[By Nic Lindh on Thursday, 31 December 2009]
So another idiot tries to blow up a plane. It’s terrible and I’m incredibly relieved he didn’t succeed.
Except he kind of did.
See, the goal of these assholes isn’t to blow up planes. The goal is to terrorize us. The actual blowing up of the plane is just a means to terrorize.
It’s an important distinction to make. Just like the IRA in London in the ’70s (remember them?) didn’t carry some strange resentment about parked cars—they wanted the British to get scared enough to leave them alone.
It makes a lot of psychological sense for the current crop of bastards to keep trying to blow up airliners: Flying is a scary exercise to begin with, and the thought of some nihilist blowing you out of the sky is enough to push a lot of people way outside the realm of rational thought. As a bonus you don’t need a lot of explosives and you can put pretty much any mouth-breather on the job, it seems.
9/11 was such a massive, overpowering shock to the system that it’s hard to blame anybody for going off the deep end with the response. But that was nine years ago. Plenty of time for the last remaining super power on Earth to get rational again.
Which is why it’s so disheartening to see the same kind of knee-jerk response again.
First we had the idiot with the shoes. So, gotta take off your shoes1. Except not in Europe, for some reason, which is where the shoe bomber was coming from. But you have to when you leave America. OK. No reason to be consistent or find a best practice to apply globally. Let’s just all wing it. You fly in America, you take off the shoes. You fly in Europe, you empty your pockets.
This certainly does not make me feel safe. Either one side of the Atlantic or the other is putting our safety in danger or is inconveniencing people for no good reason whatsoever. Or both. I mean, it has to be one or the other, right? Unless there’s some shady gentleman’s agreement between the terrorists and the authorities that is different in different parts of the world. Which somebody like Glenn Beck might actually believe and turn into a three-hour televised extravaganza of insanity2. But which I do not.
Security personnel in different countries looked over the threats and made different decisions. You know, like humans do.
So a dirtbag tried to blow up his shoes, and we ended up putting our shoes through the machine in the security line. And then the next set of dirtbags were planning to conduct a failed high school science experiment on the plane. So: No liquids for you. Except less than three ounces. Because less than three ounces can never be made to explode, even if there are ten of you and you pool your liquids on the plane, turning it into 30 ounces. Because. Well, because, dammit!
And now we have this latest idiot who tries to blow up the plane by means of his underwear3 right before landing. Which means now we have to spend the last hour of the flight just … staring? Because surely somebody with murderous intent would rather stay home than detonate his bomb two hours before landing? Really? “Curses, foiled again by the western imperialist dogs! Oh, them and their watches!”
Believe me, I want to be as safe as possible when I fly, and I most certainly would like for the insane nihilists who commit these kinds of act to be stopped any way possible, but I also would like to carry on with my life.
If we end up imploding our economy by not flying because it’s been made so goddam difficult by a bunch of security theater, well, they’ve won. And I really, really don’t want them to win.
1Which, incidentally, we’ve been doing for a long time now, and still every time I fly half the security checkpoint line acts like this is complete news to them, just like the 3-ounces-of-liquid-or-death policy.
Do people in general actually pay any attention whatsoever to what goes on?
2What would the Founders think? What? What? Perhaps this random statue in the park will give us a hint. I’ll put on my reading glasses.
3I hope the pain of his burned genitals is utterly unbearable. Not quite 72 virgins, is it, having third-degree burns on your scrotum, douche nozzle?