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Airport security - courtesy of phyrra

phyrra posted this article describing infants and toddlers ending up on the government's no-fly list and being stopped by airport security.

The moral of the story: Many of the people charged with enforcing security policy are mindless stormtroopers who chose their line of work because it doesn't require them to think, they get to play cops all day, and they take an unseemly pleasure in lording their power over others.

The TSA can say that their official policy is to not stop anyone under age 12, and that's probably true, but that doesn't in any way diminish their accountability for the fact that those whom they've chosen to act as the agents of their policy are doing it anyway.

The dark irony of this- the point that these drones and the asshats they work for don't seem to get- is that it has never been safer to fly into or out of the US (with the possible exception of the likely threat of being harassed at the airport).

I've said this before in other forums, but let me say it again. It's never been safer! Not because of the tighter passenger screenings, but because of the radical shift in passenger mindset caused by 9/11.

Back in the day, an airline hijacking probably meant an inconvenient side trip to Beruit and not much more. Yes, sometimes there were passenger fatalities, but that was the exception rather than the rule. Typically the people in greatest danger in such situations were the hijackers themselves, as the major antiterrorist units got really good at dealing with such situations with deadly efficiency. The official stance of both the governments and the airlines was that if you were a passenger on a hijacked plane the best thing you could do was to keep your head down, shut up, don't make eye contact, and try not to attract attention to yourself. I actually remember seeing a segment on 20/20 about this as a kid.

Now the rules have completely changed. As weird as it sounds, the 9/11 hijackers ruined it for all the other potential hijackers. Anyone trying to hijack a plane today will have to contend with reinforced cockpit doors and a flight crew that's possibly armed, but the power that makes flying safe today is the couple hundred or so passengers who will stop at nothing to tear the hijackers to pieces with their bare hands! The passengers will fight back- guaranteed- because as soon as they hear the word "hijack" each and every one of them will be picturing the WTC towers, and realizing that that's going to be their fate unless they do something right the hell now. Many of them were probably already preoccupied with 9/11 as soon as they got on the plane. Hell, I'm the guy who's saying that flying is safe, and it still crosses my mind every time I fly.

Here's the one situation where people acting like "typical stupid people" works for the better. I don't care if it's a half-dozen hijackers who somehow managed to sneak onto the plane with machine guns stuck up their asses. They simply cannot stop the mob of passengers driven by desperate rage with whom they're locked into the close quarters of an airplane. Terrorists may be deluded, but they're not dumb. They know this.

Strip searches and no-fly lists with infants? No, thanks. My sense of security rests with my fellow passengers.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2005 07:42 am (UTC)
So true, so true, so true.

I flew back from San Jose on Sunday, and the TSA official there was definitely on a power trip. At least I have the perspective to be able to stand back and giggle at it, recognizing it for what it is.... but shiesh. Even the other TSA officials were rolling their eyes at her.

I think we'd have much safer planes if we actually let passengers carry their nail files or screw drivers onboard. While the passengers will certainly uprise against a hijacker, they'd be far more effective if they have weapons other than their plastic cheese spreading knives.
Aug. 17th, 2005 10:58 am (UTC)
Interestingly, there are very few cases of successful hijacks of Chinese airliners--in part because whenever anyone has tried to hijack a Chinese plane, the passengers have typically beaten the unholy crap out of him. Much has been made of the vaunted individualism that characterizes most Western cultures, but there are certainly times when it's not appropriate.
Aug. 17th, 2005 06:01 pm (UTC)
you'd be surprised the kind of damage a plastic cheese spreading knife can be in the hands of an 11 year old chinese kid.

but seriously now. it's reasons like that that i refuse to fly anywhere. until its less of a pain in the ass if i cant drive somewhere i dont want to go. even if i can drive there i still dont want to go what with the gas prices climbing the way they are.
Aug. 17th, 2005 06:32 pm (UTC)
femetal shares your feelings, and refuses to fly. I can't honestly blame her.

I do hope that you're able to make it to Dragon*Con! Since I'm not allowed to get naked at the Hacking 201 panel somebody has to pick up the slack! :-)
Aug. 17th, 2005 06:45 pm (UTC)
but of course. i'm just not gonna be happy about the price of gas on the way up.
If someone has to get nekid at the panel i guess i can take one for the team.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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