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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Airport security oversteps bounds

By Jonathan Deesing

In the days after 9/11, we were all scared. Scared people do stupid things and there’s no shame in that. But we’ve had almost eight years to move on and we can’t. The Patriot Act is still in full effect. Our government still tells us when to be afraid; we are currently on terror alert orange. Fear controls many aspects of our life, from what we buy to where we travel.

This fact was brought to the forefront of my mind in my Spring Break travels. I pray that many of you ventured to exotic places and did fun things. Unfortunately, I also know that some of you were at one point or another inconvenienced by the Transportation Security Administration, one of the most effective tools in our government’s fear-mongering arsenal.

Now, I know that some of you will willingly take off your belts and shoes for freedom. I know that some of you have watched an 80-year-old woman get a “freedom pat” and felt safer. Indeed, with the new millimeter wave machines at many airports such as Salt Lake International, you can even watch your 13-year-old sister stand in a glass box while airport security officials look at a naked picture of her on a computer screen.

For freedom.

But these are professionals, right? After all, our tax dollars are paying these great patriots to keep our skies safe.

Wrong. In fact, the average TSA official’s salary is on par with the U.S. Census Bureau’s average for high school graduates with no college education (roughly $30,000), which is appropriate, considering that the same officials are not even required to have a GED to do their jobs.

That’s right, fearful students, that man patting down Grandma might be a high school dropout making less money than a McDonald’s shift manager.

Yet, every day, millions of Americans shuffle their socks along the dotted yellow line, anxiously awaiting the next invasion of their personal privacy. This is what freedom is all about, isn’t it? Constantly being afraid and looking to your government for protection, a sort of Big Brother as it were.

Am I proposing the unimaginable? To do away with airport security and let terrorists ruin our “beautiful for spacious skies”? Certainly not. What I am proposing is to have airport security done the right way. To have educated, well-trained officials conduct concise and respectful assessments of travelers that don’t leave them clutching their belts and shoes, wondering where they left their dignity.

As trite as it may sound, Benjamin Franklin said it best in 1775: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

As college students, we are to be the educated future of America, and we cannot let fear control our lives. If we do, we might wake up one morning and not like what we see on the telescreen.

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