One Nerd’s Note To The TSA
By Chris Hardwick on December 29, 2009
Just in case you’ve just run straight to this site from a year-long cryogenic freeze (wobbly, I imagine, from atrophied muscles), a young Nigerian man tried to light up a passenger jet on Christmas. Fortunately he failed. Unfortunately so did the Transportation Safety Administration, who naturally has responded with brand-spankin’ new rules, with emphasis on the “spankin’”. This article is about those.
Let’s be clear. I’m a comedian. I know that makes me no security expert. It does mean, however, that I travel a SHITLOAD and none of these knee-jerk, fear-motivated, reactionary steps make me feel one iota safer. In fact, these measures ensure nothing more than increased discomfort, which gives me more time to think about why I should be afraid in the first place. The system failed and is now inadvertently punishing travelers for its mistake. Air travel is becoming the two most hated things in America: too uncomfortable AND too expensive. True, SOME people have no choice but to fly above the ground to get places, but many don’t have to. How do you think that’s going to affect the industry? My guess is that will bring down more planes than a Nigerian zealot (topical reference), but in the bankrupt-y way.
To speak out against the TSA could be construed “unAmerican,” (which I am certainly not) but I don’t want to feel like a fucking inmate every time I get on a plane, constantly reminded that someone may be on the plane trying to kill me as I sit cold and blanketless with nothing to do but stare at the seat in front of me. And that is EXACTLY where we’re headed. These rules only apply to inbound flights from foreign soil, but I’d bet that domestic implementation is just around the bend. I know the TSA has a shitty job. They do nothing and people complain. They do something and people complain. But surely even they must admit that these new rules are baffling at best.
CONFINEMENT TO A SEAT FOR THE LAST HOUR (WITH NOTHING IN YOUR LAP)
Has the last hour of a flight been designated as “Terror Time” at Jihad-con? If some fuckbag wants to blow up a plane, he’ll now do it in the first hour. Or a middle hour. Or he’ll still do it in the last hour. The only difference now is that everyone is afforded the opportunity of dying miserable. How is this rule even enforceable? How are you going to tell someone with special needs or even just someone who “has to go” they’re shit outta luck?
So far none of the terror attacks have been aided by multiple carry-ons. They’ve involved shoes, things that could fit into one carry-on and things strapped to legs. The alternative is checking bags (with an added fee, I’m sure) that will get loaded into the plane with even less screening than a carry-on.
Even as a cynical asshole who ADORES the use of Wi-Fly, I have to admit that this at least makes SOME sense. Obviously you want to limit the number of DMs that Explodonauts can send and receive to their superiors in-flight.
NO LIVE TV PROGRAMMING
No, fuck that. I need to watch bumbly, greenly-lit meatheads “Oh fuck” their way through abandoned mental hospitals on “Ghost Hunters.” It distracts me from thinking about how much I hate flying.
The TSA is taking steps in every direction that have nothing to do with the attack. Farouk Abdulmutallab was on a terror watch list, had no baggage and paid for a ticket in cash. The only thing he didn’t do was actually carry a red flag onto the plane. Even if he WASN’T on a terror watch list, maybe pat him down for the other two reasons. How does disabling entertainment systems, forcing people to stay in their seats with nothing and bringing one carry-on help this? It doesn’t. The fact is that they need to keep psychotic turdstains from getting onto planes to begin with. Unfortunately, claiming to “beef up security” doesn’t sound like enough of a tangible thing, and the frightened public needs to feel like a thing is happening. Even if that thing is, in reality, useless.
“Well, what’s YOUR suggestion, you whiny dick?” I only got a couple of those on Twitter when I obnoxiously ranted about this a couple days ago. 98% of the responses I got were similarly outraged people. Those are astounding numbers. Much lower focus group stats can get something like “The Jeff Dunham Show” on the air. I’m no geenyus and I don’t claim to know much but I can make a few suggestions that I hope will spark your own ideas in the “Comments” section.
NO CASH FOR TRAVEL
Or at least, make cash-ticket purchasers go through a few extra steps to make them traceable. “Fuck you man! I’m trying to stay off the grid!!!” Too flippin’ bad. We live in a fully gridded society now. Money is dirtier than used toilet paper and smells like copper farts anyway.
MILLIMETER WAVE MACHINES
There are only about 40 MMWs in the US now, but they can scan a person to see what they’re concealing. Privacy groups hate it but his should only be a problem for you if you’re concealing something. Embarrassed about the butt plug you keep in at all times? Think of how embarrassing it’ll be when it blows out of you and through a your seat cushion.
UNIFORMED AIR MARSHALS ON EVERY FLIGHT
You know what I hate paying $20 extra for? Bringing a change of clothes on a trip. You know what I would HAPPILY pay $20 extra for? A uniformed air marshal on my plane. What? Does that feel “too military-state”? Fucking GREAT. A plane cop gives a much more effective appearance of security than not being able to get up to piss.
We all want to feel safe, but at what price? How soon before we can’t bring anything at all on a plane? Or use the lavatory? If the TSA wants to keep us REALLY safe, why not just have passengers fly nude while strapped to a board? Then the airlines could charge our balls as “excess baggage.”
The TSA works for you so don’t be afraid to share your criticism or support at TSA.Civilrights@dhs.gov. And please comment below! Constructive discourse is how positive change begins!
Huzzah! Transform and roll out! U-S-A! U-S-A!