The TSA and 'Don't touch my junk'

Friday, November 19, 2010


Against the odds, 'Don’t touch my junk' has become a clarion call for frustrated air travelers weighing whether (or how) to buck the TSA’s increasingly invasive security protocol. What began as a cell phone video quickly became a web sensation, a cable news staple and possibly a day of action on the busiest travel day of the year. Micah Sifry, co-founder of, examines what it might mean when activism begins online.

Comments [25]

Masquai White from Raleigh

People just like being difficult and think they don't deserve the same treatment as other people. they have the pat downs for a reason and when u don't go through it and have to do the alternative don't complain about it; your the one who didn't want to go through with the pat down. stop thinking your too good for something then when you get treated wrongly complain about it. MAN UP!

Dec. 10 2010 10:20 AM
devin burch

it is very funny to me how people get mad over the smallest little things like this. I think this was very ignorant for him to act like that over a pat down.

Dec. 09 2010 09:06 AM
Asha B from Raleigh

I personally feel that he shouldn't have requested a pat down if he did not want to get patted down. I think it was an act of ignorance. If you don't want people touching you, just go through the metal detectors. I think the guy was stupid.

Dec. 08 2010 05:26 PM
Jeremy Washington

the man should have took the pat down. it a protocol for them to search your whole body. i understand that he was very personal about his "junk" but again it a protocol.

Dec. 03 2010 08:07 AM
Y'surya Siu from Raleigh, NC

I don't know why the man wanted to do a pat down procedure instead of using the scanners. If he really was smart and knew that they were going to touch his groin, he should've just use the scanners.

Dec. 03 2010 08:06 AM
Bacchus Grant

If he didn't want to be seen naked he should have just went with the pat down but instead he wanted to be picky and didn't want either. The scan is a very efficient way to prevent danger and he should have understood that. He was making himself seem a bit suspicious. He should have known that there was going to be some kind of check. I doubt that this was his first time riding on an airplane.

Dec. 01 2010 02:02 PM

I find it humorous how people bicker and complain about the smallest things. A pat down or X-Ray? Doesnt really matter to me as long as we continue to have both .. why ? because reasons like 9/11 is why people are scared to fly and rather have any & everything needed to secure their safety. Yes, you have the right to not be violated but wouldnt you much rather be safe ? .. find something else to complain over - because SECURITY is not the one.

Nov. 28 2010 07:38 PM

Personally i for one could care less of what the camera shows...I would rather risk embarrassment than someone hijacking any plane that im boarding. Obviously the government is doing their best to prevent terrorists and other threats to our airlines.

Nov. 27 2010 03:50 PM
Eyeheartfreedumb from Iowa

Instead of spending all of this money on body scanners and extra "junk" touchers, we as a nation could be putting that money into foreign intelligence to identify dangers and address them in the planning stages rather than trying to catch people who have explosives already on their persons in a crowded airport (while making sure that every law abiding citizen has no way to defend themselves because even their fingernail clippers and matches have been taken away).
Our government spends billions of dollars a year on intelligence gathering and counter-ops/psy-ops, not including the billions more spent on the basic military war machine. But our government can't keep us safe without seeing us naked or touching our private parts.

Nov. 26 2010 11:42 AM
Eyeheartfreedumb from Iowa

The thing that bothers me about all of this is the false equivalence that gets tossed around when discussing these tactics. The "no planes have been stolen or crashed since 9/11, therefore The PATRIOT ACT and other measures have worked" mindset is a dangerous one.
By that thinking, do we look at the time from 1993 (the WTC bombing) until 2001 and say "no terrorism, therefore Clinton's Anti-Terrorism Act worked"? No. We know it didn't work because 9/11 happened- - and it isn't like all of the planning for 9/11 happened after Clinton left office.
It's crazy to think that this round of stripped (no pun intended) liberties is going to be any more effective. The virtual strip search just infringes on the rights of (and irradiates) those who go through the proper channels... who follow the rules.

Nov. 26 2010 11:31 AM
Eyeheartfreedumb from Iowa

I'd be most interested in learning who makes the body scanners, and who that company makes political contributions to. This just seems like the Diebold problem from a few years ago.
The company makes so investments- - er, contributions- - to a few politicians, who then FIND a reason for the public to need that company's product.

It does seem like a small thing to endure, but the citizens of this country have given up so many civil liberties in recent years with zero safety gained in return. If the bother was something that made us absolutely safe it wouldn't be a big deal, but this doesn't protect us from any of the zany attempts at terrorism we've seen in the last ten years.
Heck, this wouldn't have even stopped 9/11 since none of the suspected terrorists were on any of the flight manifests under real or fake names (which means they somehow got around security and wouldn't have even been screened like the rest of us).

