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This is fascism.
November 16, 2001 6:36 AM   Subscribe

This is fascism.
posted by magullo (86 comments total)

 
This is what happens when you put too much in the hands of regular people. Untrained, nervous, over-stimulated people are stupid. But I would hazard a guess that the airlines are willing to trust the uneducated guesses of these stupid people in order to save money on security. There are a lot of weird people out there! I dread what will happen to me the next time I try to fly somewhere. I'm sure I'll get the "strange behavior" treatment. This is just ridiculous, and I hope this guy gets some kind of compensation for his embarrassment and inconvenience. This wasn't about safety - this was about some stupid passenger not wanting to spend 5 minutes thinking critically, and the airline personnel not wanting to take responsibility.
posted by starvingartist at 6:48 AM on November 16, 2001


Tzounopoulos said he was reading complex information and might have stared into space or looked around frequently as he thought about it.

Right, fellow geeks and intellectuals: it's back to trains and boats, er, until one of those crashes into Grand Central Station or Fulton Fish Market...
Very disturbing. Reminded, don't know why, of Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives. Hell, what are we supposed to look like and what is acting normally? Probably denouncing fellow passengers...
On an off-note: these clues are just great for future terrorists. You can just bet the next attack, God forbid, will be done by Mr. and Mrs. Normal, probably with - brrrr - kids...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:50 AM on November 16, 2001


Truly appalling. Staring into space makes you a potential terrorist? What was he, scoping the inside of his head for boxcutters? Every dreamer and academic on earth is screwed.
posted by rory at 6:53 AM on November 16, 2001


Every dreamer and academic on earth is screwed.

Only the brown ones, rory...
posted by jpoulos at 6:58 AM on November 16, 2001


starvingartist:

> I would hazard a guess that the airlines are willing to
> trust the uneducated guesses of these stupid people in
> order to save money on security.


On the other hand, the following has the ring of truth:

> Jack Walsh, spokesman for Alaska Airlines, based in
> Seattle, said the airline is merely tightening procedures
> that most passengers welcome.

I have a feeling the airlines are merely desperate to keep the bubbas feeling safe enough to be willing to buy tickets and fly. If there's anything about you that's outside normal bubba comfort zone, the carriers would prefer that you not even visit the airport, let alone try to board a plane.
posted by jfuller at 7:06 AM on November 16, 2001


"Most" passengers are welcome, huh. As long as you don't 'act strangely'

What a load of shit.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2001


Probably denouncing fellow passengers...

As a brown-skinned academic dreamer, I now understand that the new rules of air travel require that I get the other passengers removed from the plane before they get me.

Seriously, though, the quality of airline service had been consistently decreasing before the New Security. Now security seems to have been happily conflated with lousy service and outright discrimination. What will it take to fix this system? The death of an airline? The death of an industry?

(In addition, this situation will probably make Ralph Nader mad.)
posted by iceberg273 at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2001


Nothing will be done about this. The guy will not be compensated at all. A lawsuit would be thrown out by the judge. Mass media will not portray this as a symptom. Most of the few people who will know about this won't care. Nothing will change. It will happen again.
posted by yesster at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2001


Seems to me that the only recourse a citizen has is to bring a law suit. This will dampen ;the spirits of the airlines in their attempt to placate zealous passengers and will make them wary of snap judgements on who can and can not fly on their planes.
Of course it will cost the plantiff. But if he goes to small claims court, he can get off with little payment, make his case, force the airlines to send a lawyer or lose their case, and perhaps at least collect plane fare.
posted by Postroad at 7:09 AM on November 16, 2001


When I flew last month, well before the plane boarded and the gate crew began their routine random boarding searches, I was asked to allow my bag to be searched and have my body scanned for metal. After the search concluded, the airline employee explained "I'm sorry, sir, but you were studying the departure monitor rather intently." Actually, I was trying to figure out what one abbreviation in the column headings stood for.
posted by mischief at 7:12 AM on November 16, 2001


