Rightbloggers: TSA, Don't Touch Our Junk -- Profile Arabs Instead!
You can get some sense of conservative seriousness about the Constitution from the first big civil liberties issue since the election to inflame rightbloggers: the newly enhanced security screenings at airports, which sometimes involves the touching of junk.
The new procedures -- which involve full-body scanners that show travelers' parts in disturbing detail and, when a flyer opts not to be thus scanned, invasive pat-downs -- were inspired in part by the underpants bomber apprehended in-flight last December. You may recall rightbloggers were then outraged at the incompetence of the Obama Administration in not catching the guy before he boarded.
(When President Obama pointed this out -- and also said that he'd instructed the TSA, "You have to constantly refine and measure whether what we're doing is the only way to assure the American people's safety, and you also have to think through, are there ways of doing it that are less intrusive?" -- the video of his statement was circulated under headings like "Obama Tells Americans: Stop Complaining About The TSA, Get in Line and Get Molested Like Everyone Else.")
There had been complaints about the system before the recent incidents. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the ACLU, among others, have been on the TSA's case about invasive searches for years, and were early critics of the new system.
But the firestorm was really set when traveller John Tyner threatened a TSA screener with arrest if he managed to "touch his junk" during a pat-down, and recorded the incident with his phone. The TSA (which seems to have become very pro-active about defending itself in such cases) made things worse by announcing an investigation of Tyner.
As you might expect, a lot of liberals don't approve of this stuff either. Prominent leftblogger Jane Hamsher said "it's the TSA that should be investigated, not Tyner." Jen Phillips of Mother Jones approved of "public backlash to the 'submit or we'll grope you' policy," while pointing out that "for years, women have complained about agents copping a feel." And members of the New York City Council, not the most conservative deliberative body in existence, are trying to ban the scanners in their jurisdiction.
But the rightbloggers have been particularly vociferous, not to mention focused on the money shot:
The back-up system.
"DON'T TOUCH ME THERE, YOU FREAK!" "Keep your filthy mitts off of me." "... your wife, teenage daughter and elderly mother are having their breasts and genitals groped..." "OMG... TSA Forces Woman to Cut Off Her Nipple Rings With Pliers (Video)" (Further down: "This happened before the new TSA groping procedures.") "TSA=Total Sexual Assault." And, our favorite: "TSA Sexual Assault Leaves Cancer Survivor Covered In Urine."
It's as if they'd been saving up all their civil-liberties outrage for years, until the junk-touching government agents unleashed it.
That isn't exactly true, of course. Rightbloggers have complained about breaches of civil rights at the airport before. For example, at RedState (which has been all over the enhanced TSA security case), author Nikitas3 complained in May that "Whites are Profiled at Airports."
That is, "airport screeners do not want to be seen as profiling Muslims," said Nikitas3, and thus were "focusing equally on the huge law-abiding majority -- like white people, including businessmen, college girls or caucasian grandmothers in wheelchairs -- as it does on the tiny minority of dark-skinned, Middle Eastern males speaking in Arabic accents in their 20s and 30s... Americans now are being told that full-body scanners are the only way to keep air travel safe, when in fact racial profiling is a vastly more effective way."
This has become a popular rightblogger (and right-wing in general) alternative to enhanced screenings.