Have you heard all the buzz about the new security measures at US airports? Of course you have. You have three computers, an iPad, two TVs and a smartphone, right? How could you not have been inundated with information about the enhanced pat-downs, arguments for and against using backscatter x-ray machines, and screenings gone horribly wrong (think prosthetic breasts and urostomy bags)?
I’m annoyed by all the attention these stories are receiving, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. I’m annoyed because it took society years to start really complaining about airport security and how it’s a huge joke. Several years ago, I stuck my nail clippers in my checked baggage because the TSA was refusing to allow nail clippers in carry-on luggage. Yet I was able to get on the plane with a serrated plastic knife I’d gotten at a food vendor near the boarding gate.
Bruce Schneier, a security critic and commentator who’s been very busy the last few weeks, has it right: the terrorists have won because we’re all freaked out, and not because of extremists with exploding shoes or underwear.
We’re freaked out about getting cancer from being exposed to machines which deliver smaller doses of radiation than an airplane.
We’re freaked out that TSA employees are getting all hot and bothered by what amounts to a blurry black-and-white image.
We’re freaked out about getting felt up and patted down by TSA employees who would rather not be touching your junk or any other part of your body, for that matter.
After 9/11, we gave the government a free pass to make new rules and new agencies because we were freaked out. And now we’re freaking out because of what WE gave them the power to do in the first place.
It’s easy to say, “Don’t fly if you don’t like the rules,” but it’s not helpful. Life goes on whether or not we allow our fear to dictate what we’re going to do or not do. As the song says, “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly.” The question is simple: is freaking out keeping you from being the best version of yourself?