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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Ever since September 11th, I’ve been rankled by stupid security policies that couldn’t possibly catch terrorists but introduce inconvenience to whatever area they touch. Each time a terrorist does something new, suddenly all security attention is focused on that particular activity. If I were a terrorist, I don’t think I’m going to keep doing the same thing over and over. To my mind, the more varied the terrorism the more diffuse the threat and the more widespread the fear. Instead, our government (and many private companies) act as if the terrorists (of whatever stripe) are going to commandeer an airplane and slam it into a skyscraper.

Back to ineffective security policies, Bruce Schneier wrote in a recent Counterpane newsletter about his experiences with them and summed it up as “pick your battles.” His is a reasonable rant and deepens my respect. His advice extends to inane marketing ploys—Babies ‘R’ Us asks for your phone number every time you make a purchase—as well. Being asked to provide your driver’s license when you’re flying within the United States is a pain and seems stupid in the face of false IDs that are readily available, but refusing it is just making a martyr of yourself.

Speaking of Gilmore, this email from him describing his experiences on a British Airways flight disgusts me. He made his utterly symbolic point in the confrontation with the stewardess. His implacable refusal to remove the button which led to a significant delay in the flight as he was removed from the plane is folly in the extreme and possibly the most inconsiderate act I’ve ever heard of. If I had been on that flight, I would have asked the stewardess if we could just open the cabin door and toss him on to the tarmac. The right of free speech doesn’t apply to corporations and the captain had every right to require him to remove it. Of course, it was a completely harmless act and ejecting him from the plane was exactly the wrong thing to do since it fed his ego an all-you-can-eat buffet meal. If I were the captain, I would have said that he was an idiot and told him to be quiet for the entire flight.