If you heard that the US government has assigned Behavior Detection Officers to monitor how you look and act in public, would you think it was something from a science fiction novel, perhaps a bit Orwellian? It’s not. They’re real, and they’re already in airports, with more on the way (as many as 500 by the end of next year).

As a poker player, I know there are some assumptions you can make about people based on their actions and expressions, their “tells.” But, as Patti Davis writes, if these “specially trained security personnel” are looking for potential terrorists based on fear, disgust, and other negatives feelings in the faces of air travelers, they won’t have to look very far:

Let’s see, fear and disgust in an airport? I’m frightened and disgusted weeks before I have to show up at an airport. In fact, I’ve pretty much sworn off the whole idea of going anywhere by airplane. It’s bad enough that I might be trapped in a crowded plane with no food or water and nonworking toilets for hours; now there are security agents interpreting our facial expressions.

But what about the woman who is getting on a plane to see a dying relative? Or the man who is traveling to another state to see a cancer specialist in a last bid for extending his life? What about the guy who just had a fight with his spouse and now worries that a plane crash would mean their last words were in anger? We’ve all had the experience of having a bad day, being in a rotten mood—especially at the airport, which has become a modern-day chamber or horrors. On those days, doesn’t it seem like everyone we meet looks sour and unpleasant?

Her whole column is here [thanks to Patrick McGraw for the link]