08 Nov 2013

I Was Wrong on “Opting Out”

Big Brother 88 Comments

Even though complaining about the TSA is the new libertarian pastime, I had never gotten that worked up about it. Of course, I agreed with the intellectual arguments that the TSA and their policies were a horrendous violation of liberty that didn’t make us safer. But since I personally travel a lot for business, I took the road more traveled and went through the scanners. I even made a naughty joke about it to get fellow libertarians to cut me some slack.

I was wrong. Everybody should be opting out as a matter of principle.

I realized this when coming back from my recent trip to Galt’s Gulch in Chile. Since we were both performers at the event, musician Jordan Page and I happened to be on the same return flight. Jordan is, shall we say, quite vocal with his views. (For example, his guitar case has a sticker that says, “FLUORIDE IS POISON: Read the back of your toothpaste.”)

Anyway, Jordan was clearly opting out. I had never done it, so I asked him stupid questions like, “When do I actually tell them I want to opt out?”

I was amazed at what happened. Before we had given any indication of hostility, we were waiting in the line to the side to be patted down. The TSA guy working the scanner said, “You guys are opting out?” We said yes. He answered, “Good luck,” implying that we were doing something foolish. He then said, “C’mon guys through this, I got a two for one special!” Jordan said something like, “No thanks, I prefer liberty to tyranny.” The guy got really mad and said, “That’s not funny.”

Some of the TSA employees were sympathetic, letting us know it might be a few minutes before we could get patted down. But others were snippy. For example, I was standing exactly where the first guy had told me to wait, and then another employee needed me to step aside to get through the swinging door. She said something like, “Excuse me, but I need to, you know, go to work?” As if I were inconveniencing her with my selfishness.

The patdown itself was PG-13 bordering on R-rated, but it was an older guy who announced everything he was about to do and was clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation. (Unlike Jordan’s snarkiness, I was using the strategy of extreme politeness in the situation. I think both approaches have their pros and cons.) After it was over, Jordan congratulated me quite publicly, and then told me, “I’m so proud of you. You popped your TSA cherry.” (By the way, he gave me permission to blog all of this.)

Jordan then said, “Yes, this takes more time and is even more intrusive than the scanner. But if everybody walks through the scanner, then they win.” I now agree with him, and from now on will try to get to the airport with plenty of time to make sure I can opt out without missing my flight.

If you have never done it, I encourage you to get to the airport early and opt out at least once. Be completely courteous about it. The government claims it’s not forcing anyone to get the possibly harmful and embarrassing body scans. See whether they live up to that in practice, or if you get the sense that they are very disdainful of people who exercise what–we are told–is our option.

If everybody who objects to the TSA opts out, it would force the government’s hand to either discontinue the scanning or to drop the farce that it is “voluntary.” That’s why I will be opting out as much as possible in my future traveling.

88 Responses to “I Was Wrong on “Opting Out””

  1. Personal Bubble says:

    I would be incredibly uncomfortable to be felt up by a stranger. Everytime that I fly, I fear I’m going to get a random pat down screening (happened to my coworker on our last flight, I’m sure she would have also described it as PG13 to R Rated), and that I’d end up in tears if not convulsions. Not a great way to start a business trip or a vacation.

    • AyanamiRei says:

      The problem with this…is that they can see more with the Body Scanners. Also the Body Scanners can and will save images. Furthermore the so called protection screenings, can easily be taken off if so desired. In fact there’s been cases of TSA agents masterbating to said images.

    • Rusty says:

      The funny part is, you can go through the 3D full scanner and still be selected for “additional pat down” which is the same pat down you get by opting out (I know, it happened to my Mom). Also this happens quite often. You may as well “opt out” as this article suggests for all reasons mentioned above.

    • Amy Alkon says:

      It is awful — very uncomfortable, terribly upsetting, and I always, always opt out, and for the reasons stated above.

      The TSA searches are an administrative end run around the Constitution. These are unskilled workers who couldn’t find Bin Laden if he walked up and whistled at them.

      If you value our civil liberties, you’d better stand up for them. It is all of you who silently and politely go through the scanner and never say a peep to the TSA workers taking money to violate our civil liberties that make this — and other rights violations possible.

      All hail to you two for opting out.

      My op-ed on the subject is here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/tsa-335352-agent-rights.html

      Hope you don’t mind me posting the link. Please just delete the link and leave the comment if the link isn’t okay with you.

  2. Dan (DD5) says:

    I opted out at Newark Airport a few months ago and I was actually surprised on how intrusive it really was. The first thing that went through my head was what must a victim of previous sexual assault/rape must feel while going through this and how this can potentially trigger a traumatic flashback.