Yes, jpoulos, but not necessarily. I almost always get pulled up, long before the recent attacks, I guess because I'm a geek-looking, distracted, shirt-hanging-out person. Once, about five years ago in Terminal 4 at Heathrow, sick and tired of being extra-searched and questioned, I asked the security guys why. So one of them smiles, takes pity, pulls out a ring-holder full of Xeroxed identikit-style drawings and, lo and behold, there I freakin' was, in all my geekness. Apparently it's a standard appearance for a terrorist. Nowadays I just shrug and make jokes. Last year I was told hijackers also make a point of making jokes, so you can't win... Needless to say, I've stopped carrying my cocktail kit(sharp knives, Tabasco sauce, long metal swizzler sticks)since then...
It's frightening that anyone who doesn't look 100% straight gets so much aggravation. Now, as so many stories suggest, it's downright dangerous...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:13 AM on November 16, 2001


make a game of it. whenever you and your friends board a plane, see who can get the most fellow passengers removed. bonus points if you can get all your friends kicked off before you're asked to leave.
posted by tolkhan at 7:14 AM on November 16, 2001


I wonder if the lucky whistleblower got upgraded to first class? Might be a useful tactic.

Customs officials are trained specifically to spot people behaving abnormally, and even they get it wrong a lot of the time. So I don't see what makes the average man on the street think he can spot a terrorist a mile off.
posted by dlewis at 7:15 AM on November 16, 2001


Like the article says: But the new standards for that defense are still being developed

Everyone knows that the beefed up gate security is more for appearance sake than anything. Congress is stalled trying to decide whether to federalize security or what...Al Quieda is jonezing for another strike at us.

So, while I would be as outraged as this guy, or lawyer two days ago who was taken off the plane at gunpoint for trying to use a forward lavatory, such outrage pales in comparison to the outrage of 9/11.

Who's got a better way of countering the very real threat of another suicidal hijacking?

Everyone else would be wise to reflect on their frustration and where it should rightfully be focused.

whether you're talking about ration tickets for food and nylons or fupped duck airline security responses, thats life during wartime.
posted by BentPenguin at 7:18 AM on November 16, 2001


> What will it take to fix this system? The death of an
> airline? The death of an industry?

How about if people wean themselves away from constant motion and learn to be content where they are? Less air pollution, less noise pollution, more peace of mind.
posted by jfuller at 7:23 AM on November 16, 2001


Gosh, instant revenge. Follow around someone you hate, then report his behavior as suspicious and - ta-da! Civil rights gone.
posted by fleener at 7:28 AM on November 16, 2001


We can all look forward to a lot more of this. Last weekend in a mall I saw a teenager and his girlfriend (both could be called of some Middle Eastern descent) being harassed by the mall "security". Seems the kid wasn't too happy with them demanding to search his shopping bags

Boredom is creeping in on all these extra security people; boredom mixed with ignorance is a dangerous combination.
posted by jeremias at 7:31 AM on November 16, 2001


This isn't fascism, it's stupidity. Why not search the "strange" individual and (assuming nothing out of the ordinary is found) put them back on the plane. If the "strange" passenger was thoroughly checked before boarding then even the search could have been avoided.
posted by revbrian at 7:31 AM on November 16, 2001


thats life during wartime.

Shouldn't have to be. This kind of stereotypical hijacker profiling doesn't make air travel any safer. It just creates an anti-stereotype for the more savvy terrorist to slip into. There really needs to be widespread public indignation about cases like this, because the situation is just plain unsafe, and this kind of behaviour is likely to spread to other arenas if it becomes the wartime norm. Vigilence means spending some serious dollars on security in all public areas. Granted it will take a long time, but mindless efforts like this need to be nipped in the bud.
posted by dlewis at 7:31 AM on November 16, 2001


Everyone else would be wise to reflect on their frustration and where it should rightfully be focused. whether you're talking about ration tickets for food and nylons or fupped duck airline security responses, thats life during wartime.

Give up your civil rights in order to help America heal.

There is a big difference between the material sacrifices made country wide so that a war could be fought (food and nylons) and the sacrifices made by a small group of innocent people who fit certain arbitrary criteria so that an ignorant populace can feel more comfortable (kneejerk civil rights violations disguised as airline security responses).
posted by iceberg273 at 7:33 AM on November 16, 2001


This guy should get an apology, a complimentary flight, and perhaps flowers and a free shiatzu massage.

