Note: Survey results hopefully early next week.
Warning: the following article may be uncomfortable reading for some.
Donna D’ Errico was famous as a ‘Baywatch Babe’ and for posing nude in Playboy. My wife will be glad to know that I haven’t seen her pics from Playboy, though based on articles last week by people who have, she had nothing left to hide. She also recently said that, after going through the latest and greatest of Barack and Janet’s TSA routine, she felt violated.
Some wonder how someone who’s posed for Playboy can feel violated by someone seeing them nude otherwise. This isn’t a lot unlike a prostitute being raped by a client or woman raped by her husband – it’s a matter of consent. D’Errico choosing to pose for playboy when she’s 25 doesn’t mean that she’ll be comfortable or not be violated when she is forced to pose nude when she’s 35 nor does her choice to have done so at one point in one situation in her life mean that she’s willing later or in another situation.
That D’Errico was apparently singled out for a nude-o-scope scan by TSA agents wasn’t surprising. There have been dozens of such reports in the past few weeks. There have also been numerous reports that women, more specifically, young, attractive women, have been ‘randomly’ chosen for the nude-o-scope at a much higher rate than others. This too is not surprising, though I’ve yet to see anything to substantiate it as fact.
Let’s take a look at a few things. Starting with men.
Men in the U.S. spend about $9 billion per year purchasing porn, $24 billion on prostitutes, and $2 billion in strip clubs. That averages to about $520 for every man every year. (This spending gets concentrated in to the middle years with a peak average of about $1,190 at age 42.)
But wait, there’s more. An estimated 95% of men look at porn at least occasionally, and that $9 billion they spend only accounts for about a tenth of it – most of it is free. Over 80% of men will make at least one visit to a prostitute in their life, and 50% will make at least 37 visits. And there are almost no demographic differences in these numbers. They’re the same regardless of wealth, career, religion, or lack thereof.
This all gets to the heart of two critical differences in men and women sexually. For men, the physical and emotional are pretty much completely separate. Physical enjoyment requires no emotional connection, thus why porn and prostitutes do it for men, but not for women. Second, men are extremely visually stimulated and have a huge desire for variety. Every time some guy with a hot wife gets caught with a hooker the women on The View get all worked up – not understanding how Elizabeth Hurley wasn’t good enough for Hugh Grant or Christie Brinkley wasn’t good enough for Peter whatever-his-name-is.
Your Lutheran or Baptist or whatever pastor, rabbi, imam, or priest, more likely than not, looks at porn and visits prostitutes. Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, and the few thousand other pastors, priests, rabbis’, and imams who’ve been arrested in prostitution stings in the past few years aren’t the only ones – they just got caught (and note that less than one-tenth of one percent of those involved in prostitution are ever arrested).
And it is never really satiated. There is no ‘getting used to it.’ No matter how much porn they view or how many times they visit prostitutes.
This is not to excuse any of this, but simply to help us all understand the average man. I don’t know why God made men this way, but it may well be one of my first questions for him if I get the chance.
Note: If your husband being monogamous is important to you, and he is, consider yourself extremely blessed. He’s a one-in-twenty rarity and achieving something that King David, Solomon, Abraham, Jacob, and most men in the Bible failed to achieve.
Now, put all of that on a shelf for safe keeping and let’s take a brief look at those who would become TSA screeners.
The qualification to work as a TSA screener, the folks who grope us, view our nude images, and are apparently responsible for our safety in the air, is a GED or equivalent. The job pays about $14.80 per hour, or about $31,000 per year.
I’m going to go out on a fairly solid limb and say that, on average, people with GED’s who earn $31,000 per year have less self control or self discipline than those who complete university or medical school or who earn higher wages. I know this because lack of self discipline is perhaps the number one reason people do not graduate from high school or university or earn higher wages. It’s most often not lack of intelligence or lack of opportunity or lack of good teachers or lack of anything else – it’s lack of discipline.
ADD moment: Interestingly, the leaders of many drug gangs actually have a fair amount of self discipline – the exact same self discipline that would allow them to be a good leader in a legal enterprise. Dealing drugs is simply a much easier industry to get in to. You can have a lot of self discipline and still lack morals or ethics.
The pay and qualifications for TSA screener and mall cop are very similar. A number of TSA agents actually are former mall cops, and vice-versa. Many TSA screeners and mall cops are also wanna-be real cops, but do not possess the self discipline to get the associates degree or go through the training or pass the tests to become a real cop.
