The San Diego pat-down incident

Is John Tyner the new Rosa Parks or just a guy looking for his 15 minutes of fame?

His story of his refusal to subject himself to a TSA search at the airport in San Diego, has been zipping across the Internet since the incident last Friday morning.

He writes on his blog that he thought San Diego had not yet deployed the new scanners, which some say are a bit too revealing for them. But when he got to the airport, he found the new scanners were in use and he refused.

After setting my things on a table, he turned to me and began to explain that he was going to do a “standard” pat down. (I thought to myself, “great, not one of those gropings like I’ve been reading about”.) After he described, the pat down, I realized that he intended to touch my groin. After he finished his description but before he started the pat down, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “if you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” He, a bit taken aback, informed me that he would have to involve his supervisor because of my comment.

He got his money back for the airline ticket and was leaving the airport when a security official said it would be against the law to start a security screening without finishing it, even though he’d given up his intention to fly.

He used his phone to tape the audio.

In a later post, Mr. Tyner denied he intended to pick a fight with the TSA, but the 3,000 comments on his blog certainly suggest that the airport screening area may be the next battleground in a fight against the long hand of the government.

Meanwhile, two large pilots unions are telling their members not to use the new full-body scanners.

  • Tyler

    If the a government agency is requiring me to either submit to a sexual assault or take a picture of me naked in order to travel state-to-state, I consider that a violation of the 4th Amendment. The TSA’s new “guidelines” are unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy.

  • Silas

    I’m flying with my children (4 and 6) in the next month. I’m wondering whether it’s better to let the government take naked pictures of them, or subject them to the enhanced pat down procedures. Both options are extremely unsettling.

  • Bonnie

    I am reminded of an experience at that airport, trying to get through security to return to MN with a girlfriend. It took forever to get her and her carryon bag through the checkpoint. They thought her CD player and headphones were a “whip” that could be a weapon…I’m absolutely serious.

    I hope we get good scientific information from the medical community about the scanning.

  • Ben Chorn

    Why are people so against the screenings? They are not taking “nude pictures” and the faces are all blurred.

    People wouldn’t be saying this if an airport was exploited for not requiring screenings and a bomb attack was successful.

    The bottom line is would you rather give up a small part of “privacy” and convenience or your safety and liberty?

    I feel like there needs to be more for checking baggage. I remember seeing something I believe on the Daily Show where a guest (forgot his name) had shown how he was able to fly with terroristic memorabilia in his baggage etc.

    I also remember last year a man in Montana being able to get through security only to realize he had forgotten about his handgun in the bag, (I believe it was in Bozeman).

    Do we need more security for flying? Absolutely.

    Are full body scanners the answer? Maybe, but most likely need to be paired with an increase check into the no-fly list and checked baggage inspections.

  • Frank Connor

    I totally agree with Ben Chorn. There is nothing indecent about the scanner images, unless someone’s got a thing for semi-nude-looking avatars.

    And I’m sorry, but nobody just happens to record a TSA encounter for the fun of it. Whatever Mr Tyner’s intentions may have been, he’s got to be relishing his new Internet fame.

    And it’s worth noting that the pilots’ associations are only discouraging their members from the body scans because of the inconclusive research on repeated exposure to the scanners’ type of radiation, not because of any Tea Party-style antics (ahem, Tyner) or motivations.

  • Mary

    I’m really hoping the backlash against this is big enough to actually keep these things from becoming standard.

    If the 1994 attack on the World Trade Center with a truck bomb had been successful, would we be searching everyone who wants to rent a truck?

    It’s not like there aren’t plenty of easier ways to kill a lot of people if someone is determined. Setting off a device in the security line of the airport could be pretty effective in itself…

    The additional “security” we get is not worth the sacrifice of our privacy and dignity.

  • Tyler

    The bottom line is would you rather give up a small part of “privacy” and convenience or your safety and liberty?

    I would lean towards the “safety” part, but the imaging systems don’t actually improve safety. The head of Israeli airline security has gone on the record saying that these systems (x-ray, backscatter) wouldn’t have caught the Underpants Bomber.

    I’m tired of giving my liberties. Ever since 9/11 and the Patriot Act, the rights and liberties guaranteed in the Constitution have been chipped away. I’d rather die in a terrorist attack than get frisked by a stranger with a high school diploma and a TSA badge. At least I can fight back against the terrorist.