But the next guy that gets tagged may be carrying box cutters. I'd gladly trade a bit of embarassment to live another day.

At the end of the day, it's better to be safe than sorry. If we fail to be more proactive, protective, and perhaps paranoid, we are opening the door for another 9/11 to occur. It's that simple.
posted by berk at 7:36 AM on November 16, 2001


Whenever someone else reports on someone else's strange behaviour or appearance, like it's their duty or freakin' mission in life, as opposed to the employees who are trained and paid to detect that sort of thing, I think it should be mandatory on airplanes to respond: "Shut up, you old coot!"(or cow). "Get off the plane now!" or at least "No orange juice for you, fucko!" would also help.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:38 AM on November 16, 2001


So, while I would be as outraged as this guy... such outrage pales in comparison to the outrage of 9/11.

Everything pales in comparison to 9/11. That is hardly the point. If we don't protest outrageous breaches of common decency in the name of 'security' then we don't deserve to feel secure, because if this can happen to an academic travelling on business and doing nothing more threatening than reading an agenda (whoops, there goes business class) then it can happen to anybody.

Who's got a better way of countering the very real threat of another suicidal hijacking?

Crank up airline security to the extent that nobody wants to fly any more, driving numerous airlines out of business so that suicidal hijackers have nothing left to hijack? Sure, you cripple the world economy in the process, but hey, at least we'll all feel secure.
posted by rory at 7:38 AM on November 16, 2001


This is Tzounopoulos. Now tell me that if he was blond and blue eyed anyone would have found him "strange"...
Us Mediterranean types better not travel around too much nowadays eh?
posted by talos at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2001


He's got evil eyes, I tell ya! And that smirk, what's he plotting?
posted by dlewis at 7:47 AM on November 16, 2001


If someone collected these incidents on a web site, with the names of the offending airlines in 24-point bold type, I wonder if the companies' lawyers would get twitchy and send out cease and desist letters claiming defamation of character? Because, truly, it's the airlines that deserve to be called out and shamed for kneejerkery like this.

(And yes, it reminds me that some of the most ignorant, insufferable people I've ever encountered were passengers on US domestic flights.)
posted by holgate at 7:49 AM on November 16, 2001


Thanos??? Isn't that Greek for "death"?!?!
posted by starvingartist at 7:52 AM on November 16, 2001


At the end of the day, it's better to be safe than sorry. If we fail to be more proactive, protective, and perhaps paranoid [emphasis mine], we are opening the door for another 9/11 to occur. It's that simple.

Meanwhile, other citizens worry that another 3/18 might occur.

Proactive? Yes. Protective? Certainly. Paranoid? They'll have to strike the "land of the free, home of the brave" bit then, I suppose.
posted by iceberg273 at 7:56 AM on November 16, 2001


That's Thanatos. Now if he was named Thanatos I would insist that he be left off the plane!
posted by talos at 8:00 AM on November 16, 2001


I almost always get pulled up, long before the recent attacks

It's the exploding cigar. Duh.

This guy is just lucky they didn't (a) mug him for trying to take a piss, or (b) humiliate him for reading a book during the interminable pre-flight wait. (Connection weak: imagine that I linked the threads.)
posted by rushmc at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2001


If we don't protest outrageous breaches of common decency in the name of 'security' then we don't deserve to feel secure

They didn't exactly do a strip search and cavity probe in the middle of the terminal. Mistakes can, have, and will continue to occur, but recall that we've actually nailed a few baddies with these simple methods as well.
posted by berk at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2001


This isn't fascism, it's stupidity. Actually, it's both.

Fascism: a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control and extreme pride in country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed.
posted by Carol Anne at 8:05 AM on November 16, 2001


it needs to be said again:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -Benjamin Franklin
posted by xochi at 8:08 AM on November 16, 2001


Defining "essential liberty" is the sticking point.
posted by mischief at 8:12 AM on November 16, 2001


I find it amazing that there are people prepared to say here that the incident was justified in the interests of safety. What happened was not acceptable even considering the hightened state of alert. I keep thinking of George Orwell's 1984, where citizens were encouraged to report on "suspicious" behaviour of their neighbours. If this was a one-off incident, we could at least dismiss it as such. But it isn't - I've read about at least three similar cases so far.
posted by salmacis at 8:18 AM on November 16, 2001




Maybe I'm naive because I don't fly that much, but I don't see why airport security is that hard to get right.

