Perpetual fear: a brief moment with Fatherland Security

Not everything in life is a huge deal, but sometimes the small things provide a lot of insight into the big things.

I’m sitting in the Cleveland airport right now, waiting for my flight back to Denver to board. A few minutes ago I saw one of those things that make you go “hmmm.”

Imagine that you’re in the security line, and you realize – ohmygod, I have 3.2 ounces of shampoo in my shaving kit instead of the legally allowable three ounces. You’re way to far through the line to make a break for it, but you’d hate to go to Gitmo just because you wanted fuller, shinier hair. As panic begins to set in you notice something. Beside the line is a trash can with a small hole in the top and a makeshift sign reading:


Cool – you can ditch the extra shampoo (along with billy clubs, tear gas or “realistic replicas of explosives”) and you’re …

Wait a second. “Amnesty”? Really? Amnesty? As in “amnesty for draft dogers” or “amnesty program for illegal immigrants” or “amnesty for convicted felons” or “Amnesty International” or “amnesty for Scooter Libby”? Isn’t “amnesty” an awfully dire word for somebody who snuck a little too much KY Jelly past the ID and Boarding Pass Check?

About 10 feet from the Amnesty Bin, just around the corner adjacent to the security queue entrance, was the obligatory Homeland Security threat level: Orange – indicating a high risk of terrorist attack. I think we’ve been orange for most of the six-plus years since 9/11, which means that for probably more than 1000 days the risk has been “high.” No attacks, though. So what am I to conclude about the people who set these threat levels, when day after day after a hundred more days there are no attacks, yet the risk remains high?

I’m sure there are any number of answers to that question.

Welcome to the New World Order, where the big things are horrifying and the little things remind us that it’s damned well going to stay that way.

10 replies »

  1. I think there’s an amnesty bin for fruits and plants at the Honolulu International Airport, too.

  2. How large of a size do these amnesty bins come in? Adult size? Do they protect against racism, discrimination and sexism as well? I’ll run by Walmart…Just curious…

  3. Hm. I am sitting at DIA right now, minus my 1oz of saline solution which had the nerve to be in a 4oz clear bottle and a nearly empty tube of toothpaste.

    TSA dude explained “you can’t expect us to judge volume by sight”. No, I expect you to have some common sense. I expect this bullshit to end, when toothpaste and saline are no longer considered the tools of terrorism.

    I’m so cranky.

    Amnesty bin? WTF is that? More weasel words. It’s a trash can for perfectly good hygiene products.