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Five-Year-Old Boy Detained by the TSA

I always get an icy chill in my stomach when I hear stories of bureacratic process taking over from common sense and humanity. An extreme example of this is Nazi concentration camp guards merrily shoving Jews into the "showers" at Auschwitz for a quick blast of Zyclon B, just to "follow orders".
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Written by Tom Espiner on

I always get an icy chill in my stomach when I hear stories of bureacratic process taking over from common sense and humanity. An extreme example of this is Nazi concentration camp guards merrily shoving Jews into the "showers" at Auschwitz for a quick blast of Zyclon B, just to "follow orders". Swiss banks merrily accepting Nazi gold due to a policy of anonymity, even though that gold came in the form of teeth pulled out of people's heads.

A less extreme example is the famous Milgram obedience experiment, which was conducted to assess how willing people were to administer electric shocks of increasing intensity on the say-so of an authority figure, even though they were told that the current would eventually become 'lethal'. In the first test, 65 percent of participants administered the final, 'lethal' shock, even though they'd been told the 'recipient', played by an actor, had a heart condition.

A less extreme example again is that of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the authority charged with protecting US transportation systems, and supposedly those using them, recently detaining a five-year-old boy on the suspicion of being a terrorist. His name was similar to someone on the US "no-fly" list, which contains the names of people suspected of being terrorists.

Boing Boing reports that:

"A five-year-old boy was taken into custody and thoroughly searched at Sea-Tac because his name is similar to a possible terrorist alias.

As the Consumerist reports, "When his mother went to pick him up and hug him and comfort him during the proceedings, she was told not to touch him because he was a national security risk. They also had to frisk her again to make sure the little Dillinger hadn't passed any dangerous weapons or materials to his mother when she hugged him."

What kind of mind-set do you have to have to unquestioningly follow procedures, orders coming from a percieved authority? Did those TSA guards seriously believe that the five-year-old was a national security threat just because his name was on the no-fly list? Which, incidentally, you have no right to see, challenge, or correct if the information is wrong. Will that five-year-old be detained every time he goes through a US airport?

And how long will we put up with draconian, ridiculous, ineffectual security measures at airports? I reckon at least 65 percent of people would not question TSA or other law enforcement requests...

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