This said, there are exceptions to every average. There are people with GED’s who have become successful CEO’s or great leaders and there are terrific, very disciplined people, teachers a great example, who earn lower than average (or deserved) wages. I know that there are also TSA agents who possess a great deal of self discipline and this is simply the only job available to them at the moment – we’re talking averages here, not ubiquity.
On the flip side, big prop’s to those who do choose to get a GED or work as a TSA agent rather than live off of welfare. Getting a GED and working a job are both credible and good things. But, just because someone gets a GED or works for TSA doesn’t mean that we should turn over our genitals to them or entrust them with nude images of our bodies, anymore than you should me or a politician or a barista.
Now, stick all of that up on the shelf for a bit.
Consider for a moment, TSA agents who’ve recently made the news; two busted for possession of child porn and one in Atlanta for rape, just an hour after he left work. Or, one of their bosses at DHS busted for soliciting kids online for sex. (Or the number who’ve been busted for stealing from travelers luggage.)
Unfortunately these issues aren’t unique to TSA agents. Cops, judges, dentists, politicians, priests, and others get busted for child porn, rape, and theft as well.
Cops are, by every measure I’ve found, the most corrupt, supposedly non-criminal, organization in existence. There’s a popular saying “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The number of cops prosecuted for murder, assault, theft, and other offenses is staggering.
Remember those prostitutes we talked about earlier and the difference in consenting to something or not? Prostitutes have sex with cops more than men of any other career – and not exactly by the sex worker’s willing consent. When a prostitute willingly has sex with someone for $300, that’s free choice, a bad choice perhaps, but still free. When a cop uses his badge to threaten arrest if she doesn’t give him a freebie – that’s not consent, it’s rape. Two recent studies, one by Freakonomics’ author Steven Leavitt, have indicated that a prostitute is more likely to be extorted by a cop for free sex than be arrested by one.
There are two important intertwined issues here. First, people who become cops, on average, posses greater self discipline than people who become TSA screeners. Even so, these cops are, by and large, a group who have an extremely difficult time remaining free of corruption and of restraining themselves to not take advantage of their authority for their own benefit. (And in reality, many of us might find difficulty restraining ourselves in similar situations.)
Second, consider the difference in a cop demanding a freebie from a prostitute in lieu of arrest and a TSA agent selecting Donna D’Errico to be forced to pose for a nude image for his buddy in the back room lest she not be allowed on a plane. Or the difference in that cop demanding a freebie from a prostitute and a cute 14-year-old girl being forced to provide a nude image of herself to a mall cop before proceeding.
When you read our U.S. Constitution something that will, hopefully, stand out to you is how much of it is devoted to restraint of authority. The writers of our Constitution understood the issue of corruption. They understood that extremely few people, if any, can withstand the temptations of authority and power.
Fortunately, we have also seen a number of laws enacted and court decisions made that clarify these constitutional restraints on authority or provide further restraint. Requiring Miranda warnings to those under arrest is one example, clarifying when a cop may search someone, their car, or house, is another.
We are all human. We are all limited in our ability to restrain ourselves. It is critical that we have and enforce laws and cultural norms that severely limit what people in power over us can do. Unfettered authority is far more dangerous to us than terrorists.
Add human frailty to that collection of stuff on the shelf and let’s quickly discuss those backscatter images.
“It’s same gender folk viewing my porn-o-scope images, isn’t it?”
The TSA originally said that it would always be same gender and published this widely. Before they even began the actual roll-out of the machines they changed the policy, but didn’t publish that very widely. Realistically, there is about an 80% chance that the person viewing your and everyone’s image is male. The vast majority of TSA employees are male, and in order to provide same-gender gropes, what females they have must be available at the checkpoint, not hidden in a back room.
“And, those images aren’t very realistic, are they? Like, you can’t really see anything, right?”
The TSA has purchased two types of machines; MMW (Millimeter Wave) and Backscatter x-ray. MMW machines use low frequency waves that are very likely less harmful than the radiation of the backscatter x-ray machines and that also produce an image that is less photo-realistic. The images produced by backscatter x-ray are photo-realistic.
The TSA folks ain’t dumb. The only images they have released and thus the only images ever shown, are from the MMW machines. They have refused to release ANY images from the backscatter machines.
Recently a backscatter image of a woman did began circulation. Other than the image being black and white, no imagination was necessary – from toes to labia to nipples to eyes. The image turned out to be a fake. Someone had apparently taken a color image of a completely nude young woman, made it black and white, and made a negative.
