I’m aware I should have written this yesterday. But sod it, UsVsTh3m have just released a game called Richard Dawkins: Honey Defender, so maybe it’s still current.
And there was much amusement. The terrorists have won because Richard Dawkins can’t have his honey, etc etc.
The thing is, he’s kind of right. I mean he’s also a bit daft for trying to get a jar of more than 100ml or whatever it is through airport security, because it’s been publicised for years and years that we’re not allowed to do that. Even if he hadn’t seen it at some point in the last eight years, there would have been big signs up in the airport. Just put it in the hold luggage for pity’s sake, it’s not that tricky.
But the wider point, that we’re all hugely overreacting to a tiny, tiny threat, and thus handing to terrorists precisely the victory they were aiming for, is spot on. Your chances of dying in any kind of terror attack anywhere in the Western world are entirely negligible, very comparable to those of being killed in a planet-destroying asteroid strike. (Yes, they’ve never happened, but it only takes one to get all of us.) Your chances of dying in any sort of plane crash are – well, a bit more, but still minuscule. One estimate put it that you could fly every day for 123,000 years before you’d be odds-on for a crash. Your odds of dying in a plane crash caused by terrorist activity, obviously, are thus even smaller.
So the fact that we’re all being stripsearched and honey-confiscated and probed with nudity X-rays and so on is an example of incredibly bad risk assessment. We are safer once we’re on the plane than we were driving to the airport, but no one tells me to take my shoes off before I get in the car. And, yes, this is exactly what terror is supposed to do: filling our daily lives with fear by making one or two big impressive unpleasant things happen.
It’s still Dawkins’s own fault that his honey got confiscated, for not noticing the massive signs on every flight that he’s been on since 2001, which is presumably a lot. And it’s ridiculous to blame “rule-bound dundridges”, whatever a dundridge may be, since they’re just doing their jobs and their jobs involve confiscating liquids and they don’t want to get fired. (And before someone says “just following orders! Nuremberg!” I’ll just say: go away.)
But those admittedly very relevant details aside, he’s right. Bin Laden, in a little way, would smile at the knowledge that all of our lives are just a little bit more annoying and frustrating than they were before. I’m sure he’d want some bigger victories, but this is a little one.