As part of its ongoing efforts "to enhance security screening measures and improve the passenger experience," the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will now give expedited security checkpoint privileges to passengers willing to sing, dance, juggle or tell jokes to others waiting in line.
OK, so that's a bit of humor, courtesy of a satirical website. But for a moment, you probably thought it was legitimate. Because when it comes to the TSA, nothing seems too bizarre to be true.
These are the same folks who brought us a security pat-down which resembles an awkward romantic encounter in the back seat of a Chevy. Without the heavy breathing.
These are the same folks who produced a list of prohibited items that included such common household items as ice axes, cattle prods and blasting caps.
These are the same folks who decided military personnel are exempt from removing their footwear despite the fact that there have been terrorist acts involving members of the military.
These are the same folks who have decided that it is now OK for passengers to board carrying small knives (2.36 inches or less) or a pool cue, hockey or lacrosse stick, two golf clubs, or a souvenir baseball bat weighing up to a pound and a half.
It's a rollback of regulations that has not played well with politicians, airline employees or the traveling public.
Holding up a bottle of shampoo at a recent hearing, New York Sen.Chuck Schumer said, "I hear outcries from passengers about this ... but almost no one has called my office and said, 'Why can't I bring a sharp knife on an airplane?'"
"While we agree that a passenger wielding a small knife or swinging a golf club... poses less of a threat to the pilot locked in the cockpit, these are real threats to passengers and flight attendants in the passenger cabin," Stacy K. Martin, president of Southwest Airlines' flight attendants union, told the Los Angeles Times.
A spokesman for the Allied Pilots Assn., the union that represents pilots from American Airlines, said the announcement caught him by surprise. "It represents a significant step backward in security," said Gregg Overm.
That goes without saying. Someone has failed to remember that the most shocking thing abut 9/11 is how a handful of terrorists armed with simple box cutters - not automatic weapons, not grenades, not swords- killed nearly 3,000 people and changed the geo-political climate throughout the world forever more.
Now, the TSA is changing policy because it would allow airport screeners to focus on "catastrophic" threats to an entire aircraft, including explosives or detonators.
Does that mean agents aren't focusing on such threats now? Or is the act of confiscating knives somehow diminishing the effectiveness of that task?
What will happen when agents are forced to use their time measuring the lengths of knives or the weights of baseball bats?
And if you want to consider a catastrophic scenario, what if a group of terrorists armed with knives started slicing the throats of passengers one by one until the pilots agreed to their demands? Far fetched? So was 9/11.
Locked cockpits might save the pilots but there is little to protect the passenger. If you think there are air marshals on your flight, guess again. According to some estimates, they fly on only about five percent of aircraft although the exact number is secret for obvious reasons.
On a more mundane level, if people start showing up with hockey and lacrosse sticks and golf clubs, where are they going to get stowed? Many won't fit in overhead compartments which are already stuffed to overflowing. And they aren't going to slide easily under a seat.
I can hear the announcement now: "Ladies and gentlemen, is there anyone willing to give up their seat and take a later flight so we can accommodate some lacrosse gear?"
(As an aside, if you don't think golf clubs are dangerous consider the former Mrs. Tiger Woods. She took one swing with a 9-iron and inflicted millions dollars in damage.)
Nobody expected the TSA to be a public relations triumph. Post 9/11, it was put in charge of a security program which made a normally tedious airport experience downright dreadful. The trade-off: you got to your destination in one piece.
Eventually, travelers faced with the frustration and humiliation of a TSA security screening decided that the aforementioned trade-off was worth it.
It still is. I will happily take off my shoes and belt and submit to a frisking to assure the safety of my family and fellow travelers. And I'll be happier still to leave my knife at home.