Sunday, November 15, 2009

Parrothead Security Theater

This summer I took a few days off and went to a Jimmy Buffett with some Parrotheads. My first tailgating experience was fun, and Jimmy Buffett puts on a great concert. You have to respect a talented entertainer.
The venue was not something I was impressed with. The concert was at Nissan Pavilion in VA. It was overpriced for parking, they stuck the tailgaters as far away as humanly possible, but those are not my main complaints. My complaint is the illusion of security, or Security Theater. (I would normally link the term “illusion of security” to Wikipedia for a reference, however on Wikipedia the term redirects to the “United States Department of Homeland Security”.)
Security Theater is just that: when something is done which people claim provides more security, yet it has little to no impact on any actual security. Airport security is like that in a lot of ways. I don’t need to go into great detail about airport security, read the reports and articles.
Security should be about ease of use, work factor, frequency and value. If it is too hard to use, people will not use it, no matter the security it provides. Make something harder to break into, and the less likely it is that someone will bother, they will probably move on to an easier one. Why protect against flooding when it floods once every 100 years and it hasn’t rained? Don’t protect a 100K with a five dollar lock box, and don’t buy a 100K safe to protect 5 dollars. This is an overly simplified view of security, but I am sick of everyone being told to be scared, and people not thinking, so I started ranting again…
So back at Nissan Pavilion, four of us are heading to the gates, to find a crowd of people being funneled into 6 to 10 gates, I do not have an actual count of gates, however there is no crowd control. There were no barriers, no fences to direct traffic, no signs to tell everyone that they want women on the left and men on the right to get frisked. There were also no signs to say “No Cameras” (note that on the website it stated no professional camera, but they were turning all cameras away.) It was a mass of at least 300 people trying to get into a Jimmy Buffett concert, and things then started to get ugly. People started yelling at each other, pushing, and getting mad. Why? Because every person had to be frisked, and show what’s in their pockets to the yellow shirt people at each gate. At one point we saw two separate arguments on either side of our group about people cutting in front of others when the entire front of the crowd was shoved forward by the back. The situation was beginning to escalate. Finally someone in a white staff shirt jogged down the line and stopped by each yellow shirted person doing the frisking and told them to “let’em through.” I was thankful some noticed the situation for what it was, before something serious happened and someone got hurt, but it made me mad that this was all done in the name of security.