  3. Wheylous says:

    Every time I’ve opted out they’ve been fairly courteous about it – no snark. Then again, these people were so disinterested and apathetic that I don’t think they had the energy to make any remarks.

  4. Gamble says:

    I know a guy who hates fluoride. He loves Mountain Dew.

  5. Gamble says:

    The year 2010, I flew out of my home State 35 times. Road warrior extraordinaire.

    Since September 11, 2011 I have flown ZERO times.

    • Gamble says:

      Well geesh I got my dates all screwy. I guess it would have been the year 2000 and a few previous that I was flying all the time. Hated that job.

      Guess 2001/09/11 gave me an excuse, I have not flown since. Until American flight is no longer Nationalized I simply won’t do it.

  6. Major_Freedom says:

    Way to go Murphy!


    “Jordan said something like, “No thanks, I prefer liberty to tyranny.” The guy got really mad and said, “That’s not funny.”

    He’s damn right it isn’t funny.

    Like Ron Paul said, governmental domestic policy is strongly influenced by its foreign policy. If it weren’t for that government’s war mongering around the world, those in control wouldn’t be so afraid of people airplanes being used as missiles against them. We are being victimized because they can’t stop creating radicalized victims overseas.

    I’d rather have expensive oil than war.

  7. Brian M says:

    My daughter was present when I opted out. I loudly told my wife to turn her around during the patdown because I didn’t want her to think that what they were doing to her daddy was acceptable behavior in a free society.

  8. Susan says:

    TSA wins if you fly. Period. If you fly, and you let them put their hands all over you, you give them a reason to be there collecting a paycheck. And the airline, which doesn’t care two cents about your civil rights, got your money. If you fly, you lose.

    • Gamble says:

      In a way, they win if there agenda is to save the environment and or to simply control the behavior of others, although I do agree with you. Stop flying, period.

      Even without TSA, air travel is a highly regulated industry. Not to mention the decades of capital intervention.

      • Tel says:

        I understand they are bringing in TSA for bus rides as well.

        • Anonymous says:

          The encroaching police state wants to grope everyone. Or XRay them.

      • Gail says:

        I have been asked by a friend to help drive her to FL, but I am more petrified of the TSA and opting out than I am of flying. I have not flown since before 9/11.

        Do you know if there are TSA for trains?

    • Lily says:

      If I don’t fly, I don’t see my family, and I lose. I’d rather opt out.

      • Susan says:

        Lily, I have sacrificed trips to my family. There is phone, Skype, and letters. When you fly you think you win the battle but you ultimately lose the war. By doing so you say its okay for TSA to put their hands on small children or take invasive images and violate the privacy of the body of somebody with medical devices, surgery scars, and so forth.

        Because people won’t sacrifice their own desire to travel even for a few months, TSA has been allowed to get away with crimes that would get anybody else arrested. Had everybody stopped voluntary travel 3 years ago for just a few months (when the invasive screening policies were put in place), it would have made a tremendous difference and we wouldn’t be facing this today.

        Gail, TSA has moved to train stations, bus terminals, and entertainment venues like football stadiums. Practically no travel hub is immune to TSA’s presence.

    • Doug says:

      Natl Assn of Airline Passengers: I refuse to give up my right to travel by air or any other convenient and lawful means. I don’t like the pat down, but it’s better than meekly submitting to the body scanner.

      I use the pat down to let the screener know that he can lawfully refuse this duty, and that his boss may be subjecting him to sexual harassment by making him do this type of work. (TSA does have a manual on sexual harassment, and I’m not telling him anything that’s not in that manual). If you know anyone in TSA, push them to get their union to complain.

      Airlines don’t listen well to passengers, but they do listen to their stockholders. Buy a few shares of airline stock and complain to the shareholder relations department. Go to your congressman’s local office and complain each time you take a trip. Get involved with the party of your choice and make this an agenda item locally.

      It’s clear TSA wants to arm their people. Make sure to let your representatives know you want no money spent for this.

  9. Joel says:

    I agree, everyone should opt out. I rarely fly, but when I go through the screening I always look the agent in the eye. It forces them to acknowledge that I’m a person.

    • Rich says:


      a sociopath (aka at least some TSA agents) wouldn’t necessarily respond as you imagine to a direct engagement. Any agent who did would probably be traumatized by the human interaction, or more correctly, failure to interact in a positive way (because he would not like to lose his job by joining up with you and refusing to do it). The internal contradiction may eventually lead him to deal with the issue, and then again, he may deal with it in a less humane way.

      I think you are delusional to believe that appealing to the nature of these mutilated (psychologically damaged) people will lead to anything good. You still get searched and abused and you walk away thinking you’ve accomplished something? How american and how utterly senseless!


