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TSA Insanity

The news coming out of England this morning is depressing, and the reactions to it scary. I am glad that Parris returned home from Ireland on Monday, else she might be caught up in the madness at Heathrow. I am of course pleased that the British caught a bunch of terrorists, and look forward to seeing them tried, and the evidence of their plots (these liquid explosives and electronic triggers) brought forward in a court of law, but I am aghast at the "security" measures that are now being taken in the wake of those arrests.

I have always hated airline "security." Step by step, year by year, the TSA and its predecessors have taken away more and more of our freedoms, subjecting millions of perfectly innocent travellers to searches and interrogations and other hassles in the vague hopes of catching hijackers (in the old days) and terrorists (these days). Even if it worked, the price would be too high, but of course it does not work. It has never worked. All of the 9/11 killers strolled through airport "security" without a problem, yet little old ladies in wheelchairs are pulled from line and patted down, people who have never committeed a crime in their life are being forced to remove their shoes and belts and empty their pockets, and cigarette lighters and toy guns and Swiss army knives are being confiscated and sold (yes, that's what they do with those lighters they take from people, they SELL them and keep the bucks).

And now, in the wake of the arrests in England, a new wave of rules and prohibitions are about to be foisted on us by TSA -- no liquids or gels in carry on, no electronic devices of any kind, no ipods, no cell-phones, no cameras (some reports are even claiming that books are being banned, though that makes no sense whatsoever to me). You are supposed to put your electronics in your checked baggage, they say. Your UNLOCKED checked baggage, another infuriating rule foisted on us by the TSA. And of course what happens if your electronics are damaged and stolen en route? Why, nothing... the airlines take no responsibility, and TSA won't either. Will TSA start confiscating iPods and cellphones and laptops at the security gates now? Hey, those will certainly bring in a lot more dosh than lighters when they're sold.

I wonder how long this prohibition on electronics will last, and how far it will extend? If this truly includes ALL electronics, it will effectively end my own ability to travel by air. Forget about book tours in the future, forget about seeing me at any con that I cannot drive to. Right now, I am even worried about how I am going to get to worldcon... though LA is close enough so that, if worse comes to worst, I will be able to drive. Obviously, that won't apply next year for Yokahama, if these new rules become permanent.

What's next, I wonder? Anal probes, x-rays, body cavity searches? Have we become such a nation of sheep that we will line up and swallow all this meekly? If so, let's change the words in our national anthem. Instead of "land of the free and home of the brave," maybe "land of the safe and home of the scared" would do.


Aug. 10th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
banning books
And believe it or not, if this lasts long, it could also have a devastating effect on British publishing. A huge amount of books are sold at airports. Take that away from a business where the profit margins are already paper thin, and it could well drive some publishers into bankruptcy.

This prohibition makes absolutely no sense to me. What the hell is a terrorist going to do with a book? Threaten to read some really bad prose unless the crew fly into a building?

Aug. 10th, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
Re: banning books
Well, they certainly can't use the diminutive "airplane reader" paperbacks as bludgeoning devices...
Aug. 10th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC)
Re: banning books
"Threaten to read some really bad prose unless the crew fly into a building?"

So _that's_ why Wildside is printing "The Eye of Argon"...

Absolutely with you on the trouble this causes, and at the worst time possible for the fannish community with Worldcon just around the corner. I'm really, really hoping the TSA lifts the liquid ban (and doesn't adopt the no-electronics/book ban) before the 23rd.

(And that Northwest's flight attendants don't go on strike as they've threatend to, too. It never rains but it pours...)
Aug. 11th, 2006 02:39 am (UTC)
Re: banning books
Someone's printing "The Eye of Argon"??!!

I'm not sure whether my punctuation represents joy or terror.
Aug. 11th, 2006 07:15 am (UTC)
Re: banning books
I want a copy STAT.
Aug. 11th, 2006 08:50 am (UTC)
Re: banning books
Aug. 11th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
Re: banning books
oh sweet Jad! A thousand thank you's! Or curses. With the Eye of Argon, it may be both!
Aug. 12th, 2006 01:50 am (UTC)
Re: banning books
I read that as "Wildstorm is printing 'The Eye of Argon'". That would be sweet.
Aug. 10th, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
Re: banning books

The pinheads probably saw "Shawshank Redemption" and figure a terrorist might hide something lethal inside a book.

Maybe they're trying to head off the possibility that a traveler might carry a Koran on board which they might read and then, overcome with visions of Paradise (a painful contrast to their narrow seats, zero leg-room and astronaut food), become inspired to commit a supreme act of martyrdom.

On the other hand, a 12-hour flight with no books and no music is enough martyrdom for most of us.

I also want someone to tell me why I always have to take my sandals off when I go through security. How could I possibly be hiding a bomb in a pair of sandals? Odder yet, I can go through with no problem if I wear sneakers...
Aug. 11th, 2006 03:02 am (UTC)
Re: banning books
I believe that the reasoning was that A Storm of Swords could easily be used about as effectively as a hammer in beating someone about the face.
Aug. 11th, 2006 07:12 am (UTC)
Re: banning books
"This prohibition makes absolutely no sense to me. What the hell is a terrorist going to do with a book? Threaten to read some really bad prose unless the crew fly into a building?"

That did make me chuckle, i do have to admit. I can't fathom why they wish to ban books, or newspapers. I mean.. Yes sure things coule be hidden inside, but i think society is becoming to bloody paranoid & cynical over everything.

Gosh, i remember when i was a wee nipper and getting stopped for having a spud gun in my handluggage going to Northern Ireland - they chuckled a little at me and let it go through. Now adays you'd probably be dragging that 4yr old in for a full body cavity search and an 8 hour interview!


I can't see them banning books for the long term. At least i hope!
Aug. 11th, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC)
Re: banning books
I think this one is best expressed by a scene in the movie, the Insider, where a respected journalist from CBS's 60 minutes, was asked by an aide/bodyguard of an influential Arab not to get to close (which was absurd, as the journalist was supposed to be close to the person you're interviewing). The journalist retorted, "What do you think I'm going to do? Kung-fu him to death with my notes?"
Aug. 25th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
Re: banning books
In one of my more paranoid moments, when I heard about the book prohibition I thought, "Great, now the stupid people will get even stupider and demand that government do more for them."

What's sad is that now that I've had the time to think about that gut-reaction, I still agree with it.

Welcome to Amerika, where Paranoia is no longer a psychological disorder, it's a way of life.

Also, there are young people (I'm about 30) that want to hurl blood at these insane "security theater" exhibitions.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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