If the terrorist game is about spreading misery, will we admit Al Qaeda’s underwear bomber won?

. . because you can’t kill everybody, right? Your enemies will always go on, there are too many of them.

So the idea behind terrorism is to soak people in misery. Make it so they can barely go on with life — they can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t step out of the house.

Well, we Americans are flirting with that last little bit right now. ‘Airport Screening’ became this week’s controversy, something equivalent to ‘unscheduled prostate exam.’ And, judging from the level of discourse, as well as toughness willingly displayed in public, we should probably all just give in.

“No more flying for me, Al Qaeda, I’m happy to admit that you won . . .”

Dear Airline, I’m Leaving You
Megan McArdle | The Atlantic Online

But don’t feel too bad. It’s not you, it’s me. Or rather, it’s the TSA.

I’m not going to lie. It’s come between us. If I have to let someone else see me naked in order to be with you–well, I’m just not that kinky. And deep down, I don’t think you are either. I think it’s the TSA making you act like this. Frankly, you haven’t been the same since you started running around together.

Aw, aint she cuuute? See, the airline is like her boyfriend, and . . she’s leaving him. *Sigh* What a poignant tale. Meg will no longer be flying across the country to assault people with her shockingly obtuse opinions. How in the world will she manage to carry on likewise without the aid of jumbo jets?

I hear the telephone! *ring ring!*

‘. . uh, hello?’

‘National healthcare will fail.’

‘Err . . excuse me?’

‘In America. It will kill the country.’

‘. . how ya figure? It’s normal stuff for the rest of the first world.’

‘I just played the whole thing out . . in my mind.’

*click*

‘. . stupid asshole . .’

Then there’s the radio. Actually, Canadian radios, but still, same intelligence bonanza:

Don’t like airport screening? Don’t fly
BY JOHN GORMLEY, SPECIAL TO THE STARPHOENIX

As “don’t touch my junk” emerges from nowhere to contend for 2010’s phrase of the year, there’s been extraordinary pushback on airport security screening . .

[John Tyner] didn’t like security staff looking at his body, even though they’re in another room seeing hundreds of bodies on any given shift and the faces on the digital images are blurred.

I’m no fan of Tyner’s, but, golly gee, if only he’d really thought about the other room and the hundreds of bodies and the shifts full of blurry faces. Which, of course, he had. I’m glad someone finally pointed this out, everybody can stop yelling now. Obviously, it’s not John Gormley’s arguments that are ‘SPECIAL TO THE STARPHOENIX,’ it’s his avuncular presence or spring-fresh aroma.

Pity John didn’t see fit to talk about the overall professionalism of the TSA, or of the actual effectiveness of these maulings, or of the likelihood of porny scans being saved and passed around. Or of the lack of a national debate on how safe people really want to be when they fly. Top-notch safety comes with serious sacrifices. Perfect safety is probably intolerable.

At a basic level, air travel is a commercial transaction between passengers and the airlines paid to fly them. But at another level, with national security and public safety at stake, governments insert themselves to make rules that are often draconian, sweeping and intrusive.

. . and those two levels never intersect? One minute, it’s some new meaning for ‘junkie,’ next minute, it’s a bunch of string theory. Okay. As long as we’re leveling meaningless gazes upon the world: On yet another level, furious space needles hem rainbow cozies.

On yet another other level, what people get from the TSA is to what they really want . . as . . Sylvester Stallone in ‘Over The Top’ is to . . umm . . . C.): Jennifer Grey in ‘Dirty Dancing.’ Yes, Patrick Swayze’s extended junkyard wrestling metaphor, that’s what you want from your Transportation Safety Administration. Except for the ‘metaphor’ crap.

They are intrusive because they can be, using the latest in technology to literally scan the surface of our bodies beneath our clothes.

TEENSY SCANNERS? UNDER OUR CLOTHES? (. . can the government do that?)

This also deters those trying to overcome conventional airport security.

LIKE WETSUITS? CAN THE TERRORISTS DO THAT?

As new advances are made, scanners will also get more sophisticated.

HOW MUCH MORE SOPHISTICATED? JEEZUS CHRIST!

I get the theoretical and constitutional arguments . . But air travel is not a right. If you don’t like airport security then don’t do it. And don’t fly — take the bus.


Sure.

Off to catch an Eco-Greyhound to the Galapagos, toodles. “We’ll be cruising along at, well, the bottom of the ocean. In the event of a terrestrial landing, please use the anchor under your seat as a waterlogging device . .”

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