Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Safest Way To Travel

“Every hate crime makes the world a nicer place,” is the kind of idea you know is rattling around the back of some people’s heads, but how often do they actually come out and say it?

Of course, just because they don’t mouth those actual words does not mean the sentiment remains unspoken. For instance, following the recent murder of Rigoberto Alpizar by two air marshals at Miami International Airport, Forbes ran a story including the following paragraph:

David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, said he thinks the shooting may prove more "reassuring than disturbing" to the traveling public his organization represents. "This is a reminder they are there and are protecting the passengers and that it is a seriously deadly business," he said.

More reassuring than disturbing? Hell, maybe they should show videos of the execution to nervous travelers in order to put them at ease!

As a reminder: Rigoberto Alpizar suffered from manic depression (aka bipolar disorder) and had been off his medication. He and his wife Anne Buechner were coming home from doing “missionary work” in South America (oh the irony!), and had just boarded a plane after a stopover in Miami. While the plane was still on the ground, Rigoberto became agitated and tried to run back to the airport. Two air marshals claim they heard him say he had a bomb (a claim disputed by other passengers on board) and so followed protocol to the letter: they demanded he lie on the ground and then killed him when he did not do so.

What followed was a couple of hours of the other passengers on the plane being made to sit with their hands on their heads, having guns pointed at them by cops, all looking for a “terrorist connection” to justify the shooting. One passenger reported how the cops kept on trying to get him to say that Alpizar had said he had a bomb (“Did you hear the b-word?”).

Now, asshole David Stempler’s Air Travellers Association is in fact as “Astroturf group,” a fake-grassroots organization which in fact is a front for the Cendant Corporation. Cendant is the company involved in computerized reservations which is also cashing in on the burgeoning security-mania by integrating the Computerized Airline Passenger Pre-Screening System II (or CAPPS II) – the set-up which will have every passenger put through a background check to week out “terrorists” (like Alpizar?).

Feeling reassured?

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