Tag Archives: Puritanism

Venice Beach declares war on our infantile obsession with nudity

Originally published by The Los Angeles Times:

Nekkid Ladies

Not many people are aware of it, and few exercise the right, but it is legal for women to walk around topless in New York City and other cities. (A bare-chested New Yorker even got $40,000 from the city to settle her lawsuit alleging harassment by the NYPD for her nudity.)

Now, if the Venice Neighborhood Council gets its way, toplessness will become legal somewhere more pleasant than the gritty, often slush-filled streets of the Northeast: Venice Beach.

“I think this is a serious equality issue, and I’m not going to shy away from it,” Melissa Diner, the Venice council community officer who sponsored the resolution told the Los Angeles Times’ Martha Groves. Diner said she hoped to “start a conversation about not only wanting to show our nipples on Venice Beach, but about what else people want to see.”

“Venice Beach was founded and designed around the European culture of Venice, Italy,” the neighborhood council said, “and … topless [sun]bathing is commonplace throughout Europe, much of the rest of the world and many places within the U.S.”

In many states and municipalities, the legal basis for prohibiting the exposure of female breasts falls apart because public lewdness laws are specifically targeted against genitals, which obviously breasts are not. Aside from the inherent gender discrimination of anti-toplessness statutes, the widespread social acceptance of breastfeeding in public beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, and the fact that many American travelers see that topless sunbathing in other countries don’t spark riots of sex-crazed males, exposes — pun intended — the utter absurdity of such laws.

So, yes, it is an important political, social and cultural issue. It’s a question of equal rights, body image, addressing the problem of oversexualization driven by, among other things, advertising. But it’s also a matter of maturity.

I’ll admit, when I first read the headline about Venice considering this change, I giggled. Sorry, that’s the 14-year-old boy I used to be. But then after thinking about it for two or three minutes, I shook it off and got serious.

Which is not unlike what happened the summer that the dorms at my college, Columbia University, converted from single-sex, all-male to coeducational. The showers were old, no curtains, one big room. The first female students moved in before they got around to putting in individual shower stalls.

One morning I stumbled in bleary-eyed to the shower, and found several of my new female classmates taking showers. Yes, I was surprised. I was 19. Then I found a spot on the other side of the room, lathered up and got over it. Within a day or two, it wasn’t a big deal.

As Nathaniel Hawthorne so brilliantly documented, America’s original sin, alongside slavery, is Puritanism. Four hundred years after the first colonists arrived in America — people who were so uptight that they couldn’t get along with the British — it’s time that we declared war against our infantile societal obsessions with nudity, especially female nudity.

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: No College, No Job. College is Expensive. Is It Any Wonder Students Turn to Porn?

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Everybody’s talking about — scratch that. Culture is too atomized for everybody to be talking about anything.

Lots of people who don’t usually cop to knowing about, much less watching, porn — writers at high-end intellectual magazines, columnists for The Washington Post — are talking about Belle Knox, the Duke University freshman who embraced her outing as an adult film actress in an eloquent, feminist theory-imbued attack against slut-shaming.

Social media has responded as you’d expect: lots of mean slut-shaming that proves Knox’s point that “We deem to keep women in a place where they are subjected to male sexuality. We seek to rob them of their choice and of their autonomy. We want to oppress them and keep them dependent on the patriarchy.”

Tabloids and gossip sites are reveling in their usual witches’ brew of judginess and salacious intrigue.

Big corporate media is reacting like George C. Scott finding out his daughter is a whore. Considering that the average age of a journalist is Old Enough to Be Knox’s Mom or Dad, knee-jerk Talibanality comes as little surprise, though quite unpleasant to watch.

About that Post columnist:

Ruth Marcus, Old Enough to Be Knox’s Grandma and apparently a freelance psychologist, calls Knox a “troubled young woman.”

If Marcus hates the sin and not the sinner, it’s hard to tell. Her column drips with condescension and contempt.

“Methinks the freshman doth protest too much,” writes Marcus. Because, you know, like, 18 years old is mature enough to decide which Arabs to shoot, but not to have sex for money.

“Even more heartbreaking is listening to Knox’s still little-girlish voice describing how she’ll tell her parents. ‘I don’t want to,’ she told the Duke Chronicle last month, in the whiny tone of a child told to go to bed.”

Charming.

Marcus goes on. Who could stop her? “She mentioned rough sex, which requires an unpleasant discussion of what kind of pornography we’re talking about here and the increasingly violent nature of the Internet-fueled pornography trade. These are not your father’s Playboys. Letting a man ejaculate on your face is not empowering under anyone’s definition of the term. It’s debasing.”

