Friday, July 22, 2005

Openness and security

I tend to agree with this:

Is there really anyone out there who thinks random searches at the turnstiles will make New York subways any safer? One expert points out, "If someone had something and they were actually caught with an explosive, they're just as likely to blow themselves up as anything." But why even do that when you can simply decline to allow the cops to search your bag (which, they claim, will be allowed) and walk to the next station. And if you're dead set (ha ha) on blowing up the station you were turned away from, you can even take the train back one stop, walk up to the cop who denied you entrance, flip him the bird, and light yourself up. Hell, you could just walk to a different entrance to the same station. What are the odds you'll be stopped again? I mean, seriously, if you're already at the point where you're willing to kill yourself, how is the possibility of a random search going to act as a deterrent?

There is an element of futility to piling on various forms of security screening in public transit - or anywhere. Without a police state, there is simply no way to secure the agora. Which on the whole is good - just not so hot in this situation.

Much of the security effort - airport screening, color coding, bag searches - functions to buttress our feelings, give us a sense that we are being protected - and secondarily, as CYA for agencies and politicians after an attack. It's odd that in the realm of emotion, inconvience and irritation somehow make us feel safer.