The other day someone asked me, after I’d made some passing comment about the whole TSA get-photographed-naked/be groped issue, why anyone would bother with this when there are so many other more important issues, like world poverty. “Why waste your time talking about something so trivial?” I was asked.
After thinking about it, I decided it’s not a minor issue.
This latest hamhanded policy – and its timing -- amounts to a referendum on how much intrusion officials can inflict on Americans. It’s no accident that this came up not long before the holiday rush. They’re counting on most of us being too preoccupied with getting from point A to point B to complain. After a few weeks, they hope, we’ll get used to it and accept it as the norm.
That’s really what it’s about.
So what’s next? Because rest assured, the envelope will be pushed a little further once they’ve established that we will put up with either being effectively photographed nude or strangers groping our genitals. It always is. Every time such authorities make an incursion into our privacy, it’s with solemn assurances that it will not be abused and – honest to God! – this is as far as they’ll go. Really! Cross their hearts and hope to die!
Don’t for one minute assume that wealthy and influential travelers are going to be subjected to this policy. Once it becomes established, opting out of it will become just one more cozy perk enjoyed by high end business fliers, one more little chip at the dignity of the rest of us.
No, it’s not on quite the same scale as world poverty, the nuclear arms race, unemployment, or torture. But it’s still important. It impacts us all. It forces us to confront how much of our personal privacy we’re willing to relinquish in the name of security.
At what point do we draw the line?
Crossposted from Thoughtcrimes