Two things.

One: bukkake predates the Internet. If Marcus doesn’t know that, or how to Google, she should have spoken to or been edited by someone who does.

Two: what’s sexy and what’s empowering are purely subjective. Knox describes feeling “fear, humiliation, shame” — not from her work, but from neo-Puritan assholes on the Internet giving her a hard time. “Doing pornography fulfills me,” she writes.

Part of respecting women — of being a feminist — is taking them at their word. Thus, in the absence of evidence that Knox is lying or insane, I choose to believe her.

So. Why did Knox become a sex worker? Her answer: “If Duke had given me the proper financial resources, I wouldn’t have done porn. My story is a testament to how fucking expensive school is.”

Media gatekeepers are ignoring it, but this is the real/big story.

Each year in the United States, 12 million freshmen take out student loans. By the time they graduate (or not), they wind up owing $26,000 — plus several times that amount in compound interest payments. In many cities, that’s more than the cost of a house.

Duke University charges Belle Knox $61,000 a year in tuition, room and board. I don’t care how many hours she could have put in at Starbucks; the only way a typical college kid can generate $250,000 in cash over four years is to think outside the box.

Knox isn’t alone. Many college students work as prostitutes.

When I attended Columbia University, I met many students who cut moral and legal corners to make their bursar bills.

I knew students who were call girls, including one who brought her clients to her dorm room to save on hotel rooms. Topless and nude dancers weren’t rare at Columbia. A close friend took advantage of his room’s southern exposure to grow pot plants; he sold his stash out of a deserted Butler Library stack full of 17th century Italian folios. Another pal was banking six figures as a cocaine dealer (it was the ’80s.)

I discovered that one of my classmates was sleeping in the park. There was nothing left after he paid tuition.

One of my buddies, now a minor success in Silicon Valley, had a unique racket. He climbed outside locked campus buildings using grappling hooks. Yes, like a ninja. He entered the chemistry and physics department storerooms through the windows. He then sold the chemicals — including radioactive stuff — to an oily man who worked at the mid-Manhattan consulate of a nation that did not get along with the U.S.

I won’t mention the guy who sold his poo in the Village.

Reagan slashed student financial aid during my freshman year. To pay my way sophomore year, I broke laws.

If I knew then what I know, I wouldn’t have done it. Going into debt or risking jail to pay exorbitant tuition at an “elite” school like Duke or Columbia is insane. You can get an excellent education at any number of cheaper, no-name schools. You can save tens of thousands of dollars by attending a community college for two years, then transferring for junior year; the name on the diploma is what matters.

But that’s the point. I was 18. Like Knox. There’s a reason the military recruits 17- and 18-year-olds. They don’t know anything. I still can’t believe when my mom drove me to the bank to sign the student loan agreement. I was 17. Seriously? I couldn’t vote or drink.

I thought Manhattan was Long Island.

Americans hear a drumbeat of “unless you attend college, your life will suck” propaganda the first 18 years of their lives. Their parents say it. Their teachers say it. Their guidance counselors and the media say it. The college/university industry spends millions to advertise the message that the more you spend on tuition, the more you’ll earn during your lifetime.

The President says it too.

Everyone says college is a must and that expensive college is better than cheap college. Of course Belle Knox and young Ted Rall and 20 million new suckers every year believe it.

Ruth Marcus concludes: “Knox’s pathetic story wouldn’t be worth examining — exploiting? — if it didn’t say something deeper about the hook-up culture run amok and the demise of shame.”

Wrong.

Belle Knox has nothing to be ashamed of.

The real sluts are the cash-whore trustees of Duke University, who are sitting on top of a $6 billion endowment, and the overpaid college and university officials who have jacked up tuition at twice the inflation rate year after year.

(Support independent journalism and political commentary. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Will Polygamy, Adult Incest, Prostitution, Masturbation, Adultery and Obscenity Be Legalized Next? Let’s Hope So.

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Privacy is a basic human right. Yet, for 200+ years, Americans have tolerated “morals laws” that told us who we could marry and what sexual positions they were allowed to enjoy.

You couldn’t marry outside your “race” in every state until 1967. Oral and anal sex were illegal until 2003. But morals laws are doomed. Courts are throwing the government out of our bedrooms.

