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"But obviously, we're still not completely safe" ... Not even at Walt Disney World

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"But obviously, we're still not completely safe" ... Not even at Walt Disney World

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Let me guess. You spent the better part of yesterday listening to the radio and/or watching television. As you tried to take in all of that truly scary news that was coming out of the U.K., right?

You're wondering what this all means now, aren't you? What the long-term ramifications of this new "No-liquids-or-gels-allowed-in-your-carry-on-bag" rule might be.

l mean, at a time like this, you want to be reassured that -- eventually -- things will be alright again, right? That everything will be getting back to normal soon. But then you hear President Bush (speaking with reporters yesterday as he arrived at Austin Straubel International Airport in Greenbay, WI) say something like:

"This country is safer than it was prior to 9/11. We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously, we're still not completely safe. Because there are people that still plot and people who want to harm us for what we believe in. It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America."

And that's it. When you hear the President of the United States say " ... obviously, we're still not completely safe " ... Well, that's when you swear that you're never getting on a plane again, right? You just want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head. Never leave your home ever again. Because the world is such a scary place nowadays. Much scarier than it used to be, anyway.

Well, whenever I hear anyone express a sentiment like that, you know what I tell them? "Bullsh*t."

Please forgive me for using adult language on what is supposed to be a family-friendly website. But the way I see it ... The world has always been a very scary place. If you haven't actually noticed this before now ... Well, I guess that means that you really haven't been paying attention.

"But ... But ... But ...," you sputter. " It wasn't like this back in the 1970s. Back then, there weren't these weird threats popping up all the time. Make us feel uneasy about places we used to assume were completely safe."

Oh, really? Then take a look at this copy of a "Flash from 4500." Which I unearthed during a recent trip to the Disney Depository at the Orlando Public Library:

For those of you (like myself) who sometimes have trouble reading smallish print, let me now post a somewhat larger version of the same text:

The following statement was released today Friday Feburary 4, to press representatives:

On Thursday, Feb. 3, Walt Disney World received several calls from an unidentified male threatening an explosion and seeking money.

During the evening, after the regular closing hours of the Magic Kingdom theme park, the caller said he had planted a bomb. Within a few minutes employees located a suspicious looking case in a non-public area of Frontierland. The case was turned over to law enforcement officials. Up to this time, we have not been informed whether it actually contained an explosive substance or device. Since this happened at night after closing there was no involvement of guests in the incident.

An attempt was made to carry out the caller's demands for payment of money but no one attempted to collect the funds. There has been no communication with the caller since Thursday night.

Necessary precautions and investigative procedures have been instituted. We feel additonal details at this time could be detrimental to an orderly investigation.

Now let me stress that this particular bomb threat happened 'way back in February of 1972. Disney World had not even been open six months yet and already the crazies were coming out of the woodwork.

Mind you, there's actually a happy ending to this particular story. The Orange County Sheriff's Office -- working with both WDW Security as well as the FBI -- did eventually catch this guy. Who (If I'm remembering correctly) turned out to be a cast member who was just looking to cash in by pretending to be a mad bomber.

So even Walt Disney World back in the 1970s wasn't " ... completely safe." The threat of terrorism (Well, in this case, pretend terrorism) managed to touch the Magic Kingdom. And even though this story was fairly widely reported by the press back in the day ... Well, that still didn't stop tens of thousands of tourists from visiting the "Vacation Kingdom of the World" in 1972. Or in the 30+ years that followed, for that matter.

So, okay. Here we are, facing yet another one of these extremely odd post-9/11 moments. Where the world once again seems like a very scary place.

But (as I mentioned earlier) the world has always been a very scary place. So please don't let the next new "Big Scary Thing du Jour" prevent you from actually getting out there and enjoying your life.

So (at least for the time being, anyway) we're looking at long lines at the airport. Plus no liquids or gels being allowed in your carry-on bag. Big deal. We got used to that whole take-your-shoes-off-and-put-them-on-the-belt-before-going-through-the-metal-detector thing, didn't we? If we could do that ... Well, I sure that we'll eventually get used to this new safety rule too.

Alright. I'll admit that all the images on TV of long lines at the security checkpoints, of people frantically repacking their bags right there in the concourse, of additional security patrolling the halls, are rather off-putting. So if you've got a trip coming up, I could honestly understand & sympathize if you're thinking that "Maybe I should postpone ... "

But you know, Woody Allen once said this incredibly simple but rather profound thing. That "90% of life is just showing up."

And -- when you really think about it -- what are you actually going to accomplish if you stay home? I mean, sure. You'll be completely safe there. Unless -- of course -- you break your neck by slipping in the shower and/or by tripping over a cat.

Look, I know. For the next couple of weeks or so, it's going to be a real hassle getting through security at the airport. And it's going to be somewhat scary just to have to get on a plane. That said, I still think that -- if you're already scheduled to travel during this period -- that you should still "just show up" at the airport & take that trip.

I mean, be like those tourists back in the Spring of 1972. Who knew all about the bomb threats at Walt Disney World but still went ahead with their vacations.

