Encounters with the TSA

Greetings to all from Miami, Florida, from whence I was born and traveled yesterday–as did my brother, Roy–to surprise my mother, who is about to celebrate the 36th anniversary of her 39th year. (Feel free to break out the abacus.) A brief part of my winged journey, of course, involved running the gauntlet of airport security, a prospect that had caused me not a little anticipatory trepidation. Having a rather overdeveloped superego (that’s psychobabble for conscience), situations in which I am confronted with burly authoritarian types eyeing my person and belongings with studied suspicion make me somewhat uncomfortable. I feel undeservedly guilty and imagine myself blurting out that Jimmy Hoffa is buried in my basement or that “I shot the sheriff but I did not shoot the deputy.” This sense of guilt is augmented by the perp walk I and my fellow travelers/suspects are compelled to perform in our stocking feet, as we are herded through various high-tech security devices. (Bradley International Airport, from whence I flew, is now outfitted with those portals which blow air at you and sniff for traces of explosives. It was a blast!) Fortunately, despite my guilty countenance and my impure and decidedly left-wing thoughts, I managed to pass muster without incident.

The same cannot be said of the impish traveler in Milwaukee who was detained and questioned for 25 minutes on Tuesday by Transportation Security Administration officials because he “wrote ‘[TSA secretary] Kip Hawley is an idiot’ on the clear plastic bag that he was ordered to put his liquids into.” In the course of his surreal exchange with these officials, he was reportedly told by one fellow that his First Amendment rights did not apply there. Oy vey. For more on the story, check out the post on the Boing Boing weblog.

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