"The Body" is Uncomfortable With People Touching His Body (Guest Post)

Post date: Jan 25, 2011 8:36:32 PM

First off, the balance of this post was written and submitted by John Bowen -- a first-year law student at the University of Illinois. John has an interesting point-of-view on this topic due to his years of work with the TSA. That, and the fact that he is currently studying law and probably finds this stuff intriguing and more fun than briefing cases. Anyway, without further delay, here is John's post:

Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota Governor and also ex-wrestler (known as 'The Body'), is suing the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security for allegedly violating his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. As most of you know, TSA is implementing new 'full-body scanners' in airports across the country that show the contours of the passenger's body, supposedly without ever allowing the screener to see faces or discern identities. It seems that these new machines have been accompanied by new procedures as well. When you set off the metal detector (Jesse Ventura always will because he has a metal hip replacement) you have to undergo additional screening. When I worked for TSA (less than a year ago) passengers had a choice between a full body pat-down or a handheld metal detector screening. According to this ARTICLE, it looks like when a passenger sets off the metal detector they have a choice between going through the body scanner, if available (78 airports), or some sort of new, potentially genital-touching pat-down. This new pat-down apparently involves the agent touching at least the inner thighs and buttocks. As a condition of this handsy interaction, the screener/groper promises to never call you back for a second date, which only adds to the awkwardness.

TSA seems to be constantly changing their screening procedures. Each time they get a little bit more invasive, and the public gets more outraged. It is now to the point where certain travelers, like Jesse Ventura and many others, will have to either be touched in private areas or submit to a body scanning that reveals, to some extent, these private areas to a stranger. Not to mention the potential health hazards that could be associated with the body imaging x-ray machines. Don't get me wrong, TSA has been touching people in private areas for a while. But as the group who is subjected grows, and as the issue gets more exposure (celebrities filing suits, YouTube videos, etc.), the pressure on a court, or Congress, to step-in seemingly increases. At some point, the intrusion into our personal space/dignity gets too far to simply rationalize it away with "we have to do this to fight terrorists." It will be interesting to see if this recent move by "The Body" does anything to stop "The Man."

(Editor's note: if anyone else out there is interested in guest posting -- entry has to be law-related, that's about it -- then feel free to contact me. I am particularly supportive of guest posts as it allows me to sit back and do nothing while new material advances my blog. The guest posters may be interested in this opportunity as a way to hone their writing craft while also becoming a published [internet] author (I'm looking at you, current law students).)