You're going to be on the plane for a few hours. You don't need that much stuff. A book, a pen and paper, your glasses, your laptop, medication if you need it, etc.. Why don't they just put out a list and say you may have these things in your one carryon. Anything else doesn't come on. Then everybody goes through the metal detector, and everyone's carryon is opened and inspected. If you have something that isn't on the list, it gets discarded and you get special procedures or perhaps you get kicked off the plane.

It's disgusting to treat people differently because of their skin color. It's also stupid to treat people differently and kick them off for idiosyncrasies. Does anyone think that the real 9/11 terrorists weren't trained to look as normal as possible?

Heightened security is justifiable and comforting. Differential security based on ethnicity is ineffective and maddening.
posted by anapestic at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2001


Couldn't we fight back?

Pick the most nervous, white, bigoted looking peron on the plane and let the captain know that they made us nervous? What if 5 passengers did that every flight? 10? Would the airlines start re-thinking their rules? Would we have the guts to inconvenience some unknown stranger to prove a point? Would it make a difference?
posted by mutagen at 8:44 AM on November 16, 2001


Why don't they just put out a list and say you may have these things in your one carryon. Anything else doesn't come on.

I suspect it's because domestic carriers in the US have cultivated a climate in which "lots of hand luggage" is a major selling point, so that passengers regard the ability to turn up at the gate with a couple of trunk-sized cases as their god-given taxpayers' right.

Pick the most nervous, white, bigoted looking peron on the plane and let the captain know that they made us nervous?

Um, perhaps not. Although I suspect that calling out some of the people relaxing in business class with their platinum frequent flyer cards might expose some twitchiness in airline security policy.
posted by holgate at 8:51 AM on November 16, 2001


[Fascism: a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control and extreme pride in country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed.]

How is him sitting there political opposition? Did George Bush or his henchmen throw him off the plane? It's a moronic situation but it's isn't fascism.
posted by revbrian at 9:01 AM on November 16, 2001


Would we have the guts to inconvenience some unknown stranger to prove a point?

I'm not sure that "guts" would enable one to do such a spread-the-misery exercise in anarchism. You'd also have to be kind of a jerk.

For what it's worth, the airlines that kowtow to bigoted passenger fear make me nauseous, but I think the problem is also in the larger way we're dealing with "America's New War." The mother of a friend of mine gleefully called the other day to report how she'd seen someone "suspicious" hanging around near a local mall, and had called the FBI immediately. Of course, her determination of "strangeness" had a lot to do with his olive skin tone (she lives in a southern city); but her hysterical action wasn't borne out of fear -- she was delighted to believe she was taking action, doing something, fighting in the war.

People crave the belief that they are players on the world stage. "Taking action" by turning in the "suspicious" is a role that's become a way for ordinary people to live the fantasy that their lives acquire a CNN-level of meaning and import. I think this, as much as raw racism and airline stupidity, is behind these incidents.
posted by BT at 9:03 AM on November 16, 2001


Defining "essential liberty" is the sticking point.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
posted by rory at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2001


Although I suspect that calling out some of the people relaxing in business class with their platinum frequent flyer cards might expose some twitchiness in airline security policy

Trust holgate to switch tables on us. Too tempting by half, no?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:10 AM on November 16, 2001


Thanos??? Isn't that Greek for "death"?!?!

Actually, Thanos is Marvel Comics for death.

Customs officials are trained specifically to spot people behaving abnormally, and even they get it wrong a lot of the time.

That's just basic statistics. If customs officials are 99% accurate at spotting a terrorist, but there's only 1 terrorist for every 1,000,000 people flying, then the customs officials will be hassling innocent people 99.99% of the time.
posted by straight at 9:17 AM on November 16, 2001


Here's a thought. If you're so bigoted and paranoid that you feel compelled to try and get people kicked off your flight for "flying while Arab", then how about not flying?

