Saturday, January 02, 2010

Silly, Silly Stuff

Once again, the US has slipped into "Don't just sit there, do something ... anything" mode. A deranged jihadist attempts to blow up a jetliner with chemicals smuggled in his groin area ("Holy genitals, Batman!"), so the TSA is scurrying around inventing new rules which will do nothing for security but will inconvenience every single passenger traveling by air. David H. Steinberg, a local screenwriter vacationing in Aruba with his family for the holidays, ran smack into some of those rules as the Steinbergs returned home. Here's his take on the new rules:

Onboard, we learned of more new TSA rules (for flights to the U.S. originating abroad). All electronic devices would have to be turned off an hour before landing instead of just on descent. And no one could have a pillow or blanket on their person during the last hour of the flight. Seriously. Cut to my daughter screaming bloody murder as the flight attendant yanks the pillow from under her head. Seriously.

I get that the threat of terrorism is real. But if these hastily thrown-together rules are how we respond to new threats, then something is seriously wrong with us (or at least the TSA). If two X-rays, a bomb-sniffing dog, a frisk and a bag search can't detect the next terror attack, then how is turning off the DVD player an hour early and grabbing pillows from sleeping children going to help? Keep in mind that the new rules only apply to the last hour of the flight (presumably because Friday's particular lunatic decided to set off his bomb only on descent). Won't the no-pillow policy just cause Al Qaeda to issue orders to detonate at T minus 1:01?

We all know that we have to take off our shoes at security because some other lunatic tried to blow up his shoes. These rules, created in response to the latest terror plots, inconvenience us all and waste time and money as more and more resources are allotted to enforcing them. But we tolerate it because it's a small price to pay for security.

But what if the rule has no bearing on security? What if the rule is just, well, silly? Something cooked up by some TSA paper pusher aimed at stopping the last attack, not anticipating the next one. How long are we going to tolerate increasingly preposterous and obviously useless rules in the name of security? When the TSA recommends you arrive at the airport three hours before a flight? Four hours? What if it takes six hours to get from the curb to the plane because next year's lunatic tries to break the plane's window with his bare skull and so the TSA decides every man, woman and child needs to be outfitted with padded headgear?
[Emphasis added]

It now appears that the crotch bomber should have been on the "no-fly list," but wasn't, presumably because the various security agencies of this country still aren't sharing information. That shows how reliable that list is even if all the names that are on the list and shouldn't be were removed (an impossibility, it seems). Even if the list were a reasonable reflection of reality, however, our efforts still are locked into treating symptoms rather than the underlying disorder.

The US continues the policies that got us into this mess. We still invade countries and level them because we don't like the way their cultures operate. We prop up vicious dictatorships so we can have access to their natural resources and then send our mega-corporations in to destroy the environment and communities as they pump the oil and gas and mine the minerals for which we pay a pittance. Is it any wonder that whole areas of the world are pissed off at us, so pissed off that they are willing to blow themselves up along with everyone else in the vicinity? Apparently these considerations are irrelevant, not to mention unbelievably dangerous.

So, I think we can expect that we will continue to remove our shoes before flying, be patted down and scanned and herded from check point to check point, all in the name of national security, as if that will make a difference.

It really is silly.



Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

It's not 'silly' if what you're trying to do is to get the traveling--and later the trest of the--public to quietly undergo systematic attacks on their civil liberties...

4:10 PM  

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