24 votes

The TSA and Me: my small act of unforgivable defiance

I flew out of Denver yesterday. The lines were long and the screening was going very slowly. Only the body scanners were operating, though each lane had a metal detector, unused. I always try to position myself in a lane that will allow me to avoid the body scanner, not so much out of fear of radiation (though that can't be good), but more about having drawn a line in the sand: I will not voluntarily strip search myself to prove my innocence. If they want to be assured of my innocence, they can do the work. I won't help.

When I reached the first checkpoint where the TSA checks ID's (a procedure that seems utterly useless to me) I asked the officer a question:

"I will be opting out, who do I tell?"

"They'll take care of you at the front of the line," she said. She paused a moment and added, "But you can't go through the metal detector because we don't want you to have to go through one radiation instead of another."

I was puzzled over her response, and I asked "You understand there's a difference between the two, right?"

"Yes, but we don't want you to have to go through radiation, you'll have to get a pat down." She spoke almost as if it were a preplanned talking point.

I did not feel like arguing over nothing...she didn't make the rules...so I just said 'fine' and moved on.

At the front of the line, as my belongings were being Xrayed, I informed the woman controlling the line into the scanner that I would be opting out. She was polite and called for a male officer. In the meantime I was instructed to stand aside.

One other young man asked, just as he was to enter the booth, if there was another option, and he was correctly informed that he could get a pat down. I couldn't help interjecting that "the line starts here." The TSA agent smiled a little. He went through the scanner anyway.

Then I saw something I did not expect: a young boy, about 4 years old, running through the metal detector, followed closely by his 40 year old father. "Thank you!" the father said as he passed through.

So the metal detector WAS being used...and it was deemed secure enough to let a child and an adult pass through without a pat down...I was just not allowed to use it. The lady at the front desk had been telling me something with her odd remark: 'Opting out means you refuse to comply, and that is unacceptable.'

I must say that I was not bullied, and the TSA agents were polite. I did not choose to partake in happy talk with my personal groper, though he tried to keep it light and chatty.

This entire airport charade is about control. About making people comply. Opting out is a small act of defiance that the TSA cannot allow to stand.

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


Smile big and say, aaahhhhhhh!

making a list; checking it twice

if you're participating in the conversation here at DP, you're either on all of the Gubment's watch lists - or your a cia troll. Either way, my sincere advise is the same: Opt out. The scanners have been weaponized. facial recogition in the ID check line, high octane treatment for all DPers in the scanner... remember the bad luck hugo chavez ran into with his extremely rare sarcoma.... don't put it past them

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


They are not that well-programmed. Last October, while playing nice, they walked me around everything and told me to have a nice day. It depends on the location, the person, and how you act to them.

kidding yourself

if you think the 50 yr old recovering-alcoholic greating you at the check point has anything to do with the technology or operation of the station, you're niave. They have one job, and that's to keep us all in line. Soon, they will be carrying billyclubs and mace, and you know where it goes from there. Do not be fooled. These Scanners are not benign. Opt Out! Everytime. As long as you're still legally able to - and those days are few and numbered too. We're in trouble here folks... and I certainly don't know what to do about it all

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

be nice

My point was that by being nice at the front of the process, I was actually walked around everything with no scans in September 2012. Each airport is different.
After the pat-down, I verbally engage the hostiles.

Until there is an opt-out day with 100s of people creating massive lines, violation of our rights will continue to worsen. With the pace of implementation of the fast-track lanes by TSA, I think they are neutralizing the frequent flier complaints, and those are the airline's revenue generators.