So, some Nigerian Muslim guy just tried (and failed) to blow up a plane a few days ago, as most of the TV-viewing public already knows. Our response was to put into place a few more knee-jerk reactions that will do absolutely nothing (or as close to nothing as you can get) to prevent future attacks. What the reactions will do is give officials and politicians an answer to the question, “What are you doing to prevent future attacks?”
The answer is, apparently, “We’re going to make people shit their pants.” That’s right, potential terrorists, you’d better be prepared to wear a diaper on your suicide mission, because passengers on international flights can no longer move around the cabin during the final hour of a flight. You’re going to look incredibly dumb when your Huggies are being stripped from your charred, martyred remains. Good luck with those 72 virgins when they hear about that.
However, the truth is that everyone on international flights had better hope they don’t have any sudden diarrhea attacks or possess small bladders. If you make any sudden movements, you’re likely to be dogpiled by flight attendants. (And good luck holding it in at that point.)
The point of terrorism is to instigate fear. So, what’s the best way to react? Well, according to the governments of the world (including that of the U.S.), the answer is to act more fearful. In essence, the proffered answer is to “let the terrorists win,” as good ol’ George W. had often advised us against doing (even as he continued to promote being fearful, letting terrorists know that they’d definitely won).
The media doesn’t get a pass, though. They’re just as responsible, if not moreso, than the governments for keeping the public fearful.
Here were the two potential spins the news media had the option of taking on the recent incident:
- “There was an attempted bombing on a plane, but it failed. Homeland security is looking into correcting the errors that led to it even being possible. In other news … ”
- “A terrorist got on a plane and would have killed us all if not for his bomb malfunctioning! The heroic pilot landed the plane despite the commotion in the cabin behind him, which wasn’t likely to affect him anyway since he was safely separated from it by a secure door. We’ll be interviewing every passenger at least twice over the next few days to find out what things sounded like from every seat in the plane, and we’ll ask each of them if they ever feared for their lives when they saw the crazy terrorist on fire in the airplane cabin. We’ll emphasize irrelevant details -- like the fact that two of the entirely alive passengers are newlyweds, and two other passengers were returning to America with their newly adopted daughters -- so that you can get a feel for how incredibly tragic the situation could have been (but wasn’t). We’ll also interview our panel of expert talking heads about whether they think the possibility of every single plane exploding via terrorist attack (if we aren’t vigilant) is now closer to 95% or closer to 100%.”
On a final note, it seems like we’re truly going overboard with all of the security measures when they still allow me to carry on my cell phone, with which I could (apparently) scramble all of the plane’s instruments and crash it straight into the statue of liberty -- simply by turning it on mid-flight.
There’s an app for that.