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Concerning Profiling

This may surprise some of you, but I am pro-profiling especially with concern to all versions of crime/terrorism. There’s a certain limit that a society can tolerate being politically correct and the limit is the good of the majority. At this point all of the people screaming about racism and discrimination in regard to whether or not a male from a muslim country ages 18-35 can board a plane without being pulled aside for screening are missing the point. It’s not discrimination if they are still allowed to board the plane. The matter centers around which group of people is more likely to commit a terrorist action while flying, and history has shown us what group is more likely, therefore that group should be subjected to an extra screen prior to walking into the gate at an airport.

Using the Utilitarian model of social ethics, it simply makes more sense. It increases the general happiness of the whole while merely inconveniencing the minority. I point out that the word is “inconveniencing” not “harming” so the ethical justification doesn’t fall underneath the usual objections to the English Utilitarians. The majority would not only be protected from direct harm, but also would feel a bit more comfortable while flying and that, while not a large contribution to happiness, is a contribution nonetheless. Being politically correct is not only foolish but in regard to safety it is downright dangerous. We should be demanding real security while flying not what we have now, which is the illusion of security.

The new implementations the US is asking of countries within the European Union is that the citizens of 13 or so countries be asked for the passport twice, their bags specially screened, and their persons receive a body scan before being allowed on the plane. I ask, what is the point of having to display the passport twice? Any good terrorist is going to have a fake passport, barring that, they themselves will probably have clean records. Also, do you think that a suicide bomber is going to care whether or not he uses his real name? The only people that are that concerned about the name on the passport are fugitive criminals since obviously the do not fly list doesn’t work.

The body scan idea is a good one, so are the sniffing machines; but now an objection to the body scanners because of child pornography laws is being lodged by privacy groups in England. The response thus far has been to exclude those under 18 from being subjected to the scans because they create naked pictures of people underneath their clothes and this violates laws designed to protect children. Why not just send a telegraph to whatever B grade terrorist group out there that is trying to make a name for itself: “just send the kids, god will protect them.” This of course is the same justification used for the Children’s Crusade back in the late middle ages, but those sending them now really don’t expect them to come back even if they are successful.

Every time I fly I get pulled aside for random screening. And you know what? I get it, I fit an age group and a gender more likely to cause a problem on the plane than any other. I don’t complain because I know that I have nothing to hide and have thick enough skin to realize that things like this are necessary. Who is actually doing the complaining? Not the terrorists who are working on figuring out what the new guidelines are so that they can figure a way around them.

If some thing looks wrong, or suspicious, the airline does have the right to make a risk assumption in order to protect the greater number of people. I have yet to read one good argument that states otherwise.* I guess we’ll see how this pans out.

*Slippery Slope arguments don’t count as good.

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