Success on the security theater front

I’m all in favor of not getting blown up.

I just have no truck with the modern “security theater” apparatus, which is designed to protect politicians and patronage jobs a hell of a lot more than it will ever protect us from bad guys intent on doing evil.  “Security” is a new watchword which mean that the powers that be can do any damned thing they please, without explanation or justification.  It is simply impossible to argue with anyone claiming that yet another intrusion into our lives is for our own good.  And I’m really tired of companies who won’t talk to me until I answer too many damned intrusive questions, which are only for their marketing benefit, claiming it is for “security”.

So I was thrilled today to read this article, from James Fallows in The Atlantic:

Previously in this series here.  A reader who works in the main Citibank building in Manhattan writes to report:

My office building is the world headquarters of Citibank. In the wake of 9/11 they decided they needed increased security and so have required all bags and packages to go through an x-ray machine. You could be carrying Dirty Harry’s revolver in a shoulder holster under your jacket,, or ten pounds of plastic explosive taped to your chest, but your attaché case had to be screened. Amazingly, after nearly nine years of doing this, they stopped this week, although the announcement from building management reassuringly told us that the x-ray machines are in storage and can be wheeled out at a moment’s notice.

Within my experience, this is just about the only occasion in which security theater has not been subject to a one-way ratchet effect — once a “security” measure is adopted, no matter how foolish it is, no one ever has the courage to discontinue it. Is there hope that the broader society will follow this brave beacon?

To the reader’s final question: maybe we can find out who had the guts and good sense to make this decision about one (important) building in one (very important) city, and unleash that person to work on the “Threat Level is Orange” charts that symbolize security theater at its most mindless. As always, we take our good news where we can find it. I welcome any similar accounts of the security-theater ratchet being reversed.

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