The Transportation Security Association (TSA) is responsible for carrying out security screenings at U.S. airports. Recently, it has stepped up its screening process by utilizing full-body scanners that can see through clothing; they also modified their pat-down procedures, making them more invasive. These changes upset travelers, eliciting cries of, “Don’t touch my junk!” In protest, some people have started wearing special metallic ink-printed Fourth Amendment underwear that shows up on the TSA scanners.
Some take issue with the fact that every passenger is searched. They believe that only certain people should be screened, namely those who fit the profile of a terrorist; but news stories of individuals who converted to Islam and became terrorists are becoming more common. No longer can it be assumed that someone of Middle-Eastern descent will be the one to blow up a plane. The next airplane hijacker could just as easily be a Caucasian kid you went to high school with who learned to be a terrorist through the internet.
Searches and screenings are necessary to ensure the safety of all passengers on mass public transportation. If security were left up to airlines, consumers would be more likely to pick flights with fewer checkpoints in the interest of time and convenience. But this would also make these flights bigger targets for terrorists. With a government organization handling security screenings, it can be assured that each person is screened to the same standards.
I believe in freedom as much as the next person, but I’m also realistic. Some schools have metal detectors for the same reason airports do: to prevent weapons from being brought into what should be secure locations. Sometimes, what’s considered a weapon can be ridiculous, soldiers returning from Afghanistan are allowed to enter a plane while carrying unloaded guns, but they are forced by the TSA to surrender their multitools and nail clippers because those could somehow be used to take over a plane.
The banning of liquid containers over a certain size has received constant ridicule. These criticisms, however, miss the point that cosmetics can be used to make bombs. With hydrogen peroxide (your mom probably uses this to clean your cuts and scrapes), acetone (found in nail polish remover), and just a bit of acid (lemon juice, vinegar or a plethora of other common things) as a catalyst, you can create a volatile mixture that could easily explode. These compounds can be secretly made on a plane or in any other public place.
The TSA bans certain items because they know what are potential weapons or explosive agents. It may not be obvious how a pair of nail clippers could be used to hijack a plane, but they do have sharpened edges used for cutting nails, which could also be used to harm others. Much like how anyone with knowledge of chemistry could figure out how to construct a bomb, someone with enough creativity could figure out new and “better” ways to terrorize, if they so choose.
The only way to really guarantee that no one is going to cause chaos is to constantly monitor the population, strictly control information, and keep people from thinking for themselves. This is not the society that we currently live in. Until then, we’re going to have to undergo pat downs and full-body scans. Honestly, I’d rather do that than be banned from experimenting with chemicals in my basement.