Repost: Airport Security and Aesthetics

[In honor of the beginning of holiday travel season, and in light of the continued controversy surrounding the TSA, I’ve decided to repost this piece from last year.]

One guy tried to set off a bomb in his shoe, and now millions of shoes have been taken off and put through X-ray machines as a result. A couple of guys had a hare-brained scheme to mix deadly chemicals in the plane’s bathroom — which wouldn’t even have worked, as I understand it — and now we have millions of little plastic bags with little travel-sized toiletries.

Some might admittedly view these new practices as over-reactions. Indeed, some might even mourn the fact that there is no foreseeable way out of these stupid practices, as no politician wants to be the one who loosens up the rules and then gets blamed for the next terrorist attack.

But I think we need to look at the bright side — this is an opportunity for the greatest performance-art piece in the history of the world. All we need is a truly dedicated artist to stage an attempted attack and a new bizarre practice can be imposed upon millions of travellers for years to come. (Perhaps we could brainstorm in comments.) This heroic artist would need to be selfless enough not only to risk jail time, but to be willing to forego claiming credit for the piece, as the confession that it was merely a prank might endanger the new practice’s continuation (though who knows?). Only years later could the artist finally come forward and “sign” their massive work, which had played out for years on a stage the size of the entire nation, perhaps adding a note explaining that the project was meant as a commentary on our security-obsessed age, etc.

In a further twist, perhaps next time you’re unlacing your shoes in order to put them through an X-ray machine along with hundreds of your fellow citizens, you should ask yourself, “Has this already happened? Was the shoe-bomber just a performance artist?”

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4 Responses to “Repost: Airport Security and Aesthetics”

  1. jms Says:

    I would encourage the performance artist to design the attempted attack to elicit a TSA reaction prohibiting passenger practices which are already annoying for other reasons. Like, I’ve recently I’ve had the displeasure of sitting near passengers who have a poor sense of interpersonal space, talk way too loud about how drunk they got last night at the hotel, or have overdosed themselves with Axe body spray before getting on board. Lacking expertise in physics or chemistry, I’m not sure how these things could be utilized in a terrorist attack. But if it could be done, I bet TSA would prohibit these practices, resulting in a total win-win.

  2. Adam Morton Says:

    What about an explosive composed of a mixture of two compounds, one applied to the roof of the mouth and the other to the tongue, and then mixed in the mouth at the key moment?

    The screening method might be a flexible rod wrapped in cotton, which all air travelers would have to bob their heads up and down on until both tongue (all the way back) and roof of mouth were rubbed clean on the cotton.

  3. ben Says:

    One day I’m going to talk so loud that the plane straight up falls apart as a result of the sympathetic vibrations my booming voice produces.

    I’ll be sure to have done a lot of vocal calisthenics in the airport beforehand.

  4. robotsdancingalone Says:

    That’s a wonderful thought.


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