Friday, November 26, 2010

Traveling for the Holidays- Dealing with the TSA

So have you seen all the hype about the TSA and this new back scatter machine?

They're mad scary, to me.

I am thankful this year that I don't have to fly anywhere.  I usually don't have to, to be honest (most of our family is within driving distance).  But I like to fly, and I tend to fly on occasion.  Once a year is pretty standard.  Sometimes more. 

I won't be flying for a long long time, though.  These back scatter machines are over the line, and while I understand the TSA has the authority to say "do it or don't fly" I also understand my right to say "no thanks.  I guess the airline can go bankrupt because I'm not going through that thing nor will I be groped in public."  Notice here, that I do not feel it is appropriate to try to gum up the works or be deliberately rude.  I do, however, love the idea of a boycott.

Please hear me out- here are my reasons.

First, there is the story behind the notorious bomber who created this security mess.  The infamous Underwear Bomber.  #1- Did you know that the back scatter machine wouldn't have caught him?  That's right, folks.  Experts have agreed on that point.  #2- Did you know that the security system ALREADY IN PLACE failed to catch him?  Here's a quote from National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter "Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should not have stepped onto a plane on Christmas Day," he declared.  "The counterterrorism system collectively failed and I along with Director [of National Intelligence Dennis] Blair and Secretary [of Homeland Security Janet] Napolitano and others want to tell you and the American people the same thing we told the president, that we have to do better."  He should never have been on the plane.  Period.  The rules that were already established SHOULD have caught him.

#3- And this is a smaller point to be made, but still one to consider.  Medically, the machine could be hazardous to your health.  The levels of radiation used aren't horrible (although we could have a whole debate on whether or not radiation at all is ok).  BUT there are still concerns over how it will affect the skin, especially for frequent flyers.  What about pregnant women? Plus anomallies- machinery fails, ya know.  And if something goes wrong with these machines, you could get a lot more radiation than ever healthy.  I just don't like the idea of frying my body (even if it's for a minimal amount) for convenience.

#4- and my biggest point.  I think we have crossed a line.  We've been getting closer and closer to that point over the years, but this has actually crossed the line.  Where does it stop?  The most extreme and horrible atrocities on this planet started out like this.  Not so harmful things that you normally wouldn't be ok with, but it's for the right reasons, right?  Do you think the holocaust started off with Auschwitz and deathcamps and gas chambers?  Of course not.  They started off with registering all the Jewish citizens, making them paint symbols on their homes and wear patches on their clothes.  Doesn't seem so horrible right?  Or another more useful example (some might say the holocaust is going too far here).  The Japanese internment camps in 1942.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor around 110,000 Japanese-Americans were "relocated" to these camps.  They were seen as a possible security threat.

Now, my question was where does it stop?  Most will say, well that's what it takes to feel safe.  But eventually someone will come along and find a way around the scanner.  Where there's a will there's a way.  What will be next?  How far will you let it go?

Well, you don't have a right to fly.  So they can impose this regulation, right?  Ok.  So what about the movies or the mall?  Or how about an ice skating rink in central Park?  or the subway in DC?  What if someone decides to blow up one of those, and now all of a sudden you gotta be groped or scanned to go see a movie or shop?  What if this holiday season you have to be pat down in all your crevices to go ice skating?  Would you be ok with that?

And then finally #5- I just find it on principle wrong.  Doctors can't share your health records unless medically necessary (ie one doc to another doc).  They can't even give your medical records to your spouse without permission (and I like these rules).  So why is it ok for a security agent to get to see your whole body OR if you refuse to get to play touchy feely?

There are so many issues I have here, and it's mainly because it seems like there is no end.  We have established a bill of rights and a Constitution because of things like this.  We set up rules at the beginning stating "this is wrong."  They were established to prevent things going over the top, because in fear people can lose their better judgment.  It's like teaching safe sex.  You're taught to have a plan.  Set your boundaries BEFORE you start dating someone.  That way when the time comes you aren't making decisions with impaired judgment (be it from alcohol or teenage hormones or peer pressure or whatever).  Isn't this the same thing?  We have a right to privacy.  Don't give up your rights out of fear (otherwise known as impaired judgment).

AND end rant.

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