Me, the Freedom Fighter

Me (not pictured), with my colleagues. On the right, a moron.
Dave again. Perhaps I'm taking over this blog. Stasha needs to get busy posting.

Airport security procedures in the United States are a joke - as are many such procedures at airports worldwide. Most of the shenanigans forced on fliers achieve little more than long delays. We basically only have these procedures because of the existence of radical Muslim nutjobs that have tried - mostly unsuccessfully - to do crazy things on airplanes. When I was living in Phoenix and working in California back in 05 and 06, I flew every week and the indignity of doing the little song and dance every time through the line eventually became more than I could bear.

The whole taking off your shoes thing was so pointless that after 25 straight weeks of following this ridiculous charade I decided to boycott it. One Monday morning I arrived at the metal detector and was told to take off my shoes. I refused. You'll get hand-wanded, he told me. I don't care, I said. I wasn't bending over again.

I got a hand-wanding and a talking-to by the supervisor but neither of those things was any bother. After that - knowing that the punishment was painless - I got bolder.

From then on, for awhile at least, I became part of the resistance. I was like a superhero, a member of the Justice League of America. I would go through the line and they would say "Take off your shoes, sir."

"No," I would retort in a level voice, my cape flying in the wind. "You have a job to do and I respect that. But the procedures you're asking me to follow are a pointless charade. I am not Richard Reid and neither is anyone else in this line. I'm not removing my shoes. Do what you have to do." The agent would shrug, I would walk through the metal detector, it wouldn't go off, they would quarantine me and do their hand-wand job (sadly, not overly pleasant), and I would go catch my flight where I'd be told that listening to an iPod during take-off endangers the lives of all my fellow passengers, a concept as ludicrous as toothpaste tubes and water bottles blowing up airplanes.

And finally someone has started to complain in a reasonable forum. The following, called "The Airport Security Follies" appeared Sunday morning in the world's greatest newspaper. It's written by a commercial airline pilot who - hopefully like the rest of us - has had more than enough. It starts out like this and gets better from there:

Six years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, airport security remains a theater of the absurd. The changes put in place following the September 11th catastrophe have been drastic and largely of two kinds: those practical and effective, and those irrational, wasteful and pointless.

You can read the rest HERE. It's really good.

As far as I can tell, few post-9/11 airport security procedures have accomplished anything positive. But the rules keep getting more ridiculous. And for the moment, since we seem unable to make the rules better, perhaps the best we can do is hope to feel better about not giving in to them.

So the next time the rent-a-cop, who you know does not increase security as much as he/she increases costs, tells you to take off your shoes, or dump out your toothpaste, or take out your laptop, consider whether or not you might want to do something about it. In the short run you'll accomplish nothing except delaying getting to your gate, all the while making yourself feel a bit better. But in the long run who knows? You just might make a difference.

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