Drama and the reality of danger

Published 10:17 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

By Joseph L. Bass

Personal safety and security are important motivators. Humans will give up safety only when desperate for survival. Imagine how hungry a group of hunter-gatherers must have been to send several men out of their cave with stone-pointed spears to try to kill a mammoth or a buffalo.

Hunter-gatherers lived in continuous fear of attack and death from neighboring tribes and wild animals. Today, in America, we live in relative safety compared to them. But we are obsessed with concerns for our safety. We spend billions on security efforts that we think make us safer. What level of security is attained?

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Most of these billions are spent on fictional drama. What we see at security checkpoints is like watching a play. The storyline and action are based on imaginary ideas that are disconnected from reality. The play and the players promote the falsehood that what is acted out is real and makes us safe.

Several times a month, we go to Williamsburg via the Jamestown Ferry. Virginia spends several million dollars a year maintaining armed security officers and related facilities to screen people and vehicles that board the ferries. Earlier this year, we were in and out of security checkpoints at Fort Bragg for several days.

What is being accomplished from the dollars spent on security at airports, docks, schools, military basis and so on?

Although I am not currently employed as an armed security officer, I have work experience as one. I am still certified by the Department of Criminal Justice Services to work in the field. I know the realities of what is involved.

Screening cars and people getting on ferries, into military bases, at airports, and other such places is little more than a dramatic touch. Nothing that goes on during screening is going to stop weapons and explosives from entering.

In terms of reality, the only time I have a chance of providing a safer area for the public is when an attacker strikes in my presence. Being armed and alert to people’s behavior, I have a chance to stop an attack.

Little done by security officers has any impact on a person intent on attacking. Hiding weapons and explosives is easy. They are unlikely to be discovered through screening. Airport security officials know people can get weapons through security. And some objects that can be used as weapons are allowed through screening.

Whenever I fly commercially, I always have allowed weapons close at hand. Since 9/11, Americans have protected themselves against would-be terrorists on flights.

An article in The New Yorker magazine after 9/11 established two facts. Greater airport security measures increase the time periods between attacks, but also increase the number of people killed in future attacks. Motivated, determined attackers find new ways around security measures.

Security measures are little more than drama to make us feel good. They do nothing to change the reality of dangers involved.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety@aol.com.