Bruce Schneier has a wonderful essay on his site today about how our culture of fear of harmless people and objects is being propagated. I think this is my favorite essay of his.
I really like this paragraph about how this happens:
Watch how it happens. Someone sees something, so he says something. The person he says it to — a policeman, a security guard, a flight attendant — now faces a choice: ignore or escalate. Even though he may believe that it’s a false alarm, it’s not in his best interests to dismiss the threat. If he’s wrong, it’ll cost him his career. But if he escalates, he’ll be praised for “doing his job” and the cost will be borne by others. So he escalates. And the person he escalates to also escalates, in a series of CYA decisions. And before we’re done, innocent people have been arrested, airports have been evacuated, and hundreds of police hours have been wasted.
Please go read the full article and digg it, spread it around, especially to influential people you may know. It’s ridiculous, the things people are harassed for these days.