Puritanism is dying hard. Some people still want the police to regulate our sex lives. In his dissent to the 2003 Supreme Court decision striking down anti-sodomy laws in Texas, right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia complained that the SCOTUS had undermined “the ancient proposition that a governing majority’s belief that certain sexual behavior is ‘immoral and unacceptable’ constitutes a rational basis for regulation.”

The ancient stupid proposition.

Agonizing about an imminent “massive disruption of the current social order,” Scalia predicted ten years ago that, after the government relinquishes its power to govern personal sexual behavior and accepts that what happens between consenting adults in Americans’ bedrooms is their own damned business, “every single…law” against “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity” would fall in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas.

“This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation,” Scalia said.

It looks like Scalia was right about that. Bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication and obscenity will likely be legalized in the near future. (But not bestiality. Animals can’t consent, so hands off Fido and Mittens.)

Thank God!

Lawrence has been repeatedly cited by judges ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Next to go: Laws against polygamy and bigamy.

Citing Lawrence, a federal judge recently declared parts of Utah’s anti-polygamy statutes unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution, Judge Clark Waddoups ruled, protects Americans from “unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places” and allows “an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.” Which includes butt sex. And having multiple spouses. Assuming you can handle them.

Legal experts say though the politics are different than they are for gay marriage — there isn’t a big, well-funded polygamist-rights movement — it’s only a matter of time before anti-polygamy laws get thrown out. Right-wingers, reeling from the fact that gay marriage has been made legal in 14 states, are freaking out about polygamy.

“Same-sex marriage advocates have told us that people ought to be able to ‘marry who they love’ but have also always downplayed the idea that this would lead to legalized polygamy, a practice that very often victimizes women and children,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Christianist group, said in a statement. “But if love and mutual consent become the definition of what the boundaries of marriage are, can we as a society any longer even define marriage coherently?”

Heaven forbid that “love and mutual consent” become the defining requirements for marriage!

Nothing lasts forever — not in a nation with a 50% divorce rate — but it’s clear that same-sex marriage will eventually be the law of the land.

Polygamy logically follows. “Liberals and libertarians tend to believe private sexual conduct between consenting adults ought to be beyond the reach of the law,” as Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic. “Applying that principle consistently would seem to carve out a decriminalized sphere for polygamous families.” Also, one assumes, for those organized around polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands).

It is estimated that there are 30,000 to 50,000 polygamous families living in the United States.

When gays and lesbians began agitating for the right to be married, I didn’t understand why they’d want to. Obviously, the legal protections, tax benefits and healthcare advantages are nice. But wasn’t one of the best parts about being gay that you couldn’t get married?

After mulling it over, same-sex marriage passed my one-question test for proposed changes: What harm might result? I couldn’t think of any. The best argument against same-gender that it “violates the sanctity of marriage.” Which is a set of words strung into a meaningless phrase. What sanctity? How does gay marriage hurt straight marriage? It can’t. It doesn’t. The same is true of polygamy and Scalia’s other bugaboos.

Same-sex marriage has been a rapid, and radical, change. Yet now, most Americans agree with me that it’s a good idea.

Let freedom march on. Including the freedom to jerk off.

As Justice Scalia said, there is no longer a constitutional basis for laws against masturbation. In Connecticut, where prisoners are banned from self-pleasure, it is time to let inmates touch their nutmegs. In Alabama, where you can yank it with your bare hands but not with the aid of a device, let a thousand Fleshlights sing.

Let us join the civilized world by decriminalizing the 50% to 70% of married Americans who have sex with people who are not their spouse. “In nearly the entire rest of the industrialized world, adultery is not covered by the criminal code,” The New York Times reported in 2012. In the U.S., on the other hand, cheating is a crime in 23 states, and, for members of the military, grounds for court-martial.

In Minnesota, single women who have sex at all are subject to one year in prison plus a $3000 fine.

Prosecutions for adultery are rare but not unheard of. “Just a year after the Lawrence decision, John R. Bushey Jr., then 66, the town attorney for Luray, Va., was prosecuted for adultery and agreed to a plea bargain of community service. A year later, Lucius James Penn, then 29, was charged with adultery in Fargo, N.D. In 2007, a Michigan appellate court ruled that adultery can still support a life sentence in that state,” reported USA Today.

Many arguments in support of moralizing legislation focus on the effect of targeted behavior on the vulnerable, including women and children. Moralizers miss that their proscriptions increase abuse by driving victims underground. For example, polygamous religious cults use their illegal status to isolate children, forcing some to marry against their will. Because they’re in secret compounds, they can’t call the police. Prostitution is most dangerous in states and countries where the oldest profession is illegal.

