Nov 23

TSA: Theater of Stressed Apes

When I was a child, my school packed my classmates and I into a yellow bus and sent us to Jungle Cat World. I cannot remember the educational value of the trip but we all learned one hell of a lesson at the monkey cages. Monkeys, it seemed, were compulsive masturbators.

They sat or squatted on rocks, staring at the Catholic schoolchildren while pulling on their little red penises. It was a lot like a trip to Vatican. But none of these monkeys looked happy. Just distracted and bored.

I never felt they were masturbating because they were horny, healthy creatures. It looked pathological and compulsive. Maybe even aggressive. Perhaps they had learned that this elicited some sort of reaction from the humans and, like flashers, found some entertainment in the frightened squeals of schoolgirls.

It did not, however, look natural.

pic nicked from here

Having seen monkeys in the wild, I can report that, while they do like to rub one out, they have hobbies other than masturbation. Hobbies like sandwich theft and general assholery. But in a zoo, with little to occupy their time, they turned to the one entertainment system they had left: Their genitals.

They abused these with aggressive abandon.

It seemed to comfort them.

Hearing about the TSA enhanced pat-downs and a customer’s refusal to have his crotch fondled, some people’s minds turned to Rosa Parks. Mine turned to these monkeys. When placed under stress, many animals will become compulsive groomers. Humans are no different. I, for example, deal with stress by taking a trip to my tailor and many women enjoy a day at the spa. Grooming relaxes.

Masturbation can and does serve the same purpose. Just as a trip to the tailor or a day at the spa is an altogether good thing, so is auto-eroticism. It offers a plethora of benefits, most of which are not even sexual, and clears the mind. But it can become compulsive.

Neither masturbation nor grooming is meant to solve problems. (At their best, they should cause them.) They’re meant to relax and comfort. In the case of the monkeys, jerking themselves off was a ritual that helped them deal with a situation they could not change. They were wild animals held in cages. There was no way out.

We have built just such a cage out of bogeyman terrorism. No matter how many wars are waged and won, no matter how many people are locked up or killed, terrorism is not going away. There are over six billion people on the planet. At any given time, a fair amount of these people will want to blow things up in support of this or that cause. In spite of that, the odds of being killed by a terrorist are much lower than being struck by lightning. It’s nothing to panic about. It’s just part of the world.  Probably one you’ll never have to deal with.

In spite of that, we’ve scared ourselves into a cage. Unable to break free, we’ve resorted to compulsive grooming at airport check ins. It’s an empty ritual, meant to comfort the passengers rather than to actually provide security.

(Indeed, I would say that, after September 11, anyone who hijacks a plane or even acts odd on one is going to find a very non-compliant group of passengers on their hands. Indeed, in the very few cases since then, they have. It’s the passengers, not the security, who have stopped further attacks.)

The feel-ups by poorly trained security personal is not meant to stop anything. It’s a bit of theater for you, the customer, and probably the airlines’s insurance companies. But it’s turned into one of those awful plays where the troupe leaves the stage and starts bothering the spectators. These uniformed folks are breaking the fourth wall between their antics and our crotches. The reality of their show has outstripped its value.  And some people have started to object.

Good for them.

Because even those stressed out monkeys had the common decency to only play with their own genitals. It hardly seems outrageous to expect a zoo-monkey level of decorum from a security guard. Before boarding a plane, we should be able to watch them play with themselves. And then give them a banana for a job well done.

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