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May 16, 2009

Performing the Fourth Amendment

Now they have incorporated a TSA-style metal detector into their stage act, Penn & Teller give Americans something to think about every time they are waiting on line at an airport security-checkpoint.

In addition to that real metal detector, Penn & Teller bring out one of those wands we've all had waved over us at the airport when the change in our pocket or the wire from our bra causes the machinery to beep. An audience member is invited up on stage to make sure the equipment is working, and when Jillette's pocket beeps he hands over a playing-card-sized piece of metal that just happens to have the Bill of Rights printed on it with the Fourth Amendment highlighted. Jillette says it usually elicits a big laugh when he gives the audience-assistant the mini-metal Bill of Rights and tells him how much fun it will be if he keeps it in pocket when going through the security checkpoint at McCarran International Airport.

Once it's established that the metal detector is working, the always-innocent-looking Teller walks through it and sets off no alarms. But then, from somewhere inside his coat pocket, he pulls out a metal pan that's on fire. Next, he produces a fire extinguisher and, after that, a full-size shovel. "The point we're making," says Jillette, "is that if two goofball magicians can slip this stuff by with full lights shining on them and the full attention of the audience, then what could a really bad person do?"

Posted by Ghost of a flea at May 16, 2009 03:11 PM