“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin
I don’t believe I have all the information about the new TSA body scanners, although I have read quite a few articles on the subject in the last few days. I’m not usually the type of person to worry about things like BPA-free water bottles, high-tension power lines or anything else that might somehow make me sick without my knowledge… I guess I just figure there are so many things to worry about in this world that we can’t all worry about everything. (And apparently, I have chosen to worry about spiders and logging trucks). However, of all government agencies, I think the TSA would be the least likely to be concerned with my personal well-being, especially when sacrificing it could in some way make them feel “safer” or look tougher.
Of the handful of articles and posts I’ve read, this one was the most interesting to me because, although the author notes that he does not specialize in radiation, he is a Ph.D. student who is clearly used to thinking scientifically and doing research the rest of us might not think to do (or even know how to do). He itemizes every juncture at which the TSA has failed to conduct thorough safety trials or utilize critical thinking. I highly recommend reading it, even though it’s long.
What this post showed me, assuming it’s all factual, is that there are enough unanswered questions to make me want to opt out of these scanners the next time I fly (if I’m even subjected to them). Although having a TSA employee pat me down is not an exciting option either, I think there is less potential risk.
It is worth noting, however, that other people who may have been traumatized in some sexual way (which I have not) might find both of these options (the scanner and the pat down) horrifying for different reasons. I can’t even imagine how difficult that experience would be for them.
In some ways, I also feel bad for the people employed by the TSA who have to perform these scans and searches. Although I’m sure some of them are just grown-up hall monitors on a power trip, I’m sure lots of them are people who just desperately need a paycheck and wish they weren’t the face of the organization that’s implementing these rules. These shirts and underwear are kind of funny, but they’re sending the message to the wrong people. I bet lots of the TSA personnel are even less excited about these new regulations than the people buying those shirts.
The other thing is that you can’t out-think terrorists. No matter what you do, they will work harder and try crazier things to bypass your systems, if they really want to. People who want to endanger others MORE than they value their own life and safety are absolutely terrifying for that reason. I’m not saying that there will be another successful terrorist attack or that there won’t… I’m just saying that this constant search for the terrorist-proof system is fruitless and only stirs up more anger and fear, which is exactly what we don’t need.
As you can see, I haven’t exactly organized my thoughts on the matter, nor am I ever sure I’m getting accurate information, but it’s frustrating to feel this new system has been implemented before proper testing and without concern for the peaceful, innocent individuals it affects.