Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Funniest of all the Golden Girls

Bea Arthur sparked a security scare at Logan Airport in Boston this week when she tried to board a Cape Air flight with a pocketknife in her handbag.

The "Golden Girls" star, now 81, was flagged by a Transportation Security Administration agent, who discovered the knife - a strict no-no following 9/11.

"She started yelling that it wasn't hers and said 'The terrorists put it there,' " a fellow passenger said. "She kept yelling about the 'terrorists, the terrorists, the terrorists.' "

After the blade was confiscated, Arthur took a keyring from her bag and told the agent it belonged to the "terrorists," before throwing it at them.

After the local news reported the story, the reporter's commentary was something along the lines of "But, since we all know that jokes like that are illegal in the state of Massachusetts...", and left it unfinished.

The purpose of confiscating penknives, nail clippers, and other items that you really couldn't take over a plane with, is not to actually improve *technical* security. The purpose is to give the appearance of improving security. This is a useful end because it makes people less nervous about flying, which means that you continue to get butts in seats and folks will be less likely to go nuts if they see something a little suspicious, eg, some dude playing with a penknife as the flight attendant approaches.

In a sensible system, there would be a mechanism to "quarantine" such items on board the plane so you could get them back later. You know - security puts it in a big red envelope and you check it and get it back when you get off the plane again. Like luggage.

If I were a terrorist (hello FBI), I would carry a penknife with me, so that security guards felt good about taking that away, while I had something in my carryon that I could assemble into a weapon (I'd figure something out).

It is not all about about making grandmas submit to controls. It is about looking for middle eastern men who might want to do bad things. The authorities are fobidden to target people by ethnicity. So everybody, EVERYBODY, gets the same treatment. If a terrorist can possibly smuggle a weapon on board a plane, we have to search everybody, even though we know the profile of the people we want to search.

Someday, people will realize that this false security is more akin to bullying by security gaurds and the government and not stand for it. People will be offended by some kid at the amusement park wanting to search your camera bag, or diaper bag because it is possible that you have a weapon in there.

-Gary Milner

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