I know I should be thinking of the potential victims saved and the fact that terrorism is on most people’s minds every day, but I confess that when I heard the news this morning, my first thought was how it affected me. If you haven’t looked at the news yet this morning, British police foiled a terrorist plot to blow up more airplanes, apparently ones to New York, Washington and California targeting American carriers United Airlines, Continental Airlines and American Airlines. The method uncovered this time was to use “liquid explosives disguised as beverages.” So if this goes the way things did the last time with the shoe bomb, we can kiss taking beer samples home from trips goodbye.
I realize this doesn’t impact very many people, but I usually carry 6-9 bottles of beer home with me from almost any trip. Sometimes it’s samples I’ve been given to try and other times I just pick up beers I can’t get where I live. So far, I’ve been lucky. I’ve only been hassled in the City if Brotherly Love — Philadelphia. The security guard I got didn’t know you could travel with beer and started giving me a hard time until a supervisor stepped in and asked me one simple question. “Are they open?” “No,” I replied. “Then please go ahead.” As I walked along, relieved, I could hear the supervisor explaining something to the newbie, presumably that I was well within my rights and a bottle of beer posed no security threat. Well I can all but guarantee that will be changing soon. The airlines will rush to impose a new prohibition to include beverages of all kinds: beer, wine, soda and probably even bottled water. I’m sure they’ll cry security, but you know they make a lot of money selling drinks on the planes now. Imagine if they suddenly have a monopoly?
My friend Stephen Beaumont recently told me he never travels with samples anymore. He finds it’s just too much of a hassle in a post 911 world. I can only imagine what a hassle it’s going to become now. My big problem with all of this — apart of course from the personal inconvenience — is that the increased security they keep heaping on us isn’t really producing the right result. It’s not making us any safer, it’s just giving us the illusion that we’re safer. And for most people, I don’t think it’s even doing that. How is it escaping so many people’s attention that turning America into a police state one new security measure at a time is not making us safer but instead is making us less and less a free society?
I wonder if there’s a train I can take to GABF this year?