  10. Jeff says:

    Robert (and others),

    FREEDOM TO TRAVEL USA (http://fttusa.org) has actively fought the TSA’s unconstitutional scanners and criminal pat downs…our goal is to return to reasonable security of 2002 with shoes on, drinks allowed, no baggies, metal detector only for primary screening. As an experienced traveler, you are probably aware that “PreCheck” is just the opportunity to pay money to get the 2002 experience (almost). Fear of improbable events has eroded our American values and principles.

    If you check out our website, you will see that we presented oral arguments this April, 2013 in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. The .PDF briefs explain WHY all the scanners are unconstitutional and highlight that no scanner can IDENTIFY any objects detected – they are too broad in their search as a pat down is always required for anything DETECTED. In short, metal detectors detect metal…..scanners cannot detect just weapons, explosives, or incendiary devices.

    We think everyone should opt out , and file complaints at tsa.gov for inappropriate, criminal touching (all their pat downs would result in an arrest if you did it anywhere else, and police cannot do them without reasonable suspicion).

    Frankly, Osama Bin Laden has won, and the TSA continues his victory with the assault on Americans, especially those with medical issues as is well documented, from mastectomy patients to dying cancer victims.

    . I might add that no suicidal passenger on a US domestic flight has caused even 1 fatality in over 51 YEARS now. The RISK from passengers is less than one’s risk of driving to the airport.

    Robert, thanks for your blog and awareness of why the TSA has overstepped its mandate.

    • Gamble says:

      If there were rally suicidal zealots, bent on destruction and terror, there would be no way to stop them. They could drink the explosives.

      This terror thingy is all a scam.

      At the risk of false self incrimination, I can think of hundreds of ways to beat the system, not just TSA but every government safe guard. When is the last time you lit 20 gallons of gasoline on fire?

      If there were as many bad guys as they say, there would be nonstop mayhem.

  11. Jemave says:

    You should have refused the PatDown as well. There is no laws that gives TSA the authority to force anyone to pass through scanners or being patdown. Of course you have to prepare for enough time ahead of your flight. Just asked them to show you the law and if they are detaining you. You may volunteer to go through metal scanner as the old time. Tell them that you do not consent to anything they are trying on you and that they will be sued personally as you clearly stated that you do not consent and therefore they loose their corporate government protection.
    If all of us decide to do this at every airport and are willing to stand our ground, all this TSA BS will go away.
    But how many are still willing to stand to tyranny? I am curious what is the percentage. Anyone’s guess

    • NoThanks says:

      If you do this I doubt you will be flying. All the scanning and groping pass constitutionally because you do it voluntarily in order to fly. If you don’t want any of it feel free to drive. I personally will take the scanner (even though I prefer neither) as I’m not interested in being groped.

      • Gamble says:

        Can I establish, with private capital, an airport and commercial airline that does not hire TSA and or grope?

        • DocMerlin says:

          The government won’t send thugs against you if you get their permission first. There are a couple small airports that do that.

        • konst says:

          Yes I think you can.

        • Petie says:

          There are literally hundreds of small airports that do not require you to be groped by TSA. DayJet and Imaginair will sell you tickets between them.

          Or, invest $5,000 in getting a Private Pilot license; monthly payment on a small used plane is like a second car payment. Take your scissors, knives, food, drink, etc., etc. along.

  12. Gilbert says:

    Yup, no mercy.

  13. Robert says:

    I’ve never been through a rapescan, I have opted out each and every time (except when it was just a metal detector, there’s no harm in those).

    I’ve had surly bastards try and intimidate me, I’ve stood there with clenched fists, I’ve ALWAYS refused a private screening when asked “No that’s ok you do it out here where everyone can see”

    The majority of the Blue-shirted McDonalds wanna-be’s are embarrassed at having to go through this farce I think.

    Everyone should do it, at least those that haven’t seen the blue-gloved side of the government will get suitably outraged and work and vote to starve the beast.

  14. Giancarlo says:

    Isn’t this the fallacy of composition Mr. Murphy? I tell people I don’t vote because I know that my vote won’t matter, and they argue that if everyone did what I did, then no one would vote, yet clearly I cannot control their actions so my action has no effect on them. Is this not analogous?

  15. Lydia says:

    I am on the autism spectrum, so the thought of being touched against my will is particularly distressing no matter which angle it is approached from. The bottom line is that these measures are in violation of the 4th amendment, and I will not fly unless 1. I absolutely must and 2. I’m drugged up enough that I won’t have a complete meltdown if they choose to investigate me. But for the most part, I will seek alternatives, including private planes, before suffering the indignity that government has begun to foist upon us with increasing regularity and scope. At some point it is no less than the prelude to another Holocaust: and those who didn’t see it coming then will be the first to tell you to open your eyes and refuse to comply with injustice NOW.

