My Perspective on AIr Travel


A common refrain among those who are happy trading a quick grope or some nude pictures for permission to travel about this once-free land is, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly.” To them, we are “thin-skinned” because we don’t want our children leered at by TSA agents of dubious provenance. Those of us who refuse to allow the government to have its way with us are described as “enabling Al Qaeda.” Yes, these folks are generally anonymous—sound reproductive strategy—but the legacy media jump in with both feet as well.
If I thought flying was worth being scoped and groped (I can imagine scenarios in which it would be, but none of them involve vacation travel), I would say so, but I could still honor the feelings of those who felt strongly otherwise, just as I respect the feelings of those who simply don’t find scope-or-grope objectionable. Where, in all of the statist apologetics, is the respect for the feelings of others? The level of discourse is low; it’s saddening, really.

At any rate…

I’ve talked at some length about the risk of dying on a scheduled commercial airline flight, both in 2001 and in a nightmare-scenario 2006. The average flight-stage length is around 675 miles; long story short, flying that distance (or any distance—flight danger is not highly dependent on flight length) in 2009 was about 67 times safer than driving that distance. Air travel (like anything worth doing) will always carry some risk. That risk freaks lots of people out, but it is a minuscule price to pay for the convenience. There is no rational reason for any innocent person to give up an iota of freedom so that flying might be 68 times safer than—or 680 times safer than, or even as safe as—driving.

So why should those few of us who, being based in reality, are willing to take some responsibility for our own (and our families’) safety hand airline travel over to the “whatever it takes” beta subject-victims? Sure, they outnumber us (by about 295,000,000-to-73), but this nation was not founded on the principle that the majority is always right; nor was it founded on the principle that safety trumps freedom. So I have a suggestion for those who think that flying without being scope-or-groped was too dangerous: leave air travel to the big boys and girls who understand the danger, and are not too thin-skinned to accept the small risk in exchange for getting to our destinations quickly and comfortably. In other words, if you don’t like it, don’t fly.

Killing people and destroying property are not the goals of terrorism (they are the goals of murder and sabotage, respectively). The goal of terrorism is to get people or governments to change their conduct. The weapon of terrorism is not the bomb or the knife or the gun or the 737; the weapon of terrorism is terror. People who refuse to be terrorized—who refuse to be afraid or, being afraid, refuse to change their conduct—defeat terrorism. Those who are terrorized—who are afraid and, based on their fear, let the government do “whatever it takes”—hand the terrorists a victory.

The author of one of the blogs I read (someone will, I hope, tell me where I saw this) wrote recently that, while government and media feed fear, he was not stupid enough to say that they aided terrorism. I am, I suppose, stupid enough. Fear sells newspapers, which benefits the media, and fear makes people say “whatever it takes,” which benefits the government. So the media and the government pump up the fear. Lots of people think that airport security theatre is intended to make us feel safer; nothing could be further from the truth. If the government wanted us to feel safer, it would publicize the astronomically small risk of commercial air travel. The point of security theatre (to the extent it has a point other than to keep a bunch of unemployables employed) is to make you feel afraid (which, incidentally, is why unemployables are the ideal players).

Without our cooperation, terrorists could no more take away our freedom than they could kill every one of us. The only people who can make us less free are we. If we understood the risks, we wouldn’t give an inch. So by making us afraid, the media and the government are complicit with terrorists. The “whatever it takes” crowd, allowing them to do so, enables al Qaeda.

(I have been encouraged to write “something law-related.” My next post will explain what this has to do with jury trials.)


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