A Tiny Example of How Terrorism Fears Make Us Irrational About Risk

Even as tornadoes threaten Tampa, Republican National Convention attendees walked blocks under open skies to comply with security.

walk to convention friedersdorf.jpg

In another item I critiqued the security landscape surrounding the Republican National Convention in Tampa. That post was largely about liberty and optics. This one is about safety itself.

Unbeknownst to me, as I was walking around Tampa on Monday afternoon, there was a tornado watch going on. So for a period of several hours, the secure area surrounding the convention hall, which prohibits shuttle and taxi drop-offs near the front doors, and forces most people to walk many blocks under open skies, wasn't just a huge inconvenience. It was a safety risk that, while hardly likely to end in death, surely posed a higher percentage risk to attendees than the added risk of a terrorist attack if some vehicles could get closer to the entrance.

To be sure, the tornado warning wasn't anticipated months earlier when the security was planned ( the risk of holding the event on the Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season was known).

Even so, if an unknown terrorism-related risk materialized -- a new threat specific to a particular road, say -- the security infrastructure would be perfectly ready to change logistics around to address it.

But an unexpected safety threat unrelated to terrorism?

Well, let's just say that no one started permitting taxis or hotel shuttles to start dropping people nearer the front doors, even for a couple of hours.


Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Politics

Just In