Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Terrorists stopped by asking their names!

OK, so clearly that was a lie. But you did read on so I guess my twisted sense of humor worked.

I'm sure many of you have heard, the TSA has announced a plan that should all but guarantee our safety against any and all terrorist threats. They are going to ask for your middle name and gender if you try to fly.

It's Brilliant!

Apparently we have a very accurate and detailed list of all the terrorists, so if one of them tries to fly we can send them back home or put them on a later flight. We can all breathe easy now.

You see, in the past terrorists would misspell their names when they flew or claim to be of an alternate gender thus defeating airport security. You can see how by simply using the name "Jonny Terrorist" when your real name is "Jonathan Q. Terrorist" would clearly fool even the savviest of TSA employees or airport personnel. Well, no more! You will now be required to make absolutely certain that the name and gender on your ticket and boarding pass exactly matches your government issued ID. I can just hear the terrorists shaking in their exploding boots.

But "Wait!" you say? The terrorists on September 11th had real ID and used their real names. Yes, they did. Most of them had accurate NJ drivers licenses. I'm sure they lied about their genders to fool security. It may not have been reported in the news, but I'm sure that's what they all did. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that there is some flaw in the proposed solution by TSA and I know that's not what you are saying. The list they have is complete, fool proof and lists the full proper names and genders of all terrorists in the world.

But "Wait!" you say again... I know, you just looked at your Passport or Driver's License and noticed that it lists your sex and not your gender. Clearly you aren't as clever as the TSA. They have a sophisticated system of observations and tests to determine your government approved gender identity. While this is a rather complicated process to explain to someone who would even deign to ask such a question, basically it involves discretely chatting you up about sports, house cleaning and fashion accessories. If that fails they just plainly ignore the well known differences between sex and gender and pretend they are the same.

OK, some of you are bound to ask about all those women out there who decided to hyphenate their last names instead of taking their husband's last name like a good wife should. Well, there are some states that will list both last names. Of course some of them won't use a hyphen or will put one of the last names as a second middle name. While these may seem like problems, and the lack of a national standard might cause some issues you are clearly over-reacting. The wife will simply have to take a later flight while her family goes on without her. They could choose to wait with her but then they are forfeiting their tickets and will have to re-book at additional cost since they are choosing to get off the flight they picked. I think it is quite clear that anyone who would try to use two last names is probably trying to hide something and we'd be better off delaying them.

By now you are clearly well convinced of the effectiveness of the new TSA plan and you are ready to jump on the next plane without a care in the world. Either that or you are wondering why the TSA doesn't just give their highly detailed and accurate list of known terrorists to the FBI or Homeland Security and have them go pick them all up. Well, besides the obvious flaw in your thinking that ignores the well established complete lack of sharing of information between government agencies, there are well over one million names on that list and we really don't have either the man power nor the storage capacity for that many terrorists. And besides, we really aren't sure that any of the people on the list are actually terrorists, we're just sure of their middle initials and gender.

Yes, I did say that most people would simply be delayed and put on later flights. Clearly that would stop a terrorist. There is no way they would blow up some random flight other than the one they were planning on putting them on. Delaying a terrorist is the same as stopping one.

OK, some of you still aren't clear on this. I can hear you with your smarty pants answers and subversive thoughts. You're thinking that some terrorists might just try and find a way to do terroristy things without flying. Well, I can assure you that is very unlikely. I mean of all the really big terrorist acts that have happened in the US in recent memory, less than 70% have not involved flying.

So, you can plainly see that with a few more slight intrusions into our life, restrictions on our liberty and a minor roadblock on our pursuit of happiness we may have found a way to inconvenience the one terrorist out of the million on the list who was planning to sneak on a plane using a misspelled last name and erroneous gender.

Now, before your next flight remember; take off your shoes, spell your name correctly, figure out how to prove and document your gender and bend over. Thank you for flying the friendly skies.

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