Freedom is the single most precious commodity a person is able to receive and probably one of the most difficult to retain. It both saddens and frightens me to see so many people who think our freedoms are such a trivial matter that they can be curtailed bit by bit without any major consequences. One of the most widely used quotes by Benjamin Franklin goes something like, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” The idea being that any sort of perceived safety is not worth the loss of our precious liberty. Of course, if you don’t mind being told what to do and hassled for complaining about the invasive nature of your interrogation then by all means continue to acquiesce like a good lemming.
I recall the general grumbling produced by the soldiers returning from Iraq a number of years ago. We had a chartered plane intended to transport nothing but U.S. military personnel back to the States after our deployment. A person would think that if any flight was guaranteed not to have any terrorists aboard it would be this flight. But then I remember standing in an enormous line while every soldier passed through the metal detector, shoes on the conveyor belt next to the carry-on, dog tags and coins in the little dish, and weapons following the other items through the x-ray machine. Who did they think we were?!?
I must have complained louder than the others because I was singled out a number of times by the “superiors” and a few of the TSA personnel. “Be happy that you’re going home,” was the gist of most of the arguments against me. Sure I’m glad to be going home but I would prefer that the circumstance not imply that we were possible threats. I told the officer standing by the metal detector that forcing me to take off my shoes was “asinine.” I told him that taking off my shoes wouldn’t prevent me if I wanted to smuggle something onto the plane. So of course they searched my bags.
Ignoring, for a moment, the M-4 carbine rifle (variant to the M-16) slung across my back and the M-9 sidearm holstered at my side, I must have been viewed a threat. Now I’m no dummy, but I don’t even think MacGuyver would have been able to concoct some sort of weapon out of the tube of toothpaste, fingernail clippers, and shampoo that the TSA agent confiscated from my bag. Maybe he just didn’t like that brand. Regardless, thanks to the devoted efforts of our TSA crew, the airplane was filled to the brim with 350-ish American soldiers who were each carrying a sidearm, rifle, and/or machine gun.
The next time you’re in line at the airport, standing in the filth of the neighboring passengers’ dirty socks, just remember how safe you are knowing that your airplane will be free of any dangerous tubes of toothpaste. People will point out how safe the planes are because of all the increased security. I say just imagine how safe you would be if everyone were allowed to bring personal firearms on board. If anyone was stupid enough to attempt a highjack any number of passengers would be able to end the situation with a single bullet. But people can’t be trusted can they? It would be the Wild West! It’s amazing how average citizens are considered to be stupid and inept unless they work for the government and carry a badge.