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security theater

2007-08-31 15:51:43.956998+00 by Dan Lyke 18 comments

" Oh no, no, it's not racial profiling, it's just suspicious to speak arabic..." is John C. Welch's take on an American Airlines flight being held because some language instructors on their way home from teaching Marines were heard speaking Arabic, via an entry on Language Log which points out that:

As long as you know he has no weapons or explosives, you could let Osama bin Laden on the plane. I'd rather have him as a seatmate than many others - at least he doesn't drink.

While we're picking on security theater, Boing Boing reports on a moment of TSA surrealist zen @ LAX, apparently this has happened at other places, so it'd be good to get your "you didn't say 'Simon says'" and "next do we get to play 'Red Light, Green Light'?" quips ready to roll off the tongue.

[ related topics: Politics Aviation moron ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-31 21:02:49.525863+00 by: ziffle

I would get off the plane if I saw a bunch of Arabic people speaking Arabic, maybe glancing at their watches constantly and going to the bathroom at the front of the plane.


Of course that was last Aug 31, so we are supposed to forget after 12 months?

If they are innocent, then, in light of the situation, they should go out of their way to assure everyone around them that they are in fact harmless, by speaking English, smiling, being friendly, and not acting in ways that are suspicious.

We do not have to ignore what has happened in order to not hurt someones feelings.

It is the right of the airline to not take anyone they want for any reason. The airline should and will hopefully do whats in its best interest. The other passengers react the way they see the situation; we can't change that nor should we.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-31 22:03:47.759345+00 by: Dan Lyke

And in the mean time, how many other murders were committed by people all around the world? The link you gave mentions a group of British tourists well... as the quoted Tory party spokesperson said, "behaving irrationally". Far too much "security" is people behaving irrationally, and not actually doing anything to make anyone safer.

In fact, doing quite a bit to make sure that we're not only less safe, but that terrorism is so easy that they don't even have to do anything violent anymore.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-01 06:13:50.879827+00 by: fizzle

ziffle: you're the biggest freakin' pussy I've ever seen. On the one hand, you'll jump up and down if your fat-white-guy rights are tread upon... But heaven forbid you actually extend those rights to someone who doesn't match your demographic profile. How many Muslims travel by air every day and not blow up the plane they are on? And how many Arabic-speaking Christians, Hindus, Bahais, and even Atheists, rights should we deny? It's estimated that there are between 186M and 422M native speakers of Arabic. You're going to assume that all of them are "out to get ya?" unless they specifically allay your fears?

I bet if you examine the stats, more people are killed every day by fat-white-guys and their sense of privilege than all terrorist attacks ever lead by Arabic speakers. So maybe you should fear fat-white-guys instead...

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-01 22:26:04.404286+00 by: ziffle


8/31/2007 ( Kunar, Afghanistan ) - At least ten Afghan women and children are killed by a Taliban mortar attack on their neighborhood.

8/31/2007 ( Narathiwat, Thailand ) - A railroad worker is murderd by Muslim terrorists on the job.

8/31/2007 ( Karabulak, Ingushetia ) - Islamic terrorists murder a female teacher's husband and her two sons, one of whom was disabled, in her home.

8/31/2007 ( Kabul, Afghanistan ) - A suicide bomber pulls his car up next to a crowd of people at an airport and detonates.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-02 00:12:43.858812+00 by: fizzle

8/9/1945 (Nagasaki, Japan) - At least 70,000 civilian residents, women and children included, were killed instantly by a bomb appropriately named "Fat Man"

It's reasonably understood that dropping this bomb on Nagasaki was a gratuitous act of terrorism by the US. Japan was already preparing to surrender after Hiroshima.

Ironically, I tried to see if I could come up with a list of fat-white-guys murdering people in the US yesterday. But alas, I am empty-handed for two reasons:

  1. We are much more interested in tallying the deaths caused by terrorists, especially if they are of the Islamic faith. No one's bothered to create a database of current murders and violent crimes across the US.
  2. It's not legal to actually state that a US citizen killed someone else until it's proven in court. So fat-white-guys even enjoy gross rights when they are murderers. For instance, how long was it between the time Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murray building in Oklahoma City and the time the press was actually able to report that he was, in fact, responsible?

