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April 16, 2015 — What a gyrocopter and a coupon promotion have in common

An odd thing is happening in Philadelphia this year. The mega-coupon site Groupon is running a promotion to get rid of unsellable Phillies tickets for as low as $8.50 a seat.

People aren’t coming out to see Phillies games, despite the fact that they are around .500 and are not as bereft of talent as their Sports Complex neighbors, the 76ers. Last Friday, the relatively new Citizens Bank Park — which once had three straight years of sellouts — saw a record low attendance for a single game.

But what some people are saying in the comment sections of some of the articles written on this subject is the fact that people are being scared away from Citizen’s Bank Park by the metal detectors that are now mandatory at every Major League Baseball game this season.

Baseball is a pastoral game which has never seen a terrorist attack, nor has there been any hint of one even in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Yet, the lords of MLB has seen fit to impose a security theater in each park, a solution in search of a problem.

“Security theater” is defined as a security perimeter which is primarily a visible deterrent and is not defined by its effectiveness or efficacy.

Which is what happened to the no-fly zone surrounding the District of Columbia this week when a postal worker landed a gyrocopter on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

Many in news media has reported on the flaws of the current anti-air defense system — a small aircraft, flying at tree-top level, can fly under the radar. And there has been more than one instance when small planes have flown into the area around the Capitol, including one which held a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, which caused an emergency evacuation on the day of the State of the Union address.

And yet, apologists for the system continuously assert that the system is so robust that a mosquito couldn’t fly through it without it being detected.

It’s a laughable characterization of the effectiveness of this security theater.

Security theaters are showy and expensive, and, frankly, have not captured one terrorist. Not at a ballpark, not on a train, not on a boat, not on a plane.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink the entire strategy.


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