I’m old enough that I recall reading multiple newspapers each day. Most cities have lost their second voice; some have even lost any print voice.
Technology giveth and taketh away.
Under the heading of giveth, here are some morsels gleaned from non-print sources:
■ Sean Payton strayed well beyond his role as coach of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. After a former player was fatally shot in what seems to be an act of road rage, the coach blew the whistle on what he called New Orleans’ dirty little secret – post-Katrina NOLA is a dangerous place. Nobody says anything because they don’t want to scare away the tourists, according to Payton.
■ What may have been a test run for a terrorist attack on the Strip was quietly buried by Metro, Channel 8’s George Knapp reports. It seems security footage at The Cromwell shows two people looking suspicious at the time some sort of gas was sprayed into the area. Gamblers fled into the street; four security guards went down. Everybody recovered; the suspects weren’t held because police found no evidence of a crime. And the whole thing was swept under the rug, seemingly in the interest of not scaring anybody.
Anybody else see a pattern here?
Our skewed, one-note tourism economy is built on the concept that what happens here stays here. Great marketing slogan. Really bad public policy.
In fact, it is such bad policy that it threatens to bring the whole thing down around our ears.
It’s great for tourists to come here and feel safe enough to let their hair down. But are they – are we – safe at all?
Like the New Orleans secret laid bare by Coach Payton, it’s time to acknowledge we’re sitting ducks for anyone who wants to do us harm. Metro knows the Strip is paying the bills and is vigilant. But how vigilant can we be in an environment that caters to the free play of adults?
We walk in and out of casinos monitored from above but unchecked by the technology that has become commonplace at venues across the country. Think back. When was the last time you walked through any security screening apparatus unless you were going into one of the handful of major sports and concert venues in the city?
The ‘see something, say something’ mantra has been slow to arrive here and is at odds with the carefully manicured front yard we present tourists. In today’s Vegas, what looks out of place:
■ Are costumed storm troopers a threat or an homage to Star Wars?
■ How about people dressed in parkas and shorts?
■ Is a guy carrying a duffel bag a threat or Floyd Mayweather on his way to buy a car?
The institutional systems are built to maintain the façade.
Those legal brothels in Pahrump have trouble advertising over here. Nobody wants their money because it’s bad for the safe-adult-play-land image.
Nightclubs are banning cell phones to build the image of confidentiality. Metro doesn’t seem eager to arrest celebrities for anything short of a felony or roust tourists having ‘fun.’ It’s not good for business.
Is there a better definition of a soft target?
On our current trajectory, it seems just a matter of time before the inevitable happens. And won’t that be a blow to the tourism industry.
We don’t have to follow Israel with roving armed troops checking and questioning everything. We don’t have to be like the Brits and capture everything on video. But we do have to recognize we live in a time when the federal government has gone to great lengths – some would argue unconstitutional lengths – in the interest of keeping us safe.
It would be in our long-term best interest to dial back the image just a bit.
Maybe we can talk Wayne Newton, Carrot Top and a host of DJs into doing a new round of public service announcements for the airport in support of ‘see something, say something.’
Maybe we could go to the decade-old version of the metal detector that hardly required slowing down.
We need to do something if just to acknowledge that we are a part of – not apart from – the dangerous world of the ISIS era.
It seems the least we can do to extend our run as America’s favorite escape.