  16. Glenda says:

    I haven’t flown for at least two years now. I have two hip replacements and therefore set off the alarms. I refuse to go through the scanners. I have shown my patient cards for the hip replacements and they have told me, “Put those away. Anyone could get a card like that.” If I can’t make the trip by driving, then I don’t go. Period.

    • Hope says:

      I had bilateral total knee replacements. Of course the metal detector alarm went off, so I had the most invasive pat down ever.

      The card issued by my surgeon means nothing to the TSA.
      There are still places I would like to visit but will never get to see. All because of the nonsense we put up with in the name of security is the norm. It does little to protect us. There are too many other ways a terrorist could strike.

  17. Anonymous says:

    All of you guys are a bunch of idiots

    • anonymous says:

      you must be a fascist shill.

  18. Samson Corwell says:

    “Fluoride is poison”? Oi.

    • anonymous says:

      yep. toxic waste that causes bone cancer, fluorosis, pitting in the teeth and a lowered IQ. It’s the main ingredient in Prozac and Hitler gave it to the holocaust prisoners in order to make them more compliant. Oi is right.

    • konst says:

      Read what it says on your toothpaste.

  19. Scott Lazarowitz says:

    If only there were an ObamaCare “Opt-out.”

  20. valueprax says:

    I have flown and opted out enough at this point that I am confident you could effectively shut down an entire “security checkpoint” at a busy airport with 20 people opting out at once. That is IF the TSA tried processing you on a first come, first served basis. Which I doubt they’d do in that instance. But if they did make that mistake, they’d have a riot on their hands. Air travelers are a pretty agitated bunch these days.

    I enjoy opting out from the standpoint of collecting amusing reactions from the TSA (I don’t like anything else about it and of course it’s a despicable nuisance.) One of my favorite reactions was the following:

    Me: I opt out.
    TSA guy: (smirks, looks stupidly at me for a few seconds)… you got a cell phone?
    Me: No, I put it in my bag.
    TSA guy: …cause your cell phone has worse radiation than this machine. So if you use a cell phone, you should be willing to use the machine.
    Me: (Is this guy EFFING serious right now? *Note* he was) Do you work this job by choice?
    TSA guy: Huh?
    Me: …cause if you work it by choice, then I suppose it means you enjoy giving people pat downs, which is kind of sick. But if you’re doing this because you have no better options, then I suppose you’d have a strong incentive to believe that the radiation source you stand around all day long isn’t harmful for your health and you’d want to deny any evidence to the contrary, right?
    TSA guy: (bug-eyed, stares at me for a bit, speaks into shoulder-mounted walkie-talkie) MALE ASSIST! I got an opt out and need a male assist!

    Another thing I like to do when going through TSA is imagine where these people were before they got these jobs. What fascinatingly productive activities were they engaged in last?

    I also find the wearing of simple bold-faced t-shirt slogans to be an excellent educational tool for fellow travelers and TSA personnel. Recommended messages: “OPT OUT”, “SECURITY THEATER”, “DOWN WITH THE REGIME”, etc.

    Finally, we all know Bob is a big fan of pacifism, might I also suggest trying passive-aggresivism? Once you opt out, try not saying a word to your assigned ball-juggler, especially if they try to make polite small talk with you about where you’re traveling to and why and other questions they shouldn’t ask that aren’t any of their business. Just stare at them with a neutral expression. Give them a good opportunity to question their choices.

    • Tel says:

      … cause your cell phone has worse radiation than this machine …

      Does the machine running on a battery the size of a book of paper matches… for a week without recharge? Because my cell phone does.

      • Ken B says:

        That’s why pillows are deadly and sarin is safe: size.

        • Tel says:

          Errr duh, radiation is energy and batteries contain energy, indeed the only energy coming out of your mobile phone is what was in the battery to begin with.

          Think about it… slowly.

          • Ken B says:

            Tel, you made a foolish argument, just accept it. The danger of radiation does not correspond to the size of the source. The radium tip on the end of the minute hand of my grandfather’s watch is more dangerous than my big screen tv or a nearby wireless tower.

            • Rick Hull says:

              Ken, who talked about danger? The original statement is of “worse” radiation. That can be taken many ways. To choose one and use it as weapon to make someone look foolish is… churlish at best.

              Do you really want to say that the harm potential of these scanning machines is less than that of a cell phone, full stop?

              Do you deny that the energy sources behind the two different devices may have any effect on the harm potential?

