Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Casing our Critical Deciduous Infrastructure

James Fallows makes an astute point in relating the tale of someone who ran afowl of homeland secuirty while taking pictures of a tree (a tree!):
...the challenge in dealing with any threat, from international terrorism to domestic crime to infectious diseases to mayhem of any sort, is to maintain a balance between the steps you take in the name of security, and the steps you deliberately don't take, in the name of preserving liberty and some kind of normal unmonitored life. Over the past ten years, "security" measures have too often worked like a ratchet, being added in the name of thwarting some new threat ("no liquids or gels") and very rarely being removed. As a matter of practical politics, this is easy to understand. A politician runs practically zero risk in urging new "protective" measures, but faces tremendous risk in urging that we lighten up (since the politician will be blamed for whatever accident / crime / attack later occurs).
Thus it's worth continuing pressure against further movement of the ratchet. American society is becoming steadily more policed, monitored, and suspicious, which will continue unless we resist.
He also points us to Later On, who points out the "strange juxtopsition" of going to absurd lengths to protect airplanes while actively rejecting any notion of gun control:
Timorous about flying, but willing to be shot to death in malls and schools. Strangely fearful on the one hand, fatalistically accepting frequent stupid deaths on the other. Going to any lengths—regardless of privacy, humiliation, intrusive searches—when around airplanes, but rejecting any hint of control of firearms.

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