The Rosett Report

Airport Strip Search Conundrum

If there’s any upside at all to big government becoming ever bigger and more intrusive, it’s that the resulting absurdities do provide a certain amount of entertainment. I can’t say it’s remotely worth it, but pending salvation in the form of an electorate getting fed up with such stuff, let’s take what we can get.

So it was with a report on this evening’s TV new about a Houston-based airline pilot, Michael Roberts, who is now in danger of losing his job because at an airport security check he refused to go through a full-body scanner. Roberts told a Houston TV station that he objects to “being frisked by an agent of the federal government every day on my way to work.” Blogging his experience, Roberts further explained that he objects to full body scanners in particular, which he says amount to “virtual strip searching.”

The Transportation Security Administration (the folks who at various times over the past nine years have amassed collections of your pen knives, shampoo and manicure scissors) fired back that “Security is not optional.”

Security is a good thing, and we can all be grateful if the TSA spares passengers the need to do their own policing of the next flaming underwear bomber (excuse me — “alleged” underwear bomber). But somewhere in here is the question of tradeoffs. How far do you go to provide security, and at what cost to whom? Shuffling shoeless through the airport checks, we’ve all become far too familiar with a federal system that puts Great Aunt Edna through a virtual strip search, while refusing even to attach the word “Islamist” to the “violent extremists” who are so keen to blow up or bring down airliners.

But in this case, it’s not even Aunt Edna who’s in trouble for balking at the body scanner. It’s the pilot. As my nephew, Max Rosett, summed it up, while watching the news with us this evening: “What are they concerned he’s going to do? Hijack the plane?”