23 November 2010

Thoughts on Scans and Pat Downs

There has been an overabundance of talk about the TSA’s new security measures – full body scans and frisks. The conversation ranges from “do everything possible to make sure that nothing bad happens on any flight,” particularly another terrorist attack, to “this is a violation of fundamental rights” and every shade in between.

The discussion is useful, I think, if there is an understanding that the real question lies underneath the security versus rights debate. There will always be a tradeoff between security and individual rights; the more safety one demands from the state, the more individual liberty one must relinquish to the state. On the other hand, if one is willing to accept a relatively less secure situation, one tends to be able to exercise more individual liberty.

There is also another important thing to understand, or be reminded of, when it comes to the government providing security: once the measures are decided upon, compliance is not optional. It is more important, I think, to consider how intrusive we want our government to become in our lives in exchange for safety from those who wish us harm. It is my estimation that the more we allow the former, the more indistinguishable the two will become.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

What's interesting is that your comment "when a decision is made" doesn't include any of our individual concerns when they make their decision, but yet we must abide. And even with this loss of individual rights, are we really that much more "secure?" There's really no guarantee that another 9-11 wouldn't occur if they tried hard enough. Happy holiday travels!