Doing it right: man refuses TSA screening after flight

Stop whatever you’re doing and watch this. 

A magnificent video of an airline passenger interacting with TSA officers at Denver International Airport last Saturday.

Kahler Nygard flew from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Denver, but TSA clerks in Minneapolis missed the “SSSS” on his boarding pass — they failed to do the “enhanced” genital massage required by their own protocols. So they tried, with the TSA’s trademark absurdity, to fix the failure on the other end: TSA clerks met Nygard at the gate in Denver to conduct a patdown and a bag check after he landed. To make sure he wasn’t going to attack the plane that he’d just flown on and then left.

You can read accounts of Nygard’s experience in a few places: The generally insane Infowars, which nevertheless succeeded in getting Nygard’s direct account of the event, or a factually wrong, hysterically unbalanced local TV news report that makes a dude named Nygard into a Somali Muslim terrorizer who “skipped” security in Minneapolis. Do click on that last link to see how nakedly stupid most local TV reporting has become, starting with the language of the headline.

Now, the TSA’s halfwit clerks have done this kind of thing before, screening Amtrak passengers in Savannah, Georgia after they got off the train. But the great thing about this latest jackassery is the way Nygard handles himself, refusing the lead TSA clerk’s repeated demands that he “step over here” and then walk with a group of clerks to a private screening room. He just says no.

And  don’t miss the critical takeaway:

They can’t do a goddamn thing about it.

Nygard models the perfect behavior for anyone who has to deal with a TSA clerk who has worked up a head of steam: He asks, repeatedly, if the lead clerk is ordering him to a private screening room or requesting that he go to a private screening room. The clerk is trapped by his own powerlessness: He’s not a cop, and he has about as much authority as a Burger King cashier. He has no power to order anyone to do anything. Note that Nygard also asks, repeatedly, “Am I being detained?” This is a great question, with real police as with the TSA — and it’s a special bummer for TSA clerks, who have no authority at all to detain anyone, ever. Zero. None.

In the end, Nygard just walks away from a trio of TSA clerks, who stand there with their mouths hanging open. They threaten to “reach out to” the Denver police, but the magical incantation of the word “police” bounces right off of Nygard. “Go ahead,” he says. And then he keeps walking, without consequences of any kind.

That’s exactly right. A TSA clerk has almost no authority, and can be safely ignored far more often than most people are willing to notice. It’s Kafka’s Before the Law: You can just walk through the gate. But first you have to realize it.

Sommer Gentry realizes it, as she’s written about for TSA News here. So does Amy Alkon. So does Wendy Thomson.

Kahler Nygard has just shown us all how it’s done.