Steampunk is now terrorism, according to the TSA

Editor’s Note: All over the country, news sources are printing and repeating irresponsible, misleading headlines. Examples: Man wearing ornate watch with bomb-making supplies arrested at Oakland airport, authorities sayGoeffrey McGann, ‘Artist’ carrying homemade ‘watch bomb’ with fuses and circuit board arrested in CaliforniaMan arrested after airport screeners see bomb-like watch; on and on. There were no “bomb-making supplies.” There were no bomb-making materials. There was no “watch bomb.” There was nothing “bomb-like.” The irresponsibility of the mainstream media is grotesque. -Lisa Simeone


Via David Burkhead, the TSA has now taken to arresting people with artsy homemade watches and shoes. The nitwits at the Oakland airport said a man’s artistic watch could be used to make a timing device for a bomb. 

Um . . . any watch could be used for that — especially digital ones. The watch in question here, as my friend suggests, was probably some form of steampunk — a sort of 19th century, Jules Verne style of fashion and design that the hamburger clerks hired as “security” surely have never heard of.

This is not grounds for taking a man’s freedom.

From the AP story:

Geoffrey McGann, 49, of Rancho Palos Verdes was taken into custody Thursday night after he tried to pass through airport security with an ornate watch that had switches, wires, and fuses, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.

A bomb squad arrived within five minutes and determined there were no explosive materials in the watch, Nelson said. The checkpoint was closed while officers secured the area.

McGann was taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin where he was charged with possessing materials to make an explosive device, sheriff’s officials said. He was still in custody Friday night and could not be reached for comment.

McGann told Transportation Security Administration officers that he’s an artist and the watch is art, Nelson said.

While no actual explosives were found, McGann was carrying potentially dangerous materials and appeared to have made alterations to his boots, which were unusually large and stuffed with layers of insoles, Nelson said.

A profile for a person named Geoffrey McGann on the website lists him as the owner and creative director of a media production company called Generator Content. He attended the Art College Center of Design in Pasadena from 1984 to 1987, according to the website.

These idiots, idiots at the TSA. This is a guy who makes commercials, not bombs. Here’s his profile from his website.

A question: Will this be enough? Creative dudes getting arrested for having creative watches and funny shoes? What will it take before people start to realize they could be next? And that the degradation of our rights and the sheeplike, blinking acceptance of that paves the way for more and more degradation of our rights?

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/london particulars)

UPDATE by Lisa Simeone: Of course, the Alameda County prosecutor came to his senses and declined to press charges. He waited till the eleventh hour, though. McGann, with his defense attorney, showed up at court as scheduled. It was only then that the clerk told them the charges had been dropped. So not only do the cops and the TSA owe McGann $150,000 — and more — for detaining him, making him miss his flight, arresting him, putting him in jail, and requiring him to post bond, but they also wasted yet more of his time by not notifying him that this farce of a case was dismissed. Oh, and for all the naysayers out there, McGann had already traveled with the Big Scary Terroristy Watch before and was, in fact, explicitly told by a TSA supervisor that it was perfectly okay. But then, it’s so much more fun to blame the passenger instead of the TSA. As McGann’s lawyer put it:

The attorney said if McGann had planned to use the watch to detonate a device on the plane, he would have hidden it instead of wearing it.

In other words: “Duh.”

I still hope he sues the hell out of them.