How Paranoid Can We Get?

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Finally the Federal Government has done something I like. It has institutionalized and empowered rampant paranoia. A giant step for mankind has been planted onto the sinking sands of commercial airline travel. Today we conquer the Brave New Airport. Tomorrow, the Brave New Middle East?

I wasn’t aware of Bush’s bold new security program when, last month, I flew back to the U.S. Had I been aware, I would have been doubly afraid.

You are being watched! Big surprise huh. Not only do you have TSA people X-raying your wife’s lingerie in her suitcase and on her body, suspicious customs officials trying to catch you with those discreetly packed eleven foot long ivory elephant tusks stuffed with exploding Cuban cigars, but also you have Behavior Detection Squads!

BDS: America is emulating the fine tradition of Israel, which has been using them since Yasser Arafat first said "hey! We live here too"!

What are Behavior Detection Squads? That’s easy. They are those creepy security agents who give you stink-eye at the airport. I always thought those people were folks to whom I’d given a bad tip at the race track or whose sister I had jilted. Turns out I must look like a mass murderer.

See SPOT run. SPOT stands for Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques. Quite simply, security agents look closely at each passenger’s face. They are searching for signs of nervousness, anxiety and fear in airline passengers.

Are they kidding!? Fear, anxiety, nervousness before boarding a post September 11, 2001 commercial airliner!? Whoever heard of such an absurd thing? In any case, that’s what airport bars are for, to eliminate fear, anxiety and nervousness.

How does BDS work? Should a passenger waiting to board appear to be nervous, he is whisked away "for questioning." Why don’t the officials just take the poor fellow to an airport bar for a double shot of Johnny Walker? That would kill the jitters and get those loose lips a flappin’! Oh well.

What’s the next step? Usually the passenger is let go to fly the friendly skies just like Richard Reid, the inept shoe bomber. But suppose the passenger can’t come up with a suitable explanation for being frightened to death, he will be handed over to the local Gestapo for a good going over. I feel so much safer knowing this. Don’t you?

Looking back at my last trip, I sure as Hell am glad that I didn’t know why Mr. Chromosome at the airport was eyeing me up and down. I thought he was admiring the cut of my, uh, jib. The big preevert. I did what Mamma always said and ignored the strange man. However, had I known that I was being screened by US Agents looking for nervous behavior, gulp, that would have made me, well, nervous.

I’m sure I would have been hauled off for a good discussion with a rubber hose. But then, maybe I’m just paranoid.

All this being said I hate to be a party pooper! Surely there is good to be had from Behavior Detection Squads. We just need to release The Hounds in environments known for attracting people with strange behavior. And I don’t mean to shock you but we do have a lot of those environments in the U.S. of A. In fact, it might be simpler to find nice normal places and arrest those who do not look strange.

For starters, let’s set up a Behavior Detection Squad in Crawford, Texas. There seems to be one truly bizarre wacko living there. Despite all the obvious evidence that his little venture in Iraq is a complete disaster, this nut case still seems bent on expanding the disaster or at least "staying the course" towards Armageddon. God has advised him on this so he claims. Now that behavior strikes me as strange. Or how about when he ignored an oncoming Category Five hurricane headed straight for a major city and then ran off to play the guitar. Hmmm… very suspicious. Well, the man’s gotta rock! Let’s not forget his suspicious behavior when he sat in an elementary school classroom listening to a children’s story for nine minutes after being told that the country of which he is leader has been attacked! Maybe he just wanted to hear the end of the story.

Well, that sort of behavior is pretty obviously off kilter for anyone let alone the leader of the free world, as if there still is a free world.

What about Acting President Cheney? What a suspicious mug he has! Would you buy a used car from this man? I’d only buy one from him if I wanted it to blow up mysteriously.

This SPOT program could do us a world of good with the correct application. Rather than have the Goon Squad standing around in airports making us nervous while not offering to buy us drinks, let’s assign a team to each and every member of Congress, the Supreme Court and the Oval Office. Now these are the suspicious characters! They need to be watched for our protection!

Elizabeth Gyllensvard edited and contributed heavily to this article.

Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo, Japan as well as Los Angeles working in the entertainment industry. He is the primary caregiver of his eleven-year-old son and currently resides on Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean.

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