Thursday, October 04, 2007

They're Keeping Us Safe! From Ourselves??

I was disgusted but not at all surprised when reading the headline Bra sets off alarm. It would seem security would not let a woman into our federal courthouse after her underwire bra set off the metal detector. She had a court date to keep, there was no woman on duty to escort her through security to the privacy of a ladies room nor was their a screen available for her to stand behind. Her husband held up his jacket to provide her what privacy he could.

Now come on people. This is Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Discounting the many "wonderful place to live" accolades we've been getting, we're a state no one can locate on a map! I still have friends ask me how we're enjoying our retirement in the midwest. Even my niece, when she was planning a visit this summer, asked, "Why would we even think about coming to Idaho if you weren't there?"

The point goes far beyond this lady's embarrassment. Or even the heavy handed manner in which the circumstance was handled. It goes to the extremes we've taken "security" to keep us safe.

The nonsense started decades ago. When we still lived in Seattle Hub had to go to the federal building to pick up some tax forms. The magnetic strips on his credit cards set off the metal detectors. Now granted, he's a big guy with an Irish temper, but all he wanted was tax forms that were on racks in the lobby. Guards followed him from rack to rack and watched him like a hawk until he had what he needed and left.

Then there was the time in Phoenix when security at the airport pulled every third woman out of line. I was one. Told if anything set off the wand they'd have to pat down the area. At the time you could deny the intimacy. The screener told me it was for my own safety. Excuse me? Hub intervened and suggested neither of us wanted to take it further.

After passing through we talked with a shoe shine gal who passed through the same check point every day, had worked at the airport in the same location for years and still got pulled out of line on a daily basis. I have a very attractive Canadian friend who told me of the good time the security officer had patting her down coming trough San Francisco. All incidents were long before 9/11.

It has become increasingly more intrusive. The picture above shows what the see through x-rays being installed in airports will show. By this standard I'll take my husbands jacket any day!

Yet no one stands up to the plate to say "enough is enough". We've taken this beyond good sense. A friend in Tucson who travels with her pooch had to endure while the poor pooch had his privates probed. Cities have video systems that can catch you pulling up a bra strap, scratching a private place or picking your nose. Nice, eh?

I know. We have been attacked. The World Trade Center twice. Oklahoma City. There is, however, no way to prevent them entirely. No more than we can prevent another Virginia Tech. Colombine certainly didn't provide the answers. Imprisioning us in our own country won't solve anything. The government claims nothing has happened since 9/11 so their tactics are working. It seems to me its rather like if you carry a big game rifle in New York City a lion won't attack you. It works. But does it make sense?

The government is intruding into our private lives more and more yet we pay little attention. We seem not to care. Why is that? We pay far more attention to the shenanigans of the Paris Hiltons and Britney Spears of the world than the loss of our freedoms.

How many of us know where Myanmar and Darfur are? How many of us know what's going on in those countries? Do we care? How many of us know O.J. had to surrender his Rolex?

Think I'm exaggerating? Jake Halpern was asked to appear on CNN to discuss his book Fame Junkies in which he takes cable news networks to task for spending too much time covering the exploits of an O.J. rather than hard news. What happened? He got bumped. Why? Breaking news. When he questioned the technician who broke the news to him, he was told, "Haven't you heard? Britney Spears just lost custody of her children!"

Next thing you know we'll have Whoopi Goldberg suggesting a manage a trois with Nancy Pelosi and her husband. Breaking news!


Word Tosser said...

All I have seen is elderly being searched. And some times children.

They said she could have left the building... they said she could have found another way.. Why would anyone think about a piece of metal in a bra? A bra that they let go thru the machine anyway. With a snide remark. Oh, yes, I feel so much more safe. Right

Word Tosser said...

Wasn't it the book 1984 that remarked about Big Brother watching?

Anonymous said...

"Whoopie Goldburg" is spelled wrong. It is spelled Whoopi Goldberg. Not a big deal - but then to some mispelling a name is a big deal. Thought you would like to know.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Thanks anonymous. I don't know why I didn't check the spelling - I usually do.

Now corrected!

Anonymous said...

I've been dealing with this hassle at airport security ever since 9/11. Nice to know the airways are safe from my bra. I have tried wearing a bra without an underwire, and the lack of support just too painful. I can deal with the pat downs and searches, but airport security makes NO ATTEMPT to secure my personal belongings. My ID, my cash and credit cards are all too easy for someone to take while TSA turns their back to make sure my bra is not dangerous.

Enough is enough!

Bill McCrory said...

The development, deployment, and application of security technology really began as the Viet Nam conflict was winding down. Defense contractors were stuck with wartime technology, and they needed a market. First they tried law enforcement, but that didn't work as well as planned. Law enforcement agencies simply didn't have the money the DoD technology demanded.

Terrorism became their windfall.

DoD technology morphed into security technology. Magnetometers, body-scanning fluoroscopes, personal radiation detectors, and on and on. Left behind in the dust was the moral and ethical application of the security technology. My federal career was spent applying technology to investigations and dignitary protection, and one of the most difficult challenges was reining in some people's desire to apply technology unethically and immorally. I blogged about that in The Technology Tornado - Criminal Justice Meets the Wizard of Oz.

Just because we can doesn't mean we should.