If the Integrated Circuit, the PC or the Internet (take your pick) served as the invention that defined the 20th Century, then is it fair to speculate that the security screening metal detector will be the machine that characterizes life in the 21st Century?

This disturbing notion comes to mind with the approaching 10th anniversary of the September 11 Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and with my new record with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this morning at the Burbank (CA) Airport.


Never before in my personal recorded history has my carry-on bag ever made it through the metal detector three times to be followed by a thorough hand search. My football binoculars were even treated to a fourth trip through the metal detector and a chemical analysis. Gee, I never contemplated that my bag, my binoculars or even little ole me would be suspected to be a clear-and-present danger to the survival of the Republic for which it stands.

For the people who know me, it is no surprise where I come down on the let’s protect America/end global terrorism vs. the personal liberties divide. I am definitely in the camp of the former. Having said that, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the possible onslaught of security screening metal detectors as airports and government buildings may only be just the start.

A friend just returned from Jerusalem and told the story about having to pass through a metal detector check-point to enter a supermarket. Even though I was shocked to hear this news accompanying a mundane excursion in the Holy Land, it does make sense because of the incredibly strong religious-fueled emotions in this particular city and eternal problem-child region.

Could we be facing a litany of metal detectors to visit domestic “soft targets,” such as our stadiums, arenas, hospitals, malls, schools, universities and even the local Safeway? I fear this scenario is not as far-fetched as it seems. Who would have envisioned just 10 years ago the tyrannical TSA exercising Third Reichish dominance over our airports, putting out carry-ons, binoculars and our body cavities under their tender mercies?

What gives me the most angst about this potential society-wide 1984 metal detector nightmare is that the real culprit may not be exclusively global terrorists, but our own loss of civility. Two weeks ago, we were all treated via YouTube to video-after-video of the dozen or so fights in the stands and parking lot of Candlestick (one person was shot, two were beaten to unconsciousness and at least 12 were arrested) at a pre-season between the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. That’s right, this game had absolutely no bearing on the season standings and yet…mindless barbarism.

Has anybody ever heard of “Magnanimous in Victory; Gracious in Defeat” whether the game courts or not? https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

We have seen stately oak trees poisoned in Auburn, Alabama by a sicko Alabama fan; a San Francisco Giants fan critically injured in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium and of course, there were the 1999 Columbine shootings. What I really fear — and I becoming increasingly convinced this day is coming sooner as opposed to later — is a prominent coach, player, cheerleader, band member or just a fan being shot in a stadium. The sin? Wearing the colors of/rooting for the hated opponent. We all instinctively know there are intoxicated fans, carrying weapons in the parking lots and into the stands. And yet, I don’t want to see metal detectors at stadiums. Room-temperature IQ security goons checking for bottles and cans is tolerable, but not those machines.

Think of it this way if you don’t like the notion of granny going through the nth-degree at airports, then how will you like it when she has to endure the same treatment just to make a routine trip to the store for milk and eggs? Will we be at least partially responsible for this new state of affairs?

Hopefully, everyone can understand if the TSA is a little jumpier than normal this week with the days ticking down to the 10th anniversary of that simply awful day. Regardless of the ultimate demise of Osama bin Laden, we need remain vigilant in the face of a lot of other bad people plotting against our way of life. At the same time, we have to face up to our responsibility when it comes to the decline of civility in society. “Compromise” is not a bad word, but it applies to all parties in a disagreement or outright dispute…not just the other side.

The consequences for increasing societal Balkanization are not the responsibility of someone else, but each-and-every one of us. Sorry if this reads like I am standing on my own little soapbox. I am just having sweeping visions about ubiquitous metal detectors being a prominent and permanent feature of our daily lives.

We always have the option of locking out doors, drawing our blinds and making our world smaller and smaller as the sands of time count down the last days of our lives.

I dearly hope I am wrong about a future Metal-Detector Society. I fear that I am right.