Monday, November 22, 2010

TSA Backlash Watch: William Saletan's Backlash

Slate's William Saletan grumbles about the "imbecils" protesting scanners and pat-downs: "Wednesday is the busiest air travel day of the year, and a horde of paranoid zealots—techno-libertarians, Tea Partiers, rabble-rousers, Internet activists, and congressional demagogues—has decided to make it even worse."

Saletan can get away with this string of insults because he's arguing against straw men. He disdains the health argument against the scanners, which is fine: I don't really buy that line of reasoning myself. But he invokes the menace of the underwear bomber -- all while failing to mention that it's questionable whether the scanners would've detected the underwear bomber in the first place.

And he grumbles about the idea that "National Opt-Out Day" will make air lines slower and air travel less secure. We'll see about that. Certainly, I'd agree that there needs to be a balance between keeping the system running smoothly and safely, and letting passengers retain a sense of liberty and dignity. Saletan treats the last consideration as though it's completely negligible in light of the first two factors. It's not, or at least it shouldn't be.

1 comment:

Notorious Ph.D. said...

A friend from grad school told me about how she managed to get hard currency into Russia when she was doing her dissertation research. Let's just say that if you're willing to exploit things that you know security types will be squeamish about inspecting, and you're not packing things dogs are trained to sniff out, those scanners will do little good.

I'm thinking that more sniffer dogs are the answer. Even the regular dogs aren't shy about smelling anywhere, on your person or off.