This country needs to get a grip. We need a slap in the face, a splash of cold water.Bouloute faces up to seven years in prison, if convicted - all because he opened the wrong door.
On Saturday, 57-year-old Jules Paul Bouloute opened an emergency exit inside the American Airlines terminal at Kennedy airport. Alarms blared and sirens flashed. Bouloute later told police that he'd opened the door by accident.
Which is what you'd assume. Sure, the exit was clearly marked, but it happens all the time, does it not? In office buildings, shopping malls, hospitals and airports, well-intended people become distracted and pass through restricted doorways. And you would think our airport security force would keep this in mind and react accordingly, and not with the assumption that every errant traveler is a terrorist poised for mass murder. To the contrary, why in the world would an attacker go around setting off alarms and drawing attention to himself?
The official response has been to blame Bouloute for the ensuing chaos, but Smith regards the official response as a hysterical overreaction:
"As a result of the defendant's actions, thousands of people were required to evacuate and to be rescreened by TSA, causing substantial delays in the airlines' schedules," District Attorney Richard Browne said in a statement.Airline terror (hijackings and bombings) has been part of the international scene for a few decades now. But 9/11 made everyone jumpier, and so the most minor breach of security becomes a national crisis.
No, I'm sorry, Mr. District Attorney, but that's not it. What caused the delays and what hassled so many travelers was not the defendant's actions, but our mindless and hysterical response to them.
The media and officials, in all possible gravity, keep describing the incident as a "security breach." Not to harp on semantics, but am I the only person who finds this silly? Granted I'm not privy to every detail, but let me go out on a limb here: It was an accident. A simple and minor accident. As Bouloute's attorney told reporters, "He just walked through the wrong door."
How could he have missed all the red signs and placards? Who knows, though bear in mind that Bouloute had come from Haiti, where three days earlier an earthquake had killed or injured hundreds of thousands of people, some of them, we have to presume, Bouloute's friends or family.
Aircraft technology is such that the skies are safer than they have ever been. The risk of the plane you are in crashing or falling from the sky is remote. You're many times more likely to be killed driving your car.
And it affects us, because every move the US authorities make leads to further restrictions on travel from New Zealand.
If the goal of aviation authorities is to make flying almost impossible, they are succeeding wonderfully.