TSA on lookout for big hair and snow globes
updated 8:31 AM EST, Tue October 11, 2011
Passengers wait to clear security at La Guardia Airport in New York, fully warned about snow globes.
Editor's note: LZ
Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named Journalist
of the Year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and
is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a
senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com and the
2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for
online journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @locs_n_laughs. Watch him
on "CNN Newsroom" during the 9 a.m. ET hour Tuesdays.
(CNN) -- The sign at the airport was so ridiculous, I thought it was a joke.
"Please be advised, snow globes are not allowed through the security checkpoint," it read.
That was followed by an image of a snow globe with a Christmas tree
on the inside and one of those big red "not allowed" lines going through
the middle. Underneath the picture read: "Your safety is our
Apparently, this ban has been around for a while, but I guess I was too busy taking my shoes and belt off to notice.
Over the years, Transportation Security Administration officials have
taken away my deodorant, my toothpaste, even my nose hair trimmer in
the name of safety. Now it seems as if they are going after Christmas --
one snow globe at a time.
To be fair, I can see some reason for their caution.
After all, the liquid in a normal snow globe could be replaced with
something dangerous. And at a time in which an al Qaeda operative is on
trial for trying to blow up a plane by igniting explosives sewn inside
his underwear, there doesn't appear to be a limit as to how far our
enemies will go to harm us.
But on the other, we're so wildly inconsistent with airport safety
protocol, how could someone look at a "No Snow Globe" sign and not
A couple of weeks ago, I had an agent ask to frisk my dreadlocks
because the scanner read it as an "anomaly." I argued, and the eventual
compromise was having me whip my hair around like a Vegas showgirl until
the guy with the rubber gloves was convinced I wasn't carrying a bomb
in my hair.
Then he groped me ... just in case I had any dignity left.
My encounter was similar to the one experienced by a Dallas woman who
last month had her Afro frisked by airport security in Atlanta.
Billions of taxpayer dollars invested to make us safe, and the TSA is on
the lookout for big hair.
If this were the '80s, everybody would miss their flight.
Meanwhile, I see pilots and flight attendants walking through the
metal detector, untouched, with their shoes on. Why bother making them
walk through metal detectors at all if they're not going to be fondled
or checked for shoe bombs like the rest of us?
And if you can answer that, maybe you can explain why we are given
plastic knives and forks to eat with in airport restaurants, but metal
knives and forks are handed to us in first class?
Are terrorists only flying coach?
Are policy makers incapable of connecting the dots?
Or are these mindless exercises in place to mask the reality that we
are not only incapable of completely safeguarding ourselves against
another terrorist attack but that our government is too dysfunctional to
even approve what can be done?
Did you know that one of the factors that led to more deaths on the
morning of September 11 is that New York police and fire departments did
not have a way to communicate with each other? Ten years later, there
still isn't a nationwide first responder network in place because of the
bureaucracy in Washington.
Face it: The question isn't whether we'll be attacked again but when
and how. Afro-frisking and snow globe-grabbing are just placebos given
to an incurable patient.
But they do make us laugh.
And laughter's a pretty good medicine in its own right.
Like the glass case in the Atlanta airport that displays items you
can't bring aboard, one of them a chainsaw, in case you were packing a
chainsaw as your carry-on.
And I can't tell you how many times I've glanced over at the
emergency exit row and thought: If we're forced to have a water landing,
we're all as good as dead.
That's because I've seen skinny models who need help getting their
carry-on into the overhead compartment manning the exit nearest to me.
I've seen the barely mobile elderly sitting in the exit row.
Last week, the nation openly asked whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was too fat to be president.
I'm OK with him being president.
I wonder if people his size are normally fit enough to be sitting in the freaking exit row.
Given the physical requirements and inherent importance of an exit
row seat, I would feel more comfortable if I knew the person sitting
there could at least do a pushup and not just be collecting a reward for
being a repeat customer.
These are the kind of systematic disconnects that just crack me up.
Flight attendants tell us to turn off all electronic devices under
the guise they could interfere with the plane's navigation system,
meaning that if the terrorists really wanted to cause some damage, all
they had to do was read their Kindle during takeoff.
But hey, at least we're getting a handle on snow globes.
After I got done staring at the sign, I took a picture of it and
posted it on my Facebook wall so my friends could also enjoy the laugh.
And as the cynical comments came pouring in, I smiled, temporarily
forgetting that I live in a world where shoes are a threat, afros can be
dangerous, and someone tried to blow up a plane with their underwear.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.