If flying with people who have dark skin makes you so nervous, then do us all a favor and stay home. Don't victimize others.

And how about the rest of us speaking up? Did anyone else on the plane say, "Are you actually going to kick him off because he has dark skin?"

For me this isn't even about the WTC attack, it's about bigots and morons being given an excuse to act out.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:26 AM on November 16, 2001


I think I know where the guy went wrong and got labeled as 'suspicious." He was wearing a black suit but there was no flag lapel button on said suit. Thus he had to be a foreign terrorist who just doesn't understand patriotism. Ahhh....must...stop...bubba....mind...meld....!!!!
posted by nofundy at 9:34 AM on November 16, 2001


anyone want to go into business with me selling american flag or Worlds Best Dad t-shirts in front of airports? have a little kit...a flag shirt, an NYFD hat, do consulting for the spooky looking types. Maybe a copy of Cat Fancy as well to inject some cute kitten innocence?

a warm fuzzy makeover.

i have a tendency to look a bit tired, frazzled and spooky sometimes, i'll just make sure i only travel with my fiance, i'm sure cute-coupleness would also work...
that and toning down my military surplus fashion.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:34 AM on November 16, 2001


And how about the rest of us speaking up? Did anyone else on the plane say, "Are you actually going to kick him off because he has dark skin?"

Good point. Silent, acquiescent fellow travellers, nodding and pretending they've seen nothing, probably grateful that someone somewhat different has been kicked off - "Well, he did look funny, didn't he, honey?" - are collaborators in the worst WW2 sense of the word. No way would these tactics work if bystanders, so to speak, wouldn't act so damn innocent.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:41 AM on November 16, 2001


The fascism label falls when saying 'extreme pride in race'. It's stupidity because it's actually extreme fear of race.

The thing is that proper training isn't going to happen because the companies don't have the cash. The largest airline security company has the highest rate of problems - from falsifying records so they can hire without background checks to a 400% yearly turnover rate in most of the major hubs.

Now, you are damned if you do or don't. If you don't then the person who reported it is going to freak and be all righteous. And look what happens if you do. What they could have done, instead, though, is re-checked his documents (ID, plane ticket, etc).. and re-checked his bag, all without having to delay the plane or kick him off.

Also, did they ask the person who reported him why they thought he was acting suspicious? How about if the reporting person was a terrorist trying to distract attention from themselves? Huh? Huh?

It's all just stupid. As for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.. did Elenor Roosevelt ever get Congress to ratify that as a valid treaty the U.S. is obligated to?
posted by rich at 9:42 AM on November 16, 2001


Oh, I almost forgot.

West Palm Beach airport I always get stopped on my way back home to NJ. I have a conference there every year and every year they stop me. Usually, they chase me down after I go through the bag scanner and am halfway to the gate, then have me open up my bags, do the drug sniffer on everything I own looking for residue, frisk me and make up things like "we saw something in the scanner". They never find anything.

It's really starting to piss me off. Because I'm youngish looking, usually wearing a jean jacket, baggy pants, flying first class, and somewhat dishevelled from 3 days of finance in finance out work, and a last minute surf session before dashing to the airport.
posted by rich at 9:48 AM on November 16, 2001


From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
Article 29 (3):
These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

That makes me feel so much better. I guess I just like the concept of inalienable rights.
posted by dwivian at 9:50 AM on November 16, 2001


make a game of it. whenever you and your friends board a plane, see who can get the most fellow passengers removed. bonus points if you can get all your friends kicked off before you're asked to leave.

Heck. The next time your legs and back are killing you and you are squeezed onto another packed plane simply walk down the aisles with the flight attendant saying "him, her, him, her, him, him, it, her, him" until there are enough seats to stretch your legs.

This is ridiculous. This is one of the problems that arises when one's government is telling people to be cautious and on "high alert" at the same time they are telling people to get back to normal. They have bred more paranoia.

It reminds me of one of the voices in the background of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon:

"I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us are...very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad...."

