Looniest regulation of 2009

January 3, 2010 • 12:29 pm

It’s this:  airline passengers can’t use the bathroom an hour before landing.

It makes no sense. If somebody wanted to blow up an airplane, why would they have to do it during that period?  After all, they can go to the bathroom and prepare their devices two hours before landing, and the damage will be just as great.  The only reason I can see for this ludicrous regulation is a post facto reactivity to the last bomber: he went to the bathroom 20 minutes before landing.

Over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens discusses the latest moronic airline regulations — and the futility of thinking that we can prevent all terrorist bombings:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don’t get the point prefer to whine about “endless war,” accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.

Oh, and here’s another Hitchens piece from the latest Vanity Fair: a frightening description of the pollution of the American military by Christianity.

19 thoughts on “Looniest regulation of 2009

  1. Nice work, Mr. Hitchens.

    “While we fumble with bureaucracy”, indeed. The following exchange simply MUST have occurred in some closed-door meeting room, somewhere:

    Big Cheese: Well, gentlemen (and ladies), what are the ideas?

    Smart Person: I’m not sure there are any quick and easy answers to your request for increased security measures on air….

    Big Cheese: I DIDN’T ASK FOR YOUR OPINION, I asked for “ideas”. Who’s got one?

    Sycophant #1: We could prevent anybody from relieving themselves during the last hour of every flight?

    *Spontaneous chuckles in the room*

    Big Cheese: SILENCE! This is a serious matter. Good idea, Chesterfield, that is EXACTLY what we shall do. It will not only show MY boss BIG-BIG Cheese that I can perform under pressure, it will make instant national headlines and the heat will be off for a while. I’ve got a vacation planned next week…


    I believe the problem lies in the “chain of command” or hierarchical structure infesting organizations in America. Decisions are not made in proportion to their “intelligence”, they are made for “expediency” reasons, and for “ass-kissing” reasons.

  2. Fly in an airline without 1 hour pee-or otherwise-curfew? Please dont look for sanity-and logic- in ….airlines regulation-s-?

  3. I emphasise in my applications (not that it works) that I don’t have a problem travelling for the sake of work. In fact, I’d say that I wouldn’t go anywhere near an airport these days without getting full pay for it.

  4. It may be a crafty way to decrease carbon emissions by reducing the number of folk who now choose to fly.

  5. I don’t know what scares me the most, the possibility of blowing up from not being able to go to the lavatory after flight meals or the lack of reading material that would likely blow away my sanity forever.

    Either way, these political terrorists in the government are making headway. Next stop, television monitoring all spaces. Your bedroom will no longer be your’s. (o.O)

  6. I speculate that the reasoning is something like this:

    1. Prospective terrorists are more likely to board international flights departing in a foreign country and landing in the U.S. (This might be true if U.S. security screening was more effective.)

    2. For maximum effect, such a terrorist would like to blow up the plane over U.S. soil or even at a U.S. airport.

    3. Limiting passenger mobility during the last hour of flight makes #2 more difficult.

    I’m not saying any of this is well-reasoned (or that I have any good reason to think that my speculation is correct), it’s just the only explanation I can think of.

  7. Well there is at least good reason to think it’s far more desirable to blow up the plane over a populated area than it is to waste the opportunity by doing it over a field or a forest or the ocean. I mean the goal is maximum random dead people with full tv coverage. Just blowing up one plane is nowhere near as telegenic as a disgusting burning blood-soaked mess on the outskirts of a big infidel city.

    That’s one of the most creepily disgusting things about all this – this lust for tv spectacle. Bombay was sheer tv nirvana, though of course nothing so far has come close to 9/11.

    (The Bombay killers’ handler kept telling them to get a fire going in the hotel – he kept nagging them, asking what was taking so long, what was so difficult. He wanted the visuals.)

  8. This is yet another reason not to take a flight to the US without some kind of monetary or other incentive. International flying was already unpleasant, especially into LAX where everyone is treated like a criminal, but this idiocy is pretty much the last straw.

  9. I may sound like a scratched record, but the alleged anti-terrorist countermeasures at airports are of virtually no value. All that screening will fail to prevent a vast majority of terrorists. Let’s say we had one attempted terrorist plane bombing each week; you’d be lucky for the screening to catch a single terrorist in a year. It’s a massive fraudulent waste of money which does not achieve the claimed objectives. In fact, some of the braindead measures such as putting armed monkeys on board flights is anathema to safety; serious terrorists would be on the floor laughing – thank you Dubbyah for providing weapons on board – no need to try to get them past the x-ray machines and metal detectors.

    Now as Hitchens points out there are a hell of a lot of other “soft” targets for terrorists; the primary reason we don’t see more carnage is that most people simply are not interested in murder for the sake of religion – religious terrorists are an even smaller minority than the rest of murderers combined. Money would be better spent trying to understand why people become religious terrorists and how to discourage people from becoming terrorists. Laws and threats are of no value as a deterrent. As far as any “screening” of any sort, it is ineffective and does not address the fundamental problems.

  10. Oh, I forgot to say – the obvious response from being kept from the toilet – pee on the floor in front of you. Seriously, if enough people do it you’ll see the rules changed. maybe you’ll see more draconian measures introducing fines – but just go ahead and make the whole plane your toilet.

  11. Ophelia’s point about the motivations of the terrorists is spot on. It seems obvious to me that they are not really interested in hurting the Western countries for the direct impacts that those actions cause but for the secondary impacts. They want the publicity: they want to appear more powerful than they are, they want to be seen as a ‘player’, they want to recruit, they want to get money donated to them. Their audience is not the populace of the countries where the actions take place but rather their target audience is other radical (and would be radical) Muslims. Hurting the West is just a means to those ends, not an end unto itself.

    If the terrorists were really interested in hurting, say the US, then with only a minor shift in tactics they could shut down the airline industry and drive many of the airlines into bankruptcy. I’m reluctant to discuss specific attacks that I think would be effective not because I’m worried that I will give them ideas they haven’t thought of -I’m not that ingenious, nor do I think they would read this – but because if, by coincidence, such an attack did happen I would feel horrible.

  12. Every time I stand in a security checkpoint, at an airport, in a concentrated crowd of people, I always wonder why a suicide attack exactly here wouldn’t have pretty much the same effect as taking down a plane.

    I’ve reached the same conclusion that the ‘terrorist threat’ is practically non-existant (in the western world recently it has essentially been reduced to people setting fire to their underwear on planes, which doesnt really inspire terror) – there are so many easy targets throughout western society and they all fail to be hit on a daily basis, so many obvious workarounds to security checkpoints etc (such as targetting them) without them ever being utilized (other than for purposes of igniting ones own underwear)

    I did however witness, in an airport terminal, a mother and son knitting with approximately foot long knitting needles in the run up to Christmas (while waiting for a connecting flight to an international flight with no security checkpoints between this event and sitting on a jet plane with enough fuel to cross the atlantic) which leads me to believe that regardless of security measures implemented, ridiculous stuff will still manage to make it through.

    1. I always wonder why a suicide attack exactly here wouldn’t have pretty much the same effect as taking down a plane.

      If that happened, it might cause America to re-think its present policy of idiotic security theater. Since security theater is a important part of making Americans feel afraid, it is something a smart terrorist would want to preserve.

  13. Another loony regulation, although possibly of 2010…. apparently American Airlines is now limiting carry on luggage to 1 item only for coach passengers, for security reasons, although for some reason this restriction does not apply to business/1st class passengers etc…. apparently not only are terrorists intent on destroying our way of life, but they’re also too cheap to upgrade their tickets to bypass a fuel savings plan, erm, I mean a security measure.

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