Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Matter of Trust

Videos, like this one featured in Megan McArdle's webblog, are problematic as evidence of anything. Because of the lack of sound, you don't really know what is going on - there's nothing that you can use to verify what the captions tell you is happening.

But in a lot of ways, that's completely beside the point. This video points to a bigger problem - the idea that Transportation Security Administration workers can quickly become tin-plated tyrants, willing to punish people for simply standing up for the rights and privileges that they are supposed to have. Even if you assume that this video is more a less a complete fabrication, and/or deliberately taken out of context by some rabble-rousing terrorist sympathizer, the fact that the media is taking it seriously, and wanting more information is indicative of the greater issue that we're having with our security apparatus.

Security works on trust. That's just the nature of the beast. So, the TSA, unsurprisingly says, "Trust us." But there are segments of the population that are wary of doing so for its own sake. They ask, "How do we know we can trust you?" The problem arises when the perceived answer is "I don't recall phrasing that as a request."

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