Skip to content

Singles traveling under new security measures

November 18, 2010

I know many of you have great concerns regarding these new airport security methods being implemented at airports. Rightly so. They are questionable, to say the least.

I am concerned about it deterring single Catholics from traveling to meet other members in a long distance relationship and traveling with us on our Ave Maria Singles trips.

I will be traveling with my family by plane over Thanksgiving and it bothers me a great deal to put them through this. I was not sure what to do. So I emailed my spiritual director, who is very wise and holy, and asked him what he thought about all this and what a Catholic should do. He put it very well and I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it would help you as it helped me. I think it is sound advice:

Dear Mr. Buono,

I’ve been watching the TV news reports and analyses about this situation. If I were in the situation where I had to choose between the scanning machine and the pat-down, I would, without question, choose the scanning machine. The thought of someone — whether male or female — putting his or her hand on any part of that area that is normally enclosed within my underpants is totally unacceptable to me. And, of course, you have a duty to protect not only yourself but also your wife and children from this kind of invasive contact. I’m belaboring the obvious when I point out that the “untouchable areas” of the female persons in your family are more extensive than those of the male persons in your family!

But what about the scanning machine? Given the perilous times in which we live, I think I could accept being scanned. I’m not enthusiastic about being scanned, but I think it is obvious that there is a difference between “prurient and prolonged nakedness” and “simple and brief nakedness.” The latter is not particularly erotic. The moral prohibition on allowing ourselves to be seen naked is not absolute, as we all know. We permit physicians and nurses to see our naked bodies and we justify it “for a higher good.” I would say, by analogy, that we may allow security persons to see our naked bodies “for a higher good.”

Moreover: (a) the security person who views the image is “in business mode” and is seated in a cubicle not accessible to the public; (b) the face of the person being scanned is blurred; (c) the image is not preserved or filed away. At least that is what they tell us, and I guess I can believe it.

All things considered, I think you could, in good conscience, accept the body scan for yourself and your wife and your munchkins. There is, of course, the “medical concern,” viz. the possibility of harm resulting from radiation. This is not an area where I have any expertise. I tend not to worry about such things. With cell phones and microwaves and other toys of the modern age, we are probably exposed to more radiation than we realize.

Bottom line: Take the body scans and enjoy your vacation!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Chirdo permalink
    December 8, 2010 8:51 pm

    Hello! May the day find your blessed. Okay this is another area of Bio-Ethics I find fascinating and indicative of the times. As a Catholic woman of God who is also one of spiritual principle, I’m also a nurse. This whole situation is unhealthy, invasive, unvirtuous and dangerous….in different ways. WAAAY too much radiation. Though we are around excessive electro magentic fields in general between cell phones on heads, in pockets (don’t get me started on pregnant woman addicted to their crackberry in their pockets or at belly level — cellular problems for our fetal brother and sisters), microwaves, tvs, radios, dental xrays, not to mention any additional medical rays. For those who say not to worry about these things, we do have a moral and understandable duty to care for our health and bodies, since it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should NOT welcome unncessary dangers. However on the other hand, the pat down is extremely devalues the sacredness of this human body, temple of the Holy Spirit. It is unbelievable, it is immoral and it is NOT going to stop the evils of terrorism. They will find other ways. Are these methods bogus? We can’t come up with anything else? Any other ideas? This is certainly a tricky one. What really concerns me, are the children that will be patted down. Should we maybe evaluate the sexual deviation propensity of those doing to assessment/security? Will people with sexual issues seek employment at airport security BECAUSE it’s easy access to their prey/addiction/evil? Hmmm, tricky. Exposing children to radiation is FAR worse than an adult which is bad enough! Being probed and grobed is also extremely inapprorpriate as well. It’s all bad, in different ways. Lord have mercy on us. I am flying in a month, and then a month after that. And perhaps another after that. I will be thinking about this and praying for sure. Very good topic of conversation for sure.

  2. Tobias permalink
    December 8, 2010 8:52 pm

    I too disagree with Father. I’m concerned about all those who endeavor to remain as modest as possible, particularly religious. Can you imagine a group of Missionaries of Charity coming from India for some important work, having to be scanned or groped? It’s a reality and a serious abuse, all for a what appears to be a vague sense of security. I advocate protesting.

  3. joseph permalink
    December 8, 2010 8:53 pm

    I agree with all the above: it is a violation of our rights, it will not stop terrorism and the saftey is far from clear. I recently returned from a trip to Israel to visit the Holy Land. Cetainly one of the most security conscious nations. No pat downs or x-ray machines. NO removal of shoes, belts and all the BS we americans are subjected to and meekly accept. They (Israeli security) evaluate you, simple questions. If you are a risk a more detailed search may follow. If someone is arabic, they may be searched, rightfully so. We misinterpret this evaluation as prejudice and ridiculously (in the USA) require ALL to be similarly treated in order to avoid bias. This is ridiculous. Bias against those suspect. This is not bias but common sense.

  4. Andrew permalink
    December 8, 2010 8:54 pm

    I disagree as well. To me it is about our rights as an American and a person. The 4th Amendment is suppose to protect us against unreasonable search and seizure. There is no mistake about it, this is a strip search; and you are being subjected to it because you bought a plane ticket. Is that reasonable? What about standing up for human dignity? If we are willing to submit ourselves to this type of humiliation, than we have accomplished what the terrorists have failed to do. As for the safety issue, I will not step into one of the x-ray backscatter scanners. Numerous medical personnel have stated that, given the large number of Americans who travel, some will end up getting skin cancer from these machines. The 3 mm wavelength (closer in energy to radio waves) scanners are a bit different but it goes back to the question “am I willing to sacrifice my God given human dignity just to fly in an airplane?” For me the answer is “No.” This doesn’t even cover the “pat” downs.

  5. Jennifer Thomas permalink
    December 8, 2010 8:54 pm

    I understand Fr.’s perspective with regard to the propriety to be maintained, making the scanner less intrusive so to speak than the pat-down. However, from the several reports I have seen demonstrating the images, the images are graphic, to the point of revealing if a woman is in her menstrual cycle and whether a man is circumcised or not, and have to be blurred out to be shown on TV, even cable TV. Additionally, the images have been shown to be storable; some have been posted onto Youtube, albeit from a different source than the TSA.

    The other issue is that the scanners do not detect explosives nor plastics, so simply give a false sense of security, and the risk from radiation is too unknown to subject ourselves to for what is marginal safety increase. Radiologists themselves are refusing to expose themselves to the scanner.

    At the same time as our dignity is being undermined and violated, baggage and cargo are being minimally screened. And in addition to everything else, most of the threats to airlines come from outside of America.

    We could learn a lot from the Israeli’s concerning appropriate interviewing techniques for security screening. They still respect the dignity of persons. By acquiescing to these procedures, we give permission to have our dignity diminished.

  6. Robert Kauffmann permalink
    December 8, 2010 8:55 pm

    The trouble with the scanning machines is they give you as much radiation as DOZENS of x-rays. There is a real danger of getting cancer from this, and we put ourselves and our families in that danger. The answer is to tell the airlines, the state DAs and so on to boot the Feds out of the airports or we don’t fly anymore. please reference for more details on this.

  7. Peter permalink
    December 8, 2010 8:55 pm

    With all due respect, I will disagree. It seems to me that the radiation from the scan is sufficient to be worrisome, not to mention the fact that some pictures are not in fact deleted right away.

Anything to add?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: