Saturday, July 03, 2004

Liberty or Security

Our national response to 9/11 seems to be an excessive case of babyproofing. We seem to want to restrict citizens from using any form of public transportation while carrying a pair of fingernail clippers. This completely ignores that fact that the box-cutters used by the hijackers on 9/11 were already banned by the extant screening rules.

The restrictions enacted in the name of Homeland Security have made travelers defenseless, hounded most model rocket clubs from existence, and now made ships and ferries so safe that we are protected from sailing cancer patients. If they thought they could get away with it, the government would probably like to shut down farmers (fertilizer) and truck stops (fuel oil).

The point to this particular rant? New shipping rules imposed this week quickly resulted in Coast Guard boats and police descending on the Seattle/Bainbridge Island ferry Wenatchee when a chemotherapy patient triggered radiation alarms. Eventually, they decided that the woman was neither trying to hijack the boat to Cuba, nor explode herself to take out Ivar's Acres of Clams at the docks. They simply had the detectors set so high that they would probably have detected the americium-241 in a smoke detector.

I'm sure the authorities felt it was good practice. The passengers were probably less amused. It's just another example of focusing on trivia while ignoring the base problem. Gun bans made cities less safe. Most of these travel restrictions simply make passengers easy prey outside airports and train stations. When will the American public stand up against these new restrictions on liberty? Let's restrict the terrorists, not the citizens.


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