English 9 Honors-5
2 February, 2016
The Damaging Effects of Finite Safety on Fundamental Liberty
In 1759, founding father Benjamin Franklin stated that temporary safety was not worth the staggering price of relinquishing essential liberty. He argued the point of citizens standing their ground when challenged to abandon privacy.
Franklin’s quote correctly summarizes how it is possible in the modern world for safety, in exchange for liberty, to be extended into invasion of privacy. The government, under the PATRIOT Act, has the right to track citizens’ phone calls and emails, search belongings, and keep track of people's whereabouts, for fear of a threat to the United States. Privacy is crucially essential to the public, as shown in a recent article. A man named Kevin Payne shared a video of a TSA officer patting down his daughter in an indecent manner after she leaves a Capri Sun in her airport carry-on. The 10 year old has a near two minute screening that the father feels is inappropriate and unnecessary, especially for a girl under 12 years old. According to San Diego Tribune, Payne said, “TSA agents made it clear to him that he would be arrested if he tried to interfere with the search of his daughter” (San Diego Tribune). If Payne were to prevent the officer from touching his child, they would take him into custody, violating both his and his daughter’s Fourth Amendment right of protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Likewise, citizens all over the United States have surrendered their essential liberty at airport security checkpoints in exchange for invasive precautions. However, it can be argued the safety of flights could be worth two minutes of screening and that the father of the video is overreacting. Examples of inadequate security leading to flight emergencies are the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In response, airports introduced more advanced screening systems and tightened flight laws to prevent a similar strike. Also, the Fourth Amendment clearly states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons...against unreasonable searches and seizures...but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (United States Constitution). The airport has approval to search any suspicious person or persons by law. Whenever an airport security alarm sounds, that implies the person passing through has violated a law of aircraft possession, whether it be a pocketknife or a Capri Sun. While valid points arise in these arguments, there is a fine line between precaution and invasion. Although airplane security is used to preserve safety of travelers, the TSA officer in the video clearly violated the young girl’s privacy and personal space. Although the TSA has a permit to inspect questionable behavior, Franklin points out how it is hard to feel secure when personal boundaries and liberties are neglected. In conclusion, Ben Franklin was undoubtedly correct in stating that temporary safety is never worth surrendering personal liberties.
"Airport Security Repercussions Due to the September 11 Attacks." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airport_security_repercussions_due_to_the_September_11_attacks>.
Cook, Morgan. "Man Upset over TSA Pat-down of Daughter, 10." The San Diego Union-Tribune. N.p., 4 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. <http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jan/04/tsa-10-year-old-girl/>.
"Fourth Amendment - U.S. Constitution - FindLaw." Findlaw. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment4.html>.
Payne, Kevin. "10 Years Old Girl Traumatized after TSA Agents Pat Her down at the Airport." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlHT-zzqpB8>.
"September 11 Attacks." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks>.
Wittes, Benjamin. "What Ben Franklin Really Said." Lawfare. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.