Note: This was repub­lished with per­mis­sion from my good friend Kurt S.  He cur­rent­ly is liv­ing in Croa­t­ia, and I thought this relates a bit to sur­vival­ism, and asked him if I could re-post this.  Of course he said yes.
Alter­nate Title: Fuck You TSA

These are the Christ­mas presents (pho­tos) that I found and bought to send home to my par­ents, broth­er, sis­ter-in-law and niece.   They include four very nice cof­fee mugs, three from local Croa­t­ian arti­sans and one from the Budapest Christ­mas mar­ket; three box­es of nos­tal­gic Croa­t­ian choco­lates pack­aged in real­ly beau­ti­ful met­al balls that are like large Christ­mas orna­ments; three wood­en dolls that con­tain papri­ka and sea­son­ings from the Budapest Cen­tral Mar­ket and a set of artis­tic coast­ers from Croa­t­ia.   These presents were meant to be a nice sur­prise since I won’t be able to return to the USA for the hol­i­days this year.
Why then am I ruin­ing the sur­prise by post­ing pho­tos of the presents on Face­book and say­ing that they “were meant” to be a sur­prise as if the presents won’t be a sur­prise now?   And what’s up with my “alter­nate title” above?
Well, thanks to the TSA, in an effort to make sure that Amer­i­cans are safe from every pos­si­ble or imag­ined threat, it is now pro­hib­it­ed to mail any­thing to the USA from Europe or Asia that weighs over 1 Pound (453 Grams).   At first I thought this was a Croa­t­ian pol­i­cy since, well, not to insult Croa­t­ia, there are no short­age of rules and reg­u­la­tions here.  Croa­t­ians quite like them.  How­ev­er after con­tin­ued inves­ti­ga­tion, vis­its to all of the major post offices in Zagreb, and a bit of research online, it seems that this is indeed a US based pol­i­cy brought to us by the mas­ters of incon­ve­nience and “secu­ri­ty the­ater,” the TSA.

Appar­ent­ly this new pol­i­cy was enact­ed in Novem­ber as a result of the ink car­tridge bombs that were shipped via air car­go from Yemen.  Instead of sim­ply ban­ning ship­ment of ink car­tridges from Yemen, the TSA banned ship­ment of every­thing weigh­ing over 1 Pound.  Sound ridicu­lous?  Well, it is.  (Good luck find­ing this online by the way – the only cred­i­ble ref­er­ence, oth­er than blogs, I could find was on the Japan Times:

This is just one more in a long list of exam­ples of how the TSA is strip­ping away free­doms under the aus­pices of improv­ing secu­ri­ty.

As a result, my fam­i­ly may nev­er receive these extreme­ly dan­ger­ous cof­fee mugs and can­dy.  These pho­tos may be all they get.  I have no way of get­ting them to the USA from here oth­er than car­ry­ing them on a plane – which brings up a whole oth­er set of var­i­ous secu­ri­ty hur­dles that serve to make fly­ing a seri­ous pain in the ass while only mar­gin­al­ly improv­ing secu­ri­ty.

Are we any safer?  That’s debat­able.  TSA sup­port­ers will say “yes” since there has not been anoth­er major ter­ror­ist attack on the USA since 9/11.   That is a dif­fi­cult argu­ment since there were not that many major inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ist attacks before 9/11 either – so maybe 9/11 was a one off?  In the mean­time, the secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus has thwart­ed var­i­ous oth­er threats, shoe bombers, sham­poo bombers, under­wear bombers, ink car­tridge bombers.  And after each one a new set of reg­u­la­tions was cre­at­ed to stem oth­er sim­i­lar threats (as if ter­ror­ists would be stu­pid enough to send over anoth­er shoe bomber after the first one got bust­ed).  After the shoe bomber, we all had to take off our shoes at the air­port.  After the sham­poo bombers we could no longer bring liq­uid con­tain­ers larg­er than 3 ounces.  After the under­wear bombers we all have to go through “naked scan­ners” or get felt up.  Now we can’t mail things to the USA from over­seas.   Is there a trend here?  Yes, it is that in each case, as with 9/11 itself, the TSA is fol­low­ing the ter­ror­ists.  The TSA is not lead­ing.  What does this mean?  It means that they will always be one step behind; that ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions will con­tin­u­al­ly attempt to find new ways to attack and that the TSA will only know about them after the fact.  And once TSA does become aware of anoth­er attack of some kind, suc­cess­ful or not, it will enact anoth­er broad set of secu­ri­ty mea­sures that will affect the free­dom of mil­lions and mil­lions of peo­ple.  This is leg­is­la­tion by excep­tion.  Or, put anoth­er way:

“They who can give up essen­tial lib­er­ty to obtain a lit­tle tem­po­rary safe­ty, deserve nei­ther lib­er­ty nor safe­ty.” – Ben­jamin Franklin

When all is said and done, the “land of the free” and “home of the brave” will be nei­ther.  The scared of every­thing, gun-tot­ing mass­es of Amer­i­ca will have ced­ed every aspect of their free­dom in the name of pro­tect­ing it and achieve nei­ther secu­ri­ty nor free­dom (what Ben­nie said).

Think about it.  What’s next?  Ter­ror­ists will con­tin­ue to try to attack the USA.  That is for sure.  They will con­tin­u­al­ly find cre­ative new ways of doing so.  Some­times we will stop them, oth­er times we won’t.  How­ev­er, if we con­tin­ue to reg­u­late our­selves into box­es, sur­round­ed by walls and fences, and ever more rules, our free­doms will erode to noth­ing; cer­tain­ly noth­ing worth defend­ing – and the ter­ror­ists will have won.  At this rate, they don’t even have to kill anoth­er Amer­i­can.  We are doing it our­selves, if not phys­i­cal­ly, then meta­phys­i­cal­ly – we are killing the “spir­it of Amer­i­ca.”  We are killing free­dom.

Should­n’t I be blam­ing the ter­ror­ists who are attack­ing us instead of our own secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus that is osten­si­bly try­ing to pro­tect us?   No doubt ter­ror­ists share some of the blame and they real­ly suck.  Again though, if their aim is to instill a feel­ing of ter­ror or fear, then we are help­ing them achieve their goals rather than pre­vent­ing more attacks.  Sta­tis­ti­cal­ly, being killed in a ter­ror­ist attack is about as like­ly as being struck by light­ning.  My ques­tion is: What the hell are we doing about light­ning?  Cer­tain­ly not spend­ing $500 bil­lion plus per year to stop it!

I am so angry about this.  I love my coun­try.  I hate my coun­try.  I don’t know what to think.  I am sor­ry that my fam­i­ly won’t get the presents I bought for them.  Mer­ry Christ­mas!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email