              • Ken B says:

                Rick, I made no claim about the safety of the machines at all. I have no information. But Tel introduced the sarcasm and churlishness by suggesting the claim about the cell phone was absurd because of the sizes. That’s a foolish argument.

              • Rick Hull says:

                Fair enough, but I think Tel has a legitimate, easily intelligible point, along the lines of the two questions I posed that you refused to answer. I’ll take your silence as No and No, noting that you agree with the thrust, if not the exact wording, of Tel’s argument.

  21. Susan says:

    Ironic that the author does not fully “go Galt.” When you fly, you lose. Period. When you allow a TSA agent to put his hands all over you, you give him a reason to be there and collect a paycheck. When you fly, the airline, which doesn’t give a rats ass about your civil liberties, gets your money. Win for TSA and the airlines, loss for civil liberties. Going Galt is very much about putting your money where your mouth is and spending it by your principles.

    • Richie says:

      I think you pretty much wrote the same exact thing above.

      • Susan says:

        Apologies for the multiple posts! Sometimes I am computer challenged and can’t tell if I’ve hit submit or not. 🙁

    • valueprax says:

      Ironic that you use the internet and live in the United States, like me. You lost. Period. Nice try attempting to out-Galt me, however.

  22. Claudia says:

    I opt out every time. As a woman, I have had courteous women TSA agents every time. (Perhaps 8 flights, I don’t fly frequently.). The first TSA agents where you have to state you wish to opt out, however, have sometimes been rude. One man wanted to argue with me, asking “do you use a microwave?” (Reply: “Actually sir, I do not use my microwave. I have health challenges that led to my deciding the radiation is not in my best interest.”). Then he asked, “do you use a cell phone?” (Reply: “I have a cell phone that is turned on when I go into town, approximately 4 times a month. Otherwise, it is turned off, as I have terrible rural cell service where I live.”). He obviously didn’t believe me. Their rudeness and scoffing will never cause me to submit, however.

    Freedom is at stake. Health is absolutely at stake.

  23. Tel says:

    Last time I was at an Australian airport, there is no opt out. Go through the scanner or go home.

    Now you understand why Australians are good at swimming.

  24. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    While it’s theoretically correct that everyone opting out would be a nightmare for the government, I’m taking the “rational self interest” approach to this one. I’d much prefer the scanner to being groped, so I’m picking the scanner. Is Murphy suggesting that I should be forced to sacrifice for some sort of “greater good?” What a communist!

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Is Murphy suggesting that I should be forced to sacrifice for some sort of “greater good?”

      I actually meant to make my post more nuanced, but I was hurried for time. I guess what I’m saying is that I was overrating the time lag (my main concern) and when I saw how much they were trying to discourage it, I reevaluated the benefit of more people opting out. But, especially for women, if a person is really disturbed by the patdowns then I have no problem with them going through the scanner.

      This issue is sort of like voting. I will no longer vote–on principle–but if people vote for a Libertarian candidate or something I don’t get all worked up and denounce them.

      • valueprax says:

        I was listening to an old EconTalk podcast with Russ Roberts and Don Boudreaux talking about public choice. The topic of voting came up and Russ Roberts said voting isn’t effective and “your vote doesn’t matter” but said he votes anyway. I really couldn’t figure that one out.

        The equivalent in this situation would seem to be something like, the radiation of the machines may be bad for me and I am against being scanned in principle because then “they win”, but I am going to go through the machine anyway instead of opting out.

        Not, “…but I prefer not to opt out because of X, which is of even higher value to me than this principle.” Just, “…but even though I think this way, I will behave in opposition to it.”

        • Ken B says:

          Did Boudreaux say voting was objectionable, or just useless? Because your analogy only works if he thinks voting odious. I bet he only thinks it makes no difference, because that’s what I heard him say once.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            Try living in Oregon where all voting is done by mail. It literally takes like one minute of your time. The “can’t be bothered” excuse doesn’t really apply.

  25. Judith says:

    I have always opted-out in domestic and foreign airports and have never found it to be an unpleasant experience. It’s rarely taken a long time waiting for a female TSA agent to appear. At O’Hare in Chicago this year, I was asked why I wouldn’t go through the full body scanner like everyone else because, after all, these weren’t the “old scanners; they were the “new” machines so they were now safe. Isn/t that admitting the “old” ones weren’t?!?!? t always sympathize with the screener by asking them about their day, saying I know it’s a lousy job with undoubtedly wages that are too low, how many people opt out on a given day (way too few!), etc. They have always warned me of the coming pat-down in great detail and then went onto as described above. PG-13 touching. I always request it be done in public right then and there so others see there is NOTHING to be worried about except the violation of our 4th Amendment rights! BEST OF ALL … most of the time, they will ask which belongings on the screening belt are yours, take them from there, and move them to a separate table. After the pat-down and drug-testing of the gloves they’ve worn, I am then allowed to put back on my shoes and assemble all my items from the bins at my leisure instead of being rushed by people in the que trying to rush. Far more relaxing procedure when traveling than knowingly being part of the mass acceptance of Constitutional violations and blind submission to unjust/illegal systematic orders.