As gays and lesbians marry, there is zero sign of Scalia’s “massive disruption of the current social order.” To the contrary: morals laws are the disruptive force. Laws against victimless crimes subvert the primary purpose of law: to promote the common good. Laws that ban behavior that is widespread (such as adultery and masturbation) effectively criminalize the majority of citizens, which undermines respect for government.

Society can and will debate morality. It should not enforce moral judgments about personal behavior through the courts.

Moral laws are immoral.

(Support independent journalism and political commentary. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2013 TED RALL

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Los Angeles Times Cartoon: Porn Teacher

I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).

This week: A science teacher at an intermediate school in Oxnard, California was fired after students claimed to have seen her in a porn movie. No one asked why children were watching porn movies, which is illegal. (Acting in porn, on the other hand, is legal.)

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Occupy Sexual Freedom

Sympathy for Newt and Open Marriage

You know the narrative. Right-wing family-values Republican gets caught doing secular-liberal totally-not-family-values stuff, usually involving sex:

Cruising for manlove in an airport men’s room.

Knocking up the maid.

Sending dirty emails to young male pages.

Hiring male hookers and smoking meth.

Asking wife #2 for an open marriage.

This kind of thing happens all the time. And it’s always red meat for leftie media commentators.

Liberal pundits love to call fallen Republicans hypocrites. They point out that liberal politicians are often more heterosexual and monogamous than many so-called conservatives—and remain married to the same spouse for life.

Now it’s Newt Gingrich’s turn.

In her divorce filing Ms. Gingrich the Second claims that Mr. Gingrich asked her for an open marriage so he could stay with her while carrying on with Callista, who became Ms. Gingrich the Third after Ms. Gingrich the Second refused said request. (You may need to re-read the previous sentence.)

Cue the holier-than-thou liberals.

CNN reporter John King opened a presidential debate with an assault on Newt’s alleged yearning for sexual freedom. A New York Times editorial called this “a perfectly reasonable question.”

Across the vertical seam in the op-ed graveyard Gail Collins could barely contain herself. “Beyond the hypocrisy of this sort of behavior from a guy who wants to protect the sanctity of holy matrimony from gay couples, there also seems to be a streak of almost crazed self-absorption that runs through the Newt saga,” Collins gloated. “Who would ditch a spouse of 18 years in a phone call? Shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? And, of course, he broke up with his first wife while she was battling cancer.”

That Newt Gingrich is pompous, nasty and one of the most hideous members of that physically repugnant tribe known as politicians can be stipulated by all but those blinded by hatred of Mormons and Kenyan-born socialists. Still, I think we on the Left are missing an opportunity for a teachable moment.

Progressives are fighting for human emancipation. The right to engage in sex with any consensual adult in any form is integral to this struggle to liberate ourselves from patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia and capitalism. How, then, can we justify mocking anyone—even a hypocritical Christian conservative—for expressing their sexuality?

When Senator Larry Craig was arrested, essentially for the crime of being a closeted gay or bisexual male, in that Minneapolis-St. Paul airport restroom, he needed our support, not our ridicule.

Imagine if supporters of gay rights from across the spectrum had refused to get sucked into stupid D-vs-R theatrics. Remember, the cops weren’t trying to catch a right-wing gay-bashing closeted senator. Craig was ensnared by one of countless sting operations conducted by police departments across the United States designed to harass all gays and lesbians. We should oppose such tactics forcefully and consistently. Defending Craig’s right to hit on other guys would have served the cause better than scoring cheap partisan points.

As for Newt’s alleged—divorce allegations ought to be swallowed with a massive dollop of sodium chloride—request for an open marriage, well, so what if he did?

When 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce it’s clear that state-enforced monogamy for life isn’t working for everyone. Researchers estimate that up to six percent of American couples are in open marriages. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s their decision. It’s their choice. Asked privately, most liberals would agree.

Millions of Americans prefer alternative arrangements for their sex lives—open marriages, swinging, etc. Yet they are forced to sneak around. They’re not hiding from their lovers, but from their friends and neighbors and colleagues lest they be shamed and shunned. Unlike conventionally married couples (who cheat on one another in significant numbers), people in open relationships know exactly what their partners are up to.

Moreover, there are a lot of open relationships that no one thinks about. Does anyone doubt, for example, that the Clintons had a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that essentially amounted to a license to cheat?

