Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sign of the times

I saw an ad tonight on MSNBC. I assume it is running elsewhere but it particularly struck me that it was on a supposed liberal news show. The ad was for American Express Card. The gist of the ad was a man going to an airline counter to purchase a ticket to San Francisco. He goes to pay for the ticket with a card that has kittens on it. The agent looks annoyed and the next shot is two TSA people standing behind him putting on latex gloves and telling the traveler that they need to question him. The next person uses an Am Ex card and sails through.

I watch enough (too much?) TV to get all the references and the ad does exactly what it was targeted to do: Make you think that AM EX has credibility that other cards do not. What frosts me is that it we are so conditioned to this constant state of war that we believe this is a normal way for people to behave. If there is the slightest hint of anything that low-level functionaries don't like or even if there is no rational at all, then an ordinary citizen is subject to the most demeaning treatments you can imagine. Treatment that 8 years ago would have gotten these minimum wage Brownshirts a punch in the nose to the applause of other travelers. To attempt that today would get you a minimum of two days in a TSA sweat box with hand and leg irons and most likely some time in a real prison.

You could not have written a story about this happening to America 8 years ago and sold it anyone. They would have laughed you out of the room. And yet 8 years later we accept it so completely that it becomes a "cute" ad. With my perspective of 50 some years, this stands out to me but imagine a young person just coming to voting age. This has been how things are done for all of their adult life! I only hope that in the upcoming election we can bring some sensibility back to this country and maybe spend the next 8 years fixing some of what we have broken. If we don't, all I can say is "Show me your papers!".


Anonymous said...

helena handbasket says...

The really weird thing was, during that 5 hour delay in DFW, we went outside 3x to smoke, and of course each time we had to clear security again. I had my "gels and liquids" in the same little bag every time.

But on the return trip, there was one really, really gung ho TSA person who fully searched my purse. She found a vial of perfume, the little plastic bottle of wedding bubble-juice, and my little bottle of hand sanitizer to add to the bag--I hadn't gotten all my gels sequestered properly!!

I wanted to complement her for her diligence, but then on the other hand, I can't compliment such insanity.

So glad the plastic zip-loc bag offers such protection from hand sanitizers.

What is the point of that, anyway?

Ali said...

Same reason as the Denver airport, announcing the terror alert status thingy was orange, every two or three minutes. Keeps us scared.

spocko said...

There is a word for this, habituation. I read it in a book about PTSD.

You know what REALLY chaps my hide? That they are selling a special card, The CLEAR card that speeds travelers. One nice thing about the whole process is that EVERYONE had to be humiliated. When the changed the rules and create the two tiered system for SECURITY that is when the resentment builds.