    • Barbara says:

      Your post is encouraging, so thanks for that.
      I am a foreigner living temporarily in the USA for work, and I travel abroad 2-3 times a year. I have always known the scanners are not safe, but being a foreigner I am scared of giving them any reason to treat me like a second class person for not being a citizen or resident, so I swallow what I know and go through the scanners every time….

      I am traveling to Europe again next week and I am determined to ask for a pat down. I sincerely hope TSA will not make it a terrible experience. I do not mind the pat-down itself, many times they’ve set me aside anyway to do it if I have a necklace or earrings on that make the metal scanner ring…I am more scared of them bothering me about it or interview me about my reasons, etc.

  26. Kitty_T says:

    I opt out every single time. Generally, the TSA agents have been polite and professional about it – frankly, having stuff stolen out of my bags on the conveyor has been a bigger problem.

    Once, the (very) young woman performing my government sanctioned molestation asked why I opted out – did I think the machines were unsafe? I replied that their safety was irrelevant, I believed the government didn’t have the right to subject me to these types of searches and, while I had to travel, I had no intention of making it easier for anyone to violate my civil rights. She appeared never to have heard such an idea in her life, and asked where I’d gotten the idea that the government didn’t have the right to scan me. By this time our little back and forth was attracting a small audience among travelers, so I told her about this nifty thing called the bill of rights in the constitution, and entire political movements of people, including libertarians among others, who didn’t think we should meekly expose our privates, obey orders or otherwise do whatever we were told by a government that doesn’t want us questioning their authority to force us to do things. She thought about it as she handed me back my explosive free stuff, and said she needed to Google the matter. I certainly hope she did.

  27. whamprod says:

    I simply don’t fly anymore. Fuck ’em. There is no place I have to be in the 48 contiguous states that I can’t take a couple of days to drive to. And I won’t even spend a penny of my dollars in any state where my right to self defense with a firearm is restricted in any way whatsoever. I don’t regard those states as part of my country, and they can all go to hell.

    • Skinny Mulligan says:

      I also only travel in free states by car and I will not fly unless the tsa is on permanent vacation!

  28. LEE says:

    I am a female ,when I have to fly I wear my one piece speedo swim suit under my clothes, strip to my swim suit and opt out in my swim suit

    There is less for them to touch. I always stay in public . It becomes a lesson to other people people who watch as well. Some give me a thumbs up , some dont understand.

    I have had some rude TSA agents.. I had one woman TSA YELL at me to get dressed– she thought she could intimidate me. She didn’t. I had a very young man TSA agent look at me and tell me I couldn’t do that… I said yes I can.. He YELLED … SUPERVISOR!! The supervisor said whats wrong , I said nothing I just want a pat down.. he said oh ok, no problem and it was done by a very polite young woman who gave the speech which includes touching all the body parts.. but I said you dont have to do that because I am not covered there and she said yes that is correct.. She felt my tummy, and swipe under the breast and nothing else.

  29. RhinoTX says:

    I WILL NOT go through the scanners. As a pilot, I am well aware that the TSA is a feel-good organization anyway that is in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States, and the Second and Fourth Amendments of the Bill of Rights in particular. I opt out every time and am courteous and respectful despite my belief that the TSA employees are in treason against their oath (if they take one).
    You are right. Every one of us should opt out AND tell their leaders to stop this un-Constitutional madness. To me, this isn’t about guns, safety, or terrorism prevention. This is about conditioning that it is OK for the government to break their own rules “for your good.”
    If a particular airline wanted to have a truly PRIVATELY owned security service screen its’ passengers, I would be be 100% OK with it since I am making a contract with them to provide me with a service. If the US government, which has a contract to serve the people that it represents ignores it’s contractual and moral obligations, then it is rapidly becoming deserving of the treatment that King George got from the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence. As Patrick Henry said, “”Caesar had his Brutus – Charles the first, his Cromwell – and George the third…”

  30. Enopoletus Harding says:

    Airport security has grown ever more paranoid in the past decade. I almost never fly to get to locations in the continental U.S., but when I fly for overseas trips, I simply accept the scanners -they’re quicker than pat-downs and I never want to make my airport experience any more stressful than it is required to be.