Also, how many Arabic-speaking people did not commit an act of terrorism yesterday?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-02 03:46:41.264902+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

Its hard to say if fizzle actually knows Ziffle and is making an attempt to make an argument by ridicule, or whether he is grasping at straws, in either case his logic is a mess.

And either way, none of his arguments have anything to do with keeping Islamo-Fascists off of airplanes so that law abiding people may fly without fear.

Rights are a moral concept. There is no right to fly in an airplane. You fly at the pleasure of the owner of the airplane. If certain passengers scare other passengers then it is in the interest of and the right of, the owner of the plane to remove them.

In the case of the Japanese, which fizzle bizzarly brings into the discussion, they too were practicing 'suicide as a weapon' (hari kari) and the bomb was justified. The Japanese killed many more than that, one at a time[Wiki] during the rape of Nan King. If the bomb were not dropped the Japanese would not have surrendered, we would have lost one million American lives (my father included) and our President would have been impeached.

In the larger context lets not fall for the argument that there is moral equivalency between America, the West, and the free world on the one hand and the dark cloud of Islam on the other. America has moral legitimacy; Islam has none - its standard and ultimate goal for its adherents is death.

Western civilization is moral, and evolving toward morality -- and Islam is nothing more than a throw back to the mysticism and butchery of the dark ages.

It will be appropriate when the West wipes Islam out of existence, if Islam does not stop its lunacy or begin to evolve toward morality. I do not see Islam as evolving as they are basically nuts; their doctrines are hostile and threatening to all who do not agree.

There may be Muslims who do not agree with all the lunacy of the majority of the Muslims. In that case they must be public about and declare their disagreements with them and then they will be treated with benevolence by the rest of us and welcomed into the family of moral people. Until they declare this publicly however they should not be trusted and should be treated by all as a threat.

I suggest we all go to the http://thereligionofpeace.com every day and see what destruction Islam has created today - being from the West we have a sense of benevolence and optimism that things will work out for everyone, but in the case of Islam its an evil doctrine, which worships death, teaches children that death by suicide is acceptable, advocates the destruction of everyone that is not Muslim, like America and Israel, two countries that have done nothing to deserve such a reaction - but of course Muslims are nuts so that puts it into perspective - but in the final analysis we have to see them as they are, and protect our country from their weird ideas and reactions like flying airplanes into buildings, or blowing up subways or blowing up airplanes over the ocean, and block them from the benefit of living in our great country.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-02 07:21:30.692297+00 by: fizzle

Wow, Ziffle, I am speechless - reading your post.

Are you hoping to be elected as Grand Dragon of the KKK? You sure have my vote!

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-02 12:40:46.397073+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

Todays news:

9/1/2007 ( Mogadishu, Somalia ) - Islamic gunmen kill two civilians at point-blank range at a market.

9/1/2007 ( Yala, Thailand ) - A 22-year-old Buddhist student is shot to death by Muslims while sitting on his motorcycle.

9/1/2007 ( Pattani, Thailand ) - A Thai soldier is killed in a Muslim terror attack.

9/1/2007 ( Bajur, Pakistan ) - A suicide bomber kills four Pakistanis at a police checkpoint.

Ad Hominem



And implemented:

When two or more people are arguing an objective point and one of the participants makes an Ad Hominem observation, the discussion has effectively ended. Participants may ignore the person making the observation[Wiki] or even retire from the discussion entirely without any requirement to refute the Ad Hominem observation. Retirement from the discussion shall not be interpreted as having no further thoughts to express on the original subject.


And so gentle reader, I will leave this thread as it can serve no further purpose for me.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-02 20:13:53.479717+00 by: jeff [edit history]

I will add this perspective from another area on the front lines. During a VERY recent visit to Tanzania (several weeks ago), a well-connected and well-informed friend-of-a-friend told us over dinner that Islamic militants (extremists) are actively killing Christians in Tanzania. Not on a grand scale, but it's still happening with increasing frequency. This well-connected person went on to say that the violence was not started by Christians, but rather by the extremists.

At the other end of the spectrum, we also had a separate dinner with a Sunni Muslim businesman and his wife and three young children, and he harbored no hate/fears about Christianity or other religions. A very nice and friendly family, to say the least.

