Battlepanda: Not again


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Not again

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Jean Charles de Menezes, mistakenly shot in the London underground as a terrorist.
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Rigoberto Alpizar, mistakenly shot in Orlando International Airport as a terrorist.

It's not certain whether the sorry story of Rigoberto Alpizar's death would end in the same damning disclosures of criminal incompetence leading to the loss of a life. But it's certainly following a similar trajectory. In both cases, the initial report has the victim behaving in an utterly inexplicable fashion, leading to the law-enforcement officers with no choice but to shoot. In both cases, more evidence came out in dribs and drabs that erode the official story.

However this thing plays out, the lesson we take from it should not be that we need more air marshalls. That might or might not be true, but what happened to Rigoberto Alpizar should not be counted a sign that "the system is working" but a terrible tragedy that forcibly reminds us that the human costs of extreme heightened security is non-zero. That's not to say it's worth it or not worth it. Only that, over time, we will shoot a poor swarthy schmuck every once in a while, if we continue to be on hair-trigger watch.

An allergy is when a body's immune system produces a disproportionate response to an irritant. I feel like terrorism has been acting as an allergen. Everytime we wonder whether or not to take a precaution, we think of 9/11 and decide that it's worth it, no matter how extreme. Instead, we should be keeping count -- so far, number of poor swarthy schmucks shot, 2. Terrorists foiled, 0.