    FLUORIDE IS POISON: Read the back of your toothpaste.

    -Seriously?!? The dose makes the poison.

  31. Dave Henchen says:

    The first time I decided to opt out I was ready for a big confrontation. I did not want to take my two year old son through those things and was ready to stand my ground. To my surprise they automatically sent me to the line with no scanner. I’m not sure if that’s standard for children or what but it worked out great. This was at ROC airport last year going to Orlando. I still agree that we all should do it but it may be anti-climactic.

  32. Am I the only one? says:

    I feel like i’m the only one that has opted out in protest to the 3D scanners and NOT had a bad experience about it. Sure the guy patting me down didn’t seem to be having a good time, but I was polite, he was polite and we went about our business. While the scanners are an extreme intrusion, I fully understand and accept the need for security measures being taken to prevent dangerous materials or substances from being brought aboard a plane. The TSA just went about it in the wrong way as far as the scanners go. and as far as the pat-downs go, it really all depends on the person administering it.

  33. PeaceRequiresAnarchy says:

    I don’t understand why Murphy thinks he was wrong.

    If it’s true that the intrusive scanners provide more security than the old-fashioned methods, then it seems that the monopoly government has merely chosen a different combination of security and non-intrusiveness. How do we know whether this different point is better or worse? Different people have different preferences. Some would prefer the increased security more while others would prefer the non-intrusiveness more. Ideally there should be free market competition with different providers determining how much security and how much non-intrusiveness they wished to provide and then consumers could choose which provider they wished to use. Of course the government monopoly is unjust and should be abolished, but given that it exists, how can we know that one policy is worse than another?

    In some cases it’s clear: For example, if the vast majority of people clearly prefer an alternative policy, then it can be said that the government is providing a policy that consumers in a free market system would not choose. From this it seems reasonable to say that the ideal monopoly policy is presumably the policy that the largest portion of consumers would choose in a free market system. What is that policy? That is, if there were a free market in air travel / airport security, would something like the body scanners currently in use by the TSA exist?

    What would security look like? Bob Murphy (an economist!) didn’t attempt to answer this question, nor did he show that the answer is significantly different than what the TSA does (showing this would be necessary to show that what the TSA does is a bad policy relative to other possible monopoly policies). Instead, he just showed (using his own anecdotal evidence, which is fine) that most people would probably find a time-consuming pat down even more intrusive than the security scan. But this doesn’t show that there is some better security/non-intrusiveness policy than the current body scanners that providers and consumers in a free market system would choose.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      If it’s true that the intrusive scanners provide more security than the old-fashioned methods, then it seems that the monopoly government has merely chosen a different combination of security and non-intrusiveness

      Click the link in the OP, where I said “I agree intellectually” or something like that. In the linked article, I go over exactly this type of point, and show why it’s wrong. (But to be clear, I thought that all along. Why I’m saying I was wrong as of last week, is that I never thought it made much of a difference whether libertarians opted out or not.)

  34. Dagny Taggart says:

    There might be a way to opt out of the TSA altogether. It’s an international security clearance that out-ranks TSA. I’m assuming this is difficult to obtain, but it might be worth it for frequent fliers, and it doesn’t involve going through an invasive scanner or a pat-down. More info. can be found here: http://www.globalentry.gov/

  35. konst says:

    I suggest that everyone who opts-out tell them to do the pat down in public and tell them that you were abused as a child (whether it’s true or not) so the other passengers can hear it and to not touch your private parts. make sure you flinch when they get close to your private parts. Hope it makes the other passengers realize this is about submission and conditioning than anything else.

    • Skinny Mulligan says:

      I was sexually abused as a child and I will not fly to get sexually abused or get radiation.

  36. Gooby says:

    I always opt out and I’ve never had a problem. I’m of the same mind as Jordan.

  37. Liberty Joe says:

    Glad I don’t have enough money to fly, suddenly…

  38. DT says:

    After many flights, I still have yet to go through one radioactive-porno scanner.

    Your experience was very insightful. There is something else I have picked up on.

    I am a tall person and I tend to stand up straight with confidence. I politiely ask for an opt out every time. My last experience was crystallizing. They attempt to be intimidating. They made me wait 15-20 minutes for no reason and the guy who was doing NOTHING the whole time later patted me down. I made sure to keep an eye on my luggage. 3-4 feet away in front of me a (shorter than me) agent was standing, in “intimidating” fashion facing me, just standing there. I felt like my polite but confident attitude together with my stature pretty much disarmed them.

