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Matt Von Pinnon, Published November 21 2010

Von Pinnon: Extreme airline security tests our values, priorities

With all the travel associated with Thanksgiving and the holiday season fast approaching, there’s been a lot of attention paid lately to the new, more-invasive airport security measures.

Be it full-body pat-downs or full-body scanners, it seems more air travelers are starting to really question whether all the hassles associated with trying to keep them safe are really worth all the freedoms lost in the process.

There’s even an Internet-based campaign that asks air travelers on Wednesday – the busiest flying day of the year – to opt out of full-body scans and instead choose full-body pat-downs to try to gum up the works to illustrate how our security measures have gone too far.

The National Opt-Out Day will no doubt heighten flying frustrations and could lead to some ugly exchanges between those who see the issue from vastly different perspectives.

This conflict was bound to happen at some point. After Sept. 11, 2001, most Americans were very willing to give up some freedoms in order to stay safe, or at least feel safer. But time goes by, and people do forget, despite pledging to “never forget.”

And so now some of those hassles associated with ever-increasing airline safety measures are getting on our nerves and the pendulum of opinions begin to swing the other way. We ask ourselves:

How we answer those questions goes to our own personal circumstances, and those circumstances can and do change over time.

I recently realized this while peering over a balcony at Denver International Airport, the security line below snaking around each end of the building. There was easily a few thousand people waiting to be searched, and my little family would soon be at the back of the line.

I thought to myself: What have we done to ourselves as a country? This isn’t what America is all about.

If I had my druthers that day – if I individually had a choice of whether to choose freedom over security – I would have undoubtedly chosen freedom.

But then I looked over at my wife and two young daughters, carry-on bags and hopes in hand.

“Let’s hustle,” I said. “The line’s not getting any shorter.”

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579 or mvonpinnon@forumcomm.com.