The Corner

Laps in Security

Well, the authorities have reacted to the Pantybomber in the usual way:

Passengers getting off both U.S. domestic flights and those arriving from overseas reported being told that they couldn’t get out of their seat for the last hour of their flight. Air Canada also said that during the last hour passengers won’t be allowed access to carry-on baggage or to have any items on their laps.

That’s great news, isn’t it?

This was a failed terror plot. But with failures like this who needs victories? If that Air Canada rule becomes generally applicable, that last hour will be a big time-waster for some of us. But no doubt some enterprising jihadist will attempt to self-detonate in mid-flight or shortly after take-off, and pretty soon we’ll have to sit in isolation for the full seven or eight hours. Another couple of attempted takedowns and they might as well ship us freight.

A couple of years back in NR, in a column I wrote in flight (though not on Air Canada), I related my ill-fated attempt to bring home a souvenir snow globe from Auckland, New Zealand for my daughter:

The Kiwi sales clerk swiped my credit card, wrapped it up, and then said, “Oh, wait. Are you flying to America?” I should have known. She consulted her list of prohibited items and informed me that . . . the twinkly fluid inside the snow globe had been deemed to count as a liquid. In theory, I could smash the incredibly thick glass, replace the sparkly stuff with something more incendiary, re-glaze it in the airport men’s room with help from co-conspirators among the shadowy networks of antipodean jihadist glaziers, and board the plane to explosive effect.

The jihad may never achieve global domination but it has already achieved snow global domination. . . . Next time round, they’ll foil some entirely different scheme – -explosive suppositories, dirty-nuke hip replacements — and another avalanche of pitiful constraints will fall upon the hapless traveller.

And so it’s proved. If only we had a National Snow Globe Association to point out that snow globes don’t kill people, people kill people. What will they do after, say, a burka-clad woman boards the flight with breast impants packed with plastic explosives? Playing the game this way lets the terrorists set the rules and forces us to react defensively to every innovation. What difference does it make whether the plot succeeds? After all, long after Richard Reid has died of old age in prison, we’ll still be removing our footwear in eternal homage to the thwarted shoebomber.

The arithmetic is very simple: Can we regulate for all faster than they can adapt for some? And remember, whatever new rules they pass about not using the bathroom in the last three hours of the flight, when you’re sitting in seat 7B and the guy in 7C starts doing something goofy, the Federal Government won’t be up there with you.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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