What ever happened to the word "contraband"? It seems we haven't
heard it uttered nor seen it printed in ages. Does anyone know what
it means anymore? Has the very notion of "contraband" been rendered
obsolete? Here, verbatim, is an automated public-address
announcement at a major airport in the heartland: "Passengers are
advised to keep their baggage in sight of them at all times, to
prevent the unauthorized introduction of any dangerous materials."
Dangerous materials? What, polystyrene? "The Communist Manifesto"?
Why not say "introduction of contraband"? For those who might not
know, "contraband" can be anything from cartons of cheap Virginia
cigarettes to an audiocassette tape loaded with the plastique
equivalent of 30 megatons of TNT. Which, whatever pretty word we
put on it, is what everybody is concerned about, after all. Along
with "The Communist Manifesto," of course.