Airport Sexual Assaults Don't Increase Security

A recent CBS News reported a poll (taken between November 7 and November 10) in which 8 out of 10 of the 1,137 adults surveyed answered the following question “Yes”:

“Should Airports Use Full-Body X-Ray Machines?”

Poll results change over time as information is released and people revise their opinions. It may be that 8 out of 10 or 9 out of 10 adults will continue to support the use of these machines.

So what?

Neither polls nor votes make something right or wrong. If right and wrong are determined by majority rule or by authorities who are acting on behalf of majorities or a consensus of the population they represent or rule, then anything can be right or wrong. In particular, the people and authorities may decide to remove all Jews from the country or deport all Afro-Americans or imprison anyone who sells an ounce of marijuana or stop a person from working at less than $10 an hour or any number of other such measures.

Right and wrong cannot possibly be determined by polls and votes. They are found by examination and discovery of law and justice in both general and particular situations.

Within the current spate of news reports appear various opinions that represent the current debate. Let’s examine some of this thinking.

“Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, says society is entering virgin technological and ethical territory. ‘The scanner’s ability to penetrate is metaphorically powerful. It’s invading privacy in all kinds of new ways,’ he told AFP. ‘Balancing that out, there is the other really basic, powerful argument, which is how you remain safe in the sky in the age of tiny weaponry and concealed bombs.’”

Prof. Thompson is correct that scanners invade privacy. On the other hand, he sees the scanners as an essential technology that is necessary to prevent concealed bombs. It isn’t necessary, however. Screening on the basis of who people are can replace it.

And scanners and molestations by physical feel-ups won’t prevent terrorism. Even if all air travel were 100 percent safe, terrorists could easily shift their focus in countless other directions on land and sea. The focus on air travel safety is misplaced. It ignores the substitution effect, whereby terrorists shift to other targets. The same kind of error is made all the time in banning drugs and tracking down drug importers and distributors. They substitute new kinds of drugs and new networks. They raise the ante of bribery, corruption, and assassinations. The terrorists will win if America ties itself in knots over air travel, and then decides to do the same for malls, arenas, marketplaces, games, nightclubs, trains, busses, or wherever people meet in numbers.

Scanners are already being used at courthouses and public buildings. The war on terror has succeeded in transforming police into terrifying creatures of tribulation. Liberty is falling prey to what passes for necessary domestic security, i.e., “homeland security.” There is no security in having a police state. Who is going to hold back those in charge and those with the guns and those with the perverted laws at their backs? Who is going to stop the tyranny and the usurpations?

“TSA Administrator John Pistole says he understands why people are upset, but ‘everybody who gets on a flight wants to be sure the people around them have been properly screened,’ he told lawmakers Tuesday.”

Mr. Pistole begs the question: What is “properly screened”? He assumes that what the TSA is doing is proper. It isn’t. He asserts that there is a demand for this kind of screening. Maybe there is, but does that mean that it is right? Does it mean that everyone must undergo it, even those who object? Are there no reasonable exceptions? Is there no flexibility? Why not?

“Sullenberger said transport authorities should trust pilots and flight attendants, because ‘we’re trusted partners’ who are already ‘thoroughly screened.’

That’s a minimal way to restore a degree of sanity. Liberty entails choice. If the airlines and airports operated in a free market, which means free of TSA procedures, travelers would have a choice of procedures. Those who wanted to pass through x-ray scanners and/or have their breasts and genitals felt could do so. Those who wanted to get secure travel by market-determined means could do so. Each group would pay its own way. The costs would not be socialized through government.

The government, through building an unnecessary empire, has created enemies throughout the world. It is a wonder that the terrorist backlash has not been even greater. It can only grow if the U.S. persists in killing and terrorizing innocent people in multiple foreign locations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The government and people of the U.S. have unlawfully extended majority rule, or government by polls, to almost every area of choice that one can think of. The results are in. These extensions have led to economic instability, economic decline, needless warfare, ruination of family, community, and neighborhoods, loss of values, cultural and artistic decline, moral decline, ethical decline, degradation in discourse and thought, and loss of liberty.

X-rays and genital inspections at airports are part of a noxious cloud of government oppression spreading over the land and choking out liberty and choice. The brainlessness and intimidation of TSA officials is part of this ongoing process. It’s a travesty for the TSA to threaten John Tyner with an $11,000 fine for doing nothing that would harm anyone.

Do we have to put up with such total nonsense like the following?

“The mood among security officials is ‘anger over the way the media is playing this story,’ according to a senior Homeland Security official. ‘You had a dutiful [transportation security officer], someone who works on the front lines to protect this country from a terrorist attack, someone who did everything by the book and according to his training, and he was accosted and verbally abused by a member of the traveling public,’ the official said. ‘The fact that some in the media would hail the traveler as a kind of folk hero is shameful.’

A senior government official thinks that airports are “front lines.” He sounds like George Bush with his “fronts” in the war on terror. He has absorbed the propaganda that completely and now spreads it further. He absolves those doing the prodding, feeling, groping, and x-raying of any measure of guilt or conscience. They are, like good little Nazis, just doing their duty. Then we have a bald-faced lie, which is that Tyner accosted and verbally abused this dutiful worker! No one is supposed to question these procedures. That becomes a crime. To say “Don’t touch me” becomes a crime.

Michael S. Rozeff
Whiskey & Gunpowder

November 22, 2010

The Daily Reckoning