|Man Without Qualities|
Monday, March 11, 2002
The Los Angeles times today carries a front page article by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar which leads with a priceless example of what the Times characterizes as “seemingly nonsensical decisions” that have air travelers “fuming,” an example illustrating that “aviation security is in danger of running amok and turning on ordinary citizens” and of “problems stem[ming] from overzealousness or bureaucratic ineptitude.”
My God, that sounds awful!
The example? The Horrigan family, which was traveling from Disney World to Pittsburgh, had their three-year-old girl searched at the Orlando airport.
That’s it. That’s the “outrage.”
According to the Times’ article, “Frank Horrigan said random searches of 3-year-olds like his daughter Caroline divert resources from real security risks. ‘There was no acknowledgment that this was a silly exercise,’ Horrigan said of the Feb. 11 incident in Orlando."
Fortunately for the airport authorities, the Horrigans are generous sorts. “Courtney Horrigan said she did not feel the incident merited filing a complaint. But a certain chill creeps into her voice when she tells the story. ‘I feel it is a symbol of what things are now going to be like in airports, and for our children growing up,’ she said. ‘My daughter is learning at an early age about what life will be like in a new world.’"
So it appears to be the opinion of the Los Angeles Times and the Horrigans that three-year-old girls should not be searched.
If the Times and the Horrigans had their way, any adult wanting to smuggle a knife onto a commercial aircraft would only need to board with a child and hide the knife on the child’s body. No need to worry about random (or any) security checks – the Times and the Horrigans would have taken care of that. Once the adult is on the aircraft with the child, just take out the weapon and kill as many thousands of people as you can.
OF COURSE THREE YEAR OLD CHILDREN HAVE TO BE SUBJECT TO SEARCH – SO DO ONE MONTH OLD BABIES, SO DO BRIEF CASES AND HANDBAGS.
How could the Los Angeles Times run such an article? What were they thinking of?
The Times article does include examples of real problems - such as male inspectors allegedly groping female passengers - but those examples are hopelessly confused with silly stuff like the Horrigsans' "horror story." Perhaps this kind of problem (the Los Angeles Times’ witlessness, that is, not the Orlando airports’ correct search policy) could be solved by a public education program including commercials explaining that everyone – yes, everyone – has to be subject to search, and that the reasons for the particular search may not be disclosed because whatever “profile” program the airports use can’t be revealed.
And it might do unspeakably obtuse people like the Horrigan family and Mr. Alonso-Zaldivar good to spend the night thinking these things through in an airport lock-up instead of resting in a Disney Hotel. Maybe some way can be found to help that happen.
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