Sunday, April 10, 2011

At what point do the TSA failures add up to a conclusion?

I've become aware of a few (additional) instances of TSA agents failing to stop knives from get through their x-ray machines. In one case, an all metal Spyderco Harpy, which this person realized too late that he had left it in the bag. He watched with much apprehension the display on the machine as it painted a perfect outline of the grip, blade, some serrations, and the patented Spyderco thumbhole less than a foot from the TSA agent's face. He then watched with confusion as the TSA agent progressed the bag off the screen and out of the x-ray machine without incident. Afraid of the repercussions of alerting someone with authority over you that they missed a chance to exercise it against you, he kept his mouth shut. On his return flight out of a much smaller airport, he left no knife in his carry on, and was glad because he saw what appeared to be a supervisor reviewing and re-reviewing each bag with fastidious scrutiny.

Given the TSA's abysmal record of failure, and the growing pile of anecdotal incidents of local failures, I can't stop my brain from considering the possibility of accidentally leaving a knife I would not miss in my carry on bag and being prepared to let them toss it.

One related revelation comes from my (long overdue) reading of Atlas Shrugged. (Don't worry kids, all you have to do is make it through that first 400 pages, and it's all rich, creamy, fair-market-value gravy from there.) I realized something about the forced decision between the body scan machines and The Grope (which casually tosses aside the final veil you held over your most private of areas, and affirms that the federal government's reach extends from your income, to your home, to your family, to your body, and indeed, to your penis or vagina. Oh, and that of your child). The villains in Atlas Shrugged refused to name what their power allowed them to do, and relied on the consent of the victim to acknowledge only the compulsory "choice" in the matter. Your assailant's request always ends with the unsaid words, "or I'll have you killed/imprisoned for decades/fined thousands of dollars/touch your daughter in ways that would put anyone else in prison." These threats are never spoken, but the victim knows they're there, and the invader knows they're there. It is only by consent of the victim that these words remain unsaid, the trespasser appears benevolent, and the victim steps into the radiation chamber, seemingly of his own election.

Of course, the frightening thing about these new villains is that they act with the consent, and under the powers of, a vast, nameless, faceless, amorphous bureaucracy. A bureaucracy which is both unaccountable and accountable, guilty and innocent, powerful and powerless, contemptible and... indifferent. It corrupts its employees with authority and impassivity, and comforts its employers with deniability and abdication. It sanctions the worst in the worst people, and overpowers the best in the best people. If humanity is to return, it must be stopped.

While on the matter of radiation; given the hyperbolic reactions of the media and (sadly) therefore public to levels of Japanese radiation in America that are exceeded by a banana, I feel a part humanitarian, part capitalistic, part juvenile duty to sell Potassium Iodide pills for $20 a hit in the line to the body scan machines. But then I think to myself, "Just because a fool and his money are soon parted doesn't mean I have to be one of the opportunistic, greedy capitalists who only profits a little bit," so lets make it $60. Step right up folks! Save your children from a slow and painful death! Don't want to bleed out of all your orifices? Then buy ET's Rad-B-Gone! Only $60 a pill, or save in bulk at 4 for $300!

1 comment:

Davidwhitewolf said...

Good you finished it! Wife and I are gonna see the movie Friday night. I am sure it must be showing in a theater near you that night. Hope you all can go.