Julian Sanchez notes a fascinating parallel:
Batman’s archnemesis the Joker — played memorably by Heath Ledger in 2008′s blockbuster The Dark Knight — might seem like an improbable font of political wisdom, but it’s lately occurred to me that one of his more memorable lines from the film is surprisingly relevant to our national security policy:
You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.”
There are, one hopes, limits. The latest in a string of videos from airport security to provoke online outrage shows a six-year-old girl being subjected to an invasive Transportation Security Administration patdown — including an agent feeling around in the waistband of the girl’s pants. I’m somewhat reassured that people don’t appear to be greatly mollified by TSA’s response:
A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.
While I suppose it would be disturbing if individual agents were just improvising groping protocol on the fly (so to speak), the response suggests that TSA thinks our concerns should be assuaged once we’ve been reassured that everything is being done by the book — even if the book is horrifying. But in a sense, that’s the underlying idea behind all security theater: Show people that there’s a Plan, that procedures are in place, whether or not there’s any good evidence that the Plan actually makes us safer.