And vice versa.
posted by terrapin at 10:04 AM on November 16, 2001


And there's one in the spotlight! He don't look right to me.
posted by trioperative at 10:23 AM on November 16, 2001


"...put him up against the wall!"
posted by terrapin at 10:28 AM on November 16, 2001


"Now, you are damned if you do or don't."

How about if the airlines just allowed the person complaining to be rescheduled on a later flight?

I'm missing the logic of making one person's insecurity everyone else's problem. But I suspect there is no logic here and the airlines are just acting without bothering to come up with a policy.

And what does it say about the airlines confidence in their security that they won't even stand up to random yahoos who want to screen fellow passengers?
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:33 AM on November 16, 2001


How about if the airlines just allowed the person complaining to be rescheduled on a later flight?

Close. How about if you finger someone, you have to get off at the same time in case you're needed to answer questions about the "suspect activity". I think that would greatly reduced the citizen's need to point out someone who is clearly "flying while brown".
posted by m@ at 10:43 AM on November 16, 2001


m@ - that policy makes too much sense. Therefore, the airlines can't do it. Besides, though the courts wouldn't side with the "suspect," they probably would side with a passenger kicked off a plane for fingering a suspect. After all, they're just doing what their President, the AG, and the media have told them to do.
posted by yesster at 10:55 AM on November 16, 2001


Hmmmm .... I travel to Europe allot and I'm *always* stopped and questioned when I go through customs.

Im well aware it's because of my appearance. I'm young, usually travel alone and very light (hand luggage).

On the one hand it annoys the feck out of me. But on the other hand mistakes are bound to happen and I'd prefer they accidently picked me, rather than not check at all.

Someone looking nervous is as good a reason as any to stop them ... Who would you stop... the relaxed bloke strolling through customs .. or the jittery sweating one?

However, these are the sort of decisions that trained security personnel should take .... not stewards for gawds sake.
posted by MintSauce at 11:10 AM on November 16, 2001


Why do people assume that terrorists are going to be nervous?

Don't you think if they're well trained, they'll be relaxed?

I mean, what about all the spies out there in the world. You think they get nervous in tight situations, or have been trained to be calm and cool?
posted by rich at 11:13 AM on November 16, 2001


The fascism label falls when saying 'extreme pride in race'. It's stupidity because it's actually extreme fear of race.

Extreme pride in one's own race requires contempt and fear of other races.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:18 AM on November 16, 2001


I didn't say being nervous was an outright sign of a terrorist. But I can't see why it's not an acceptable reason to stop and question someone.

The airline *was* completely OTT and unqualified in this case tho ...
posted by MintSauce at 11:21 AM on November 16, 2001


I'm young, usually travel alone and very light (hand luggage).

That usually signals "wannabe illegal immigrant" or "drug mule" rather than "terrorist", though. The only time I've been singled out for extra checks was when I flew into Atlanta with hand luggage on a one-way ticket, to help my girlfriend move her stuff up to Connecticut. Five minutes of joking about my atrocious passport photo, and I was on my way.
posted by holgate at 11:22 AM on November 16, 2001


"Extreme pride in one's own race requires contempt and fear of other races."

But fear of another race doesn't necessitate extreme pride in one's own race.

"I didn't say being nervous was an outright sign of a terrorist. But I can't see why it's not an acceptable reason to stop and question someone"

Isn't flying one of the most common things people have a fear of, and if they have a fear of it, wouldn't they appear nervous or jumpy? I'm just trying to think here - percentage-wise, I'm tending to think that most would-be terrorists would not be appearing nervous.

So, then the use of stopping nervous people in lieu of not nervous people may actually work against you as a tactic, since you are focusing on a low-percentage sector.
posted by rich at 11:31 AM on November 16, 2001


*Sigh* rich, read my second post.

I didn't say it was a outright rule to stop people with. Nor did I say it was an outright sign of a terrorist.

But IMHO it is a valid reason (among many) to suspect someone.
posted by MintSauce at 11:35 AM on November 16, 2001


Oh, please don't sign! It's just the ol' agree to disagree. I know what you're saying Mint, I just don't think nervousness is typically a suspicious activity, in an airport context.

