March 07, 2007
Take My Liberties Please
Jerry wrote this column back in Decemer 2001, just weeks after the tragic 9-11 attack. It's as true today as it was then.
All those people who are screaming about the "profiling" of Arab men, the establishment of military tribunals, and the round-up of suspects and aliens, should not do their screaming and moaning from the cozy studios of CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS or from their cushy offices at The New York Times. Instead, I believe they should take their spouses, children, and grandchildren to an airport and get ready to fly on a commercial jet.
Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no civil libertarians getting on a plane these days. I've always considered myself a Republican and a Libertarian. That is, until last month when I took my first flight since September 11.
The first person you now see at an airport is a soldier. It's reassuring except that he's wearing a camouflage uniform. It would be a camouflage uniform if he was deep in a jungle, but it stands out liked a neon sign at an airport. The fact is, when you are at an airport the only way to camouflage yourself is to be disguised as a Burger King stand or a Starbucks stand or a Nathan's Hotdog stand and, then, you can blend into the airport's surroundings.
The next thing I noticed were the long lines for security checks. No one seems to mind them. Everyone was instead looking around at the other people in line who were looking at the other people in line who were looking at the other people in line. At one point a young man who looked to be an Arab joined the line. Then everyone looked at him. That's racial profiling. Fair? No. Real? Yes.
A hint to all of you who haven't flown yet: laminate your driver's license, put it on a long piece of string, and hang it around your neck because you will have to show it at least 10 times before you get on the plane.
The security people who used to be dumb but happy are now dumb and mean because they suspect they will be losing their jobs soon. Anything pointed is removed from your carry-on bags. A woman I was traveling with on business had her tweezers taken away. Clearly they suspected at one time during the flight she was going to stand up and demand that she be given control of the plane or she was going to tweeze everyone's eyebrows.
It is also impossible to walk through the electronic detectors without setting them off. I mean, if you went through the detector naked it would probably ring because it would pick up the iron in your blood. They then take their little wands and run them over your body. I had a particularly attractive woman hand frisk me and it was my sexual highlight for the month of October. "May I pat you down?" she asked. "Please," I answered. "May I touch your back?"
"Go right ahead." I said. She then asked me to loosen my belt. "May I check here," she said, putting her hand on my waist. "P-p-p-p-please d-d-d-o," I said, suddenly feeling a little surge of excitement.
She then proceeded to run her rather delicate fingers around the inside of my waist. She then dropped to her knees. I almost passed out with joy. "May I check your legs?"
I tried to say yes but the word wouldn't come out, so I nodded my head so vigorously I almost shook my glasses off my head. She ran her hands over my pants from the ankles to the calves. If she keeps this up I'm going to have the kind of reaction that will have her thinking I'm carrying a concealed weapon, I thought.
Alas, the search was over and all of my earthly possessions were scattered on a table while another attendant found a pair of nail clippers and broke them before my eyes. It was then that I had this thought: Why are they disarming us? Why don't they give each of the passengers going on a plane a gun? Yes, they would be giving hijackers a gun too, but let's say that four hijackers stand up with their guns on a plane and 196 other passengers proceed to shoot them. Let's have the kind of bullets that can penetrate skin but not the plane interior. You get your gun when you go on the plane. You give it up when you get off. No need to search anyone for weapons.
Is it a dumb idea? No dumber than the news report that came out of Hollywood on September 12. It seems that a number of "brave only in the movies" Hollywood stars, fearing another attack, were all rushing to hide out in the Palm Springs desert. Show me a person who decides the best place to hide from Arabs is the desert and I'll show you a really dumb person.
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