Are Those Immodest Catholics, Muslims, and Jews?

This weekend, Pope Benedict XVI voiced concern over the use of those creepy full body scanners at airports. He’s against them, saying “the primary asset to be safeguarded and treasured is the person, in his or her integrity.” body scanThe Pope continued:

Respect for the principles he enunciated “might seem particularly complex and difficult in the present context”, he told his audience, which included airport managers, airline executives, security workers, pilots, cabin and ground staff.

They had to contend with problems arising “from the economic crisis, which is bringing about problematic effects in the civil aviation sector, and the threat of international terrorism, which is targeting airports and aircraft”. But, he warned: “It is essential never to lose sight of respect for the primacy of the person.”

The pope’s words will delight civil liberties campaigners opposed to a device that strips passengers virtually naked.

He’s only a few weeks behind various Islamic authorities, who have come out against the scanners. Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwah statement as passing through the scanners would violate Islamic rules of modesty.

And the Jews? There seems to be (shocking, I know), differing opinions. The Rabbinical Center of Europe (an umbrella organisation for Orthodox communities) has declared the scanners to be immodest, but allowed. Part of their issue is that men should review images of men, women those of women. They were assured that images are reviewed by computer software, and humans are only involved if something is found. But this isn’t accurate. We know from many reports that the images aren’t written over or erased, that security staff are looking at images. So will rabbis in Europe reconsider? What about in North America?

10 Responses to “Are Those Immodest Catholics, Muslims, and Jews?”

  1. I can’t tell, but you seem to be significantly less creeped out by this than I am. I can’t believe I actually agree with the Pope, the Figh council, the Rabbinical Center of Europe AND supporters of civil liberties which are more scarce every day, but these scanners ARE immodest, there are people looking at them, AND they are creepy as hell in terms of violations of one’s person.


    KRG · February 21st, 2010 at 10:48 pm
  2. I’m fully creeped out by them. And I think the RCE’s views (that they are permissible under certain conditions) is ridiculous. They are not acceptable. Period. They are a gross infringement on civil liberties, and I’m amazed more people (and religious groups) aren’t outraged.


    TheWanderingJew · February 22nd, 2010 at 12:38 am
  3. “They are a gross infringement on civil liberties, and I’m amazed more people (and religious groups) aren’t outraged.”

    They’re not outraged because they believe that in the scale of values saving life is more important than coddling everybody’s modest feelings.


    Eric · February 22nd, 2010 at 1:37 am
  4. @Eric: Which *might* be all fine and dandy if there was any evidence that these things assisted in saving s lives. So far, our track record on infringement of civil liberties in the pursuit of either saving lives or minimizing or solving crime has been – pretty damn close to nil.
    BUt let’s say there was actually a track record of some sort: how much would it have to be, to be worthwhile. For example, we could theoretically, stop quite a lot of crime if we were permitted to garrison troops in peoples’ homes at any time. Or if police could come in at any time without special judicial permission. ALso, why stop with airports. We could probably save a lot of lives if police could stop anyone on the street and ask for papers, or strip search them, or jail anyone who seemed suspicious without any kind of due process.
    I don’t think that would be worthwhile.
    And that’s all without getting into the issue of tzniut, which in this case, I am of the opinion is a perfectly live issue.


    KRG · February 22nd, 2010 at 9:09 am
  5. “So far, our track record on infringement of civil liberties in the pursuit of either saving lives or minimizing or solving crime has been – pretty damn close to nil.”

    What “civil liberties” have been infringed in pursuit of saving lives so far???

    If you believe scanning people for explosive devices prior to boarding an airplane is equivalent to forcibly quartering soldiers in citizens’ homes, then the conversation is basically over.

    But real security professionals don’t have the luxury of living in black-and-white make-believe worlds.


    Eric · February 22nd, 2010 at 11:18 am
  6. Security Professionals don’t care about civil liberties.


    Amit · February 22nd, 2010 at 12:10 pm
  7. Security professionals care about ensuring that a terrorist doesn’t detonate an explosive device at 35,000 feet and send the passengers on a long, cold, windy fall into the ocean.


    Eric · February 22nd, 2010 at 12:50 pm
  8. [...] Are Those Immodest Catholics, Muslims and Jews? [...]


    83 at Airports · February 22nd, 2010 at 2:12 pm
  9. Eric, did you see any of the links I included in the post? How about this one, which shows how these full body scanners found a cell phone but missed all of the bomb-making components? This isn’t about security. It’s about an invasion of privacy, and people being fooled into believing that it’s okay to disregard civil rights in the name of “security.”


    TheWanderingJew · February 22nd, 2010 at 2:13 pm
  10. Please TWJ, you don’t need to educate me about the foolishness of relying on technology to save us.

    I don’t believe any machine or technology is going to provide a magic bullet solution against terrorists, including these magical body scanners. The methodologies by which an explosive or weapon can be smuggled and assembled are far too numerous for any device-focused detection system to catch.

    The solution lies in detecting the people who are trying to cause trouble. One country has successfully demonstrated that such detection is achievable: Israel. However, American politicians’ emotions remain a little too dainty to acknowledge that 98%+ of the people currently threatening aviation belong to a certain profile…

    Ultimately Westerners will have to decide whether they want to rely on super-duper magical gizmos, or focus on finding the individual terrorists who are trying to murder innocents.

    If you’re interested in saving life that’s the choice you have: accept increasingly invasive technical examination of passengers’ bodies, or accept closer scrutiny of individual passengers. Israel’s opted for the latter.

    These body scanner machines will not be “the” solution. Neither are metal detectors or x-ray machines “the” solution. Nor for that matter are driver’s licenses, passports or boarding passes. They’re all part of a meshed network of partial solutions that in aggregate raise the probability of detecting a person of malicious intent and capability.

    And please start thinking about this in the real world: Of course the images are going to be preserved. Of course humans will need to look at some of them. The images will be intensively analyzed over the long run to improve system effectiveness. And in the event that there’s an attack, the image of the suspected terrorist/s will be thoroughly scrutinized to figure out how they got past security and what they may have been carrying.

    Assembling a massive database of images that can be analyzed and reanalyzed is the best way to make the system evolve ever more effectively. You feel uncomfortable about your terahertz body image being stored forever as 83766HD88F3JSRK2J_BOS.JPG? Fine, talk to your therapist about it.

    But the idea that this issue is “about” civil liberties — as though the TSA is seeking these machines so its executive leadership can get a kick out of watching terahertz-resolution images of kinda, sorta partly unclothed (in a postmodern digitized kinda way) passengers — is silly and immature narcissism. This is “about” protecting life and making the choices necessary to do it.


    Eric · February 22nd, 2010 at 11:30 pm

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik