Wednesday, November 28, 2012

National Security Conservatives

You really must read this blog post over at the Volokh Conspiracy by Stewart Baker, a self-styled "national security conservative." In the post, entitled "Sex Secrets of the Security Line," Baker describes his recent insight into the behavior of men in the security line at the airport. It boils down to this: men see the security process as an opportunity to display their ruthless efficiency and, in so doing, sexually arouse any women in the vicinity. Seriously.
I feel a kind of competitive pressure to keep the line moving. I’m not happy to see more than about six inches of distance between my luggage and the bags in front of me on the belt. Every delay in pulling out my laptop or my liquids, every last minute bit of change I have to throw haphazard into the bin, every stutterstep as I realize it’s a whole-body scanner, not a metal detector, so belt and watch have to come off too –- all detracts from the performance.
* * *
In part we do it to keep our place in the hierarchy of guys.  But in the end, what we’re really hoping for is an Alice Munro moment — that our easy concentration and economical movements will set up in someone “a procession of sparks and chills,” followed a few pages later by, well, what we deserve for all that demonstrated competence.
(The reference to Alice Munro is to a post-opening epigraph from a Munro story in which a female character is titillated by observing her man's competence at the stove. "What we deserve" is sex.)

Baker's insight is not the source of his own motivation. Rather he claims to now understand why so many other people (men, at least) are frustrated with the TSA. Their stated frustrations carry "a distinct whiff of testosterone," Baker says, and this is because they find their inability to display competence in the security line to be emasculating. So they act out and go into "full high-school rebellion mode." Baker has a series of suggestions to alleviate this frustration.

Although I strongly disagree with Baker's take on the TSA, and probably even his take on the nature of reality, I enjoyed the post because it was an open look into an alien mind. It even gave me my own insight, which is this: I see now that every policy "national security conservatives" promote and everything they do—and I mean everything: the wars, the crackdowns, the mass incarcerations, etc—is part of a lifelong and sadly misguided effort to get laid.


  1. "If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends."

    -- Orson Welles

  2. The irony is that we seem to be unmaking it for the same reason...


Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.