For all the controversy surrounding these advanced body scanners at airports, I have yet to see a good naked picture of any hapless air-traveler. The one I’m displaying here, a bald woman wearing necklace, earrings and .40 caliber Sig Sauer, is not quite as titillating as one would hope. Other body-scanner pictures posted on the Web show a lot of generally overweight people who, beneath their fancy clothes, appear to be made of polyester filling. When people call these things “nude scanners,” that’s just a cruel tease.
When I think of nude scanners, I harken back to a 1963 movie starring Ray Milland: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes. This movie had quite an effect on me as a 12-year-old, since at one point Ray Milland’s special eye drops enable him to see through walls and — more importantly — women’s clothing. When he goes to a cocktail party, it’s like everyone’s walking around in the buff. Of course he can’t leave well enough alone, and keeps experimenting with the eye drops until he’s seeing through the skin to the skeleton, and finally through the fabric of reality itself — much less interesting than the naked ladies.
If the TSA had scanners as good as Ray Milland’s eyes, then yes: I guess it would be an incremental invasion of privacy, further degrading those of us who already half-disrobe when we go through security to avoid setting off the buzzer. On the other hand, the possibility of checking out some buff bodies might help some of them remain alert through the busy holiday season.
As it is, the TSA’s expensive, refrigerator-sized machines don’t see all that much. But they’re being added to the already daunting gauntlet of groping, latexed hands so that travelers may eventually become accustomed to the idea of flying naked — which is really the holy grail for airport security. After all, we’re not looking for guns and knives now, but for some stone-cold jihadist with Semtex crammed into his buttocks. Against such a foe, dignity is overrated. Shed those clothes and spread those cheeks, folks. Strictly routine.