I'm not making a statement about Islam in general, but just relating some facts from a well-informed source as they are taking place on the ground. It also reinforces that I'm making the correct choice in life by pursuing a spiritual path, rather than a religious one.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-02 20:17:46.875609+00 by: fizzle

Of course, that assumes we are arguing an objective point. You are trying to argue that all Muslims are evil by citing the actions of a few. This is a fallacy. I am simple trying to show the fallacy by demonstrating that the actions of a few fat-white-guys do not implicate all fat-white-guys. I'm sorry if you took this personally - I didn't realize I was attacking the person. I guess the logical conclusion is that you are a fat white racist.

If you think that's a personal attack, it's merely a elaboration of the information you provided. It's obvious by your comments that you personally identified with the fat-white-guy part and your statement:

"I do not see Islam as evolving as they are basically nuts."

Pegs you squarely as a racist. Which is funny, because that statement is follows by:

"Their doctrines are hostile and threatening to all who do not agree."

Which, if you turn it around, it is YOUR doctrines that seem to be threatening to those who do not agree, especially Muslims.

So maybe I am guilty of an ad hominem argument - but that's only because there is no logical argument being conducted. The discussion is based on your feelings that Arabic speakers are untrustworthy.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-02 23:26:31.009173+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

9/2/2007 ( Wana, Pakistan ) - Islamists bomb a pharmacy, killing four civilians.

9/2/2007 ( Suuqa Xoolaha, Somalia ) - Islamist terrorists ambush and kill three Somali soldiers.

#Comment Re: Islamist bomb pharmacy, killing four civilians made: 2007-09-03 00:01:08.284179+00 by: m

US lies to commit illegal invasion of nonthreatening nation with a 10th rate military. Commits a crime against the peace which violates US and International law. Responsible for the deaths of 750,000-1,000,000, the displacement of four million, the disruption of an entire culture, weakens itself, destabilizes region and destroys its own alliances, while indebting itself two to three trillion dollars it will have to borrow for the privilege of this heinous act.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-03 08:12:48.053165+00 by: topspin


You fly at the pleasure of the owner of the airplane. If certain passengers scare other passengers then it is in the interest of and the right of, the owner of the plane to remove them.

I don't believe that to be correct. Airlines may not discriminate, nor bow to the discriminatory tendencies of passengers, so if one is scared by young black males or Arabic speakers or folks in turbans or whatever.... you, as you did state correctly, have the right not to board the flight. You do not, of course, have the right.... nor does the airline.... to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, etc.

In Los Angeles in December of 2001, a man of Middle Eastern descent named Assem Bayaa cleared all the security checks in the airport. He was an American citizen and he got on a plane to New York. He had barely gotten settled in his seat when he was told that he made the passengers uncomfortable by being on board the plane. Once Bayaa got off the plane, he wasn't searched or questioned any further. The only consolation he was given was a boarding pass for the next flight to New York. The luggage he had checked wasn't even taken off the plane he was originally on. He filed a lawsuit on the basis of discrimination against United Airlines, who filed a motion that said that because of national security, they don't have to obey civil rights protection laws. The motion was dismissed on October 11, 2002. The district judge ruled that a pilot's discretion "does not grant them a license to discriminate," (The Advocate, Santa Clara University School of Law Newsletter).

The case was later settled in Bayaa's favor, of course. Other lawsuits on behalf of Middle Eastern folks have either been settled or are pending, but I think you can expect the discrimination cases to be easily won by the plaintiffs.

Your citations of murders by Muslims (none of which involve airlines, I might add) is shallow and anecdotal, as you've no idea if an Arab speaker getting on a plane with you is Muslim or not. If I begin posting citations of crimes by young black males does that logically suggest I shouldn't fly with young black males?

Again, fear what you wish.... leave whatever plane you wish, but leave me out of your paranoia.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-03 08:28:07.532568+00 by: TheSHAD0W

I have to hand it to Dan; he sure picked the correct title for this discussion.

"Theater" is right.


#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-03 09:39:01.544506+00 by: jeff [edit history]

For another experiential input, I was surrounded by "thousands" of indigenous blacks during my recent trip to Tanzania, yet never felt threatened in any way a single time. Now, if I walked through the Over The Rhine area of downtown Cincinnati, I'd likely be accosted at some point by a poor black--even in broad daylight. Similar improprieties could likely be dealt to unsuspecting visitors by "poor whites" living in the Cincinnati downtown East End. Of course, I could find trouble in Tanzania, too. And Moscow, and Beijing, and Delhi, and London, and Sydney, and Sao Paulo, et al. Islamic extremists are just another example of one side of human behaviour.