You shouldn’t have to hide or lie when you’re doing nothing wrong. Yet so-called “liberals” join their rightist counterparts in snickering about Craig’s “wide stance” and Gingrich’s request for an open marriage. The effect is to denigrate gays, lesbians and other sexually marginalized and oppressed people.

Nona Willis Aronowitz calls Gingrich “the poster child for the messy, miserable life people can have if they’re stuffed into rules they weren’t built to follow. He’s the poster child for how our sexist and repressive culture can hurt relationships. Gingrich was raised in, and now advocates for, a world that sets up incredibly narrow parameters for sex and love, and shames people who don’t adhere to those standards.”

We should tell right-wingers like Newt Gingrich: you’re one of us. You always were. The fact that you can’t live by your own supposed rules proves it.

Quit living a lie, Newt. More importantly, quit asking everyone else to live the stupid lie that defines your stupid out-of-date politics.

Hey Republicans! Are you a maid-knocking-up, men’s-room-trolling, sexting, bondage-loving, gay-bi-trans-whatever?

The Right’s not that into you. Join us.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2012 TED RALL

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Sexual Freedom: The Next Frontier

No One Should Be Judged Because of How They Have Sex

If slavery was America’s original sin, Puritanism was its original curse.

In recent years the United States has made significant strides towards greater equality and freedom. Racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry have been significantly curtailed by new laws and cultural education. But we still have work to do. Four centuries after people so uptight they couldn’t get along with the British invaded the New World, however, the United States remains one of the most sexually repressed Western countries.

It is not good for us.

“If expression of sexuality is thwarted, Christopher Ryan wrote in Psychology Today last year, “the human psyche tends to grow twisted into grotesque, enraged perversions of desire. Unfortunately, the distorted rage resulting from sexual repression rarely takes the form of rebellion against the people and institutions behind the repression.”

In other words, mean parents, churches and right-wing politicians.

“Instead,” Ryan observed, “the rage is generally directed at helpless victims who are sacrificed to the sick gods of guilt, shame, and ignorant pride.”

Like, for example, gays. Fourteen states still had sodomy laws on the books by the time the Supreme Court invalidated them in 2003.

And the occasional politician.

Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner is the most recent in a long line of elected representatives to step down because of a “sex scandal.”

I use scare quotes here for a simple reason: Sexual expression should never result in a scandal.

It’s been more than a week since Weiner resigned after getting caught sexting naughty pictures of himself to women via Twitter. Weiner was a liberal, so ideology wasn’t at issue.

Most of the Democrats I talked to had the same weird take on Weiner. They weren’t offended. Not personally. They themselves didn’t think he had done anything immoral, or illegal, or that he had betrayed his constituents. They didn’t care.

They questioned Rep. Weiner’s judgment. Didn’t he know he might get caught, and what would happen if he did?

What Weiner did wasn’t bad, at least not bad enough to warrant resignation or impeachment. To most Democrats, including the House leadership, Weiner’s mistake was tactical—his failure to anticipate the outrage of other people that reflected lousy judgment—a personality flaw that required him to fall on his (much photographed) sword.

They didn’t care what he did. They didn’t like Weiner’s failure to be discreet.

It is time—well past time—that we Americans grew up.

No one, not even a politician, should be pressured to resign because of sex.

Even when they’re a hypocrite.

Perhaps like you, I snorted when Larry Craig, the anti-gay Idaho senator was arrested (and plead guilty to) cruising a men’s room with his “wide stance.” Here was a right-wing Republican who opposed gay marriage, allowing gays to get domestic-partner benefits, or even banning employment discrimination against gays, cruising for hunky tail at the Minneapolis airport.

“Let me be clear: I am not gay. I never have been gay,” he told a press conference.

Fun stuff. And hardly the first time a gaybasher got caught with his, um, you know, in a, well, um, nevermind.

Miraculously, Craig got to finish his term. But his political career is over.

Looking back on Senator Craig now, however, I think we progressives missed a teachable moment.

Rather than ridicule the man, we ought to have defended him as a victim of an unjust law. In the 21st century, why should anyone go to jail for soliciting consensual sex?

Also, we should have exploited Craig’s predicament as an opportunity to create a dialogue with him, to ask that, given his own status as a gay or bisexual (he was married) American, he reconsider his antigay politics.

One day, I hope, we will live in a nation where another person’s sexual expression is no one’s business but theirs and their sexual partners. We will be allowed to do whatever we want with whomever we want, as long as what we do is with a consenting adult.