Nov. 26 2010 11:05 AM
Manuel Crespin

I actually watched the news yesterday and today about this guy who really wanted to create a movement around the country. This, " Don't touch my junk," personally doesn't seem like it will create a huge impact on anyone. I mean, like the audio said, the internet seemed to really create weak ties amongst the public. The internet alone doesn't create real protesting and activism. Although, the overall media will surely cover a topic that includes both sex and terrorism. This is a gold mine topic to journalists that could help spread the protest more than the internet. 81% of Americans said they prefer the scanner before being molested in public. Will this decrease in pat downs lead to upcoming terrorist acts? I believe this might turn more heads to fact that this is a possible scenario. The TSA has been doing a fine job with keeping our airlines safe thus far. I don't believe we need to change anything.

Nov. 26 2010 12:09 AM

@Janet - You're absolutely right that not all incidents are exaggerated, and there are insensitive people working for the TSA...just like they work for the Post Office and the corner Starbucks. People are people and some are better than others. It is a given that TSA is going to have its share of losers, and hopefully they are dealt with swiftly by their supervisors when a complaint is filed.

Objecting is one thing. There are channels for doing that. Provoking incidents that disrupt travel for everybody else, or even downright lying about incidents (as Libertarian Radio host Meg McClain did recently) is something else altogether. I suspect that is motivated less by a desire to improve things and more by self-aggrandizement combined with the desire to monkey-wrench The System on philosophical grounds.

I'm not sure exactly what is keeping us safe...I only know there have not been any terrorist events on US airlines in 9 years, so either that is just coincidence, or something is working.

Mostly, I just cannot and will never understand what people find so inconvenient and traumatizing about spending a few minutes going through security with their shoes off, or getting a body scan. To me it is certainly less annoying than getting my teeth cleaned. We have lost all sense of proportion when this is what riles us up to such great levels of anger and outrage. Life is too short to waste it being angry over a 10-second body scan.

Nov. 23 2010 04:27 PM

@TammyB -- It's probably true that most people go through airport security without incident. Most of the times I've been through security the process has been reasonably smooth and the TSA agents have acted professionally. But I have had a couple of very trying experiences going through security with my small daughter, any of which could have been avoided with a little more sensitivity from the TSA agents. I've also seen some extremely poor crowd control in the crush of people waiting to get through security. Some of the claims of mistreatment are probably exaggerated -- but not all of them.

If I thought these security measures were making us safer, I might not mind it so much. But they aren't -- they're security theater. Given that, I think it's reasonable to object to the invasion of privacy, not to mention the inconvenience.

Nov. 22 2010 07:36 PM

I wish the anti-government paranoid trolls invading this discussion space would get a grip: it's a 10-second inconvenience, not 1984 coming to fruition.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens on the big Opt Out Wednesday. Gee...will that 96% of the population who supposedly refuse to fly because of the TSA just abandon the airlines that day, and airports will be empty? Somehow I suspect not.

I'm sure however that a handful of malcontents who had no intention of flying in the first place will purchase tickets for the sole purpose of instigating a fight, which will be recorded for posterity and posted and reposted and discussed endlessly on cable news as if it is a real phenomenon.

My prediction: On Wednesday most normal people will just want to get to their destination and not make a federal case out of something so minor as a body scan. The malcontents will get their 15 minutes of fame.

Nov. 22 2010 03:48 PM
KadeKo from suburban New England

"Perhaps this has less to do with national security and more to do with job security for federal employees like the soon to be unionized TSA."

Or perhaps this has to do with the Blackwaters and Halliburtons trying to Astroturf a "grass roots" groundswell to privatize some of that sweet, sweet security theater money. We can expect no better from them than they've shown elsewhere.

Nov. 22 2010 02:55 PM
David Villa from Austin, TX

It doesn't matter if flying is a right or a privilege. It doesn't matter if it's the government who imposes this. The Fourth Amendment gives me assurance in any case to be secure in my person against unreasonable searches. If the search is unreasonable, then no one has the right to do it, no matter the occasion. That's if it's unreasonable, as I believe that this is.

I get that random searches can be fair, but the Constitution says nothing about fairness, uniformly distributed or otherwise. Exactly how does random search translate to probable cause? If there is no probable cause then the Fourth Amendment says that I have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches. Why is it okay for me to lose that right at the toss of a coin? How is the possibility of being unreasonably searched, no matter how unbiased or how remote, in any way a form of security? It's not, it's a scare tactic to keep us in line. Fear is exactly the opposite of security that the Bill of Rights provides.

