Are Full Body Scans Immoral?

Thanks to several friends to the link to this article about the reaction to the full body scanners that are now prevalent in Europe, and are coming to the US as well. The question that is raised is about the morality of the practice. The two women first mentioned are Muslim, and object to the idea of some man seeing the form of their body. This violates the common perception of modesty in Islamic circles. Some Catholics have also cited the sacredness of each human body as a reason to protest the use of the body scanners.

I tend to be somewhat libertarian on issues like this. To see people lose their privacy and liberties in an ill-fated attempt to provide absolute safety seems to circumvent the ideas of personal rights. I say ill-fated because it seems to me that those who wish to do harm will always find ways to circumvent the system, even as people are treated with less and less respect. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Why must we assume everyone is a potential terrorist until proven they are not? I realize that by choosing to travel on an airplane, I am voluntarily signing up for this, and I could just drive, though this is often impractical in the cases where I fly.

I’m also not totally comfortable with the idea of some other person, especially a man, looking at my wife’s body. I don’t much care if they are in a different room and can’t see her face. The point, to me, is much like the one the Muslim women were making, and others have made the same point. While I am not Catholic, as I’ve stated before, I do agree that there is something sacred and special about the human body. When my wife or I expose our bodies to our doctor, we are choosing to do so in a context of relationship and we can see the person face to face to insure that they are treating us with respect.

I feel somewhat lucky that Harrisburg is a small enough airport it will be a long time before they get around to this, I would guess. I’m not sure how I would/will respond when the time comes that I am confronted with a full body scanner during my travels, but the thought of it at this point makes me pretty uncomfortable. I hope that some sort of reasonable alternate option is granted. This just smells like over-reaction to me. But then, we seem to be good at that in America right now.

2 comments on “Are Full Body Scans Immoral?

  1. Thanks to Josh Wood for the link to this post from Ann Coulter about full body scans and airport security, but not from a moral perspective.


  2. […] my post a few days ago about the morality of the new full body scanners the TSA will be using in many US […]

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