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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Better Safe Than Sorry: Airport Security and Global Climate Change

Published on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 by
by John Buell of the Bangor Daily News
Earlier this month a US air marshal shot and killed a disturbed man aboard an American Airlines plane in Miami. The victim was carrying no explosives. Suffering from bipolar disorder and off his medication, he had issued threats. Taking no chances, the air marshal shot and killed him. The event led Boston Globe columnist James Carroll to wonder if we have not become a hair trigger nation so obsessed with risks that we have turned our guardians into our potential killers. Carroll also asked if the Miami incident ?isn?t the domestic equivalent of this nation?s hair trigger foreign policy??
Americans are fond of the phrase better safe than sorry. Some suggest it was far better to shoot this threatening character than to allow him to blow up a planeload of innocent passengers. One hopes that more details will emerge, but in a longer term perspective, I think we are dangerously selective in our choice of risks. We are also too easily allow fear of mysterious dangers to morph into fear of all forms of difference. In the process, freedoms are diminished and the quality of life undermined. Paradoxically, the world itself becomes more dangerous.
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