This past weekend I went down to Philadelphia to meet up with Robert, Brian, and Chris at Brian’s place near Philadelphia. As a part of the plan, we decided that we had to try an actual Philly Cheesesteak and set our sights on Geno’s, which is supposed to be the “best”. (Yeah, my dietitian was not impressed with me eating a cheesesteak, but I promised to workout an extra day this week to make up for it).
After the quite yummy cheesesteaks (I had the official cheesesteak which has CheeseWhiz, which is actually very good), we decided to go see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. I had no idea the hassle that would entail.
We got into line to enter the little building they have built to house the Bell. There were park rangers checking this one guy out that was just sitting on a bench off to the side of the plaza where the building sits. That had everyone in line a little nervous, even though he didn’t look that scary. Inside the building, we were ushered into lines to go through security. And oh my, what security it was. We were told to take our belts off and to completely empty our pockets. And even then, the metal detectors were so sensitive, the metal in the eyelets on my shoes set it off. I had to hold out my arms and be “wanded” with the little handheld detector. I then had to show my shoes were legit. All bags had to pass through x-ray machines like those at the aiports. I understand the bell is over 200 years old and is a national treasure, but jeez, it just seemed a little bit excessive to have all this security.
The part that cracked me up (no pun intended), was this sign down by the bell that tells you basically not to touch the bell, effectively saying: “Much like liberty, the Liberty Bell is fragile, and must be protected”. The irony of this statement with that crazy, and frankly unnecessary, security checkpoint was just too much for me. We decided that getting into Independence Hall was probably not worth the hassle.
It brings to mind my favorite quote from Benjamin Franklin:
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Sadly I doubt we will ever be able to get back to a point where we don’t have to be searched everywhere we go.