian system, but not at once, just a little here and a little there." He reminded me that there had been a small fuss in the beginning, and that after a week you didn't hear about it anymore. He said the Founding Fathers would be horrified at how many liberties we have abdicated without a struggle.

A cursory probing informed me that the airport full-body scanners are made with hard drives for storage and Ethernet connectivity to allow downloading and the export of data. TSA insists that these are disabled by the time they are delivered to the airports. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) doesn't buy it, and says we are being lied to.

Whatever the truth is, I shudder at how easily I fell in line in the end, no questions asked. It reminded me of a line in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters:

"Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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