Too dumb to understand satire


SEE UPDATE BELOW.

Wearing the above shirt, designed by BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow, caused a “brown” man to be abused (even more than the rest of us usually are) by TSA thugs and then yanked off a plane.

Arijit blogs at Storify:

My wife and I arrived at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport to fly home to Phoenix after attending my wife’s grandfather’s funeral, flying via a layover in Atlanta on Delta #1176.

While at the gate, a Delta supervisor informed me my shirt had made numerous passengers and employees “very uncomfortable.”

I was then questioned by TSA about the significance and meaning of the shirt (“It’s mocking the security theater charade and over-reactions to terrorism by the general public — both of which we’re seeing right now, ironically.”) and was told I would be able to board the plane, but only after acquiescing to an additional security check of my and my wife’s belongings and changing my shirt (“It’s not you, it’s the shirt,” as noted in a tweet below). We would then be the very last two people to board the plane. I agreed to these stipulations.

Soon afterwards, the Delta manager pulled me aside again, this time accompanied by not only three TSA agents, but also multiple Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police. I was questioned some more, our bags were searched, and the TSA agents were satisfied we had nothing suspicious and posed no threat. At this point, however, the Delta manager informed us the pilot had decided, regardless of the outcome of the multiple TSA screenings and my willingness to change shirts, that due to the discomfort my shirt had caused, my wife and I would not be allowed to board the aircraft.

Apparently, the fact that I was deemed not to be suspicious and we had no threatening objects in our baggage was irrelevant to Delta. Instead, the fact that someone had used their imagination to make the determination that I posed a threat was paramount. And appeasing those bigots by preventing us from flying was their preferred response.

. . . At this point, the transit police began to aggressively question us. I was asked where my brother lives (he was the one who gifted me the shirt). A bit surprised by the irrelevant question, I paused for a moment before answering. “You had to think about that one. How come?,” I’m asked. I explained he recently moved. “Where’d he move from?” “Michigan,” I respond. “Michigan, what’s that?,” she says. At this point, the main TSA agent who’d questioned me earlier interjects: “He said ‘Michigan’.” Unable to withhold my snark, I respond, “You’ve never heard of Michigan?”

This response did not please her partner, a transit cop named Mark. Mark grabbed his walkie-talkie and alerted his supervisor and requested that he be granted permission to question me in a private room. His justification?: “First he hesitated, then he gave a stupid answer.” Michigan, my friends, is a stupid answer. (As a lifelong Ohio State Buckeye fan, I suppose I could’ve already told you that.)

And then, he decided to drop any façade of fair treatment: the veil was lifted, this was about who I was and how I looked:

Tweet from Arijit:

Says Buffalo-Niagara transit police officer Mark, in requesting authority for additional interrogation: “He looks foreign.”

Another Arijit tweet:

Did I mention a Buffalo-Niagara transit cop aggressively asked me why my wife didn’t take my name? “WHY wouldn’t she?” Yeah, that happened.

In the world of NFTA transit police, women are the chattel of their husbands. And to indicate such, they must take their husbands’ names! My wife’s unwillingness to give in to this convention is clearly a sign of my swarthy suspicious character.

Eventually, after more questioning and being sniffed by drug-seeking dogs, we were rebooked on a flight the following morning at 7 am.

Delta enabling this treatment is icky stuff.

And a call to action: If you’re traveling, consider going as Arjit did, with this emblem front and center. The shirt’s no longer on sale, but you can print out the design and tape it to your back or chest. If we all use our First Amendment rights, they’re less likely to be yanked from us.

Perhaps also print this out and bring it for the dummies at the TSA checkpoint so you can board your plane on the day you’re supposed to.

via @Popehat

UPDATE Wed Aug 22, 2012 by TSA News Editor: The student, Arijit Guha, blames Delta, not the TSA. Delta has issued this statement:

“Safety and security will always be our first priority and most fundamental obligation. Delta doesn’t discriminate or condone discrimination of any kind against our employees or customers.”

