About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Collective Punishment

Wikipedia defines collective punishment as "the punishment of a group of people as a result of the behaviour of one or more other individuals or groups." Which is the easy part.

Because in some circumstances, collective punishment is a routine part of life. In football practice or boot camp, when everyone has to run suicides or do push-ups because another member of the group screwed up.

And in other circumstances, it's a crime. Like if Israel demolishes a home because one member of the family committed a suicide bombing.

And so where do we put the recent United States TSA directive that "every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening."

To me, it's another tragic and bad example of a security system that's rotten to the core, which I've been big on ranting about the past ten days (follow the TSA tags...).

Yes, not all countries are created equal. Some fund and breed terrorism and suicide bombers more than others, some breed crazed courthouse gunmen more than others, some have nice beaches and others good skiing. But nonetheless, this latest TSA directive serves to collectively punish many people from some countries because of the actions of a very few. Will the people who have to endure the extra screening blame the extremist elements in their own society and engage in introspection, or will they focus their anger on the US? It closes the world a little bit by discouraging casual travelers (which suicide bombers are not). Yes, we can all now see ourselves as Doing Something, too bad it's just not something very good or helpful.

And as I discussed before, we continue to layer our security in the worst possible way.

Once the full body scanner proves to be fallable or to be circumventable -- and it will; there will be another Qaeda Underpants or Shoe Bomber and maybe the next will succeed -- there aren't too many more layers of security to go before we all start removing all of our layers in order to get on a plane. Off goes the underwear, one TSA agent carefully checks that by hand, another carefully sticks his hand up the rear while another has us say "aaah. Or maybe we can get to the airport a day early, have awful blue liquid, not eat for ten hours, and then board the plane after the colonoscopy's done. Can I have my prostate checked at the same time and have the insurance co-pay billed to the credit card used for my plane ticket? And when that time comes, will we all happily accept it because we've become bit by bit by bit more and more inured to more and more outrages in the name of safety and security, like the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm who bit by bit discover that all are created equal but some more equal than others?


Maria said...

Well, now there's a way to make sure everyone is getting their annual colonoscopy! Clever how you solved a healthcare problem and a security issue, all in one. I think with the right spin on it, you can run for office...

The Decreed said...

Bilmes-Orwell 2012!