Thursday, February 20, 2003

Smells Like a Weapon to Me

The Star Tribune (via the Associated Press) reports that a Saudi man was briefly detained at the Philadelphia airport after “spritzing” an unknown substance in the faces of security personnel.

Spritzing? That’s an interesting choice of words. As a student of the politically correct Star Tribune code speak, it seems to me that maybe they’re trying to tell us something about the, shall we say, “artistic” nature of the perpetrator. It’s difficult to say to for sure, since there was no word on whether or not the Saudi student in question, “flamboyantly sashayed” up to the metal detector or “gaily minced about” upon being released from custody. Perhaps since he’s Saudi and his government tends to deal with such behavior with the edge of a sharpened sword, the editors decided to leave those details out.

It turns out the substance was nothing more than cologne. But the authorities reacted as follows to this spritzing:

The security screeners were rushed to Methodist Hospital after being spritzed Wednesday as the student passed through a checkpoint at Philadelphia International Airport. Unsure whether they had a biological attack on their hands, hospital officials ordered a full quarantine. Ambulances inbound to the emergency room were diverted to other hospitals. Patients and staff who had contact with the guards were quarantined for nearly three hours.

It sounds like an over reaction, but if you’ve ever been around somebody marinating in Drakkar Noir or Polo, a three hour quarantine is entirely appropriate. Given the fact most people would probably rather get a snootful of anthrax spores than a migraine-inducing whiff of some guy drenched in either of the above concoctions, I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that this indeed was an act of terrorism. I'm scared just thinking about it.

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