Let's begin with an observation. There have been hundreds of "major" airline crashes in the past 80-plus years.
We haven't stopped flying.
A crash is a risk the vast majority of us choose to run.
Not everyone, of course. John Madden takes the bus when he can, and a lot of people drive, take the train, or stay home. It's a free country. We make choices and we live with them.
Returning home via Vancouver from Alaska and I notice immediately the biggest change since leaving early last week: There are no water bottles for sale. The airport eateries are displaying signs about the drinks we cannot have. The planes themselves have become gel free zones.
The bottled water barons have no doubt been rocked to their (plastic) cores. A week ago they were racking up, what, $3 a bottle on the water for sale next to the magazines and candy? Now if you open the water door, you're likely to get tackled.
No successful attack had occurred. Good intelligence collection and superb police work had rolled up another cell of would-be murderers.
And success was met with a ban on water bottles.
This is insane, and obviously so. And the public knows it. The "wisdom of the many" is at work, and on two levels.
First, every water bottle in every airport is now a suspect? Because some terrorists thought they might get one on board if they smuggled it through security while holding a baby?
The absurdity of this response gnaws at our collective confidence. If there is a real reason to ban water bottle sales from inside the security perimeter, explain the threat. But don't expect a free people to see absurdity and conclude that the folks in charge of airport security know best. We know they don't know best as a thousand columnists have remarked after seeing grandma frisked.
But on a much more profound level, we know --we all know-- that thousands of people illegally crossed the border yesterday, or simply ignored their exit date on their visa and decided to stay on for as long as they like, free of any concern of apprehension.
We know that weapons are available on most street corners in the United States and that their sellers don't ask for passports. We know that matches and dry forests are the biggest soft target in the country.
We all know the risks. And most of us understand the concept of best practices and best efforts and priorities.
But if the government refuses to deal with the real risks --thousands of illegal entries/overstays every day-- the hyper-reactions around airports are almost designed to invoke scorn.