Now, hanging out in front of a darkly lit 7-11 at 5 minutes before closing time chain smoking - now that's suspicious.

Place, context, type of expected crime...

Crimes that require lots of planning and coordination I suspect have less nervous people, since they are executing a worked out plan.

Every day crimes are usually not very well thought out, and I'd agree that suspicions should be raised for those people when they are nervous.
posted by rich at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2001


What time does 7-11 close?
posted by m@ at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2001


hmm...swarthy folks and 'strange folks' are being racially profiled as possible terrorists. I posit that we should've seen this coming-and yet some are still trying to justify it. I wonder-if the IRA sets off a bomb on an airplane, will things finally come full circle?
posted by black8 at 12:17 PM on November 16, 2001


"No one questioned him, examined his bag, called airport police or otherwise detained him."

This was after he had decided not to board a later flight. There's no way that this airline's security people can be considered competent, rational, responsible, patriotic or any other quality that might reflect well on them. They declared someone a suspect by removing him from the plane. Once he was off the plane, he was someone else's problem and they let him go.

If he had been a terrorist, this bunch of Barney Fifes gave him a second chance because their butt was covered. Those people are ignorant cowards. If there was such a thing as "fair", every airline employee associated with this incident would be charged with criminal negligence.
posted by joaquim at 12:47 PM on November 16, 2001


How about if people wean themselves away from constant motion and learn to be content where they are?

Because some of them might be on scholarship in colleges 1000 miles from home? I wouldn't see my friends from home at all except over summer break if I couldn't fly. I don't think staying put is a good or fair solution. Yes, there's too much frivolous travel, but there's good reasons for it too.

unless of course you were being sarcastic... so hard to tell...
posted by e^2 at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2001


This isn't fascism. It's unequivocal stupidy and racism. It would only be fascism if they turned 747s into flying concentration camps.
posted by ed at 2:42 PM on November 16, 2001


Bah...stupidity.
posted by ed at 2:43 PM on November 16, 2001


I dunno, ed, fascism is quite wide-ranging. Concentration camps are not on - that would be the Nazis - but intruding on every single aspect of one's private life and forcing it into some sinister, elbow-jerking, craven, compulsorily kowtowing mould is right up its alley. Fascism, IMO, is actually more dangerous than Nazism, because the "trains running on time" and "everybody-a-bit-different-punished" aspects are attractive to a certain petit-bourgeois mentality. This airplane screening thing is pure fascism, if the word "pure" can be so mistreated. It can. Precisely...
(*reminded of Susan Sontag's "Fascinating Fascism" essay but too lazy to look up an online version*)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:32 PM on November 16, 2001


Interesting that everybody speaks as if they had been there, knowing exactly what really happened. I've had a few opportunities to witness events they were reported on in various media. Never any real connection to the reality of the situation.
posted by semmi at 5:49 PM on November 16, 2001


semmi: that's about your first comment I disagree with, so pardon my French, but suggesting it wasn't like that, without having been there, based on your past experiences, is at least as frivolous or immaterial - and certainly as second-hand - as what you're decrying. That said, it's true that reporters rely too much on a few sources and are too eager to file their copy. But surely the principle - what's being discussed here -still stands?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:25 PM on November 16, 2001


Now tell me that if he was blond and blue eyed anyone would have found him "strange"...

I'm not going to tell you that, because if he was blond and blue eyed nobody *would* have found him strange, because blond and blue eyed men don't fly airplanes into towers. It's true. They don't.
posted by David Dark at 6:43 PM on November 16, 2001


david dark...

statistically, no one flies airplanes into towers, period.
posted by zerolucid at 11:22 PM on November 16, 2001


clearly, people about to stuff themselves into a hollow aluminum tube to hurtle through space at 30,000 feet need to know that one of thier number isn't going to spontaneously combust. therefore, and henceforth, by my decree herewith: everybody flies naked.
posted by quonsar at 12:41 AM on November 17, 2001


quonsar: Antifascism at its best. Chapeau!
posted by magullo at 12:55 AM on November 17, 2001


blond and blue eyed men don't fly airplanes into towers

Name: McVeigh, Timothy; Hair: Brown; Eyes: Blue
posted by Carol Anne at 5:35 AM on November 17, 2001