Go ahead. Get a little of your own personal sense of well-being back by ... Well, daring to actually live a little.

Your thoughts?

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  • Bravo Jim.  Bravo.  I applaud you for this article.  Just because things are scary, they will NOT prevent me from flying to Disney World in October of 2007.  They will not prevent me from flying to California to my friend's wedding in May of 2007 and they sure as hell not keep me from flying to Vegas in April to celebrate my 30th birthday and see Spamalot there.  It's this kind of fear that keeps us paranoid and not want to go anywhere.   It's this kind of fear that prevents us from heving a sense of adventure.  Me?  I am going to travel by plane as much as I can, whenever I can, and I will have a great time doing it too.
  • Jim Hill says:


    You justify your crass language with such an innocuous, harmless, throw-away story.

    Times have changed.  There is a SUBSTANTIAL difference between the goings-on of the past 5 years vs. this little incident back in '72.  Good grief, man!
  • So? What's next?

    You can't have oxygen on airline flights because it allows combustion.

    You can't buy a beverage in a glass container at a gas station mini-mart because you might fill the empty container with gasoline and use it for a Molotov cocktail.

    You can't buy Colorx bleach and Comet cleanser at the same time because you could mix the two and make cholorine gas.

    Sorry. Any one who took basic high school chemistry knows what happens when you mix an acid and a base.

    The real illusion is that America is any safer today than it was before 9/11. The TSA is nothing but a sham. Any determined individual will find a way to committ an act of terror.

    Kudos Jim. You just pointed out that Emperor George the Second still has no clothes.

  • Is there anyone out there that believes that the methods of combining chemical compounds to create explosives that were reportedly going to be used by Islamic terrorists were just recently developed?  While I am not an expert in this area, I feel pretty confident that these methods have been around for quite some time.  Therefore, for many years, there has been the potential for some individual or group to use these methods to creat an explosive device to detonate on a plan (or in a theme park, or in a concert hall, or on a subway, or in a mall....).  Yet, the fear of this occurring did not stop signifiant numbers people from doing the things that they enjoy.    

    Now that the story has broken... and the media is doing its best to sensationalize, people are scared (and rightfully so), and are now likely to experience some fear when they go to get on a plane or go to an amusement park, or a concert, or go shopping at a mall.

    The point is, engaging in these activities was never "completely safe".  We were just ignorant to the fear.

    Isn't the whole point of terrorism to destablize governments, to create fear and unrest, and to undermine the confidence of the people in the capacity of their govenment to protect them?  If so, aren't the terrorists winning?  Surely people cannot believe that the terrorists expect to win the war on terror by killing a thousand civilians in a skyscraper here, a few thousand soldiers there, a few hundred airline passengeres there, et cetera.  They expect to win by scaring the crap out of us.  By making us change the way we think, act, and behave.  Looks like they are doing a pretty good job.
  • Thank you, Jim! Nice to see someone's keeping their head while so many others are losing theirs, and so many others are trying to convince others to lose them.

    Look, I'll admit I was scared after 9/11. But then (thanks to my fiancee and some soul searching) I got a grip on reality. We were in as much danger before 9/11 as we were on 9/11, and while a few precautions are now in place we're probably in as much danger now.  

    Then as now, you have a choice: You can cower in fear, never leave the house, and look for someone to protect you from the Boogeyman (which is what the terrorists and the fearmongers want), or you can live your life. You can never do anything because you're scared that today'll be the day that Osama strikes back, or you can accept that terrorism is another of the many hazards that we'll face in our lives, be aware and vigilant, and be careful and attentive while do whatever and go wherever you please.

    People in other countries have faced and still face terrorist threats, and they've made the latter choice and have done all right. It's time for us to do the same, and not be scared into inaction or blind obedience of the powers that be. If we can't do that, then the terrorists really have won.
  • I've somehow been immune to all the panic and trauma, having formulated the "Terrorists Are Trolls"[TM] theory since 9/12--
    Ie., not to trivialize bombings, but if you compare the basic statements and strategies of bomber terrorists with those of high-school Internet trolls, the eerie parallels range from eye-opening to downright hilarious:

    In todays incident, for example, you'll wonder why the UK has suddenly been targeted in recent months--This may be due to the fact that targeting the US has not worked out very well for them as of late since '01...Meaning, we keep kicking the crap out of them.
    So, the UK has now the target of bombings, because, as the bombers' statements tell us, they, er...HELP the US!--Er, yeah, that's it!

    Terrorists, by definition, want to create fear (that's what the word means), and they wouldn't be effective unless we *wanted* to believe that all terrorists are cool, ingenious, wield an array of Tom Clancy gadgetry, and sound like Alan Rickman from "Die Hard".
    But folks?--Get a good look at them (as we did from the recent trial):  They're unemployed college-aged losers who tend to be very, very gullible about easy symbols, and don't get out much...Again, another parallel.

