TSA Opt-Out Day, Now with a Superfantastic New Twist!

November 24th, as many of you already know, is National Opt-Out Day, when airline passengers should refuse to submit themselves to those privacy-invading, genital-picture-taking, radiation-delivering back-scatter imaging machines now installed at many American airports. By telling the TSA agents in charge that you "opt-out" out of the back-scatter (at which point, the TSA agents, if my experience is typical, will yell, "We got an opt-out!," causing everyone standing on the TSA Checkpoint Coiled Line of Death to look at you funny), you will be subjecting yourself to a fairly thorough frisking, as detailed in this post. But I believe that opting-out saves you exposure to radiation, and allows a federal government employee to share in your humiliation (while on the one hand -- or in both hands, as the case may be -- your genitals are being groped by a low-paid federal government employee, it is no great pleasure -- and certainly no elevating spiritual experience -- to be the one who frisks people's crotches in an airport, which is why I hope National Opt-Out Day causes hardworking TSA employees to tell their bosses, "Enough.")

By the way, it is the official position of Goldblog that everyday is opt-out day. There's no need to wait until November 24th. But come November 24th, here's an idea you might try to make the day extra-special. It's a one-word idea: Kilts. Think about it -- if you're a male, and you want to bollix-up the nonsensical airport security-industrial complex, one way to do so would be to wear a kilt. If nothing else, this will cause TSA employees to throw up their hands in disgust. If you want to go the extra extra mile, I suggest commando-style kilt-wearing. While it is probably illegal to fly without pants, I can't imagine that it's illegal to fly without underpants.  I If you are Scottish, or part Scottish, or know someone who is Scottish, or eat Scottish salmon, or enjoy Scotch, or have a vestigial affection for "Braveheart" despite Mel Gibson, you can plausibly claim some sort of multicultural diversity privilege -- the term "True Scotsman" refers to soldiers who honor their tradition and heritage by wearing kilts without drawers underneath. (This photo illustrates the possible consequences of the "True Scotsman" kilt-wearing very well.) 

I nominate Jim Fallows to try this first. Not only is he one of the greatest living Americans and an ardent foe of TSA idiocy, but he is actually of bona fide Scottish descent. I look forward to filming his adventures at Reagan National.  

For those of you who don't have kilts in your closets (or wherever one keeps kilts), you can get one here or here. So put on a kilt, and strike a blow against stupidity!

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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