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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Nov. 26


5. Fliers to TSA Boycott: Yeah ... Not So Much

The hullabaloo surrounding the Transportation Security Administration's use of full-body scanners reached a fever pitch this week, thanks to National Opt-Out Day. And the logic was, naturally, flawless: Flyers, outraged over their privacy being invaded in the name of safety, would fight the good fight by just saying no to scanning on one of the busiest flying days of the year. They would opt for the pat down, and slow an already maddeningly slow process down even more -- and all for the sake of your civil liberties.

Travelers and airlines have, of course, paid an extra $5.9 million a year each year since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for the privilege of being poked, prodded -- and now placed in electronic peep-show booths. And seemingly each time the country thwarts a terrorist attack, passengers are pressed to give up just a bit more: their shoes, in 2001, after Richard Reid tried to blow up American Airlines Flight 63; their bottles of Pepsi (PEP) and Aveeno products, in 2006, after a transatlantic aircraft plot; and their thin veil of privacy this year when full-body scanners followed the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 last Christmas.

Then US Airways( LCC ) and American Airlines (AMR) pilots balked at being forced through the scanners and exposed to their radiation. The stories of three-year-olds howling through searches and beleaguered fathers removing their kid's shirts in order to speed up the ridiculous process only added fuel to Opt-Out Day's fires.

Thus, the Internet decided to take a stand -- and the media decided to run with it. After all, the Internet -- and the hysterical media -- always reflect the larger outrage of the broader public, no? And given the build up to Opt-Out day, the examples of civil disobedience should have brought air travel to its knees by noon.

Did this all happen? Not exactly.

It turns out that sometimes the Internet just reflects the voice of the vocal, not necessarily the majority -- and the media covers what makes for sensational jibber-jabber, not necessarily the news. And so we were all shocked -- shocked, we say! -- to discover that travelers were more concerned, on the day before Thanksgiving, with getting to where they were going. By noon on Wednesday, media outlets -- their collective voices oozing disappointment -- were reporting business-as-usual conditions at most major airports: BREAKING NEWS: This non-story that we have manufactured and hyped has turned out to be baseless!

TheStreet Says:Let's see: Punish the TSA by punishing your fellow travelers.... Yeah, it's real hard to see how that idea fell flat.
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