Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lethal Nipples

Mandy Hamlin was stopped by airport security when she inadvertently set off the metal detectors. She was told that she would not be allowed to board her plane unless the offending accessories were removed. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that in the case of Hamlin, the items in question happened to be a pair of nipple studs.

Not since Janet Jackson’s well-planned wardrobe malfunction has a tastefully decorated breast struck such fear and horror into the hearts of truly stupid people. Except this time, the tit-terrified idiots weren’t conservative television viewers nationwide. No, the mammary-phobic morons in this case were your typical tyrannical airport terminal security guards.

Remember when the biggest complaint about airlines was bad food, overbooking flights, and the long wait while knuckle-draggers x-rayed your overnight bag for nuclear devices? Ahhhh, the good old days.

But then 9/11 happened. Now the government refuses to pass regulations to prevent airports from holding passengers hostage on the tarmac for twenty hours straight, and airport security now has the kind of unquestionable power over the masses the Big Brother still has wet dreams about.

Every time some government regulation group does a test on airport security, they always manage to successfully pass dozens of dummy missiles and explosives through the baggage inspectors without any problems. Yet they’re still making passengers take off their shoes because some idiot stuffed his Adidas with C-4 and tried to ignite it with a match, Gatorade and shampoo are verboten because someone heard a rumor that ‘the terrorists’ were thinking of possibly making liquid bombs, nail-clippers have to stay behind because the 9/11 terrorists were supposedly armed with nothing but box-knives, and nipple-studs aren’t allowed because…

The truth is, there is no real reason why [name] was forced to remove her nipple-studs with a pair of pliers before boarding her flight. The airline has since confessed that there are no regulations regarding body piercings, and afterwards she was allowed to board with her bellybutton piercing still firmly in place. So why put her through this embarrassing and humiliating experience while passengers loaded down with rings and pendants were waved through? The official excuse from terminal security is that the nipple-studs set off the detector, so they had to be removed. End of story, no ifs, ands, or casual attempts at logical decision making skills.

This is why airport security was a joke before 9/11, and is a bad joke now. Adherence to strict rules and guidelines is the weapon they use to wield power and superiority over the passengers they inspect, and this childish power-play leaves logic and civility high and dry in exchange for arrogance and tyranny. They aren’t half as concerned with security as they are keeping their jobs and throwing their weight around, so they leap on any chance they get to terrorize some unsuspecting ticket-holder trying to visit his Aunt in Ft. Lauderdale for the weekend, and the minute a situation comes up that isn’t covered by the rule book to the letter, they panic and improvise to the worst possible degree instead of applying common sense and handling the situation rationally.

Anyone tempted to take up the ‘my safety is more important than one woman’s dignity’ mantra may want to look at the bigger picture here. While these drool-cups with badges are terrorizing a woman with metal piercings, what’s slipping by the censors? What isn’t setting of the detector that the slope-headed power-drunk airport Nazis are letting go by because it isn’t on the list of things to look out for between suspicious footwear and breast milk? The reason this should piss you off is twofold: innocent civilians are being treated like animals, and the people doing the inspecting have one-twentieth the intelligence and imagination that anyone actually wanting to do harm to an airplane is likely to have.

Airport Security has always been about bullying tactics and ass-coverage. Now it’s the same, but backed with the threat of a side trip to Guantanamo if you don’t dance when they tell you to. And I’m guessing that the security taking a flight there is even worse.

The punch line to all of this is that I’m planning on taking a flight to Colorado later in the summer, the first time I’ll be flying in over two decades. I have a vague suspicion that no good will come of it.

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