25 November 2010


Reading list:

On NPR yesterday, I heard flyers' comments on the scanners and the far majority could be represented by the flyer who said "I'm OK with it if it keeps me safe." Ignoring the question of a set-upon media possibly cherry picking comments, I'll repeat what Schneier and many others wiser than me have said: re-inforced pilot doors and flyer awareness are the only things that have made us safer. Reporters have oddly ignored that "if" clause at the end of the statement above choosing to believe the tacit assertion of increased safety.

Beyond the complete lack of proof, and significant evidence to the contrary, that this makes us safer is the question of whether we have a right to complain about it. There's been the standard backlash backlash of people criticizing people who criticize the use of scanners (e.g. "if you don't like it, don't fly"). I'll invoke the slipper slope fallacy and ask: how invasive can security be before it's unacceptable to you? If being viewed naked and/or being groped is acceptable now, and people are generally happy with this, how much further can they go? People have a right to criticize what they believe is improper. That criticism holds greater validity when it is backed by facts and logical conclusions. What does the "if you don't like it, don't fly" argument contribute to the discussion?

I've also heard people express anger over those who would slow down the airport line to make a point by opting out of the scanners. (This is also part of the backlash backlash.) One comment on Reddit pointed out the, humble, parallels with the Greensboro sit-ins. The black students would not be served but still took up space in the restaurant and hindered the ability of the restaurant to serve others. If they didn't like that store's policies, just don't go there.

From the Ask the Pilot article above:

Look again at that list above [of seven deadly terrorist attacks on airlines in the mid-80s]. All of those tragedies, in a four-year span, with some of the attacks actually overlapping. Try to imagine a similar spell today. Could we handle even a fraction of such disaster?

In the 1980s we did not overreact. We did not stage ill-fated invasions of distant countries. People did not cease traveling and the airline industry did not fall into chaos. We were lazy in enacting better security, perhaps, but as a country our psychological reaction, much to our credit, was calm, measured and not yet self-defeating.

[ posted by sstrader on 25 November 2010 at 11:08:22 AM in Culture & Society ]