Friday, October 22, 2010

Virtual Strip Searching

Another post which is barely, if at all, Jewish in content…

My friend Jonathan Mitten posted an interesting article on Facebook. It seems that a pilot recently refused to submit to the controversial full body scanning that’s been in the news, on and off, for some time now. Michael Roberts, the pilot:

“I'm not going to do it,” he says. “Not once am I going to show them my naked body.”

The offered him the standard alternative: a full body frisking:

“I'm not on board with Federal Agents putting their hands on me every time I go to work,”

I'll admit a tiny bit of ambivalence about this one. On the one hand, there is something about "virtual strip searching" which strikes me as no big deal. I just don't reflexively get all that concerned if some anonymous person sees an anonymous scan of my body. I'm not saying that's right or wrong - that's just my honest, initial reaction.

But, even with that, the extreme lengths that are being gone to, in terms of time, money and Civil Liberties, to enact largely ineffective measures against terrorism seem really problematic. It might be an old trope, but one major, awful terrorist act has convinced us to spend untold millions (billions?), and also to put up with endless intrusions to our privacy and liberty. Seems like a continuing victory for the 9/11 bombers.

Like I said, I’m ambivalent. I can see both sides of this one. But, when asked about the distinct possibility of losing his job, Roberts replied:

“Better people than I have sacrificed more than their careers, their livelihood, for the cause of freedom.”

I’m interested to hear if anyone wants to defend the TSA policy, but even if he wasn’t right, I can’t help but admire Michael Roberts quite a bit today.

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