Friday, August 17, 2007

Smile at the airport, or the TSA will arrest you?

No, I’m not kidding:

“Specially trained security personnel” will be watching passengers for “micro-expressions” that will reveal treacherous agendas and insidious intentions at airports around the country. These agents, who may literally hold your fate in their hands have been given a lofty, Orwellian name: “Behavior Detection Officers.”

So, you’re supposed to smile while being told your flight has been cancelled? You’re supposed to smile while standing in an hour-long line trying to book a replacement flight? You’re supposed to smile while your plane sits on the tarmac, running late, and leaving you wondering if you’ll arrive at the next airport in time to make your second flight connection?

Here’s how a scenario could play out:
Apparently, these Behavior Detection Officers work in pairs. One scenario is that an officer might move in to “help” a passenger retrieve their belongings after they’ve been screened. And then the officer will ask where the passenger is headed. If the passenger’s reaction sets off alarm bells in the officer’s well-trained mind, another officer will move in and detain them. Let’s be really clear here. If a stranger moved in on me like that, I’d tell that person to go to hell, throw in a few other expletives for good measure and probably give them the finger as I stomped off. Of course, I wouldn’t be stomping very far.

Orwellian, indeed.

What next? Do we move beyond Orwell to Huxley and “Brave New World,” with the airport thought police passing out mind-control happy pills? Free Prozac with your in-flight pretzels and peanuts?