Are Americans selectively Hobbesian?
In general, Americans value their privacy and prefer a balance of security and safety that slightly favors individual rights over security. This is the case in most liberal democracies
throughout the world. After the the 9/ 11 terrorist attacks however American citizens started to abandon their ideas about individual rights and the importance of safety. They allowed the balance to to shift towards a more Hobbesian ideal, one that favors security over individual freedoms. Congress allowed the passage of the “Patriot Act”. Even though the Patriot Act gave police and anti terrorist agents the power to search American homes without a warrant or judicial oversight, the Patriot act was looked at very favorably by the majority of the American public. People seemed to think that because they were not terrorists this law couldn’t effect them. This was not the case. In some instances the new laws were abused, and many times, they were not only used for terrorism prevention but to harass Muslim american families and minor offenders.
Recently though, the TSA has upped its security and large minority of Americans are bothered by this. It is thought that this is the case because, rather than only effecting suspected terrorists, the new TSA regulations effect almost airline travelers not just a minority. Many travelers feel that because they have not personally done anything wrong, that they should be trusted over other passengers. The picture above shows a body scan from a TSA machine. Theses machines, that take scans of people and give a visualization of a person’s uncovered body has been seen as unacceptable by up to 30% of American’s, but is it really that much more invasive than the Patriot Act? It seems that American’s are more than willing to give away what they perceived as the rights of others for the security of themselves, but not their own. They are fine with the FBI ransacking the home of a suspected terrorist, but not with the TSA taking a scan to make a stripped down image of them , that is frankly, pretty blurry. Some Americans are letting America become more and more Hobbesian because of their fear of terrorism. They are focusing on their more trivial, personal inconveniences, while happily letting our Government take away basic individual rights.