Sunday, July 3, 2005

More TSA idiocy

Following up on my earlier posting on TSA idiocy... Supposedly this was also at SeaTac.

Just met with some friends tonight and the subject of airline/airport "security" came up. A true story about a recent run-in with TSA:

85-year-old resident of Washington state arrives home after an international flight where he had successfully taken about six different flight legs without incident carrying on a small watch/clock repair toolkit with him in his carry-on luggage. On the final leg, he is accosted by TSA because he is carrying a 2 inch hammer in this kit with a metal head and wooden handle!! The TSA tells him that tools are prohibited and that they are going to confiscate this tiny hammer.

Well, they pleaded with TSA:

  • The man is 85 years old and lives in Seattle

  • Oh, by the way, he had no problems on the other six legs of our flight and this is the final leg.

  • He had made the hammer himself with his own hands years ago--both the handle and the metal head. It is a one-of-a-kind and a cherished family heirloom.

  • Are terrorists (or _anyone_) known to attack people with 2 inch hammers?

But, the TSA, protecting all of us from 2 inch hammer banditos, refused to budge. The family got several levels of TSA and airport staff involved to press the issue yet their pleas still fell on deaf ears.

To make matters worse, the TSA staff were nasty about the situation too. For example, when asked what they were going to do with the hammer after confiscating it, they said that it would be "discarded", as if it were something with only utilitarian value. No thought about the real human lives in front of them that were being negatively impacted by this policy. I guess "things have changed after 9-11":   Americans are self-righteous and don't care about the American public? No thought is expended to question whether the TSA Policy that does actually prohibit bringing quote-unquote "hammers" on board, but I'm sure the policy writers did not intend for this to apply to 2 inch hammers! Think people!! Sheesh.

Yeah, people supposedly trying to protect us are maliciously obedient to policies that address false risks not based on a threat model, let alone a reasonable one. And, they only care about the letter of the law and not the spirit. The risk mitigation lies in the spirit of the law. Stupidity and a police state lies in strict interpretation of the letter of the law, especially in the case of the TSA where Americans have no ability to confront their accusors and ensure any sense of just treatment under the law.

A great quote I have heard someone say (about "no tolerance" school gun/knife/drug/etc. policies) is that "no tolerance" polices like these are really "no thought" policies. They allow people to be maliciously obedient to idiotic policies and take away any hint of a rational thought process that would normally prevent humans (formerly known to be rational actors) from arriving at ridiculous conclusions to benign situations.

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