If there was any doubt about the abject inadequacy of the conservative psyche to face modern life, the airport scanner controversy should erase it forever. It seems puritanism, hypocrisy, repression, libertarianism, and ‘privacy’ paranoia are poised to have a panting, wild, screaming gang-bang in a microwave backscatter machine. Certain to be unsated by their preliminary romp, next they’ll move the party to the courtroom, where they’ll make lurid allegations of security screeners masturbating in back rooms to video feeds of ‘child porn!!’ You think I’m kidding.
Is there anyone alive over the age of ten who doesn’t know what a naked human body looks like? Is there any child who hasn’t nursed at their mother’s breast, or who doesn’t see their mother or father naked at some point as a normal part of growing up? Even if they were formula-fed and lived with parents who wore burqas 24/7, their isolation from nudity will quickly end as soon as they get near a computer with an internet connection. (Parental filters are the worst joke of all, since your ten-year-old is likely to know more about the computer than you do). That aside, it takes only the slightest exercise of imagination to mentally undress anyone standing in front of you. Trust me. Or you can get the iPhone app.
The conservative problem with nudity is all in their minds–their dirty, repressed minds. Don’t think just because they’re prudes, they’re not mentally undressing people, too. Even moreso. But liberals who are comfortable with their own bodies and their own sexuality just don’t care. They also don’t imagine everyone is a rapist or a pedophile. People who are used to nudity also seem to be more comfortable admitting what the rest of society tries to pretend to hide: we are all sexual animals. Even so, they don’t pathologize the most common mammalian activity like prudes do, warping every proclivity–indeed every stolen glance or flicker of skin–into something morbid.
Maybe I’m just one of the lucky few who understands. See, I’ve had the experience of being naked in a room of at least 500 naked men and women where there was nothing at all sexual going on. (Don’t ask–I really don’t care if you believe me, or to elaborate further). After about two minutes, the novelty and nervousness wore off, and everyone completely forgot they weren’t wearing clothes. There was no leering, pointing, or jeering. They acted just like they would have at any normal social gathering. I say this to illustrate the absurdity of the common reaction to nudity–not to suggest we all walk around that way. I’m not a philosophical naturist, but I find people’s typical revulsion over exposed flesh (especially curvy, hairy, or mature flesh) to be an expression of self-loathing that is profoundly demeaning to the human race.
Enter airport scanners.
So now we have tea-party conservatives, who go apoplectic over the slightest hint of a homeland security breach, lining up to oppose the machines. In their wildest drug-fueled pipe dream, could anyone come up with a more ironic contradiction? These right-wing nutjobs are a brutal self-parody. Their brittle, can’t-help-themselves, prejudice-addled and hamstrung minds go into blue-screen crash-of-death over the free world’s necessary response to an enemy that’s about to resort to body-cavity bombs.
That’s where we are in 2010, folks. I’m as bummed out about it as anyone. I realize that the same scanners which detect explosives can detect other contraband that I simply don’t think should be illegal. I also realize that some people walk around with sex toys or other “embarrassing” things under their clothes. They might want to rethink that practice on travel days. Sorry, defenders of “civil liberties” are going to lose this round. If we want to fly, we are going to have to get naked in front of a guy in the back room who will examine our electronically exposed corpus for weapons of mass-murder. Get used to it.
After all, don’t you remember the spaceport scanning scene in Total Recall where travelers were x-rayed down to their skeleton? We’re not quite there yet. But closer than you think. All it will take is an airliner getting downed by some loser with a giant butt-plug filled with PETN. (Now that’s a sentence, right?) I realize this stretches human oddity to the breaking point–but truth is stranger than fiction. Once we can search body cavities, the next step is surgically implanted explosives. Then we really will need to scan down to the bone–possibly with MRI, fluoroscopes, mass spectrometers, or some other as-yet undeveloped technique. Sometimes sci-fi is pretty damned prescient.
Look at the bright side: once the technology gets better, the lines should move a lot faster.