  • Please see update to this entry, which I posted yesterday.

    Also see poll at update link. So far, results are that most people don’t believe in free speech. You might want to add your vote to tip that balance.

    • DCSummers

      And yet your opening line still says “abused… by TSA thugs”. And the headline blames TSA for being stupid (in this case). If you want credibility for the “fairness, balance and accuracy” that your mission statement claims, if you want people to believe your other articles where TSA has actually been at fault, you need to clean this up.

      There are more than enough incidents where TSA have acted like idiots; you don’t need to overplay this one.

      • DCSummers, I agree. I’ve crossed out the incorrect phrase (and left it as a strikethrough so future readers can understand what we’re talking about in this thread) and added the Update in bold above.

  • DCSummers

    If you read his full report (http://arijitvsdelta.blogspot.co.uk) it becomes clear that TSA was only a bit player in this particular piece of theater, and Delta and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police are the real villians.

    “We had cleared the security checkpoint without incident, but while
    waiting at the gate, a Delta supervisor informed me my shirt … had made numerous passengers and employees “very uncomfortable.” ”

    ie, the checkpoint TSA guys hadn’t stopped him, Delta did, at the gate.

    “I was then questioned by TSA about the significance and meaning of the
    shirt. I politely explained that it was “mocking the security theater
    charade and over-reactions to terrorism by the general public — both of
    which we’re seeing right now, ironically.” The agents inquired as to the
    meaning of the term “ZOMG” and who it was that I thought was “gonna
    kill us all.” As best I could tell, they seemed to find my explanation
    that I didn’t think anyone would be killing us all and that I was poking
    fun at overwrought, irrational fears exhibited by certain members of
    the flying public to be satisfactory. And moreover, they clearly deemed
    my shirt to be no legitimate threat.”

    ie, even after Delta’s concern, TSA questioned him and thought everything was okay.

    “The Delta supervisor then told me I would be able to board the plane,
    but only after acquiescing to an additional security check of my and my
    wife’s belongings and changing my shirt.”

    ie, the short version above doesn’t make clear that it was DELTA that said he had to change his shirt, not TSA.

    “At this point, the TSA agents appeared satisfied we had nothing
    suspicious in our luggage and that we posed no threat. However, the
    Delta supervisor informed us the pilot had decided, regardless of the
    outcome of the multiple TSA screenings and my willingness to change
    shirts, that due to the discomfort my shirt has caused, my wife and I
    would not be allowed to board the aircraft. ”

    Again, TSA has no problem with the passenger, it’s Delta that keeps them off.

    And so on. The local PD gets involved and they act like idiots, too.

    Look, TSA is a nightmare, but in this one particular instance, Delta and LEOs outdid them in stupidity. And that’s no mean feat.

    • TSAisTerrorism

      It’s precisely because of TSA’s nonsense that everyone acts like childish idiots. TSA creates this environment, and they are directly responsible for it.

      I personally think that anyone too afraid to fly with people wearing T-shirts, T-shirts for Chrisesakes!, should deboard and wait for the next flight.

      Are we, or are we not, a country that values the rule of law? In that case you should be confronted by your accusers instead of them cowering behind an aircraft door.

      • Daisiemae

        Apparently, we are not.

  • cjr001

    Censorship, pure and simple, on the part of TSA and the police.

    Embarrassment and a pox on all of them, as pilots are just as guilty of fiefdom-itis as TSA employees are.

  • TSAisTerrorism

    And since he was searched by drug-sniffing dogs, I guess we can all drop this nonsense pretense that TSA is looking for explosives.

    But most of us knew this already…

  • The TSA, predictably, behaved idiotically. But so did Delta. And so did the bedwetting jerks on the plane. Anyone who still can’t see how the airlines are complicit in the TSA’s abuse is being willfully ignorant.