Shortly before the pat down controversy hit the nether regions of America, I flew to Florida on a 7am flight from O'Hare. Not a particularly busy time of day, one would think, the 'security' line did not seem too long and I had plenty of time before my flight. Or so I thought.
Ten minutes and the line never moved an inch. Twenty minutes and we moved three inches. The natives began to get restless. What is going on, I heard muttered here and there? But, we were all cowed by the immense authority we had previously encountered from the satraps of security in their blue shirts and smug attitudes.
Thirty minutes and we had gained a yard. A nicely dressed lady, noticing four or five of TSA's finest lolling against an unused x-ray machine asked: can you open another lane? At this rate we are all going to miss our flights.
She was glared at and ignored.
A man called out... can you at least let those with earlier flights to move up in line so they don't miss them?
Ignored. A sixth agent joined the others and, no doubt, began to tell funny stories of passengers who's lives they had ruined. They chuckled and fist bumped.
The security point came into view: six positions, one open, and the line behind me stretching to infinity. A young mother with two small children began to cry.
I thought of Obamacare.
If you want to know what government health care will be like, look at the Orwellian mess at any American airport.
I started to baa like the sheeple I had come to be. Others took it up. There were moos here and there. Cell phones came out to record the scene. Obviously a scenario far more terrifying than nail clippers to the TSAers: a viral YouTube video could be aborning.
Immediately, orders went out and another line was opened. Three of the loungers were forced to move ten feet, feet dragging, to do their jobs. The other three gave us dirty looks.
This story, when shared with others, barely rated a raised eyebrow. Humiliation, lines, sheep like behavior, lolling government workers, an overwhelming sense of frustration and barely concealed rage, is the norm of flying. The frustration comes from the absolute idiocy of it all. The TSA has never caught a single terrorist. Not one. Ever.
All the rules, all the delay, all the billions of dollars, all the disruption to our lives... for what? A system that, even when warned by a terrorist's father that his son was a terrorist, a son whose name is already on a 'no fly' list, allowed the son to fly from Amsterdam to Detroit last Christmas Eve? Without being PETNed down or questioned?
There is no connection between what we are subjected to at every airport these days and the real threat. We allow government to control us for no rational reason. A nail clipper? A bottle of shampoo? Taking our shoes off? The hour wait in line?
A friend who flies frequently reports warnings of arrest over the loudspeaker in Houston if one disparaged any TSA agent. We watch in horror as a paragon of ineptitude like Janet Napolitano assures us that we must submit with the honeyed words of Wormtongue.
Does anyone believe her? Does anybody seriously think she knows what she is talking about?
Machines, costing billions, that don't detect that for which they are built to detect?
Sorry, they say, we're not exactly sure about the long term effects of these radiation doses but we must be able to check your 'package' because of a failure in interagency communication and the misspelling of a terrorist's name on a no fly list.
Oh, and, by the way, the machine can check the size of your package but not the presence of PETN. You can opt for our one grope fits all, lap dancer quality, 'pat downs' instead. Under seven, over seventy? Cancer patient or soldier?. No worries, we will 'pat down' anybody.
Move along people, they growl, you're hindering national security with complaints and lack of enthusiasm, these are standard operating procedures.
Standard? Whose standards? Janet Napolitano's? Standard operating procedures? Orwellian is the perfect word for such circumstances.
So, let me see if I have this right: during the Bush administration, using technology to intercept messages from potential terrorists calling from known terrorist countries was a dastardly intrusion of our collective lives. Yes? But, intrusively and indiscriminately fondling our bodies because we want to fly to Aunt Martha's for the holidays is a perfectly understandable and acceptable exercise in 'security?'
Who have we become? Are we free citizens or sheeple? 300 million Americans are all equally suspect and because of 'standard operating procedures', adult and child, are threats to airline safety?
If so the terrorists have won. We are but sheep, doing what we are told.
Baa baa baa.