Editorials

Trading privacy for safety good bargain for travelers

By the Herald editorial staff

We live in a society that affords us many freedoms and luxuries, even in the tough economic times much of our country is facing today.

The things we take for granted daily are unimaginable to those living in other parts of the world.

So why are some people here raising such a fuss about increased security at our airports?

We barely averted a national tragedy last month when a terrorist bent on taking innocent lives managed to board an airliner bound for Detroit. What a statement that would have made had he been successful, on Christmas Day no less.

By some miracle, the chemicals concealed in the misguided jihadist's undergarments failed to detonate, and passengers and staff were able to contain the situation.

Air travel is not a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It is a luxury that allows us to move from place to place quickly. Yes, we mean quickly. It still beats driving in most cases.

Stop whining about long lines at airport security that are meant to do nothing more than provide an added measure of safety.

Is the TSA perfect? No. Could it do better? Of course. But TSA employees are there for a reason and that reason is to protect you.

We've heard a lot about new body scanners that would provide better images of what passengers have on their persons. Some full body scanners give a pretty good picture of what a person looks like sans clothes, at least in an ethereal way. A lot of the details are still left to the imagination, judging from images we've seen on the news.

But some folks are worried that their scanned "naked" images will wind up as internet porn or some other such nonsense.

We're guessing if looking at images of bodies on the internet is your thing, there's probably better stuff out there.

The opponents of the new technology say it invades personal privacy and shouldn't be used.

We say get over it. We think being blown up is a far bigger invasion of our privacy than the use of technology to check for weapons and explosives.

The body scanners might even speed up security checks for those among us with metal parts in hips or knees following surgery.

If it's something more old-fashioned like a physical body pat-down that has your privacy meter on edge, you'll just have to trust that the folks handling it are professionals. Cops do it every day and we don't hear much about inappropriate contact.

Besides, once you've patted down a few hundred folks, whatever inadvertent thrill there may have been for the frisker has likely faded. We're not a society of supermodels after all.

The best way to make your air travel experience pleasant is to follow the rules. Check your airline website for the latest advisories or restrictions. Things change quickly, especially following an incident, so a measure of patience is required as well. Show up early and do your part in the process.

And if you still can't live with the protections being put in place to keep us all from becoming particles instead of persons, we suggest you get in your car and start driving. It may take you a while but you'll be the master of your privacy, or at least you can think that.

Just don't stop for gas or use your ATM card or go shopping along the way, or you'll give up your privacy to a security camera.

We sacrifice bits of privacy every day. It's all a matter of what you can live with.

We're happy to let airport screeners look at a stylized image of our body parts if it means we get to keep them awhile longer.

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