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TSA Under Fire: What Took So Long?

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

The growing discontent over full body scanners and intrusive pat-downs is evidence that the government has gone a step too far.  Frankly, I thought they had already gone overboard and have seriously wondered why people accepted the indignities they’ve been suffering for most of the past decade.

I’ve always thought the answer to airline safety was more Air Marshalls and psychological profiling.  Not racial profiling.  Psychological profiling.  This is where you monitor people unobtrusively for nervous or erratic behavior followed by simple questioning.  This taking-your-shoes-off routine has always been lame; reactive instead of proactive.  All because one guy (Richard Reid) tried to set his sneakers ablaze. 

What we’re seeing is the identical response, only this time to the would-be Christmas underwear bomber who accidently set his genitals ablaze.  I remember the jokes that were flying around shortly after that incident.  If massive, nationwide shoe-removal followed Richard Reid….yikes…what would happen now that someone tried to hide explosives in their underwear?

Welcome to the knee-jerk response.  Full body scanners are the virtual equivalent of the strip searches we all thought, jokingly, might follow the Christmas Underwear Bomber incident. Well, it’s actually happened.  They really are looking at our private parts now.  And if you refuse the scanner, now they’re touching them too with front-of-the-hand inspections that go all over the place.

With the massive Thanksgiving travel season upon us this has turned into a real nightmare for the TSA.  A Facebook-inspired nationwide protest is gearing up for November 24th in which passengers are being asked to refuse full-body scans.  Pilot unions are up in arms and their members are already being urged to refuse the scanners.

Ostensibly, one of the reasons for the repulsion to these incredibly expensive and intrusive machines is the small amounts of radiation that are emitted during each use.  But that’s not really why people are upset.  I think it’s a combination of things.  I think people are finally resenting being treated like potential terrorists when all they want to do is fly to a business meeting or to grandma’s house.  And now the “touchy” area of literally, physically or virtually inspecting our bodies.  It’s just become too much.

People used to be compliant.  They put up with ridiculous strategies like outlawing the transport of certain quantities of shampoo.  They accepted standing barefoot or in their stocking feet while TSA agents x-rayed their killer lap-tops. They did it for the greater good.  But it would seem the public has finally reached the point of being willing to put up with a little risk in exchange for basic human dignity. 

The exact quote from Benjamin Franklin, written sometime before February 17th, 1775 as part of his notes for a proposition to the Pennsylvania General Assembly was this:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

People are finally beginning to tire of living in fear.

Don’t Mess With My Nasal Cavities

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Typical germ magnified one billion times

It’s not enough that when you fly, you’re treated like a terrorist and a piece of cargo and have to deal with delays, lost luggage and surly flight attendants. No. The coup de grace is the germs.

Technically, studies of the air flow show that airplane fuselages are not any more germy than an office building or the street. But the authors of these studies did not account for the woman in front of me on the jetway at the godforsaken airport in Dallas over the weekend. She let loose a torrent of sneezes and coughs…with her arms at her sides, leaving all those behind her no choice but to walk right through her germy little droplets.

I silently cursed her then and more publicly curse her now as I sit here with a damned sore throat and a general crud.

That this would happen in Dallas is just perfect. No doubt, I have caught the crud from a friggin’ Cowboys fan.

And what is it with these Texans? I know several of them and they’re nice enough people, but I swear they have an inferiority complex disguised as a superiority complex. I passed an airport restaurant in Dallas called Texas Attitude. What is so damned special about Texas that they should have their own attitude? Then there’s the famous slogan, Don’t Mess with Texas. Why not mess with Texas? What are they going to do? Beat me up? And what about Maryland? Is it ok to mess with Maryland?

You see, everything is big in Texas. Big geographical size (it’s flat and boring- I’m not impressed). Big, hearty laughs. Big belt buckles. Big hair.

And big germs. Great, big, Texas-sized germs. The germs are so big in Texas, they wear cowboy boots.

I know they think they’re their own nation. The Republic of Texas. They’ve even talked about seceding. Well, ok, then. Do it. Secede. And please, ban all flights into and out of Texas and Dallas.

Ok, I’m sorry. It’s the crud talking. I kid the Texans. Just Don’t Mess With My Nasal Cavities.