As gas prices leave the “um, really?” territory and speed into the “are you fucking serious?” range, a whole lot of Angelenos are finally considering using our fair city’s
subway commuter rail system.*
That’s awesome. Getting cars off the road is great for the environment, and anything we can do to reduce congestion on our over-crowded freeways is always a good idea. The metro doesn’t really go to as many places as you’d expect (thanks,
City Council Board of Supervisors!) and it doesn’t run as late as it does in . . . well, every other city in the world, but you go to work on the metro you have, not the metro you wish you had.
Sure, it’s a little inconvenient to take the metro, but with a some sacrifice and extra planning, it can be a pretty pleasant experience (as long as you don’t want to take pictures, you goddamn terrorist-fist-jabbing America hater) and it’s certainly cost effective.
However, the experience of riding the metro is about to become as annoying and frustrating as trying to get on an airplane, because security theater is coming to town:
In June 2008, Metrolink’s Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Bureau will begin deploying its Passenger Random Baggage Search Program to further strengthen rail security and discourage and deter violent criminals from carrying weapons, explosives, or other dangerous items onto Metrolink trains. According to the Transportation Security Administration, random baggage inspections are an effective security tool for deterring individuals who may pose a threat to passengers on board commuter trains.
If the Transportation Security Administration says it’s an effective security tool, you know that shit is seriously vetted, dogg. Remember, according to the Transportation Security Administration, 3.1 or more ounces of any liquid is deadly (3.0 is fine, though), shoes are dangerous, we should be scared shitless all the time, everywhere we go, and people who aren’t too keen on having some guy shove his fist up their ass to take a look around whenever you want to ride in a plane, train, or bus is worthy of tremendous suspicion. In fact, those people probably want to take pictures of things while they’re in public! OMG TERRORISTS! OH NOES! EVERYBODY PANIC!
The MTA tells us that this the best thing since cupcakes. It’s going to keep us safe because it’s totally random and the big scary bad guys won’t know where the cops will be stopping and searching people. See, when they don’t know where the cops will be, they won’t be able to plan . . . uh, what are we scared of today? I haven’t watched cable news in a long time, so I’m going to use a reliable old standby: the suitcase nuke that takes 3.2 ounces of toothpaste and a pair of tweezers to activate!!!1!
Being random is the opposite of being predictable, so that’ll make this really effective. The Terrorists (OMG) will never know where the security will be, so they’ll take their bomb vests and go home. This makes a lot of sense, right?
Wrong. This isn’t even random like it is at the airport, where everyone goes through the same checkpoint, and someone randomly wins the “I’m not a criminal, I’m just being treated like one” lottery when they’re late for a flight. This particular bit of security theater randomly moves from station to station, where:
Prior to initiation of a screening event, signs will be posted at all entrances to the station parking lots and platforms to notify passengers that the deputies are present and the random security screening will be conducted.
GENIUS! Let’s schedule random searches, but make sure everyone knows exactly where the random searches will happen! Good thing criminals and terrorists don’t know how to read signs and go to a different station! Oh, wait, they don’t have to read. All they have to do is refuse to be searched:
Any passenger may refuse to permit an inspection of his or her baggage. A refusal to permit inspection will result in the individual’s not being permitted to access the Metrolink system. Deputies will request that the passenger leave the station facility.
Now, this may seem like it’s kind of a stupid idea. It may seem like the police could use this as an excuse to harass people who aren’t doing anything wrong, but might be . . . undesirable. It may seem like this is just happening so people are constantly afraid. It may seem like this is happening to justify the existence of a giant government bureaucracy that’s really pretty pointless.
Yes, it may seem like any or all of those things, but I’m here to remind you that we have to do things like this prevent THE TERRORISTS from taking away our precious freedoms, like the freedom to ride the subway without being subject to constant surveillance and random security theater. And if you think this is a stupid idea, maybe you should just stare at the terror alert warning for a moment until you remember that it’s your patriotic duty to shut up, keep shopping, and vote for McCain.
God bless America! Fuck yeah!
(Terrorist fist-jab to Opher Banarie.)
*Bert Green points out in the comments that this random screening is coming to Metrolink, not Metro. Metrolink is, of course, the train service that runs from city to city, while MTA (Metro) is the Green, Gold, Red, Orange, Blue, etc. lines that still don’t serve Dodger Stadium. I regret the error, but still scoff at the security theater.