There are as many ways to kill people as there are people on earth. The more clamped and buttoned and steel trapped we try to be, the more creative other people get to find a way through the security. We’ve seen guns made out of clay to slip past metal detectors. We’ve seen detonators in shoes. We’ve seen box cutters go from benign tools to brutal symbols of death. We’ve seen planes become bombs, people become bombs, and bombs become smart. All of these advances in creativity have led to further and further tightening of the definition of freedom.
A few days ago, in early August 2006, another terrorist plot is thwarted. The creative use of sports drinks and gels to mix up a chemical explosive, along with an electronic detonator has led to the banning of liquids on most airlines in England and North America. Some are banning BlackBerrys and iPods and cellphones. As a matter of fact, in Heathrow airport, you can only bring your wallet, keys, and passport in a see-through zip-lock bag. That’s it. No more carry-ons. No more toiletries, no more laptops, no more luxury or convenience. Just a seat and a small plastic bag full of boring ID.
Even with the risk of Powerade+iPod bombs, isn’t it still safer to fly than to commute to work every morning? If someone offered me the option of signing a waver and then boarding a plane with my sports drinks and my BlackBerry and my laptop and my iPod, I’d choose the waver. I hate to think that a few bad apples can ruin everone’s fun. Where’s my freedom if I’m afraid of everything all the time? Can’t I just take my chances like I do ever day? Do I have to constantly feel paranoid? I’d rather face a bit of risk than live in a world where all we ever do is play it safe.
These creative terrorists are just going to figure out a new way to f*ck us up. First they’ll wear explosive wigs and we’ll all have to shave our heads before boarding. Then they’ll create super-flamable clothing that burns with great intensitiy (like Magnesium) and we’ll all have to board our planes naked. Then they’ll try a fancy new type of martial arts and we’ll all have to wear straight-jackets. Pretty soon we are traveling like prisoners, and exclaiming to the shaved, naked, constrained passenger next to us, “I guess this is the new normal, then.”