The appearance of security...
Seth Godin recently blogged on a topic that included one of my post-9/11 pet peeves...what I call "the appearance of security". Seth commented:
"The woman next to me on the flight had thin, sharpened spikes, two of them, eight inches long. They're called knitting needles, and they're allowed on the plane. The guy on the other side was bemoaning the fact that they took away his nail clippers.
The little kid in row 8 had to walk 35 rows back to the back of the plane to use the bathroom because it's a grave breach of security for him to use the empty and close bathroom 7 rows in front.
They x-ray sneakers at LaGuardia."
All of this, I'm sorry to say, has also happened to me. In the name of security. Sheesh.
Don't get me wrong - I want things to be as secure as the next guy (maybe more than some of the next guys), I believe the terrorist threat is real; but some of what we do now-a-days in the name of security is just - well - stupid. I call it "the appearance of security" - that is, they are in fact security measures, but where the hell did common sense go?
"Hi I'm America, and I'm looking for Common Sense? Have you seen it? I seem to have misplaced it?"
"Take off my shoes in a crowded public place so they can be scanned for explosives because one sick moron tried to sneak explosives on an airplane in his shoes?" C'mon.
"Snatch some guy's nail clippers because they might be used as a weapon (car keys will be next) but let granny have her knitting needles because she probably won't use them to poke out some air marshal's eye on her way to the cockpit?" C'mon.
"Make everyone in Coach use the Coach restroom instead of sharing the First Class restroom?" - (ok, I have to admit as a former frequent First Class traveler I support this one, but don't blame the practice on security - call a spade a spade and blame it on elitism!) Come on!
We're investing a gazillion dollars all over the place these days on the appearance of security - money we're spending so we can feel better about security even if many of the actions don't really make us much more secure, and some of them kick common sense squarely in the balls.
If we really wanted security, we'd be on what I'll call The Israeli Model - "please step aside while I go through EVERYTHING in your suitcase AND your carry on, and don't mind the automatic weapon - its friendly - and would you mind a strip search if we suspect you need one?"
Can't see American's going for that anytime soon - we don't want to pay for it, we don't want the indignation and loss of liberty that come along with it, we don't want it. But in the meantime, thanks for the appearance of security - it makes us all feel just that much better... doesn't it?