TSA addresses harassment of sick girl in wheelchair

by Lisa Simeone on December 20, 2012


The TSA has once again been forced to respond to an instance of abuse because a video went viral. Not apologize, mind you, just respond.

If it hadn’t been for that video, the experience of 12-year-old Shelbi Walser would’ve been just another day in American airport screening, a story of harassment told only to family and friends, unknown to the rest of us.

But because the story and video got such wide play, the TSA was finally forced to step forward. And what did our security overlords say?

An agent in Tampa provided his cell phone number to the family, offering to personally walk with them through security after Shelbi’s next treatment in Florida.

Oh, great. So the next time Shelbi and her mother pass through Tampa, they might, if they can get a hold of this guy, not be abused as they go through the checkpoint. As for other airports, I guess they just have to take their chances. After all, the TSA did nothing wrong:

“We regret that the experience of this young lady was not a positive one as we always strive to screen passengers with dignity and respect while ensuring the safety of all travelers. Everything TSA does is designed to protect against another terrorist attack. In all likelihood, this traveler would have presented no risk, yet we could take no chances. She alarmed for explosive residue and TSA took the necessary steps to resolve the alarm.”

You see? No apology given because no apology needed. Merely “we regret that the experience of this young lady was not a positive one.”

Not “we’re sorry” or “we apologize” or “we were wrong.” Of course not. We simply “regret” that this 12-year-old girl didn’t like the way we handled things. “We could take no chances,” which is why we detained her for almost an hour, prevented her mother from comforting her, and then merrily sent her on her way even though we know we “resolved” nothing.

But it’s always this way. The TSA didn’t apologize to Lenore Zimmerman or Ruth Sherman or Lena Reppert or Carolyn Durand or Nina Gilkenson or Sommer Gentry or Amy Alkon or Andrew Ian Dodge or Michelle Dunaj or anybody else either. Oops — sorry; they did apologize to Thomas Sawyer for spilling his urine all over him, but then they went and did it again a few months later.

I would direct the TSA to a site that explains, step by step, how to make an apology if I thought it would do any good. But as we know, the TSA is never wrong. Only you, dear traveler, are wrong.

(Photo: zappowbang/Flickr Creative Commons)

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