Even if we take pictures and post them online.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2011 TED RALL

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Rape My Brain But Don’t Touch My Junk

Why TSA Molesters Are Striking a Nerve

“Don’t touch my junk!” Will this be the battle cry of the next American Revolution?

If you think about it, it’s amazing. Why this? But thinking doesn’t have anything to do with it.

There’s a good reason. Which we’ll get to.

“This,” of course, is the intrusive new security-screening regimen at 68 major U.S. airports. You can walk through one of the new “backscatter” body-image X-ray scanners, suck up 2.4 microrems of radiation, and live with the knowledge that a high-res version of your nude flabby body is being stored on some government database so that the Palin Administration will be able to kill you for food and use your cyborg doppelganger as a slave laborer in the living hell that will be the year 2015.

Or you can choose the pat-down. But think twice. By all accounts, the pat-down procedure is thorough. Extremely thorough.

“I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants,” schoolteacher Kaya McLaren, an elementary schoolteacher from Washington state told The New York Times about her experience at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. What prompted this feel-up? “The body scanner detected a tissue and a hair band in her pocket,” reported The Times.

Verily, the end times draw nigh. The New York Times is talking dirty.

A visit to the TSA’s official blog (blog.tsa.gov) furthers the impression that the Obama Administration has jumped the security shark. One citizen asks: “Is touching the genitals a mandatory or discretionary part of the pat-down? Will the screener give notice and ask for consent prior to touching the breasts, vagina, penis or scrotum?” Another asks: “Can they spread the buttocks to feel if something is concealed between them? Can they move the penis or testicles aside to see if something is strapped to a man’s leg? Can they lift up breasts to feel underneath them?”

There’s something terribly wrong when a federal government website gets too racy for online parental control software.

CNN’s Rosemary Fitzpatrick reported that an airport screener “ran her hands around her breasts, over her stomach, buttocks and her inner thighs, and briefly touched her crotch.” In Charlotte a flight attendant was ordered to remove and display her prosthetic breast.

It’s happening to guys too. Men wearing baggy pants report TSA personnel, some of whom are convicted rapists and child molesters, sticking their hands down their trousers and ferreting out their naughty bits. In a bit of surrealism recalling my “Al Kidda” cartoon (in which terrorists take advantage of the fact that children aren’t required to show ID to board a plane) there are now YouTube videos showing little kids getting felt up by the TSA.

TSA workers at Miami Airport got caught passing around printed scans of a man they deemed to fall short in the male endowment department. A 61-year-old cancer survivor from Michigan wound up “humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers” at the Detroit Airport. The oafs broke the seal on his urostomy bag.

There was, naturally, no apology.

Remember the good old days of the early 2000s, when the only thing the TSA did was announce their favorite color of the day?

Of all the indignities inflicted upon the flying public since 9/11, the radiation/molestation combo strikes me as relatively minor. I’m still scarred by the sight of the young Iraq War vet in front of me at Kansas City airport security. Both of his legs had been lost in an IED blast in the Middle East. Instead of respect or a free pass at the metal detector, TSA goons repeatedly grilled and humiliated him about the titanium in his body.

Contrast this with Iran. Yes, Iran. As at security checkpoints throughout the country, I was waved past the checkpoint at Tehran’s Ayatollah Kholmeni International Airport in August as soon as I presented my U.S. passport. As guests, foreigners are not subject to most bag searches. Not even citizens of the Great Satan.

Don’t touch our special parts, but feel free to poke around our frontal lobes.

If Richard Nixon had been accused of listening to every American’s phone calls and reading their mail, there would have been riots. But that’s exactly what the National Security Agency has been doing since 9/11. Bush started it; Obama made it official. They’re reading your email and listening to your phone calls and tracking your bank statements. It’s a fact. And no one cares.

Personally, I’d rather have the government touch my junk than rape my brain.

Now that they’re feeling up our privates at the airport—with, truth be told, considerably more justification than the NSA has for reading your Facebook status updates—the American people are freaking out.

Which should come as little surprise to Obama’s pet louts at the TSA.

The United States, after all, was founded by Puritans. The folks we’re celebrating this week were religious fanatics, prudes, crazy repressed and so far off the charts that they were too uptight to get along with the British. Immigration has helped loosen us up, but that’s still our national culture.

I had hoped that when the revolution came, it would be about economic injustice or torture or racism. But, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don’t revolt with the revolutionaries you wish you had. If this is the beginning of the end, so be it.

Say it all together: Don’t touch my junk!

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL

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