Guilty for Just Showing Up

Our daily life in this country of freedom-loving people is facing a brand new government attitude today. All of us who go to the large commercial airports to fly somewhere are considered terrorists and treated as such. Like the public school teachers who used to punish the whole class for the pranks of one or two students, our government, overreacting to vague terrorist threats, is diminishing individual freedom and personally insulting every flier because a few foreign activists have used our passenger airplanes to make their political statements.

The FAA’s haste to dictate stepped-up checking of all luggage and each passenger results in affronting the vast majority of us who are law-abiding citizens. This results in a grandiose search and seizure activity without any search warrants! The appointed airport security officials automatically assume that passengers are guilty of some future, potential crime just because they chose to fly instead of drive, take the bus, or ride the train.

We are being profiled as undesirables because we bought an airplane ticket. We are asked if we let anyone else open our luggage or if we let it out of our sight. The politically correct traveler knows the acceptable answer to that question; so why ask it, when the dangerous passengers are going to lie about their luggage anyway. Why not require all passengers instead to check all their luggage including carry-ons?

Since the picture ID used to board a plane may be old, forged, or too dark to identify the person presenting it, this procedure is not effective in catching suspicious passengers. Denying foreigners access to board commercial airliners without verifying the authenticity of their visas and passports with the issuing consuls may be annoying, but these passengers are the ones most likely to be the terrorists rather than resident American citizens.

Of course, no one wants a repeat of the events of 9/11/2001, nor anything similar! Yet, we aren’t checking the baggage and the passengers who book passage on cruise ships and ocean liners. Are we suspicious of swarthy Middle Eastern travelers who board Amtrak trains or Greyhound buses? These transporters don’t ask their passengers to stand in interminable lines at security posts nor x-ray luggage, frisk ticket holders, and riffle hand bags? Thank God, not yet!

Why not let everyone carry a hand gun for defense so that if a terrorist tried to take over a common carrier, the other passengers could take vigilante action immediately. Then, the little senior Asian lady who flew recently from Honolulu to San Francisco with me wouldn’t have had her 2 inch nail clippers confiscated. Instead, she could have carried some helpful mace or a small Derringer.

People with weapons sometimes kill innocent bystanders. But a few suicidal malcontents could not easily hi-jack a huge commercial jet airplane if they were facing a heavily armed group of passengers who would have a chance to defend themselves and the crew members. The fact that the al Qaeda terrorists wouldn’t encounter any significant physical resistance 9/11/2001 emboldened them to do what they did in taking over those four large commercial jet airplanes.

Now we are spending millions of dollars more than we were for a leaky security system to try to thwart a handful of political or religious wackos. On top of discouraging people from flying commercially, we have made their travel experience more distasteful and stressful by assuring them that they will be subject to the constant threat of terrorist action here and everywhere. So, we better carefully screen everyone and hope that the laxness that usually creeps into every security system sooner or later doesn’t happen when we’re flying!

Big Brother and Sister concerns for our personal welfare began years ago when helmets were required for motorcycles (but not for the drivers and riders in cars or buses), improved car seats for infants and small children, safety belts and air bags in cars, helmets for bicyclists, etc. Safety clothes and headgear for our individual protection should be optional.

Mandatory guidelines about restraints in cars do not prevent accidents, just as legal restrictions about selling cigarettes to minors don’t keep adolescents from obtaining and smoking cigarettes. All the warnings about drinking beer and alcohol haven’t done anything to stop binge drinking on college campuses. Folks are going to do what they choose to do when they choose to do it. Increasing the already pervasive federal government regulations will never be able to legislate cures for our lack of common sense, for taking undue risk, and for ignoring unenforceable laws.

Do we need another motor vehicle law in our 100 page California Drivers’ Manual to tell intelligent automobile drivers that it is unsafe to drive and talk incessantly on a hand held telephone? Do we need to order car manufacturers to install phone systems that are hand free, whose instructions are readable from the driver’s seat, and whose dialing can be voice activated?

Should these telephones be standard equipment for every vehicle, where cost is built in forever – even for those of us who could care less about chatting while we drive? What about dictating the safety clothing necessary for skate boarders who defy their parents’ orders “to be careful?” Or requiring all schools to have metal detectors in case any child decides to bring a gun to school?

Where does this concern for human stupidity end? When do we go back to teaching common sense, disciplining wayward children by expelling them from schools, locking up drunks and drug abusers until they are detoxified and rehabilitated, and educating our youth about the danger of being a dare-devil and taking undue risks because there is no safety net to pay for their accidents and injuries? When will our elected representatives accept that the individual is responsible for his and her own welfare, safety, and good judgment? Can our citizens honestly fault our government agencies for their lack of effort to restrain human behavior that can be injurious to our health, welfare, and earning capability?

Why should our leaders believe that American citizens are going to take terrorist or criminal action if they get the chance, cause accidents, injuries, and illness when left unsupervised, and resist all sound advice from elders, peers, and educators? Aren’t we spending too much time, energy, and tax revenue in an effort to try to stop the few social deviants? Isn’t it better to allow young people to learn how dangerous life can be, how responsible each of us should be in controlling our foolish behavior, and how important a sound insurance program is for covering the unexpected catastrophe? Is “free will” only available for law-makers and politicians? Has our populace become so “dumbed-down” that they can’t be trusted any longer with “free choice?”

Maybe its better that we go barefoot to the airport the next time we fly, just in case we are profiled by our footwear as bomb experts who have suicidal tendencies and a grudge against America and its security enforcers! Don’t open your mouths in public either because anything you say may be used against you in a subsequent military tribunal. Above all, shave your beard, wash and comb your hair, wear light colored contact lenses to disguise your dark eyes, and put on your best suit. If you have a swarthy complexion, a nasty scar, and a bad habit of staring at others, you might consider taking an alternate form of transportation.

The authorities haven’t set up road blocks on the Interstate highways in America yet, nor have they decided to issue photo ID cards to all residents. For your own safety, consider leaving home, because according to the experts most accidents happen in our own homes and most homicides are perpetrated by family members or people we know!

Chic Hollis is a longtime drummer and motorcyclist, who served in the US Air Force in North Africa. Married 4 times with 5 children born in 5 different countries on four continents, Chic is a politically independent citizen of the world interested in helping Americans understand the reality that is life overseas where many intelligent, educated, and industrious people aren’t as privileged as we are in the US. He studied Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German and ran several large companies. Sadly, Chic Has left this planet and we miss him very much, but we are very pleased to display his amazing writing works.