How far is too far?

Molly Cahill

With many of us heading home for the holidays, travel frustration is not only an issue but also an eventuality. Most Kent State students are from Ohio, so they’ll be driving home for the holidays. For those who will be traveling out of state or who have family coming here, the increasingly invasive security procedures in some airports will not make an already hectic travel time any easier.

No one likes going through security at the airport, but since the advent of Transportation Security Administration in 2001 it’s become an accepted part of air travel. And most of the time it’s not that bad; you take off your shoes, let them x-ray your bag and it’s over. But as time wears on and people get trickier in how they sneak restricted items through, security procedures get more invasive.

The strangest security measure I had to pass through was at an airport in San Francisco. They had me walk into this machine that then sent blasts of air from all different directions meant to shake off any dust they could test for illegal substances. Then they insisted that I pull everything out of my bag while one of the guards watched so they could test for more mystery dust. Being blasted with air while fully clothed I can deal with, unpacking my underwear in front of a complete stranger on the other hand is rather embarrassing.

I’ve traveled enough that most of the commonplace procedures don’t faze me. As long as people don’t get too handsy, it’s easier to just go with the flow. But there reaches a point where the line between public security and personal privacy gets blurred. And what are you supposed to do when you feel someone has crossed that line? Raising a stink at the airport will not only make them want to search you more thoroughly, but also probably ensure you miss your flight. Who knows, you might even be flagged for another search further down the line.

As it turns out, even our names can be a hurdle to being allowed to fly. I remember reading a story a while back about a boy who was routinely stopped and searched because he had the bad fortune to share the name of someone considered a security risk; something which apparently happens more often than one might think.

A recent policy requires passengers in some airports to step in front of a full body scanner. It gives TSA agents the ability to look right at you even through your clothes. On the one hand, it’s less invasive than a strip search, but again who would want complete strangers looking at them naked? The fact that travelers have no choice in the matter is what pisses me off the most.

I don’t dispute that airport security has made air travel safer and that it continues to be needed. But we have a right to our privacy and it just seems wrong that the only alternative to going along with these security procedures, that can become very invasive, is to not fly at all. Not to mention the attitude security workers get if you even think of complaining. And it’s not like people can just choose to take a train or a boat instead because they have security measures of their own.

Sometimes enough is enough, but what choice do we really have other than to go along with it?

Molly Cahill is a senior pre-journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].