Opinion: Airport screening is really not that big of a deal

Tyler Kieslich

Tyler Kieslich

Tyler Kieslich is a sophomore news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Like a lot of Americans, I spent the large part of my holiday weekend eating as much sweet potato casserole as possible while avoiding any and all familial questions about my relationship status. Both are activities that I can and do partake in all year around, but there’s something special about feeling bloated and awkward on a Thursday near the end of November.

As a cultural tradition, though, it would have felt weird if the Thanksgiving ritual went without a visit to at least one of our nation’s great airports. Aside from being propelled from Dayton to Atlanta in less than two hours, I got my yearly fix of feigning sleep to evade conversation with strangers and enough Cinnabon to remind me not to eat there for at least the next six months. Plus, I can’t really think of a better way to honor those Plymouth pilgrims than by getting up early to go wait in line at a glorified shopping mall.

It being one of the busiest travel days of the year, I had been forewarned to show up to my terminal a few hours early. My ticket said I paid $2.50 for a “Sept. 11 security tax,” which was presumably for the privilege of waiting in the security line for an hour while clumsily removing my shoes and hoping my feet smelled all right.

I’m often told by people old enough to remember traveling before Sept. 11 that those were halcyon days, when you could bring your pocket knife on board without a fuss and when you weren’t interrogated in a poorly lit back room for trying to pack a family-size shampoo bottle in your carry-on bag. So I was fully prepared for a cavity search and a holiday-sized portion of degradation.

The TSA gets a lot of crap, mostly from libertarians and other civil liberty fetishists who believe that any government-run institution ultimately has ulterior motives and wishes to disenfranchise literally everyone.

Certainly, being X-rayed by a machine that vaguely resembles a Stargate seemed a little silly, but it was hardly invasive. Knowing that all of the people I would be sharing what is essentially a sky-bound, rocket-propelled coffin with weren’t allowed to carry on anything sharp or explosive was something of a comfort.

Like anything run by the government, the TSA has its share of inefficiencies. Airport security could be faster, cheaper and safer, and there are horror stories about children inexplicably placed on “no fly” lists. But it’s hard to believe that policies enacted to ensure that nobody blows up the airplane are the handiwork of a government actively seeking to endanger and bully its citizens.

There does exist a legacy of heavy-handed, intrusive and downright illegal governance that came in the wake of Sept. 11. The Patriot Act has done more to spit on the ideals of the Constitution than any single piece of legislation to emerge in a century.

But seriously. America loves its liberty, but it loves eating more. So take your $2.50 pat-down in stride so you can get to what really matters.