How much indignity are people willing to suffer for supposed security?


John Tyner, the person who opposed having the TSA either porno scan him or grope him has been fielding questions from people who say things like “So if next time a terrorist successfully hides “devices” to kill Americans on a plane, because you seem to think TSA or airport security is over-excessive…What will you say?”

The questioner usually thinks this is a killer argument and that anyone who speaks up for freedom from this kind of government abuse will backpedal when confronted with the question: what if we do as you say and a terrorist exploits this very feature to kill people?

My answer would be: That’s tough. People die tragic deaths all the time. We have to learn to live with this risk just the way we live with the many and much greater risks that we face every day. We cannot avoid all risks to people. It is never a question of zero risk versus maximum risk. Risk lies on a continuum and we have to decide on the level of risk that is acceptable, and not focus on the kind of risk. Why is it worse to die in an airplane crash caused by a terrorist act than an airplane crash caused by pilot fatigue or engine failure? Why is it worse to be killed by a bomb than it is to die in a car crash or be hit by lightning or be killed by a deranged killer on a murder spree?

If we decide, against all reason, that airplane terrorists have to be foiled whatever the cost, then we are doomed because we are at the mercy of whatever crazy scheme they come up with next. For example, the TSA’s porno scanners cannot detect devices that are stored inside body cavities. Suppose yet another stupid suicide terrorist is discovered with a bomb secreted inside his rectum. Does that mean that we should submit to body cavity searches? Why not?

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) speaks out against the absurdity and introduces legislation that would make the TSA subject to the same laws as everybody else.