The thoughts that were thunk and the goings on of my life.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Illusions of Security

I’ve been waiting for a long time to rant about this one, so now’s my chance.

What is it about airports that people feel such a need to be ‘safe’? The whole aura of safety is really just an imaginary presence. Items have been black listed from passing security, but in reality those will never do any harm.

On the way back from LA the other week I had an airport baggage checker pull my bag aside because there was a ‘deadly’ weapon contained within. He proceeded to search my bags to locate this lethal device and slowly honed in on it. Granted, I didn’t have anything different in my bags than I ever have had on flights before, but this time I was ‘safe’. After some searching, and unzipping of pockets he found it! Yes, the deadly nail-clipper set! He carefully looked at the scissors with the ½” blades and rounded tips…whew, those aren’t deadly, rounded tips save the day. He then looked at the toenail clippers, safe. Fingernail clippers, safe. Uh oh, what is this deadly weapon? A nail file!?! He pulls out the ‘dangerous’ 1” blade sticks it in the air, looks at his boss and says, “Do you think this is ‘safe’?” No, that could kill somebody. We’ll have to confiscate this and dispose of it or you need to check it in your bag that’s already checked on the airplane.

What do they think I’m going to do with a 1” nail file? Walk up to the captain and say, “Captain, you are going to die as soon as I’m finished filing my way to the roots of your cuticles.” Yes, I would be a dangerous man, no pilot can bear the thought of having a proper pedicure while in-flight. I could hijack the plane and take it wherever I wanted just with my amazing filing technique. Plus since the file was metal it wouldn’t go dull like those sandpaper filers that women carry with them. I could take over the world one flight at a time while simultaneously eliminating all in-flight pedicure competition!

That’s just ridiculous, that file couldn’t hurt somebody if I WANTED them to! It made me think about how many tons of ‘deadly’ weapons have been pointlessly confiscated by airline security over the past few years. Then it made me think about something a little more devious. What are the real weapons that I have with me? They took away the thing that I really least consider to be a weapon. So let’s take a look at the truly lethal weapons that were completely ‘safe’ according to our great airport security personnel.

First let’s look at what I’m wearing:
  • Jacket: Strangle somebody to death with one of the sleeves.
  • Watch: Wrap around fist use like brass knuckles.
  • Aggie Ring: Gold Knuckles.
  • Shoes: Use hard soles to whack someone upside the head.
  • Shoelaces: Strangle people. Tie something onto end and create a mace.
  • Tie: Strangle people, tie people into chairs. Business men are impervious to the strangling action of this device.
  • Belt: The most deadly of all. Leather strap can be used for strangling. Buckle can be swung around to beat people. Strap can be wrapped around fist for superior fighting ability.

  • Now let’s look in my bag:
  • Handles: Made out of metal, snap off use 2’ long pieces of metal to beat and stab.
  • Suit Bag: Hold over person’s head and suffocate them.
  • Book: Serves as defensive shield and bludgeoning device.
  • Ethernet Cable: Once again strangle and/or tie someone down.
  • Laptop: Kick apart, use shards of computer board as very effective knives for slashing.
  • Compression Sack: Filled with clothes packed very densely, serves as an excellent club.
  • Soda Can: Drink, twist, pull apart, slice things open quickly, belch loudly in people’s faces.
  • Suit Hanger: Wooden. Can be snapped. Now I have two strong stabbing weapons. Top of hangar can be a club. Hanger part of the hanger is strong metal, could rip out a trachea.
  • And of course there’s my Nail File, which can round off sharp corners from people's nails.

  • Even with all of these weapons it doesn’t even mention the fact that people can use their own bodies as deadly weapons. Hands, fists, elbows, foreheads, knees, shins, feet… Every one of those can and has killed a person in the past. Anybody that’s ever seen an action movie could probably tell you at least 30 ways to kill somebody with their hands alone.

    What I really want to show is the fact that of all the things on the plane I could use a plethora of devices as weapons. Most of those weapons mentioned above would be MUCH more deadly than a simple nail file. So why is it that we remove harmless items from flights? Is it to make things safer? No. The entire airline industry is wrapped up in the guise of making things safe. People feel more comfortable because they are being searched and they think they are somehow protected by all of the extra precautions. Security in airports is really equivalent to the blinders you see on horses downtown. The security doesn’t eliminate the threat; it merely keeps us from being nervous because we can’t as easily see potential threats. But that sense of security blinds us into not seeing what is really there.

    No amount of security will ever make anything safe. Taking away people’s property when it is of no real danger to those around them is a ridiculous means of providing a false sense of security. The sad thing is that most people are dumb enough to believe that this security actually protects them. The real truth of the matter is that if you want to hurt somebody you will find the means to do so. The only dangerous thing on any plane is the minds of the people going into the aircraft.


    Andrea said...

    Another great example of this illusion of security the government thinks we'll buy into is the color coded terror alert system. What is that really all about? Does it mean we are really going to be any safer? No. It's just a marketing ploy by the government saying, "See, we're keeping you safe. Look at all the cops and flashing lights and extra 'security' at the airports now that the color is orange." It really is less about them actually making us safer and more about them giving off the perception that they care and can make us safer, because the truth is they can't really do a lot about the actual people who are dangerous.

    The truth is, stuff like this happens in society all the time. Ex: Gun control. We can't stop the people who are killing other people, so we'll just control the guns. Because guns kill people.

    Don't get me started. I could go on forever.

    Anonymous said...

    this might be delving into conspiracy theories which i hate to be a part of but i think it might be true. i think the government actually is scaring us more, purposely, buy conducting body and bag searches at airports and implementing the homeland security color coded alert system. they don't want us to feel safe at all. the number one way to scare people even more is to take away their basic human rights and freedoms in this country. not being able to fly across the country without showing someone personal identification or being searched for nail clippers is actually planting more fears in our minds because they don't trust us and are actually looking to find something. i'm not saying they shouldn't search bags at airports, i'm happy to comply, but it's getting ridiculous some of the things they get away with. a friend of mine was handcuffed and taken to jail for carrying a baton in his bag. pretty soon they are going to be chasing down those of us wearing fluffy coats and shooting us 5 times in the head because they think we have explosives. oh wait, they already did that.

    Otis said...

    Yi, you're totally right. The more fearful something is the more easily it is controlled. The greater the fear the more easily you can provide the 'magical-something' to make that fear go away. The thing that fears then becomes utterly dependent upon the thing that removes the fear.