    When you realize that the Face of Fear on our own shores is basically that lone shoe-bomber guy who got beaten up by the passengers, courage can come from a virtue called smugness, and intelligence and preparedness can come from the knowledge that you're not as rock-stupid as they are.  :)
  • I'm a little confused about something - really, this isn't a sarcastic comment.  The article seems to be debating with Bush, as if he said the world once was "completely safe."  However, I don't recall him ever saying that the world was once "completely safe." Did I miss that comment? (Once again, I'm being serious, not sarcastic.)

    It seemed to me that Bush's "completely safe" comment was just a warning.  An unnecessay warning?  Perhaps.  Still, I don't think that particular comment was meant to deceive anyone.
  • jkensington1 said:
    "Times have changed.  There is a SUBSTANTIAL difference between the goings-on of the past 5 years vs. this little incident back in '72.  Good grief, man"

    Yes, that's true, the past 5 years have been spent kicking the bee hive over and over again.

    Jim's point is well made: Acts of senseless violence will always be around us. The question is, will the THREAT of it be all that's needed to change your life? If so, give a point to the terrorists.

    I agree, the world will never be safe, and what's more ridiculous is that the odds of being a direct victim of a terrorist attack are far, far less than being injured in a car accident (for example). It would be interesting what kind of highway system we would have if we focused our nation's time and money on saving lives on the roads as opposed to preventing acts of mass distruction. (That is just one area, there are certainly many others where lives could be saved as well, and in more practical ways.)

    George Bush's entire '04 campaign was based on the idea that only HE could protect us from terrorists. Anyone else would mess it up, "flip-flop", or otherwise drop the ball. Then "THEY" (the enemy) would strike. Yet all we seem to be reminded of constantly is how unsafe we are. I think the better way to think of it is, "There is a SUBSTANTIAL difference between the goings-on of the past 5 years vs. this little incident back in '72." Yes: the American media isn't constantly reminding us of how close to the brink of death we are at all times, and people had the common sense to know that while crazies are out there, they aren't lined up outside waiting to get at us.  

    I am confident history will look back at this era, call it the paranoia age, and shake its head at us in disbelief and sadness at some of the choices we've made. Maybe not... but I'm going to go to my government job (where I  work in an room right off the street WITH WINDOWS! (Eek!)) and then go to Downtown Disney for a movie and maybe catch the fireworks. In other words, I'm going to not worry about these "terrorists." I have a life to live... and a nameless, faceless shadow off in the distance isn't going to make me change how I do that livin'.

    Enjoy the day. Most likely will be the same as every other. Use it well!
  • as far as the story, i believe we are more unsafe now than pre 9/11 for the fact that we're not dealing with just one individual (such as jim's story, or the oklahoma bombing, etc), but, we're dealing with a big group of people that are out to get us.  it's harder to stop a big group of people than just one person.

        "I agree, the world will never be safe, and what's more ridiculous is that the odds of being a direct victim of a terrorist attack are far, far less than being injured in a car accident (for example). "

    though a true statement, personally i would rather drive in a car than fly in a plane...two reasons...one, i don't have any control over the plane.  two, if you do get in an accident in a car, there's not a 95% chance you're going to die, but, if your plane crashes, there's a 95% chance you're going to die (i made the numbers up...but i think you get my point).

    anyway, i'm not saying you're wrong, i'm just saying that's how i feel (the terrorists have nothing to do with that feeling).

    that doesn't mean i won't fly, it just means i feel safer driving.

  • This thread just goes to show how poorly the average person conducts risk analyses ... it's so foolish to say you'd rather drive than fly ... you're odds of being killed in a plane crash are infinitesimal when compared to being killed in a car crash (where, by the way, you only have the ILLUSION of control ... not actual control ... ).

    You're actually more likely to be struck by lightning (a LOT more likely) than you are to be killed in a plane crash.

    Ditto to being killed by a terrorist attack, by the way.

    And I have to laugh ... are we safer now than we were before 9/11? I'd have to say that's a big yes !! This attack was going to be the next 9/11 and we managed to prevent this one.  How? Through that evil wiretapping and financial monitoring that people (well ... SOME people ... ) got their panties in a bunch over.

    I can damn well say with certainty that today there are about 2,700 people who are significantly safer thanks to U.S. intelligence efforts and yes ... partially ... George Bush.

    And I'm not even much of a fan of Bush ... I'm just saying, you've got to give credit where credit is due.
  • I just have one question that is almost off-topic: What exactly is the Disney Depository at the Orlando Public Library, is it free, and can anyone go?  I live in Orlando and I've never heard of it and would love to go and be able to see old Disney "stuff"...I'm having trouble finding info online...
  • Interesting article about Al Qaeda and whether or not we actually are safer today than we were before 9/11:

  • I would like to point something out in the article (I know, actually discuss the article and not turn this into a George Bush forum?), the image for this article on the home page is extremely old. Those security check-in gates are no longer temporary tables, they are now permanent structures.
  • Good Article.

    I've always lived my life thinking... 'hey... if its my time...' Im not going to sit in my house crying. The world IS a dangerous place. Have common sense, and live your life. There is nothing you can do about wrong place, wrong time.
  • I'm flying to WDW on Wed. and I can't freakin' wait !!
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