Standing in the security line at Sea-Tac around the time Obama was elected in 2008, I thought that it would be a good indication of how much actual “hope and change” we’d be getting if the Obama Administration made some common sense changes to TSA procedures upon assuming office. It’s fairly well known that things like removing shoes and taking liquid items away doesn’t make much sense in any risk mitigation sense, and a new regime that billed itself as being more wedded to sound science than its predecessor would theoretically consider such changes to be no-brainers. Instead, we’ve continued to slide backwards in this respect, to the point of complete absurdity.
Our supposed national inclination towards personal liberty is nothing more than a mirage. What makes me even more convinced of this is that over 80% of the American public supports these body scans, while only 44% (Nate Silver estimates it’s far less than that) of Americans have even flown on an airplane in the past year. That means that there’s a significant number of Americans who never even face the miniscule risk of terrorism on an airplane who still insist that people’s naked images should be viewed by a government employee (or be sexually molested by one) before one can board a plane.
As Silver also points out in this post, people who travel most often are the most dissatisfied with airport security, and that was long before the porno-scanners were put into use. This seems perfectly normal to us, but it shouldn’t be. The people who should be most satisfied with a system of protecting air travelers are those most at risk from the security threats to air travelers. In a country where personal liberty is valued at some level, the people who aren’t at risk should be the least likely to go along with draconian security measures. Instead, they appear to be the most likely.
The brewing backlash against this insanity is good news, but the fact that it devolved to this point before people got this angry says a lot about how much we actually value freedom and how willing we’ve been to have blind faith in our government’s ability to “protect” us.