You Get What You Deserve If You Pat Me
When my wife and I went jetting off (who says THAT anymore?) to Las Vegas a few weeks ago, we were prepared.
We'd heard of people tangles at the airports, long lines of cud-chewing businesspersons waiting in security lines designed by the same guys who drew the pencil sketches for Stalin's gulag.
It wasn't that bad. Belt off. Shoes off. Pockets empty. Bags on conveyor belt. As reporters, we do most of that every time we go to the courthouse to cover a trial.
OK. So a can of beer was $7 on the plane, and they wouldn't take cash, and a security guard did make my wife throw away her Gatorade, but he was nice about it — and that stuff's pretty cheap anyway.
Now, of course, breaks the storm about inappropriate patting down and revealing body scans, horrors answered by a flop of an Internet protest. If the government IS plotting to enslave us all, and this protest shows how tough the resistance is going to be, get ready for slavery.
I've been giving the inappropriate pat-down, body-scan thing a bit of thought lately, and the first thing I thought was that I'm a 53-year-old man with a beer gut, a few scars and a lot of hair. Anyone who leers at my body deserves anything he or she sees.
That's why I walk around our second floor apartment naked, window shades up, when my wife isn't home to stop me. Anybody who gets one look isn't coming back for a re-peek.
What I mostly thought about, in and out of the airport security line, was what a lousy job the security people have. Yeah, the pay is OK if you need work, but other than that, the job's a sentence.
Stand in one spot. Wear ill-fitting uniform. Answer the same questions over and over. How many gahillion times do you have to tell someone like my wife that she can't take her Gatorade on the plane? My wife was nice about it, too, and I'll bet a lot of people aren't.
Sometimes, and it happens more every year since he died, I can hear my father's voice in my head, giving me his opinion on something.
My father was a fiercely non-nostalgic World War II veteran who had been in combat. He threw away all his uniforms, never joined a veterans organization and, while he said he did the right thing by going to war, believed all veterans benefits should be reserved for men who volunteered. He had been drafted.
"They had to come get me," he used to say. "And I was scared to death the whole time. I thought I was going to die. Let 'em give the benefits to the guys who wanted to go."
But that wasn't what I heard my father's voice saying as I contemplated pat-downs and body scans.
"Ever sleep in a room with 50 other guys?" I could hear him saying. "Ever get deloused with a hundred other guys? Ever get a venereal disease inspection outdoors, in line with 200 other guys because they didn't want you bringing anything home with you?"
Although he hadn't had a good war, Pop believed in the draft as a leveler.
"If you're the kind of kid who's raised to think you're 'special,' the Army'll knock that out of you in a couple weeks," he used to say.
We're all "special" now, and the draft ended just about the time I was eligible. I did not volunteer in homage to my pop, a reluctant, clear-hindsighted warrior.
But I think he might have been right about the draft, and I feel bad for the security guards, who have to look at naked outline after naked outline in the world's most obese nation. Are there perverts among those security guards? You bet. There are perverts working as grade-school janitors, too.
Shared self-sacrifice is as popular in America as candor is in Congress. Hell, they couldn't even get a bunch of Internet-grazing blogomaniacs to share the self-sacrifice of asking for a pat down, not even to preserve freedom.
It's going to be a long war.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com
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