Not too long ago, I gently hinted that the TSA, as we’ve endured it since its inception, is actually sort of our own damn fault, when it really comes down to it; an enormous, bumbling, passively-securing Frankenstein’s monster that we, the public, along with the media and lawmakers, allowed to be cobbled together and systematically exempted from the purview of rationality.
I’ve also mentioned that, all in all, I think TSA chief Pistole is at least trying to turn the organization around.
And finally, I’ve noted how silly it is that the TSA does things such as random hand-swab patrols of train stations, but that, if something terrifying did happen on a train, the media/public/lawmakers would be sure to respond the very next day asking why the TSA hadn’t been there, frisking down every last one of the train’s passengers, so as to retroactively nab the terrorist. Panic and overreaction would overwhelm rationality.
Fortunately, in order to illustrate this irrational dynamic, we don’t need an actual terrorist attack. All we need is John Pistole’s recent announcement that the TSA is no longer going to confiscate travelers’ Swiss Army knives.
It was a silly rule, right? I believe almost any rational person can see how ridiculous it is that the TSA was, for over 10 years, taking people’s 2 inch pocket knives while allowing their 6 inch scissors and knitting needles to glide right through the checkpoint. So you would think that almost everybody would be quietly happy that the organization is taking at least one little step in the direction of rationality (after all, irrationality is the sort of thing that causes millions of dollars to be wasted on radiation scanners that don’t work, and whose true effects we may not know for many years).
So Pistole announces the new, sensible TSA rule, and what happens?
L.A. Times: “New TSA Policy on Knives, Sporting Goods Sparks Outrage.”
Washington Post: “New TSA Rule Draws Fire From 9/11 Families.”
Maybe the real headline should be, “TSA Makes Small, Sensible Decision, Nation Has Trouble Handling It.”
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