Security Theater

I’m doing a training class downtown in the Loop all week. I won’t say where, because I’ve seen similar setups at a number of downtown buildings.

Yesterday as I walked into the building I saw that there was some sort of letter-sized notice posted on the central reception counter in the middle of the huge lobby. Since my LASIK surgery, my middle-distance vision isn’t terribly crisp and I was running late for class, so I didn’t bother reading the sign and no one stopped me as I headed for the elevator. Going to and from lunch I was similarly unmolested.

This morning the “Director of Security” (according to his name tag) was on duty at the counter and he was not so easily escaped. He called out to me on my way to the elevator and asked where I was going. I answered, “to a training class upstairs”. He asked to see my driver’s license or a state ID and after a glance at it, handed me a badly photocopied piece of paper with the name of training center (which I’d never said explicitly) on it and said I could show that when entering the building for the rest of the week.

This is pure and simple Security Theater — if you don’t think about it much, you might feel comforted that someone is doing something to protect you from… something. But if you think about it for even a moment, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time that protects no one from anything. If only criminals and terrorists had ‘criminal’ stamped across their driver’s license… And were dumb enough to carry them…

It’s not, in the grand scheme of things, a big deal, but it bothers me both because it’s a waste of time, money, and effort and because it’s part what I see as a whittling away of our American notions of freedom. I can’t help it, I’m an idealistic patriot.

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