TSA Under Fire: What Took So Long?
The growing discontent over full body scanners and intrusive pat-downs is evidence that the government has gone a step too far. Frankly, I thought they had already gone overboard and have seriously wondered why people accepted the indignities they’ve been suffering for most of the past decade.
I’ve always thought the answer to airline safety was more Air Marshalls and psychological profiling. Not racial profiling. Psychological profiling. This is where you monitor people unobtrusively for nervous or erratic behavior followed by simple questioning. This taking-your-shoes-off routine has always been lame; reactive instead of proactive. All because one guy (Richard Reid) tried to set his sneakers ablaze.
What we’re seeing is the identical response, only this time to the would-be Christmas underwear bomber who accidently set his genitals ablaze. I remember the jokes that were flying around shortly after that incident. If massive, nationwide shoe-removal followed Richard Reid….yikes…what would happen now that someone tried to hide explosives in their underwear?
Welcome to the knee-jerk response. Full body scanners are the virtual equivalent of the strip searches we all thought, jokingly, might follow the Christmas Underwear Bomber incident. Well, it’s actually happened. They really are looking at our private parts now. And if you refuse the scanner, now they’re touching them too with front-of-the-hand inspections that go all over the place.
With the massive Thanksgiving travel season upon us this has turned into a real nightmare for the TSA. A Facebook-inspired nationwide protest is gearing up for November 24th in which passengers are being asked to refuse full-body scans. Pilot unions are up in arms and their members are already being urged to refuse the scanners.
Ostensibly, one of the reasons for the repulsion to these incredibly expensive and intrusive machines is the small amounts of radiation that are emitted during each use. But that’s not really why people are upset. I think it’s a combination of things. I think people are finally resenting being treated like potential terrorists when all they want to do is fly to a business meeting or to grandma’s house. And now the “touchy” area of literally, physically or virtually inspecting our bodies. It’s just become too much.
People used to be compliant. They put up with ridiculous strategies like outlawing the transport of certain quantities of shampoo. They accepted standing barefoot or in their stocking feet while TSA agents x-rayed their killer lap-tops. They did it for the greater good. But it would seem the public has finally reached the point of being willing to put up with a little risk in exchange for basic human dignity.
The exact quote from Benjamin Franklin, written sometime before February 17th, 1775 as part of his notes for a proposition to the Pennsylvania General Assembly was this:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
People are finally beginning to tire of living in fear.