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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Editorial: Both parties involved were a little wrong in incident at Minneapolis Airport

  • Question: If for some bizarre reason you thought you’d be able to check at the airport as ordinary luggage a large, loosely secured box containing a new propane grill, and your plan was nixed by airport staff who said the grill wasn’t properly secured, would you, after attempts to secure a larger box fail, just le...
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  •     Question: If for some bizarre reason you thought you’d be able to check at the airport as ordinary luggage a large, loosely secured box containing a new propane grill, and your plan was nixed by airport staff who said the grill wasn’t properly secured, would you, after attempts to secure a larger box fail, just leave the box, with propane hoses visible, near a trash receptacle in the terminal, call your husband to tell him to come and pick it up, and then board your flight?   
        No, you wouldn’t do all sorts of the things listed in that chronology of events, most of you would likely say. You’d just be asking for trouble, right?   
        Trouble in the form of law enforcement officers who’d dress up like Storm Troopers and Robocops, arm themselves to the teeth and storm the terminal after jumping out of big, black police vehicles. Maybe they’d have a robot, too, that could approach the suspicious box and find out what’s inside.   
        It’s the textbook “suspicious” package, container or backpack story that pops up in the headlines in this so-called “War on Terror.” A college student forgets a backpack containing some textbooks and an iPad on a bench on campus, and suddenly eight square blocks are locked down as all the best bomb-detecting gadgetry the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can buy are dusted off and deployed.   
        But maybe all of the overreacting is necessary. After all, the one time that law enforcement react too casually to something deemed suspicious, maybe that’s the one time the person who left it behind has nasty intentions and a bunch of innocent people die.   
        But what happened a couple weeks ago at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, which led to hundreds of flights being delayed and the woman who left the grill-in-the-box being charged with a misdemeanor, wasn’t accurately reported, either.   
        Authorities and airport security for days told the public that the box contained an actual propane tank, too. It led to the media reporting the story in somewhat mocking fashion, with headlines like, “No, a propane tank is not carry-on luggage.” First off, the woman wasn’t trying to bring the grill onto the plane as a carry-on item and, second, the box contained a propane grill but not a propane tank. It wasn’t until late last week that authorities acknowledged that no actual propane tank was involved.   
    Page 2 of 2 -     Still, in this day and age, when it comes to terrorism, there is probably no location on the globe that requires more sensitivity than an airport. You have to be especially mindful of how you act and what you say, even in joking fashion, because there’s no joking around in an airport or on a plane.   
        Going hand in hand with that sensitivity is the need for a little common sense. Leaving a box with a hole big enough to show propane hoses inside by a trash receptacle at an airport and then getting on a plane? That’s a decision that lacked common sense.    
        But even if that’s the case, let’s get it right when we inform the public, shall we, so it doesn’t turn into an opportunity to ridicule someone.
       

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