Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A nude awakening

The Transportation Security Administration security restrictions are so ridiculous that its logic can easily be demolished by a college student. And, as a matter of fact, it has.

Evan DeFilippis, writing for the Oklahoma Daily at the University of Oklahoma, takes a step-by-step methodical approach in presenting the reasons why TSA scanning is both humiliating and unworkable:
  • Statistical data show that plane crashes due to terrorism (1 in 25 million) are less likely to occur than crashes due to mechanical failure or pilot error (1 in 9.2 million). Mr. DeFilippis presents an array of other statistics listing causes of accidental death that are far more likely than either.
  • TSA workers are overworked and underpaid. It is unreasonable to expect that viewing a scanner, that such workers can completely distinguish between good people and bad people in less than five minutes.
  • It ignores the psychology of terrorism. Terrorists are proactive. They look for what works. TSA is reactive -- they seek to prevent what has already been done (thus guaranteeing that the same approach will not be attempted again by any terrorist with the intelligence greater than that of a pinhead).
Mr. DeFilippis also makes some pithy comments about the impact TSA has on our liberty:
The inconsistency of our outrage is instructive — it shows that our perceptions of safety and security are not reflective of reality but are instead dictated to us externally by demagogic politicians who have a vested interest in our fear. We are a passive audience trapped in a theatre of the absurd — apparently too absorbed in brilliantly orchestrated drama to realize it’s all just a play...

Security for the sake of security is pointless — I can assure you that the risk of terrorism would be neutralized if airline passengers were required to board planes naked but such a requirement would be so intrusive and humiliating that security would have lost its meaningfulness. There’s no purpose in security if it debases the very life it intends to protect, yet the forced choice one has to make between privacy and travel does just that. If you want to travel, you have a “choice” between low-tech fondling or high-tech pornography; the choice, therefore, to relegate your fundamental rights in exchange for a plane ticket. Not only does this paradigm presume that one’s right to privacy is variable — contingent on the government’s discretion and only respected in places that the government doesn’t care to look — but it also ignores that the fundamental right to travel has consistently been upheld by the Supreme Court. [In support of this point, he cites United States v. Guest (1966)].
And to those who think things could be worse, he makes a fundamental moral point:
Every time we convince ourselves that things “aren’t that bad” and thus not in need of change, we are training ourselves to be complacent in the face of injustice, and we are weakening our capacity to challenge those forces most in need of change. It could always be worse, but that doesn’t mean we should surrender the opportunity to make it better.
However, the point of TSA really isn't to combat terrorism. It is to condition the American people for slavery to an all-powerful federal (and perhaps eventually, world) government. If the American people continue to exchange essential liberties for (the illusion of) a little temporary safety, they will ultimately find that there are no liberties left to exchange.

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