September 29, 2006
Fun with toiletries
From CNN.com: ‘Idiot’ barb gets passenger detained…
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Wisconsin man who wrote “Kip Hawley is an Idiot” on a plastic bag containing toiletries said he was detained at an airport security checkpoint for about 25 minutes before authorities concluded the statement was not a threat.
First of all, who in their right minds thinks that someone calling someone else an idiot is a threat?
Secondly, can anyone really blame this man, who “said he feels the TSA is imposing unreasonable rules on passengers while ignoring bigger threats,” for his statement? Allow me to digress for a moment: I had a storybook when I was a child whose title escapes me now, but it involves a young man whose mother sends him into town to fetch something for her every day. One day he picks up butter, and it melts on the way home. His mother tells him that he should have carried the butter under his hat to keep it from melting. The next day she sends him into town to pick up a cat to catch the mice that have gotten into the house, and the boy, remembering his mother’s advice from the day before, plops the cat onto his head and tries to pull his hat down over it, and naturally arrives home covered in scratches. The book continues like this: every day the boy follows his mother’s advice from the previous day, only to discover that he’s done the wrong thing yet again.
I thought of that storybook the last time I flew. A few years ago now a man got onto a plane with a bomb in his shoe, so now we all have to put our shoes through the x-ray machine when we go through security. Now because someone snuck liquid explosives, or was perhaps allegedly thinking about doing so, onto a plane, we all have to be extra careful about what liquids we bring on board a plane, and how we package them. (I flew in that several-day window in which I couldn’t even bring a tube of lip balm on board… that was fun.) I sincerely doubt this reactive security is preventing all that much, because who now is going to be stupid enough to try putting a bomb in their shoe, or substituting liquid explosive for the hair gel in a bottle in their carry-on bag? In that respect the TSA is consistently at least one step, and probably more, behind terrorists.
At the same time, though, the idea of more proactive security worries me, given that it would most likely consist of barring people of particular ethnic or social backgrounds from flying. Still, it’s not my job to think of a better solution; it’s Kip Hawley’s, and to get back to my original point, I can hardly blame the man in question above for being frustrated with Hawley.