When it comes to security, Americans have the shortest memory span of anyone on earth. We’re the first to start screaming about individual rights whenever we have to suffer any interruption in our daily routines, and also the first to scream for someone’s head when a terrorist attack is “allowed” to occur.
Last weekend, a man refused to enter a full body scanner at a San Diego airport, then refused to allow a pat-down in lieu of the scan, claiming both bordered on sexual molestation, and uttering his now famous line, “If you touch my junk, I’m having you arrested.” Oh, and he conveniently activated his cell-phone camera to record the entire affair, which has now become a You Tube sensation.
Full body scans have become a hot topic, with everyone decrying the invasion of our individual liberties while conveniently forgetting why they were implemented in the first place. Honestly, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I think it’s because people have heard hysterical news accounts and wild internet stories without digging into the reality. The truth is that the full body scanner shows a picture that is more akin to a morgue shot than anything in playboy, with facial images intentionally blurred. On top of that, the person viewing the image is in a separate room from the screening area. There is no way on earth he or she can equate the image seen with the passenger going through the scanner. What’s the big deal? Am I the only one who could really care less if someone sees my “junk” attached to an inverted negative that looks like a CSI:Miami evidence photo?
Apparently so, because the clamoring has become long and loud, with groups declaring an “opt-out” day, Muslim groups issuing Fatwas against the scans, and pilot’s unions denouncing the procedure. The head of the US Airways Pilot’s Association stated that one pilot found it so intrusive that he vomited in his driveway recovering from the trauma. I’m not kidding. A pilot actually balked at going to work because he had to go through security. In my mind, this brings up an added benefit of the scanners and pat-downs, because there’s no way I want that candy-ass behind the wheel of any aircraft flying with me on board. (I will say I agree with the pilot’s unions on this. It makes no sense to make them go through this level of security, then say, “You’re cleared to take the lives of 300 people in your hands.” If a pilot wanted to do something evil, he wouldn’t need to smuggle in explosives or a gun.)
Everyone is going bananas over an issue that’s simply designed to prevent a tragedy. Less than a year ago, a man shoved explosives in his underwear in an attempt to bring down a planeload of people. THAT’S why the scanners are being implemented. Yes, it’s a pain – and I’ve gone through both the scanners and the pat-downs – but it’s nowhere near as painful as getting a call that your loved one was ripped apart because some female terrorist had explosives crammed in her bra.
The television show “The View” has weighed in supporting the San Diego man saying “Security and our safety are important, but they should not come at the expense of our rights and freedoms.” That’s a great utopian ideal, but it completely ignores reality. In order to find out if someone has harmful intentions, some individual liberty will go. It’s a tradeoff, and there’s no way around it. I put on a seat belt for safety, but give up freedom in the process. As the terrorists get more sophisticated, so do the means to defeat them. In a convoluted bit of logic, the San Diego man stated that every terrorist act on an airplane has been halted by passengers. “It’s time to stop treating passengers like criminals and start treating them as assets,” he said.
Huh? I see…the solution is not to search the passengers, only the terrorists. Oh, wait, the terrorists are passengers too. The fact remains that the passengers had to react to terrorist events precisely because the screening methods weren’t sophisticated enough for the threat. Passengers stop the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, and we start having our shoes go through X ray. Passengers stop the “underwear bomber”, and we get full body scanners. Now, you might be willing to put your faith in the drunk two rows over, but I’ll go ahead and support a screening of all passengers prior to boarding.
I understand individual liberty, having deployed quite a bit to preserve it, but your right to privacy does not supersede my right to exist. If you don’t like it, don’t get on a plane.
When I fly, I thank the screeners. They take a lot of flack. I don’t think they catch a lot of bad guys, but I do believe that like mine fields they direct our adversaries to the appropriate fields of fire. RD