Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Capitol security theater: Insert phallic joke about 'wanding' here

I visited the Texas capitol yesterday and, as has happened every single time I've gone in since they installed metal detectors at the doors, the detector went off even after I'd emptied my pockets and I had to be independently "wanded," which is now apparently a verb, and not in a cool, Harry Potter sense. I don't wear any jewelry and was about as de-metaled as I could be without disrobing or perhaps removing the fillings from my teeth. It strikes me that once the massive volume of people that comes with session hits those entrances, if that happens to everybody, lines are going to be backed up six ways from Sunday.

It's hard to see how a security system that requires doublechecking every visitor is really feasible given high capitol traffic during the legislative session. The metal detectors were put in because an angry constituent fired off a gun outside the building on the capitol grounds, but all the new "security" has done is ensure that, if that happens again during the height of the legislative session, there will be large gaggles of civilian human targets available for the shooter at every capitol entrance. To me, this is pure security theater that actually exacerbates the threat to which it's responding.

I will say this: The DPS troopers at the entrances seem to be lightening up a bit (or maybe I just caught somebody in a good mood). I've been in the capitol maybe a dozen times since the metal detectors went in, and the demeanor of troopers before yesterday had ranged from professional and polite to kind of jerkish. Once a trooper at the capitol entrance began asking where I was coming from, etc., as though he were questioning a driver at a traffic stop. "Outside," I told him curtly, gathering my belongings and heading off to wherever I was going that day.

Yesterday, though, even the screeners couldn't help but engage in dark humor regarding their task. When the metal detector inevitably went off, the fellow with the wand announced, half-giggling with a knowing look to his partner, "Raise your arms, I need to check you for guns, grenades, rocket launchers ... you never know." Submitting to his perfunctory sweep, I laughed and replied that, knowing they'd yet to install TSA-style full body scanners, I'd come prepared and brought naked pictures of myself if the troopers would like to see them, reaching theatrically into my jacket pocket as though rummaging for the photographs. This brought big belly laughs, and the trooper with the wand told me that wouldn't be necessary "at this time."


  1. Well, at least they are showing a good sense of humor about these things. That always makes it a lot less painful for everybody.

  2. I'm not surprised you set off the metal detectors, Scott. You've got a mind like a steel trap and your wit is as sharp as a tack.

  3. They simply need to adjust the sensitivity settings on the magnetometer better. Although there will still be huge lines when the Session starts...

  4. Wit like a sharp tack? Please. That is hardly more than a backhanded complement. A sharp tack is not a deadly weapon. Let's upgrade Grits to having a wit like a sharp rapier, which is a deadly weapon. Much more accurate and appropo, don'tyou think.

    And Grits, it seems to me that all this security theater -- metal detectors that don't work, drones, friendly fondles by TSA guys -- are just the latest in a long line of attempts by American Fear Mongers to keep people uptight and under control.

    Such things can be traced back to the Puritans, the compulsory religiosity of Puritans, the Salem Witch Trials, the requirement of expressing a belief in a Supreme Being, and the loyalty oaths of the '50s and '60s.

    The loyalty oaths and anti-Communists tests are the nearest thing to current scare tactics. It is amazing that people actually thought that requiring everyone to take a loyalty oath would assure that dreaded Communists would not take over the country.

    We laugh now at the idiocy of such past practices, and the current crop of security theater idiocies, particularly the Border Drones, will have us laughing soon.

  5. Get a concealed carry permit and you don't have to worry about it.

  6. Why not have TDCJ man the security check-points? It seems a waste to pull DPS off of the freeways and God knows TDCJ knows a lot about people sneaking stuff in. OH SNAP, it's TDCJ that does the sneaking. Never-mind.