There is tension in the air. Well, even before you manage to get into the air.
Stories have abounded concerning new screening procedures and their overly personal nature. Why, just the other day, a woman decided that the only way to maintain her dignity was to go through screening wearing only matching bra and panties. (I have embedded her here.)
And yet, as one might imagine in a land in which the enthusiasm for self-expression and the invention of the Internet merge to create a dynamic cocktail, some of the stories told are simply not true.
So the TSA has helpfully taken to its official blog, to disabuse the concerned about alleged abuses that are nonexistent.
In a blog post entitled "Don't You Believe It or We'll Inspect You Where It Hurts"--no, wait, I inadvertently made up the last seven words--the TSA's Blogger Bob expresses the organization's frustration that some obviously satirical tales of TSA-tinctured troubles are being believed by those who might not be entirely attuned to peeling The Onion.
There was, for example, the tale, published by the Daily Squib, of the operator of a Colorado airport body scanner who was alleged to have been caught masturbating.
As if to ratchet up the coarseness of discourse, Blogger Bob also exclaimed that a story published by the very grave Dead Serious News--this one suggesting that a passenger had ejaculated during a pat-down--was also patently false.
Blogger Bob, who has been with the TSA since 2002, is quite rightly appealing for a little sanity during a time when emotions have run high and some passengers have felt very slightly debased.
And he himself is not without humor. Writing of these titillating takes on the increased search for explosive underpants, he said: "By all means, enjoy them and have a laugh at our expense, but 'Don't you believe it.'
This being blogging, an open and interactive form of communication, commenters have offered the TSA their own subjective perspective.
Someone with the slightly satirical handle Ayn R. Key offered: "It's nice that you are taking time to refute articles from known satire news sources. Now if you would refute articles from known regular news sources..." (Which, to be fair, the TSA does try to do.)
A, sadly, anonymous interlocutor wrote: "Coming next week: 'In an official statement today, TSA Administrator John Pistole slammed The Onion as an irresponsible news source'. Also, Dr. Strangelove is not an accurate depiction of the Cold War."
And then someone with the handle J.R. expressed his or her own discomfort: "What about the story about TSA putting a CNN reporter on a terrorist watch list for criticizing them? Using the terrorist watch list as a tool for political retaliation???? Shameful! (Will this comment get me on a watch list?!)"
Some might wish to offer J.R. the immediate response: "Yes, you fool! Yes!" But it is surely heartening that the TSA is using a social medium to address some of these difficult issues, though Blogger Bob's task resembles offering emotional pat-downs to the clinically irritable.
One can only hope, though, that his cheery tolerance of satire might be shared by some TSA operatives at airports, should some exasperated traveler offer a satirical comment on, for example, their junk being examined a little too closely.