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The proliferation of needless regulations breeds cynicism and contempt for government, which is about the best thing you can say for it. Nowhere is this more obvious than at airport security, where I was recently instructed that I must forfeit a tin of pomade. At John Wayne airport, no less.
For the record, I didn’t let them take it: I simply applied it to my hair where, apparently, it’s perfectly permissible. That’s right: six ounces of hair gel in your carry-on bag and the assumption is that you could be a terrorist. But six ounces in your hair? “Well then! Welcome aboard!”
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve endured the humiliation of an airport pat-down. More than once I’ve been told by the TSA agent “When I reach sensitive parts of your body I’ll use the back of my hand.”
You talk about disappointment.
Fortunately, I know my rights and don’t hesitate to invoke the male equivalent to “Female assist”. When instructed that I must submit to a pat-down, I simply tell them I’m gay and therefore don’t feel comfortable being patted down by another man: it’s too arousing. Then I insist on being patted down by a woman, adding “Preferably a leggy blonde in equestrian boots.”
This risk-aversion-run-amok is as unseemly as it is un-American. And it doesn’t end once onboard the plane. Frequent flyers are familiar with the ubiquitous peanut bags handed out by flight attendants which read “Warning: these peanuts were processed in a facility that produces nuts.”
The FAA only recently deigned to allow flyers to use their electronic devices nearly up until take-off: more evidence that the federal government is always the last one in the room to get the joke. The official explanation for restricting their use onboard was typically risible: the navigation systems of commercial aircrafts could be adversely affected if too many passengers chose to read their Kindles during take-off.
How does that work exactly? You work hard, save your money and take your family on a Hawaiian vacation only to end up in Cleveland because your wife couldn’t stop playing Angry Birds during take-off?
The proliferation of regulations born of risk-aversion also creates a stifling, anti-social atmosphere. Simply maintaining a sense of humor has become increasingly difficult, as evidenced by the blank stare I received from the man settling into the seat behind me when I asked him if he would mind swapping seats with me so that his wife and I could sit together…