The Joy of Modern Airport Security

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I was shocked to avoid both a pat-down and a full-body x-ray scan on trips out of San Fransisco and San Jose airports in the past month. I returned to my home town only to realize that the rest of the world is being subjected to the “super-naked machines” (as Bill O’Reilly would say) during their holiday travels.

What are the merits of these machines? TSA chief John Pistole told O’Reilly (yes, I watch The Factor) that the former method of metal detection and less aggressive pat-downs was insufficient in detecting everything that passengers might try to sneak onto an airplane. Apparently, some people are really good at hiding things on their person.

Certainly these machines and their alternative, aggressive pat-downs, will ensure that no one gets on an airplane with any illegal items. But critics, the average American traveler chief among them, believe the new procedures violate their civil rights. Some key flare-ups in airport security lines over the past few months have added fuel to the conflagration that this new policy is causing.

Other critics complain about radiation overdoses. But purportedly, the radiation received from these machines is quite small compared to the radiation we naturally receive every year.

And naturally, many complain about children being subjected to these policies. Lisa Belkin muses over how to get one’s children through such a traumatic experience.

The question travelers must really ask themselves is, “How many of my rights am I willing to give up for the sake of security?” When I approach the full-body x-ray machine at Denver International Airport in a few minutes, what will I tell myself?

“It’s okay Kyle, these TSA people are practically doctors…”

“If you were in Columbae or Synergy, you wouldn’t have to worry about the what the scanners see, you’d already be naked right now.”

“Perhaps the mutations caused by the x-ray radiation will give you paranormal insight into the workings of the Red Zone point system.”

“Go for the pat-down. You can have an awkward conversation with the TSA security representative.”

I don’t believe anything can actually remove the awkwardness of the situation.

Security and privacy are difficult things to weigh against each other. These new policies are more effective in protecting our security. But we must draw a line at some point. The next threat to airplanes will likely come in a different form, not through the airport security line.

Perhaps the money invested in these new x-ray machines could have been spent on increased security for the tarmac and parking structures. Even better, it could have been spent on hiring undercover police officers and security specialists who start conversations with people in the airport who act suspicious. This is how Ben Gurion Airport in Israel survives, even though it is frequently a target for terrorist attacks.

But change will not come before I must go through the security line. Wish me luck.

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