On reading through the comments that readers made in response to an article we recently posted entitled, “World much stupider than returning soldier remembered” I was struck by the number of people that thought it was a hoax.
If we lived in a sensible world, I would have no doubt that this was a hoax. An assault rifle, even one that is unloaded, is a formidable weapon in the hands of a trained soldier. Thus it would seem utterly ludicrous that a soldier would be asked to relinquish his nail clippers and be allowed to board a plane with something that has the potential to inflict a lot more damage. It is ludicrous, but these things happen.
In my life, I have traveled quite a bit and learned what does and doesn’t fly with airport security along the way. I traveled at times when terrorism was just as much of a threat than it is now (if not more) – but clearing security was never anywhere near as stressful as it has become.
In the past five years, I have not made it through an airport without witnessing at least one incident that made me scratch my head and ask, “what the hell is wrong with you people?” … silently of course because you don’t voice your opinions in airports unless you want to be escorted to a private room for a debriefing.
I saw a little old lady have her nail clippers taken away. When she raised an objection she was shouted at and threatened with arrest. My mother saw one old lady lose her knitting needles.
In Sydney, I saw a Chinese student lose most of the duty free purchases that she had made in New Zealand. Apparently, the amount of supplements that she was carrying were over and above the Australian Customs limit – this is despite the fact that she was catching a connecting flight to China and was not going to be leaving the airport.
I’ve also been swabbed, frisked and interrogated every time I traveled alone.
Then there was this gem posted by one of our commenters:
Coming home from Baghdad, I had my M-4, my M-9, and they even let me keep my leatherman. But my bottle of scope mouthwash? out of the question.