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Of peeping and goosing

I want to be vigilant about protecting our right not to be illegally searched.

I want to live by the admirable words of Ben Franklin, who said one who would choose security over freedom deserves neither.

Alas, I simply cannot find objectionable the notion that, in order to be permitted the privilege of airplane flight, I would walk into a device that would peer through my clothes and allow some federal official to gaze upon my person beneath the attire to determine whether I was harboring a bomb in my underpants.

For one thing, I have no intention of ever placing an explosive device anywhere on my person. I am supremely confident that I would emerge from this government peep with perfunctory and full permission to proceed to my gate unattended.

For another thing, I am not hiding anything under my clothes that is all that special or different from what others are keeping under theirs. Parts are parts.

You take me, Pamela Anderson and an azalea bush: Which two of these are most alike?

I understand, believe me, that certain arousals can occur owing to our subtle human differences. It has been my experience, though, that these tend to occur on occasions defined by mood and circumstance.

Lighting, location, context, attitude, subtleties that leave a tantalizing bit to the imagination — all of that comes into play.

Walking through a machine that checks my general body outline or yours for curious objects and then projects an image of this unclad outline to a remote government official — does that really do it for you?

The poor sap who spends his day looking at unclad image after unclad image — do you really think he’s discerning you from the hundreds before and the hundreds after?

People profess to be worried about the privacy of star actresses, most of whom probably have performed on the big silver screen in the altogether or the near-altogether.

I understand the artistic argument for movie nude scenes — that the nudity is relevant to the story and advances it. But I am hard-pressed to recall a single work of cinematic art in which the nakedness of any actor or actress was essential to my understanding of the probably poorly developed character or plot.

I do not believe, for example, that it was necessary for Halle Berry to drop the newspaper she was reading and, for a big pay bonus, reveal her bare breasts. The movie in which she did that was not generally served by her action. In fact, I remember absolutely nothing else about the film.

Stop for a moment and consider the professional field of gynecology, for heaven’s sake. Or colorectal medicine. Or any performance of a full physical examination.

If you want to be checked out physically, there are certain indignities to be endured. If you want to hop on an airplane, then there is a screen to stand in front of.

Given the choice, I would run from the doctor and jump on the plane.

Finally, the body screening would keep you from having your business touched by a federal government groper.

That is an entirely different issue. I do not like the idea and I’d wager the federal government groper does not much care for it either. I suppose I see the occasional need, but only as a last resort for those flunking the screening.

They say the next terrorist device may be prosthetic, in which case government officials may need to feel of passengers’ body parts to determine whether they are real.

I am holding out hope for a prosthetic-detection technology that would attach to these machines that already see through our clothes.

Otherwise, we might just have to take our chances on getting blown up by fake parts.

To conclude: I’m all right with the peeping, but not so much on getting goosed.

John Brummett is an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and author of “High Wire,” a book about Bill Clinton’s first year as president. His e-mail address is jbrummett@ arkansasnews.com.

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