Rebels without Revolution?

Hold on to your hats: i’m going to say something nice about a segment of american society!

The backlash against the TSA backscatter scanners (also known as ‘pornscanner’, etc) is really most lovely to see. Despite the dubious rallying calls (‘touch my junk and i’ll have you arrested!’) there are some pretty serious reasons for taking a stand against the imposition of these machines in the current security theatre.

In my mind the biggest of these is the legitimate concerns over the effects of ionising radiation. As highlighted by UCSF research staff, there are classes of people who should do what they can to avoid additional source of radiation, but perhaps more importantly, the long term effects of these machines is unknown. This is obvious, because they haven’t been studied over a long period of time.

If the process was being proposed in a truly civil usage (the TSA acts like it is conducting a counter-insurgency ¬†operation against the flying public) it’s unlikely that it would be approved for widespread use with such limited information. It probably helps that the suppliers of the machines are well connected.

However, and perhaps more worrying than any of the above, is the idea that unless these machines are extremely well maintained – to medical standards, they run the risk of delivering arbitrary doses of radiation. Imagine the lawsuits… actually, i think this line of reasoning is one of the problems with american society – if an individual sues a government agency it really doesn’t matter if they lose. The fine is paid out of government revenue (taxes), and in the event that an entity like Rapiscan is successfully sued, the profits will already have been disbursed to individuals, who can hide behind the corporate identity, never having to admit wrong-doing. In short, suing the government, or corporations, provides little incentive for individuals to behave well!

Despite the furor, the american public is still generally cowed and more afraid of taking a stand than they are of terror. Polling data says that some 80% are favour the use of the machines and think they make them safer. It seems unlikely that as the message about the safety of the machines, and the ineffectuality of all this ‘security theatre’ spreads the TSA will be forced to backdown. But at least there will have been some protest.

The UK is a much sadder case: an equivalent poll showed 90% support for scanning of all passengers. There is no opt out to request a pat down, and there was, apart for a few muslim women opting not to fly, no protest.¬†Guilty, as i am, for lambasting american society for silently accepting the prosecuting of wars, removal of rights, imposition of pointless and degrading laws, we british really don’t have a right to preach!

Powerdeath and buy your soul
With pennies in the god machine
Rebels without revolution
Fake messiah scheme
On the back of dead religion looking at me
Falsify the words of wisdom
There’s no wild tribe

Back to the crow back to the stoneage
See crowbaby
Back to the crow back to the stoneage
See crowbaby fly

— The March Violets, Crow Baby