Friday, May 25, 2012

at jfk, or, the things we lose in the name of safety

There was an old man a few people in front of us going through security the other evening at JFK. He could barely get out of his wheel chair, the poor skinny old guy, let alone walk, but they made him walk through the metal detectors anyway. Someone lifted him up by his elbows from behind and sent him tottering through to someone waiting on the other side to catch him.

Of course he set off the alarm. So they took off his watch and sent him backing through unsteadily to our side. The someone on our side caught him by the elbows and sent him through again. He set off the alarm again so they took his belt and backed him over to our side. Again. He stood there looking forlorn as we all grew restless. He started forward again, got half way through the detector, lost his pants which crumpled and ballooned around his knees. The alarm went off. They took something else from him and sent him back to the our side. He clutched at his pants, seemed to tremble -- with rage or humiliation or mere very-old-person weakness or confusion, who knows? I know I was close to tears, afraid I might say something to get us in trouble. Managed to keep quiet. Still hate myself a little for this.

It took two more times before they deemed him not a terrorist, and I've spent the last two days wondering how in the world this keeps us safe? And even if it does, how in the world is it worth it?

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