    There was no way I was going to be intimidated. Why am I crazy if I accept an alternative screening option they provide? The sad and pathetic thing is, every time a passenger ahead or behind me sees me do it, they mumble something under their breath empathizing with me, kind of wishing they had the courage to do it, but they move on like sheep to the slaughter. Pathetic, really.

    I totally agree, if a critical mass, if enough people overwhelmed them with “opt outs” it would be game over. The majority are a bunch of sissies. One simple move and we win! I can’t believe it…

    I loved the quote “I prefer freedom over tyranny”, I’m gonna use it if they ever ask me why…

    • valueprax says:

      Right. I have witnessed/been subjected to the same before– completely arbitrary waits after declaring an Opt Out where the TSA personnel stand around staring at you before sighing, putting on some new gloves and coming to “take care” of you.

      I have often wondered if the people “checking ID” at the way stations before the pornoscanners are actually even doing anything. I know they have a “scanner” that says “Firstname Lastname/OK” when they run people’s driver’s licenses and passports through it, but that doesn’t mean they check it against the boarding pass.

      I had an anecdote shared with me the other day by a person who was directly involved. This individual passed through security at a major airport, let’s say his name is Dave Smith. He gets to the gate and attempts to board the flight and the gate agent informs him he can’t board because “Dave Smith” has already boarded the plane. An argument ensues over whether or not that’s possible given that he is Dave Smith when finally they think to pull the previous passenger off the flight and check… turns out he is Bob Smith.

      So, what happened? (As Krugman might say.)

      Well, apparently Bob Smith was on standby and somehow got the ticket machine to produce Dave Smith’s ticket for him at an automated kiosk. He proceeded to cross security (ahem, “security”) and board the plane with Dave Smith’s boarding pass.

      Did the TSA even check this man’s boarding pass? Do they have to? What incentive do they have for doing so?

      I could see how a TSA person might just randomly scribble on people’s boarding passes and gamble on the odds that a.) something ends up happening b.) that person who caused it happened to come through his checkpoint. Pretty slim odds and even then there is the odds that c.) he’d be successfully found out and d.) punished somehow.

      As I AM a gambling man, I’d bet there are all kinds of TSA employees that don’t look at boarding passes, don’t actually inspect pornoscanner and x-ray scanner images, etc. Incentives problem.

      But maybe I just think that because I am a rabid Rothbardian cultist and crude Austrian extraordinaire.

  39. Lisa Simeone says:

    At TSA News, we’ve been urging opting-out for years. We’ve also been suggesting other forms of resistance. Click the link at my name to see them.

  40. TM says:

    I was treated very poorly for opting out. All I asked was “What is this?” when directed out of line toward the alternative scanner. If my traveling companion hadn’t known I had a choice no one would have told me. The sign was small and turned away, I only noted it later (got to stand around awhile LOL). They taunted us in front of the other passengers, “What, are you afraid?” and “Your cell phone has more radiation.” I was very polite and said simply, “I don’t know enough and want to do my research first.” The atmosphere was hostile. By the time we were done, I was shaky and sweating. But I kept my cool and was very polite. What is funny is that while we stood around waiting for the special pat down, I watched other passengers submit and several had to be patted down anyways. They did offer to do the pat down in private but I figured my fellow Americans ought to see what was happening. Besides, at that point I didn’t want to be alone with these folks.

  41. Karen says:

    I was approaching the scanner on a flight to las vegas and suddenly a video started playing encouraging pregnant women and children to go through the scanner it kept repeating that is was safe. I knew something was not right and I think it’s a known fact that these body scanners produce a lot of radiation which could be very harmful to a pregnant women. I opted out and someone yelled we have an opt out drawing everyone’s attention to where I was standing. They told me to stand to the side to make me feel humiliated while they waited for a female then proceeded to ask me why I was opting out. I said we don’t have these in my country I’ve never seen them before I need to further research the potential side effects. My boyfriend who also opted out was badly treated and we were separated into different areas. Not a good start to a relaxing holiday. I will continue to opt out as I am well aware of the dangers of going through. Infact I have heard reports of airport staff who work next to these scanners and other similar scanners have had various types of cancer as a result.

  42. MM says:

    Open petition @ white house to stop use of body scanner
    Go sign it

  43. Anonymous says:

    TSA is not a government agency. Get it straight.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I agree to disagree. They do save the images captured on the scanners, which is awful, and your body is submitted to those terrible rays so it’s almost like having an x-ray for a broken bone, but all over your body. However, the reason that more terrorists don’t come into this country is because those types of scanners prevent them from taking anything like a bomb, gun, poison, etc., into our country, also because our Army is out their fighting for their lives to protect us all. They are doing this while you all are complaining about being scanned for anything dangerous out of a safety precaution. Think about it.

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