Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are Airport Full Body Scanners A Necessary Infringement of Liberty?

 For the last 9 years we have heard from pulpits and soap boxes, in editorials and Facebook comments, on the air and in print of the need to sacrifice our liberty, excuse me, some of our liberty for the sake of the safety and the stability of our society. 

Well I completely disagree! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Inevitably this leads to being asked something to the effect of: 

“But aren’t speed limits acceptable? Don’t you give up liberty when you submit to the speed limit?” 

No, I don’t and here’s why they are completely different from scanners. 

The law (that’s God's law as revealed in the scriptures of the Old & New Testament) defines what is right and what is not. In that law there are two commands relevant to this situation. 

  1. Do not kill (Exodus 20:13), and 
  2. Obey every ordinance of man (1 Peter 2:13). 

A good illustration of how the first command is to be applied is found in Deuteronomy 22:8 where the Israelites were commanded to put a parapet around their roof to prevent someone from accidentally falling off the roof during a good belly laugh or other momentary lapse of forgetfulness. 

While this law is not relevant to us today because we do not entertain guests on our roof (it would be if we did), we do drive potentially lethal projectiles through places people live and play. Like the parapet, speed limits guide us in the exercise of Biblical due diligence necessary to prevent loss of life or property. They are lawful civil ordinances, which the second command above requires us to obey, that help us obey the law of God given in the first command by limiting our speed to prevent us from accidentally killing other people. 

This is not a restriction on liberty. Perfect liberty is not doing whatever we want with no restraints. Liberty is the ability of people to obey the law of God. Perfect liberty is perfect obedience to the law of God. 

David said, “I will walk at liberty for I seek thy precepts.” (Psalm 119:45) Paul tells us, “… and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17) 

Liberty is found only in obedience to the law of God. Endangering other people’s lives through negligence on our part is not the negligent exercise of liberty. It’s bondage to sin. Likewise obeying the speed limit is not a restriction on our liberty. Rather, obedience of a lawful speed limit is the exercise of liberty. It represents freedom from bondage to sin. 

Tyranny is the subjugation of people to the law of man preventing or hindering them from obeying the law of God. 

Airport scanners, on the other hand, are completely different from speed limits. The purpose of an airport scanner is to disarm me, ensuring I don’t take a gun on board the plane. But taking a gun from me, and every other law abiding citizen, does nothing to make anyone safer. It actually makes everyone less safe because now there are fewer (or even no) people on board who are able to effectively resist hijackers or other criminals. That is why the crime rates are lower where there are more guns (e.g. see More Guns, Less Crime, by John R. Lott, Jr.). 

Not only do airport scanners prevent me from obeying the first command (preserving life), they are also in direct violation of the civil law which scripture requires me to obey. The 4th amendment recognizes the right of people to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches. Requiring everyone to be photographed essentially naked without any probable cause is an egregious violation of the 4th Amendment – an ordinance which the second command above requires all men to obey. I call it an egregious violation because courts have held that simply using a dog to sniff people where there is no reason to suspect that a crime has been or is about to be committed is an unreasonable search (e.g. B. C. v Plumas Unified School District (9th Cir. 9/20/99). 

The airport scanners go far beyond a dog sniffing people as they walk by. The airport scanner laws hinder people from engaging in lawful activity (carrying a gun to defend themselves and others) and attempt, by threat of punishment, to hinder people from exercising their 4th amendment right. Because they are hindering people from obeying the law of God, they are an infringement of liberty. 

Speeding laws, on the other hand, help people preserve the life of other people and thus are not an infringement on liberty, although I grant they can be tyrannical if the limits are improperly set. But that is a different question. 

Taking people’s cars away, so they don’t kill anyone with them, and requiring everyone to ride a bus would be more analogous to airport scanners than speed limits. To the extent any government infringes liberty, it is tyrannical. 

It is never lawful or moral to infringe liberty. My will may be infringed by righteous laws, but in those instances it is my sinful desires that are being infringed, not my liberty. It makes no more sense to infringe liberty for the sake of security or societal stability than it does to poison your food for the sake of your health. If the “poison” improves your health, it’s not poison. 

Neither are scanners analogous to cutting off a gangrenous toe to preserve the rest of the body. The point of that operation is to cut off gangrene. Airport scanners are like cutting off a good toe so that it doesn’t get gangrene – something no lawful doctor would ever do. 

 Airport screenings were a clever ruse to undermine the 2nd amendment. These scanners are another clever ruse to undermine the 4th amendment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpful post.