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The Backscatter X-Ray Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 26 May 2018

The Backscatter X-Ray

The backscatter X-ray is the right choice when compared to traditional X-rays or metal detectors. On December 27, 2006, the author, Thomas Frank,whom is the aviation security correspondant for USA Today, wrote, “X-ray Tests Both Security, Privacy,” and made valid points concerning the fear of radiation, how easily it finds metal guns and knives, and the provacy issue that surrounds X-ray technology (5). Throughout this essay Thomas Frank was able to write about the facts surrounding X-rays and keep hs opinion out of the article therefore giving his readers the chance to form their own belief.

This essay was written to analyze which belief to choose. Should the public be against the backscatter X-ray because of radiation exposure or is safety against terrorists the better option? The fear of over-exposure to radiation is laughable at best. “It’s like being out in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes” (5). Being out in the sun can in reality be a good thing. Through sunlight the body absorbs vitamin D which is needed for strong bones and teeth. Everyone gets sun exposure on an everyday basis. It’s not a bad thing to have a little sun. Take people whom use artificial light to tan.

A waiver must be signed before exposing the body to the light. This waiver states that skin cancer may occur with use; eye damage is possible with exposure. Tanners sign this form without another thought because artificial light is the same as being out in the sun. A waiver is not availabe for people to sign at the airport. Why is this? Is it because radiation damage is higher with artificial light thereby being higher with sunlight versus the backscatter X-ray? If so, should the public stay inside their house and avoid sunlight at all cost? They are foolproof when it comes to finding metal guns and metal knives” (6). Clark Kent Ervin whom is the former Homeland Security Department inspector said during the interview. He stated, “screeners repeatedly missed hidden weapons” (6). If screeners are missing hidden weapons wouldn’t the obvious choice be to use the backscatter X-ray? Isn’t the publics safety more important? Our airport security has already been compromised once with September 11. If there is anything that can prevent that from happening again then it should be done. Our safety is top priority.

Backscatter X-rays don’t show anything on the body deemed indecent. It only shows what’s carried on the body. “People really need to understand that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is putting in place technologythat does in fact do a digital strip search and stores those images at least temporarily,” said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (5). Temporarily is the key. Whom cares about a picture being taken as long as it’s temporary? It’s not as if the image is going to be stored forever and displayed worldwide. The TSA, however, says the images are cartoonlike sketches that show only outlines of each passenger and are never stored” (5). The images aren’t stored so the public doesn’t need to worry about the images being released. Cartoonlike sketches means that it’s not even a real human body. It doesn’t look like a person at all. It’s just an outline that looks cartoonlike at that. There’s nothing wrong with cartoons. I grew up watching them as a child as did many others. “$100,000 backscatter machine finds many weapons missed by screeners and metal detectors” (6).

Finding weapons as soon as possible can be the difference between life and death. A machine that finds weapons more often than not should be used in place of a machine that is likely to miss. Although the backscatter X-ray is not going to catch everything that it scans it will make it harder for terrorists to sneak weapons on a plane. “The object is not to prevent everything that can conceivably happen,” he said, “the object is to make it difficult” (6). The fact claim the author is making is supported by the examples given in the article.

Some examples include quotes from Marc Rotenberg and Frank Cerra. The warrant that connects the fact claim and support are “digital strip search” (5) and “being out in thesun for 15 to 20 minutes” (5). It seems these details were said to persuade the interviewer and readers of this article. “Someone would need 2,500 backscatter scans a year before reaching the limits of safe radiation exposure” (5). These guidelines are provided by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements so therefore even frequent flyers will be protected from over-exposure to radiation.

In closing, the authors fact claim of backscatter X-ry versus regular X-ray and metal detectors have been clearly stated. He went into detail giving both sides concerning radiation, worth, and privacy. Overall the essay was an effective argument that gave information from both sides equally. With public safety a concern the conflicts that arise concerning this matter should be of no importance. The public has a right to be protected no matter what it takes.

Free The Backscatter X-Ray Essay Sample


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 26 May 2018

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