What was telling though is that it took the TSA 4 business days to analyze it and determine that it was not from one of their own machines. And this determination was not because the image was photo-realistic, or showed the girl’s genitals clearly and detailed – the reasons you would expect if their machines don’t do so. No, the determination came only after an independent website found the original image and talked about how the fakery had been done in Photoshop.
A judge once said “I know porn when I see it.” This image, that for at least four days the TSA thought could be from their same machines that they use to make images of you and me, would easily qualify as porn for many people in the U.S. It left nothing more to the imagination than Dona D’Ericco’s photo’s in Playboy. Most media refused to run it and instead just described it.
If this image were of an underage girl I don’t think it would be any different than the black and white photo’s by Sally Mann and Jock Sturgis that people protested against as child porn at Barnes and Noble a decade or so ago. The difference being that Mann’s and Sturgis’ subjects were naturists who were OK with their images and willingly, and along with their parents, gave their consent. Our courts were correct in saying that Mann’s and Sturgis’ works were not illegal, however, I think few of us would want our own children to appear nude in them. Or appear nude for some guy in the back room.
Now, let’s start putting everything together; male libido, average TSA hire, human frailty in the face of temptations and opportunity, and photo-realistic nude images of cute young boys, girls, and celebrities.
A man who is homosexual or bi-sexual is very unlikely to be able to restrain himself when groping another guy whom he finds attractive. He’s going to get off a bit, pause a bit longer than necessary, explore a bit more, grab with a bit firmer grip. Simple reality. No different than that the average heterosexual male would find it difficult to restrain himself if told to pat-down or grope a cute 16-year-old girl.
Or, take a guy who, if average, will spend about $500 this year on porn, prostitutes, and strip clubs, put him in a job where he and his buddies are paid to select people at random to take a nude photo of, give him unbridled authority to force this on people, and what do you think will happen?
Remember, male libido is an equal opportunity tormentor, it doesn’t discriminate based on career, income, or much of anything else. Self discipline isn’t though. Multiply any issues you think this might raise by these guys perhaps having a bit less self-discipline than average.
Many people who support the new TSA procedures say that doctors see people nude all of the time. Doctors I’ve talked to have also said that this sometimes takes an extreme level of self-discipline. Just consider how many hundreds of doctors have been convicted of inappropriate sexual stuff with their patients. I know of at least one ob-gyn who will not see patients under the age of 30, which does severely limit his income, because he is concerned about his ability to control himself. Now, just think about how much discipline it takes to get a medical degree, the consequences of losing their license for inappropriate sexual contact, and how often these extremely disciplined men still succumb to sexual temptation.
It takes considerably more discipline to become a doctor than to become a chiropractor. Based on a quick review of disciplinary actions, a chiropractor is much more likely to be disciplined for inappropriate sexual actions than a doctor. It takes more discipline to become a chiropractor than to become a TSA screener. What can we expect then of TSA screeners?
Might a TSA screener also think they have a much better chance of avoiding being caught by their victims than a doctor or chiropractor? What is the likelyhood that the former’s victims will suspect something compared to the latter’s who likely experienced some form of physical violation? And might a TSA screener have much less to risk compared to a doctor or chiropractor losing their license?
Is it at all reasonable to assume that these men viewing hundreds of nude images of us at the airport aren’t sexually excited in some way. That some guy isn’t going to find a way to sneak some images home? Maybe use his cell phone camera to make a copy of your naked self for his own enjoyment or to share with a few close friends – on the Internet.
Having women viewing these images would likely be better, but they wouldn’t be immune from temptation either. Just how much would Perez Hilton or TMZ pay for a photo-realistic nude image of Taylor Swift, Abigail Breslin, Chelsea Clinton, or John Kerry’s daughters that he’s so publically proclaimed available? How much would a porn site pay for nude pictures of your un-famous daughter? I can see the web banner now “Girls of the TSA!” or perhaps websites with airport specific pages “Girls of LAX”. I’m sure that the financial payout will be more than enough to overcome any potential punishment.
We couldn’t keep our most sensitive data from Wikileaks, and you think your nude images will remain secure?
One more time; male libido, average TSA hire, human frailty in the face of temptations and opportunity, and photo-realistic nude images of cute young boys, girls, and celebrities.
* A number of people raised similar concerns about women in the military. These concerns were largely shoved aside with responses that ‘military personnel are professionals.’ As of Jun 2010 approximately 37% of women in the military have reported being sexually assaulted or raped (93,000 just between 2002 and Jun 2010). The military’s psychological health organizations estimate that only about 20% of sexual assaults or rapes are ever even reported.