Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger
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The inspections we put up with at airport gates and the endless warnings we get at train stations, on buses, and all the rest are the way we encounter the vast apparatus of U.S. security. Like the wars fought in its name, these measures are supposed to make us safer in a post-9/11 world. But do they? Against Security explains how these regimes of command-and-control not only annoy and intimidate but are counterproductive. Sociologist Harvey Molotch takes us through the sites, the gizmos, and the politics to urge greater trust in basic citizen capacities--along with smarter design of public spaces. In a new preface, he discusses abatement of panic and what the NSA leaks reveal about the real holes in our security.
http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/what-can-you-catch-in-restrooms. 4. Charles P. Gerba, “Application of Quantitative Risk Assessment for Formulating Hygiene Policy in the Domestic Setting,” Journal of Infection 43 (2001): 95. Cited in Ruth Barcan, “Dirty Spaces: Separation, Concealment, and Shame in the Public Toilet,” in Toilet, 36. 5. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (London: Routledge, 1978). 6. Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process (Oxford: Blackwell, 1939). 7. My use of the term
Resources 24 (2011): 521–34. The $19 million maintenance cost comes from Charles Camillo of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, as personal communication to Robert Gramling (September 19, 2008). See chapter 8, endnote 15, Freudenburg et al., Catastrophe in the Making, 179. 24. Freudenburg et al., Catastrophe in the Making, 10. 25. Ibid., 10. Or, as Erikson has put it, there is a “technological Peter principle” at work that causes things to be built up to the very edge of capacity, such that
financial morass, “The technology does not work in our subway system.” She continued, “We piloted the technology in a subway tunnel–like environment. It’s dark, there are too many columns, there are too many people and there were too many false alarms.”5 It had been, it seems at least in retrospect, a sci-fi pipe dream, a Reaganesque Star Wars for the subway. But what if the surveillance equipment had worked? Worked at what? We still would have faced the same problem: we don’t know what kind of
aid of the injured, or those who spontaneously arise to deal with a miscreant. While customer help is strictly voluntary, subway workers are charged in various ways to maintain order, including guarding against passenger injury. Injury can derive from direct assault or, for example, from a fire (perhaps inadvertently started by a pile of free newspapers catching a spark). Passengers can become ensnared in equipment. Or there can be flooding, which, although not necessarily a danger to life and
glass-enclosed walls behind which they sit make it possible for them to visually survey their surroundings. They have access to an intercom button to call for outside help. Their views of space surrounding the booths are often blocked by signs that the MTA puts up over the glass, some of it ironically warning passengers to be on alert for unattended packages, that their stuff might be searched, and, of course, that if they see something they should say something (figure 5). One worry that