Saturday, December 11, 2010

Racial Profiling and Rubber Duckies

Much has been said lately about the TSA and their methods of keeping air travel safe. I fly quite regularly and frankly I don't care if someone sees my quite unremarkable body naked or if they give me a loving vertical massage. I really think this is an excellent method of making the travelling public feel better about their safety.

Of course this is merely illusion but if the people feel safe, they are happy, even if it means tolerating the screams of the offended as they are touched by and looked at naked by, strangers. A small price to pay indeed, for the accompanying peace of mind.

When I flew to Cincinnati last week, after checking the handgun concealed carry reciprocity laws, I decided to take my favorite noisemaker with me on this trip. I checked all the requirements and locked it in a metal box that was cabled securely to the suitcase it was travelling in, then dutifully informed the airline employee that was checking my bag.

The girl that checked my luggage on the way out of town clearly misunderstood what she was supposed to do. She had me unlock and open the gun case, revealing my .45 for all to see IN AN AIRPORT. She had me sign an orange card stating that the gun was unloaded, then placed the card in the gun case and had me close and re-lock it.

Really? So I'm standing in an airport with a handgun, not in a holster. That, all by itself seems more than a little dangerous. I'm glad there were no armed police or TSA officers nearby. Then to lock the orange card IN the case? That pretty much ensures that it won't be seen again until I get to my hotel room. We'll chalk that little fiasco up to inexperience and I hope that particular young lady gets some remedial training.

I went through the normal scanner and went on my merry way. On the return trip, I again declared my unloaded weapon locked in it's metal case. This time, the agent immediately called for a TSA officer on her radio, again had me fill out the orange card, but this time placed the card inside the luggage right on top of my clothes. That made a little more sense. The TSA officer arrived and rummaged through my bag and did his explosives swab, all the while maintaining his very grave demeanor. Good job, Mr TSA guy.

While waiting to board my flight home, I pondered this "security" scenario. A 2nd grade teacher with no previous life contact with guns would reasonably say that this was exactly as it should have been. That guy with the gun Should bear extra scrutiny! You know where this is going, don't you?

Yes, I would contend that perhaps the guy that declares the weapon, is probably the absolute last guy in the world to have evil intent for that flight. Well, me and the 87 year old woman wobbling along on her cane that really should be 5 or 6" taller. The cheerleaders are probably OK too. Nope. Body scans for every 5th cheerleader. Random. Granny got snagged too. (That had to be a rude surprise for the TSA guy in the booth). Cheerleader, cheerleader, cheerleader, granny.

But this post isn't about that. This post is about basic precepts and profiling. If people wearing rubber ducky earrings were responsible for the vast majority of terrorist acts by packing explosives in their butt cheek implants, then I think it would be reasonable to pay special attention to the butt cheeks of all people wearing rubber ducky earrings. If people that declare their weapons at baggage check-in Never commit terrorist acts, then I think it would also be reasonable for them to receive somewhat less scrutiny.

But what if the rubber ducky earring people have Other rubber ducky people do their bidding by carrying poisonous gas in their catheter bags? One or two incidents such as this and we will surely adapt and pay particular attention to rubber ducky earring people with catheters.

Of course this is silliness but it is serious silliness. Our current system, due to its political correctness, doesn't allow us to scrutinize any group more thoroughly than another. (Although you and I would Surely cast an extra glance or two at people wearing that particularly obvious jewelry.)

I would suggest that maybe reacting to technique is not the best way to truly protect our travellers. Political correctness needs to be thrown out the window, people need to put on their big boy and big girl panties and allow those entrusted to protect us, to protect us. They should be allowed to, nay, required to scrutinize every single person wearing rubber ducky earrings more closely than those that are not.

The rubber ducky people can only change technique. They cannot just convince anyone to commit suicide for their cause. That requires rubber ducky people. They will always self-identify by wearing rubber ducky earrings. I don't give a darn whether the Must-Be-A-Ducky-lim religion or CAIR, or whoever, objects or not. Maybe it's time for the non-violent ducky people to exert some peer pressure on those ruining it for all the other ducky people.



  1. "I really think this is an excellent method of making the travelling public feel better about their safety."

    Considering the nation-wide outrage over the new policies, this seems mistaken. I don't mean to say it's a matter of opinion, but that factually speaking people don't feel better about air traffic safety.

    But more over, I find your argument that there is utility in a false sense of security, quite honestly, disturbing. These measures patently do not make us safer, and if it makes people feel safer, this reduces pressure on our government to enact changes that will actually make us safer.

    That is to say, because you have lied to people and told them they are safe, the government will no longer seek ways to actually make flights safe.

    The thought process you have espoused here is essentially the same as a doctor telling a cancer patient they are in remission, because he thinks more chemo will upset them. Taking your medicine may suck, but it's the only way to actually fix what's wrong.

    You are also simply mistaken about what is meant by "profiling." When people talk about profiling for airport security (ah la the Israeli model) race is not a factor. Every passenger is interviewed by a security agent and based on their answers and demeanor they are *psychologically* profiled. While you can change how you look, if you're mission is to blow up a plane you can't stop wanting to blow up a plane. All terrorists have the psychology of a terrorist--by definition.

  2. The squawkers are few, dear boy. The masses hear them and know they are safe. (Even if it is just an illusion).
    My young friend, you need to look up and learn the definition of "satire". Of course we aren't any safer because of these measures. That is the point.
    As for "profiling", I do indeed have a very accurate and thorough understanding of the term and the practice. As a Military Policeman in Germany during the mid-80s, when the Bader Meinhof faction was actively blowing things up at U.S. facilities, we unabashedly used profiling. You can profile based on race, sex, height, color of hair, type of clothing, accent, type of car... the list is endless.
    And no, at Ben Gurion, the profiling used is indeed race based, as well as several other factors. White 75 year old women are subjected to far less scrutiny than 25 year old Arab men. Guaranteed. You might be under the impression that everyone is given equal treatment, but that would be an incorrect impression.
    They aren't going to ask 15 year old Tiffany a bunch of psych questions. That would be inefficient and a ridiculous waste of time and resources. Because of their common sense approach, without regard for political correctness, their system has thus far been inpenetrable.