Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How Far is Too Far???

Today I was doing a little Internet perusing for some news, and I came across this article. For those of you who don't have time to go read it (or if the link doesn't work for any reason), allow me to give you the basic summary.

Apparently there is new airport security made up of people who are trained to watch faces and body language for "signs of bad intentions." It could be any of the security officials, as there is nothing that designates them from the rest of the security staff. Currently these new agents are in about a dozen airports nationwide, and plans call to have 500 of these agents in airports by the end of 2008. If they deem that a person seems "suspicious" while they assist them through their check-in or through the security x-rays or maybe even help them with their bags, they will turn them over to law enforcement officials for further questioning.

And get this... they have a name: Behavior Detection Officers. Is it just me or is anyone reminded of a variety of things from Orwell's 1984 or maybe even Huxley's Brave New World? Are we really getting to the point that we are being watched THIS closely now?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for our nation taking certain measures to protect the people. I tend to be a fairly safe and cautious person myself. I don't walk around deserted streets alone at night. I don't leave valuables in plain sight in my car. I lock my doors. But I also don't walk around paranoid that something could happen to me.

I guess I'm just wondering where the line is in a post-9/11 world. It's hard to make a criticism of something that is being put into place for our safety. I get that. I fully understand the reasons. I agree that we should be doing things to protect ourselves. However, I think there HAS to be a line.

I found a few more articles on the matter that I won't bore you with, but the jist of one of them was pointing out how they'll look for "negative" facial features. I can think of plenty of reasons why people would be wandering around the airport with these so-called negative facial features. Maybe they're afraid to fly. Maybe they just had a fight with a significant other. Maybe they're running late. Maybe they're irritated because the airport is always running late. The list goes on...

It just seems to me that yes, maybe they can catch a few suspicious characters this way... but to what cost to the rest of us? How many innocent people are going to be held up more at the airport because they're not coming across has happy and peaceful? I'm torn in some ways... I don't mind being held up a bit if it means my life is being saved, but I also think it's possible to take it too far.

Maybe I'm way off base. Maybe I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. Maybe Behavior Detection Officers are the way to go to keep our airports as safe as possible. But even if all those things are true, I still believe that it's possible for all of this to get taken too far. At some point, someone's got to draw a line between a reasonable concern for the safety of our nation and an unreasonable state of paranoia. Feel free to agree or disagree... either viewpoint is welcomed. :)

1 comment:

smc said...

I saw that article last week and was pretty taken aback. The idea of needing to remind myself to be cheerful but not TOO cheerful, compliant but not TOO compliant, in order not to be detained for questioning was unnerving to say the least. Especially since I travel with Patrick, the world's grumpiest flyer.