A quonsar-inspired probably stupid idea: the solution is absolutely no carry-on luggage, except pills and make-up. In the departure lounge hand out comfortable T-shirts and pajamas,and a hygiene pack, as they do on real first class, 'cept you don't get to keep them afterwards. Provide changing rooms. Store all clothing, to be handed back just before landing. No pockets, nowhere to hide anything that might be used as a weapon.
Is that so difficult? Increase the allowed weight limit - and allow airport purchases to be included before boarding so people can check it in. Overall weight wouldn't be affected. Have a library on board - just for lending - and lots of videos, etc. Add a $20 cover charge to all tickets. It's all about money, IMO. Security and safety. U.S. flights are inherently dangerous because of cost-cutting and general consumer avariciousness. Hey, if you want to fly, pay what it costs...

*trembles, knowing of the many pilots who are MeFis*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:04 AM on November 17, 2001


zerolucid: Statistically speaking, the towers should still be standing then, I guess. Yet, somehow, they aren't. And it's not because of any blond and blue eyed men. Period.

What? Timothy McVeigh flew an airplane into a tower? How'd I miss that?
posted by David Dark at 11:46 PM on November 17, 2001


the solution is absolutely no carry-on luggage, except pills and make-up.

What?? Small containers of suspicious powdery substances, the sole (legitimate) purpose of which is to smear across one's face to appease vanity?

Surely you jest! If we're going to strip people down to their basic humanity in order to transport them like cattle, this surely does not meet the criteria for inclusion.
posted by rushmc at 9:31 AM on November 18, 2001


David Dark:

Do we have any hard evidence that the bomber pilot who flew his craft into the Empire State Building wasn't blond-haired and blue-eyed?

More to your thinking, Greek men don't fly airplanes into towers. Period.

(If you want to get silly, I can match you every step of the way)

Everyone:

So, the new terrorist tactic is to find all of the tough guys on your flight and have them removed before the plane even takes off? If these "precautions" had been in effect on September 11th, the PA flight would have landed someplace a lot more interesting than an empty field.
posted by Ptrin at 11:39 AM on November 18, 2001


rushmc: you've never flown first class, have you? Not that executive, business genteel second-class. Confess. Believe me: there's nothing inhuman about it. Your every whim is catered for. You eat what you want, when you want it. It's even cooked in front of you ( BA London-Jo'Burg 1996) There are a zillion current movie releases on video. A Library of Congress of magazines. Ginormous make-up and toiletries kits from Kiehl's or Philosophy. And free t-shirts and cotton pants - real Lacoste - with almost non-existent logos which everybody changes into(London-Hong Kong 1999). Believe me - you never have occasion to resort to whatever peasanty things you brought aboard. Even on long, long flights you just wish it'd never end.
I realize this is just a fantasy, but I think my point stands. Now I've read your reply I realize my suggestion might not be as stupid as I prefaced it to be. If people were charged the proper price, i.e. if savage capitalism wasn't given such a free hand(nudge,nudge)then airlines and airports could provide passengers with proper security, safety and, well, yes, comfort.
So don't you be going all kibertarian on me, you incorrigible lefty, you! :)
Now if only a man could smoke...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:25 PM on November 18, 2001


So don't you be going all kibertarian on me, you incorrigible lefty, you! :)

::: stunned at being called a "lefty" for the first time ever (hardly the first for "incorrigible," however), sinks back into his chair, stares at the screen a moment longer, then logs off :::
posted by rushmc at 9:42 PM on November 18, 2001


Do we have any hard evidence that the bomber pilot who flew his craft into the Empire State Building wasn't blond-haired and blue-eyed?

Are you kidding? You're referring to a lack of evidence to prove your point?

"Your Honor, there is no hard evidence that the defendant did NOT commit this crime; therefore, he must be guilty."

Ummm, yeah. That's logical.

More to your thinking, Greek men don't fly airplanes into towers. Period.

Actually, we weren't discussing nationalities, but appearances. I know the threads move quickly around here, but do try and keep up.
posted by David Dark at 5:18 PM on November 19, 2001


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