The point? For different reasons, if you look hard enough, you can find examples of trouble (or violent crime) across racial lines just about anywhere.

#Comment Re: Common Carrier Status made: 2007-09-03 12:04:11.841065+00 by: m

Public airlines fight for common carrier status, a legal classification which provides them with protection against many legal liabilities. In return, amongst other obligations, they can not arbitrarily discriminate against any customer. Private air carriers exist, and the laws that they operate under are not the same as public airlines.

Many people seem to think that a business has the rights of a private person. An individual may be free to use any criteria to decide who he allows into his home. A public business does not have such freedom. For example, a store is not a private space, but rather semipublic. For one thing you do not need a specific invitation to enter a store, but you do to enter a home. Other laws regarding access and behavior are different for a home than a store. The same is true for public airlines.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-03 12:49:37.235615+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

Well -

Topspin: I agree with you, according to the law. The laws against individual discrimination are only since around 1965. It is the moral 'right' of anyone to discriminate against anyone at any time. We should differentiate law versus right though. You are arguing law. According to the law I agree.

Which brings up the deeper problem. We are at war with Islam; or rather they are at war with us. Their doctrines are explicit, and their spokesmen are clear. Death to America and Israel. They are pursueing a long term strategy of dhimmitude against the West. We have seen how they use airplanes as weapons and suicide is no problem because it fits with their doctrine.

And since we are at War we should probably declare war, instead of this wishy washy nonsense from Bush. Then the government can take whatever steps are required to protect its citizens. Further we are now in a no mans land where our rights under the law are continually eroded (this blog is recorded by the NSA no doubt) and the difference between peace time and a time of emergency is clouded.

And while young black males may according to you be dangerous, we do not see them blowing up airplanes, so maybe you need to rethink that example.

Jeff: I was thinking the same thing. I would feel safer flying on a plane of all Muslims in Saudi Arabia then I would watching suspicious behavior on a plane in L.A. They don't blow up planes there, only in the West.

Is there is hope on the horizon? What must occur over time is for Islam to change - and that will require their thinkers to modify ther doctrine, just as Christianity has modified it's doctrine to fit reality.


Released by the delegates to the Secular Islam Summit, St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5, 2007:

We call on the governments of the world to

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.


Not all Muslims are nuts - here is an example of clear thinking. (But its still a small minority.) And in this case we should welcome these people into the family of humanity and yes feel safe among them, and on airplanes.

This is not about race - it's about ideology and philosophy. It's about actions taken, and similarities among the actors that we can use to keep us and those we love, safe. Those that attack my comments and claim race have chosen to fill that in from the framework of their own demented minds. Its like a rorschach test put down paper, eh?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-03 13:57:50.536607+00 by: topspin [edit history]

Ziffle, I've met you; I've known you somewhat for 10 years or more. You have never impressed me as a man who let fear rule his actions. Your statement about leaving a plane with Arabic speakers seems to be fear based, but if there is another explanation, I'd enjoy seeing it. Thanks.

Radical Muslims used 4 airplanes as weapons on 9/11 and caused thousands of deaths. 4 airplanes. Muslims take planes daily in this country and have for years. 4 airplanes, ziffle. 4 airplanes and you feel that warrants your statement of "I'd get off a plane..." above? You've been known for you logical thinking, ziffle, but this doesn't seem logical at all. What am I missing?

You seem to exhibit EXACTLY the behavior they (and other terrorists) hope for: You seem to be willing to modify your behavior, your freedom, your peace of mind, and even your logic for the sake of controlling a fringe element. You seem to be doing as they wish you to do... magnifying their true impact on the world.

If we bend our viewpoints, our good sense, our logical faculties, and our laws to THESE cowards, we only invite the next fringe element to cower us into further "Patriot Acts" and such until we smother our freedoms and our society. I'm not brave, I'm realistic. These radical losers killed about a thousandsth of a percent of the population of the U.S. in one lucky shot. And yes, I'll grant you they will try to kill more of us. I'll stand with Jefferson here: "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

Reactionary thinking and statements, a la "Muslims are nuts," aren't logical and I feel certain you know this. Perhaps you're just trolling, but portraying yourself as illogical, scared, and reactionary just seems out of character.