The TSA Controversy
So, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is instituting new screening procedures for the flying public. One method involves a sort of X-ray that is apparently pretty revealing. The other is an “enhanced pat-down.” Plenty of people are terribly upset about this claiming that the procedures violate privacy and are a violation of the 4th Amendment prohibitions against unlawful search and seizure. I am not among those people.
I take between 24 and 30 flights each year, enough to qualify me as an “expert traveler.” I even have an “elite status” card from an airline. I have learned to pack lighter, dress in ways that get me through the security stations quicker and I get to the airport in plenty of time. Someone asked me once, “Why do you get to the airport so early?” “Because,” I replied, “I don’t want to do an O. J.” (A reference to an old Hertz commercial that has O. J. Simpson running through an airport). “Besides, it didn’t work out too well for O. J. so I arrive in plenty of time to take the stress off.”
Twice or more a month I submit to the security procedures. I take off my coat, empty my pockets, drag out my lap top, remove my belt, take off my shoes, go through the screener, and occasionally get “wanded.” Now, I will have to submit to the other procedures. I am fine with that. I want to arrive alive and I don’t get what the angst is all about.
“Well, a screener might see you naked!” In that case, I pity the poor screener. The screeners will see thousands of people a day for a maximum of 10 seconds each. Hardly a peep show. “Well, you might get groped!” While I don’t care for that very much, I think the alleged groper will be just as uncomfortable as I am. Still, I want to arrive alive. Besides, estimates are that only two percent of passengers will ever be “X-rayed” and only five percent will be “groped.”
While I think that a certain amount of profiling should be used, I take comfort in the fact that every passenger on board has been through the same security procedures I have experienced. True, the terrorists all fit a certain profile but there are lots of people out there who are just plain nuts. The screening procedures may also protect us from the weirdos and nasty people among us.
Every year the TSA confiscates multitudes of weapons such as knives and firearms from people who try to fly who are not people who “fit the profile.” From 2002-2005, airport security confiscated an average of 14,000 potential weapons per day—including a machete and an AK-47. Some check points report discovering two firearms per day. The world is a dangerous place and not all the dangerous people are Islamic radicals.
Freedom of movement in this country is taken for granted and is seen as a right. But flying is not a right. There are alternatives—the bus, a car, the train—all of which have lesser security measures. The government, under Presidents Bush and Obama, has done a very credible job of keeping planes in the air and making air transportation safe. There hasn’t been a 9/11 since—well, since 9/11. If the price for that success is enhanced screening techniques, so be it. If someone doesn’t wish to comply then just get out of the line and let the rest of us through. We just want to arrive alive.
David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org) He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.