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Locke’s Interpretation of Airport Security

November 22, 2010

Yesterday as I was standing in the two hour airport security line I could not help but notice these new security machines that everyone had to pass through.  These machines are designed to smell any metallic or toxic substance that may be on your body, and they take a super high definition x-ray photograph of your body to ensure you have no weapons on you.  What  was most interesting to me was why do we spend so much time and money paying for this elaborate security system and consent to standing in line for so many hours?  According to Locke we “give up the equality, liberty, and executive power” we might have had to protect ourselves from the dangers and evils of the outside world.  We are happy to allow the government charge us absurdly high taxes and make us wait in line for hours on end because we like the notion of feeling safe.  According to Locke people will always “quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers.”  So, after my dreadful airport experience yesterday and my lack of all patience for lines, I realized that I am allowing this pain to be brought upon myself.  Without even realizing it before, I actually demand that I wait in line for so long because I want to be safe.  Next time (in a week) when I go to the airport I will remind myself not to get so frustrated at the people running the airport security so slowly but and to remind myself that I want these drastic security measures because they are helping preserve my safety.

7 Comments
  1. Andrew Berman permalink
    November 23, 2010 3:22 PM

    You add additional commentary on the debate privacy vs. safety. I like how you discuss that along with safety comes the topic of inefficiency. At airports many people, including yourself, grow increasingly frustrated with the long lines and inefficiency of the airport crew. People must understand that along with privacy, time needs to be sacrificed in order to be safe. Instead of blaming others, people should get to the airport earlier, or listen to your ipod.

    • November 26, 2010 7:45 PM

      Yes, people need to realize that the long lines and delays are important. Not only are the crews creating safe travels, which we as citizens demand, but it is also acting as a deterrent for anyone who would try to terrorize a plane. Additionally the minor lapse in privacy (which includes a full body scan) does not actually invade our privacy as much as we would think. These full body scans take a blurred picture in which almost everyone looks the same, but makes it far easier for the security crews to find dangerous materials without having to pat people down or do strip searches. The important part to keep in mind is that we as travelers demand this invasion of privacy and the creation of long lines because we want to maintain our safety.

  2. Jorge Rodriguez-Larrain permalink
    November 23, 2010 3:53 PM

    I agree with the interpretation, Locke thinks that people are willing to give up natural rights for their own protection of property and security. Locke’s social theory seems to suggest that the government should never go against the will of the people; rather, the government must protect the individuals and their interests. This can definitely be applied to the airport scans. I also agree with this view, this security procedure will make me feel safer.

    • November 26, 2010 7:50 PM

      I agree that Locke’s belief that the government must protect its citizens absolutely applies here. Under Locke’s theories the government will gladly make people its people wait in line for a few hours if it ensures the safety of its people. Yes this will technically be going against the will of the people, making them wait in undesirable lines. But, the safety of the people, from the governments perspective, is far more important in this instance because a few hours of boredom always is always trumped by the absolute safety and well being of the people.

  3. reedmarcus permalink
    December 1, 2010 12:03 AM

    I feel that Locke’s belief that protection of citizens is the most crucial aspect of why the government acts in ways that may not appeal to the public at first until they consider the long term consequences. By implementing new forms of security technology, this may momentarily anger citizens with long lines and the need to arrive at the airport earlier than expected, it certainly is more important that each citizen is safe and secure throughout the duration of the trip. By forfeiting some rights by being forced to wait on long lines, the citizens of this country realize that their security is worth losing some liberties momentarily. Overall, Locke would feel as though this new form of security is the perfect way to secure airports for the citizens in this country whether they are angered for the time that they are on line for scanning because in the end, security is worth it.

  4. yequan permalink
    December 2, 2010 9:44 PM

    Locke argues that the end of political government is to protect property. And life is the first property Locke picked. So once people make consent to join society, they are under the protection of the government. Yeah ha, just think waiting for an hour for security is because the government is trying its best to protect our property. If it makes us feel better LOL.

  5. jmrusso permalink
    December 6, 2010 1:20 PM

    I agree with your post about how this new security option is a win-lose situation. Although the people who travel using airlines are now more exposed to security, they should not feel opposed to the new technology because it is used for all people flying through the air. However, the downside is that people may be waiting in a line for security. I have not personally experienced any difference in the wait for security. Honestly, there should not be an uproar against this new technology, the only people it is effecting is the people who seek terrorist activities. We the people should be thankful towards Homeland Security for their care for our safety.

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