In case you needed yet another reminder of how embarrassinglystupid our nation's current airport security is, I offer up the followingtrue story as reported by the Milwaukee JournalSentinel:> A man and his wife get on a plane in Madison on ChristmasEve. The man leans around the door to the pilots' compartment andsays, jokingly, "I hope you haven't been drinking." The pilots thenempty the plane of all passengers. The passengers wait in line to berebooked on another flight while the pilots are subjected to blood tests for alcoholconsumption. The man is pulled out of the airport by sheriff'sdeputies and charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor thatcarries with it a $225 fine. Meanwhile the FBI and the U.
- Attorney's officeare debating whether or not to level charges of "interfering with a flightcrew" at the man. That particular felony carries a maximumpenalty of twenty years in prison All of this because of a simple joke. Apparently, airports --previously terrible places to spend time because of their scale, atmosphere,and generally poor aesthetics -- are now completely humorless by law. That's your Homeland Security department at work.
If you missed Dave Barry's year 2002 inreview, here are some excerpts to pique your interest:
...government officials kept issuing alarming, yet vague,warnings. "We have received reliable information," an official would say,"that something bad might happen. We don't know what, or when, or where. Butit is very, very bad. Also we are seeing the letter 'E.' So we urge allcitizens to continue leading normal lives, while remaining in a state ofstark, buttpuckering terror. Tune in tomorrow and we'll see if we can'tratchet this thing up a notch or two."> But the big domestic issue is Homeland Insecurity, which is mostnoticeable at airports, where the Department of Transportation, havingdetermined that every single 9/11 hijacker was a young male from a MiddleEastern country, has implemented a shrewd policy of hassling randomlyselected elderly women.> In the War on Terrorism, security personnel at Chicago's O'Hareairport wrestle would-be passenger Merline A. Grelpner, 91, to the groundafter an alert screener notices that she is carrying an object that is laterconfirmed, by the FBI, using spectrographic analysis, to be a pretzel. TheDepartment of Homeland Insecurity places the nation on a Code Magenta Alert("A Tad Higher Than Relatively High, But Not Totally High.")> In other Florida news, police shut down I-75 for hours andarrest three men of Middle Eastern descent after a woman reports that sheoverheard them in a Shoney's restaurant talking about what she believed tobe a terrorist plot. It turns out to be a misunderstanding: The men aremedical students. Responding quickly, the Department of Homeland Insecurityorders all 350 Shoney's to install metal detectors.> Speaking of terror: Saddam Hussein, having campaigned under thecatchy populist slogan "A Vote For Saddam Is A Vote for Not Getting BothYour Feet Chopped Off Without Anesthetic," is re-elected with a solid 127percent of the popular vote, which includes several thousand votesapparently cast via Internet from Broward and Miami-Dade counties.