I am reading freakonomics – a fantastic book btw – and as part of that I also subscribe to Steven Levitt’s blog by the same name.
Last week I read his almost-got-sent-to-guantanamo story and literally laughed out loud – only to be troubled later as I thought about the implications that such a scenario might have on a real good friend of mine.
Two weeks ago, as Steven was trying to get back to Chicago from Florida – his flight got delayed. He went and bought a one way ticket from another airline and off course, as those of you that travel know – that means an automatic in-depth search. Well as it turns out, Steven is currently studying terrorism, so his bag was filled with his research papers – including detailed profiles of the 9/11 activities etc. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by 4 TSA employees and when the boss arrived one of the screeners said “”He claims to be an economics professor who studies terrorism.” He details the whole story in more detail – which is hilarious. At the end, they let him go and he breathes a sigh of relief for not being sent to Cuba.
But then I got thinking about a real good friend of mine who is not yet an American, but a permanent resident, and who is married to a middle eastern women. What if he were interested in studying the same topic (which would be good right – the more people studying this the better) and have his research papers surface in a similar search? Do you think he would get off the hook in 30 minutes, or whatever time it took Steven? Thinking about that scenario turned this whole story from a hilarious one to me to a rather scary one…
…but I hope I am wrong and that he would get off in 30 minutes as well. That would make for another funny story!
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