Beavis and Butthead Play Laser Tag With Airplanes
It’s not very hard to twist the knickers of people working for the TSA. They operate in a zero-defect environment where they can’t really look like heroes, but they sure look like idiots if they ever drop the ball. It could be said that the TSA plays a zero max game. The best anyone there can do is not miss something. Thus, it’s no surprise that when pranksters started flashing lasers onto a couple of planes, they didn’t get the joke.
The people who administer the TSA and the entire rest of the Department of Homeland Security operation have got to be careful not only of how well they patrol our domain, but how professional they look while they do it. It requires diligence and patience to catch that one individual in ten million who actually plans to strike a match to his own Reeboks and scupper a passenger jet.
It also requires a certain level of judgment not to look like a caricature to the other 9,999,999 people who just want to get on the plane and finish their trips. If the TSA, or any other uniformed authority, takes itself so seriously that people think they have a G-d complex, they lose the respect of the people they seek to protect and are rendered totally ineffective.
The more rebellious people out there start treating them the way Beavis and Butthead treated Principle Vickers. Soon their authorite’ gets about as much respect as Cartman’s does on the South Park Cartoons.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security got a memo terrorists were trying to use lasers as a possible weapon. This is not totally without precedent. Internet conspiracy theorists still believe to this day that the Russian Navy blinded a US Navy Pilot who flew too close to a Russian Frigate by shining a laser into the cockpit of his jet. In the imaginations of fear-mongers, laser weapon systems make the black helicopters take flight.
So the DHS goes on alert for lasers. Then a guy from Parsippany, NJ gets a laser thingy and decides to play around with his daughter in the back yard of his house. He shoots a few planes with it, and his daughter probably thinks he’s a goofball. Not surprisingly, the DHS radar screen pings and the alert is sounded
Having the cops show up ten minutes later and question him doesn’t look good. It’s understandable, given the alert memo and given that a plane flying only a few miles from where The Twin Towers were struck just got lased. However, it just looks like something Mike Judge or Trey Parker would put into a cartoon short to ridicule overzealous authoritarianism.
Thankfully, the FBI and Jersey Police have given this guy his due process and hopefully an apology for the misunderstanding. The Jersey Laser Man will probably play with his daughter more carefully next time. If everyone is lucky, the incident will be a one-off and can everyone involved can forget about it.
The incident has spawned a copycat in Nashville, Tennessee. These imitators don’t do this to be malicious or even seriously insubordinate. However, they do issue the authorities a good, timely reminder. Uniformed authority is necessarily put on a short leash in America.
We respect the people who wield it, but we expect them to use judgment and intelligence. That respect can turn to resentment, anger or maybe even hatred if the majority of the people see the authority being misused. The DHS has a thankless job. They don’t need to complicate it further by eroding the confidence that is placed in them by those who they protect.
Update I: The New Jersey incident gets taken much more seriously by posters on Right Voices.