Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Soup can scald, peanuts can choke, reclining seats can concuss...

This might get me arrested, but I'll say this anyway: one of my life goals is to create a bomb using only materials from the area of an airport that comes after the part where you dump your toothpaste and your water and your shaving cream. A better, more committed satirist could go all the way and actually blow up a plane, but that probably defeats the point. I'd settle for a garbage can and a reduced sentence for the next time I visit the US.

New airport security rules will restrict passengers to one carry-on item, which can not be accessed as the plane lands. They will also be restricted to their seats for the last half hour of the flight. Unless not obeying these rules is punishable by death of the immediate sort (ie shoot anyone that gets out of their seat), as Christopher Hitchens says, they likely won't have much on the sort of person that's willing to die.

The current state is that airline security involves checking for explosives in your shoes, as well as in the ordinary liquids you carry around. The next step, maybe, is to require all passengers to answer a questionnaire about whether they intend to commit acts of terrorism. Most customs agencies require passengers to declare any drugs, guns or explosives they are carrying with them, and I've been on flights that asked you to willingly declare a vague list of symptoms that could describe the swine flu. Do you ever get a

These procedures are completely a ruse, of course, inconveniences that give people the impression of safety. The reality, as Hitchens says, is that you're not safe. Someone could kick down your door right now and kill you and your family. They could also kill you at work, while shopping, while driving around, and so on. In fact, it's entirely possible that your spouse or loved one could kill you. A shark could eat you at the beach, you could suddenly drop dead like Brittany Murphy. A softball could strike you in the chest or, maybe, your toilet seat could kill you.

The reality is more and more, at least if you read breathless reports about new airport security, that international terrorism is a low-level conflict fought exclusively over airplanes. Terrorists want to blow up airplanes and the fine folks you ask you to remove your shoes at the airport want to stop them. God help us if someone gets a new idea, like blowing themselves up at a disco or pizzeria. Then we'd all have to take off our shoes before going to order a pizza, hand over any water bottles, makeup or lotions in our possession, bring a passport, not be able to get up from our seats for the last five minutes that a pizza is baking...

1 comment:

Not André said...

I'm going to the United States on Friday, and I'm trying to decide if keeping you in my blogroll after this post is going to get me detained for hours at the border. Hopefully not!