Our Security Fetish

November 3, 2008

The Boston Globe has an interesting article about a 24-year old woman taking the GRE who was harassed by the test proctor because of her insulin pump (she’s a diabetic):

“‘He was convinced it was an iPod,’ Kingsley said in a telephone interview last week. ‘I never thought anyone would question my insulin pump. People don’t question if you have glasses or a hearing aid. It was a really humiliating experience for me.’

The proctor eventually allowed her to keep the pump but often hovered over her during the exam, worried she was using the device to cheat, she said. But he refused to let her bring in a bottle of cranberry juice and a blood-sugar monitoring kit, which she said she needed to keep her blood sugar levels stable.”

Ridiculous on so many levels. He hovered over her during the test, even though there’s a CAMERA IN THE ROOM RECORDING EVERYTHING. He told her in no uncertain terms during the break that he thought she was lying about the insulin pump, despite the fact that she had lifted the back of her shirt to show him where the tubes from the device are inserted (can you imagine the indignity of this?). And despite the fact that the device is SO OBVIOUSLY a medical device from even a casual glance, and not a fucking IPOD. And what was the issue with the cranberry juice? She’s a fucking diabetic! Was she going to cheat with the cranberry juice?

This is a further sign of our society’s pathological fetish with security. We have become a country of frightened nitwits who will put a diabetic’s health at risk for the sake of maintaining the strictest, if totally illogical, security rules. We trust nobody.

I ride the MBTA nearly every day. And nearly everyday I am told, both by recorded announcement in the station and on LED signs on platforms, to look for suspicious persons and report them. REALLY??!! This is the society that we want to live in? How many people are we saving by doing this? Seriously – we allow smoking, we’re tolerant of countless dangers on our roads and highways, we tolerate pollutants and carcinogens in food and drinking water, we pollute our air, we’re endlessly cavalier about climate change and biodiversity, we scarcely mention urban sprawl. But we need to be endlessly alert on the MBTA? And subject diabetics to extra scrutiny?

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