By Bill Buchanan
If things go well, when you read this I will be back in my Ojai home after enjoying Thanksgiving with Ava and friends at my Alabama home. Since I will be flying again soon, I have been reading with interest the new TSA airport security measures. I am more than a little astounded at all the uproar over the increased screening measures, including the now-famous line, “Don’t touch my junk.”
People are going nuts over “pat-downs.” There have been threats of passenger boycotts which thankfully didn’t materialize during the Thanksgiving travel rush. Now there’s a brilliant idea. Let’s see, how can we make holiday travel any slower — I know, we will boycott the screening process —- yeah, that will make Thanksgiving and Christmas so much better for all of us. There have been reports of people punching security agents, and there was one story of one woman who even head-butted the TSA officer who was searching her laptop.
My comment about all this is — are you serious?
I understand that pat-downs are a little intrusive. And the thought of having your body scanned and displayed on a big screen is not all that appealing to anyone not named Kardashian. On the other hand, at this point in my life, I think I would be grateful for whatever attention I can muster. But, seriously, what is the big deal of a slightly intrusive pat-down when weighed against the possible alternative? What if the government makes TSA back off the policy of full body imaging or pat-downs, and then some idiot climbs on a plane like that fool last year about this time (you remember, the one with the bomb in his underwear), gets by security and blows up a plane with traveling families on board?
What would the outcry be like then? The people who would probably be yelling the loudest about security failures are the same people who are yelling the loudest right now about how their dignity has been taken away by these invasive search techniques (which assumes they had some in the first place). I would ask,- would you be more uncomfortable watching a strange hand pat you down, or watching some fool take out a bomb to blow up your plane so that you spiral down about 35,000 feet and leave a big hole in the ground? Which would cause you more anxiety and discomfort?
Unsubstantiated paranoia is one thing. But if you truly believe that there are people out there who do not like us, and I think the World Trade Center bombings pretty much bear out the fact that we are not universally loved, then we need to take some fairly aggressive measures to combat terrorist activity.
I have no problems with the full body imaging or pat-downs or whatever within reason. We are not talking about strip searches that are videoed, and then streamed directly onto the internet. We are talking about taking steps to insure safer travel. If the new measures find and stop one device that would have brought down a planeload of people headed home to see their families during the holidays, then inconvenience and a little embarrassment are a pretty small price to pay. Even if they do not find anything, perhaps just the fact that a potential terrorist knows he might be patted down could act as a valuable deterrent.
We need to stop whining and just get on the plane — perhaps with the reassurance that we may be a little safer than we were before.
Happy travels to you and yours during the holidays.