If you see something, say something. And what I’ve seen lately is everyone from high school brainiacs to angry airline passengers detained, searched and otherwise hassled. Are the efforts misdirected?
A recent unannounced weapons scan at the entrance to the Bronx High School of Science held up instruction for hours, as students panicked about missing their calculus exams.
“I definitely felt that it was not necessary,” a student told the Daily News. “I feel we’re too nerdy to carry weapons.”
Surprise. Some utility knives and a box cutter were confiscated from a few armed geeks, even at the elite school.
But some have wanted to eliminate the scanners. “Making students go through metal detectors to go to school sends a terrible message,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, has told The Associated Press.
Here’s another terrible message: In a month’s span this spring, four NYC students were caught with loaded guns in school. Still, some parent groups insist metal detectors are unnecessary because crime has dropped in schools. Has it ever occurred to them this may be due to confiscation of weapons?
Meanwhile, airport security lines are out of control, causing thousands of passengers to miss flights. Making families going to Disney World or business travelers unpack their laptops and remove shoes is a waste of time. The profile for potential terrorists is clear. Do we need to pull aside grandmothers, pat them down and go through their bags so those who fit the profile don’t feel singled out?
The last time I flew from Kennedy Airport, the TSA PreCheck line was virtually empty, while the regular line seemed to stretch back to Long Island. Why not allow more frequent fliers and other trusted passengers the expedited service, without charge?
Whether at our airports or our schools, we should be less concerned about hurting people’s feelings and more concerned with preventing people from actually getting hurt. Let’s start by deploying well-trained, respectful, commonsense agents where they’re actually needed. Meanwhile, perhaps the P.C. police can give it a rest.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.