Nov. 22 2010 01:52 AM
Robbin O

Regardless , whether you prefer a pat down or a X-Ray , the features are not put in place to do harm to anyone. If this new technology had been in place in 2001 maybe sept 11 could have been prevented. Flying some where is a privilege; you don't have to fly anywhere. The process takes less than a minute or two , so I feel as though if some one feels that 1 - 2 mins is too long, they should drive to their destination .

Nov. 21 2010 08:44 PM
Just a Thought

Perhaps this has less to do with national security and more to do with job security for federal employees like the soon to be unionized TSA. The Obama Administration has strong political alliances with federal unions. Could they be insisting on these more time consuming security procedures for the same reason they are suing Arizona for their security procedures? Political appeasement of their supporters rather than national security concerns?
Both the "shoe" and "underwear" terrorists flew in from Europe so all the pat-downs and scanning in the USA would have done nothing but keep federal workers employed however there are in fact thousands of undocumented people in Arizona.

Why else would "junk touching" be acceptable but asking for immigration papers be a violation if not for a political reasons? Thanks

Nov. 21 2010 12:27 PM
hmi from Brooklyn

The broadcast interview oddly treats the "opt-out" wave as if it were River City's indignation, ginned up by con-man Harold Hill singing "Trouble" in The Music Man. Instead, what the Internet has done is what it does best: spread information.

We now know that the safety claims about the full-body scanners are not airtight, that travel professionals (pilots) have determinedly and successfully elected to opt out, and that there is an increasing number of reports of overbearing, overreacting, incompetent TSA agents. And we also have learned that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that TSA screening has ever uncovered or stopped a single terrorist incident. Given that information, it would be odd to imagine that a protest would *not* arise.

Nov. 21 2010 10:24 AM

In your article titled " TSA patdown and dont touch my junk" , near the bottom you state that 81% of travelers approve of new TSA screening procedures and only 15% disapprove, this is false.
The poll you are referring to was conducted by CBS news telephone survey with only 1,137 participants and was conducted in May 2010 well before implementation of new procedures, this is still cited as propaganda on the TSA website.
A subsequent and 100 times larger poll conducted by CBS news shows that 86% disapprove to the point they would avoid flying because of TSA's new procedures, and only 7% approve. Another recent large sample reuters poll shows 97% opposed the TSA's new procedures.
Why are ABC news Nightline, USA today and MSNBC reporting such outdated and currently false facts with checking the source or conducting your own investigative journalism?
Reuters poll today:96% avoid flying due to TSA

Nov. 21 2010 04:49 AM

My husband has an implanted defibrillator which precludes his going through the metal detector. Therefore, if an airport lacks a body scanner he has to submit to a pat down. He has never been treated with anything other than courtesy and respect by TSA agents. It's not something he enjoys or would choose to do, but it's over in a couple of minutes and life's too short to get stressed about it. Maybe the realization that without the implanted defibrillator he'd be dead makes him more tolerant of such minor intrusions than say the fellow with the viral cellphone video who is turning this into a federal case.

I fly at least once a month, and must be living on a different planet than these other posters who are being so brutalized by the TSA. Are all these horrible things REALLY happening in airports on a regular basis or is this just urban folklore gone wild after one or two bad incidents out of millions of TSA encounters? Every barrel has a few bad apples, and my philosophy in life has always been if you go looking for trouble, you're probably going to find it.

Brook and Bob...please investigate whether this is widespread, or whether it's just yet another case of Internet Amplification.

Nov. 20 2010 08:20 PM

Israel's El Al uses no such extreme measures and has a spotless record. Mike Malloy is correct -- this is a money maker which is unnecessary. Only in an increasing police state paradigm can such action be discussed, yet alone enacted!

Nov. 20 2010 02:33 PM
Junk man

"People preferred the x-ray scanners to the pat downs"? They don't want either. The cowards protest will be when people stop traveling and coming to the USA.

Nov. 20 2010 11:16 AM
David Villa from Austin, TX

This viral incident seems to be based on principle, the man wishing not to be seen naked, but the news reports go further. TSA can require this invasion of privacy for a 13-year old, skirting the child pornography laws. And TSA already has a history. A woman who was arrested, strip searched and jailed for carrying apple sauce was vindicated a year later. Airport security required the 4-year old son of a New Jersey police officer on his way to Disney World to walk through the metal detector on his own without metallic leg braces, a feat the boy could not do. The videos show even more disturbing physical and mental trauma. There was a young girl screaming in objection to a pat-down (though not "enhanced") in her mom's arms but without her teddy-bear. A woman guilty of possession of contact lens solution suffered a concussion after being thrown midway across the room (into another traveler) and then having her head slammed into a table. IMO, merely a reform of TSA wouldn't go far enough.

Nov. 20 2010 04:20 AM

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