America needs the Mythbusters.
Yes, I’m talking about those bearded and bespectacled boys from the Bay Area.
No, I’m not kidding. Not even a little.
Stay with me here.
Whatever your reasons for reading this blog, if you’re here you’re probably already pretty well informed about the TSA. Sadly, that’s not true for everyone. Though I’ve criticized the conclusions reached by Gallup in its recent polling about the TSA, the fact remains that many Americans think the agency is keeping us safe. Or they want to think so. Or they’re not thinking at all.
Let’s change all that. Let’s bring the dialogue into America’s living room, not by way of Brian Williams or Wolf Blitzer but through a couple of quirky characters who like to blow things up. (I ask you, who could be more qualified?)
You know the Mythbusters, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, two Hollywood special-effects-wizards-turned-reality-TV-stars. In their Discovery Channel series the pair construct elaborate experiments and cunning contraptions to prove or disprove some proposition or “myth.” In service to America, they have already proven that it’s more fuel-efficient to drive a pickup truck with the tailgate up (episode 43) and shown the best ways to escape a submerged vehicle (episode 72). It’s time for them to take on the TSA.
Savage should be happy to help: he’s already had his own run-in with the agency. Anyone who hasn’t seen his rant about the search that targeted his genitals but missed two twelve-inch razor blades should watch the video. More importantly, the pair know their way around an aircraft. Their show has tackled the question of whether one could become stuck onto an airplane toilet (no), whether cell phone use really could interfere with navigation (under certain circumstances), and whether a bullet fired at altitude could cause explosive decompression in a commercial airliner (no, and no again when re-tested later).
Better still, they have the President’s ear. In a 2010 episode Barack Obama himself asked them to revisit one of his favorite myths (Episode 157).
And so I put it to you, gentlemen: save a desperate nation from airport tyranny as you have saved us from exploding water heaters:
Bust the myth that the TSA is keeping air travel safe.
The agency contends that, having confiscated our pocket knives, gel insoles, and “knuckle purses,” they have made the land beyond their checkpoints into a “sterile area.” I challenge Savage and Hyneman to put the lie to this claim.
I propose that the pair should each pack a carry-on bag and submit to a TSA search. Anything that they can hide on their persons or that passes current TSA screening procedures should be fair game. Then I propose to isolate them on an airport concourse overnight. They’ve already shown that in a maximum security prison, ingenious inmates could potentially fashion a crossbow entirely of newspaper (episode 44). Imagine what they could build with a dozen souvenir shotglasses and the wheels from a luggage cart. What will America say when the pair demolish a decommissioned 737 using only a Cinnabon and the stuffing from one of those ubiquitous neck pillows?
“You can’t show that on TV!” the critics will cry. I say, better to see it on Discovery now than on the evening news later. (Yes, I’m fear-mongering; TSA apologists should recognize the tactic immediately.)
Of course it will be controversial, and for that reason Discovery might shy away from the project. But think of the ratings! And think of the service to America. By demonstrating that the inspection of the nation’s collective underpants does little to make air travel safe, Hyneman and Savage may help to restore our civil liberties, protect our dignity, and put us on a path to a more sane and effective approach to security. Such a demonstration is one of the most patriotic undertakings I can imagine.
What do you say, guys? Will you bust a myth for America?
(Photo: Discovery Channel)