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And Wash Those Homeland Security Hands!
June 13, 2003 11:58 PM   Subscribe

Airport Security Confiscates Food TV Star's Omelet Pan! Another example of our slippery slide into Fascism, or just another whiny Celebrity who needs to shut up? Or just a well-written anecdote that those of us who grew up as 'bully fodder' can relate to? Hey, give the man some respect; his book just won the James Beard Award. And who else would have a kitchenware version of the Periodic Table on his site? One celebrity blogger I wish would post more often, via Medley, via Fusion Reaction.
posted by wendell (24 comments total)

 
This reminds me of Penn (of Penn and Teller) Gillette's experience with airport security, minus all the libertarian bitching.
posted by LimePi at 1:39 AM on June 14, 2003


has tom and jerry meant nothing to you ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:08 AM on June 14, 2003


... and a heck of a nice guy. When I met him, we talked about computer editing systems (he does his own production).

His book is great; very conversational, but extremely useful.
posted by jpburns at 6:24 AM on June 14, 2003


The raging lefty in me wants to yell, "SEE? IT'S A FASCIST CORPORATIST PLOT, etc. etc.," but after some thought and reflection, I think we're dealing with plain, old-fashion stupidity here.
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:28 AM on June 14, 2003


Ryland,

How are creeping fascism and old-fashion stupidity incompatible? They seem downright complementary to me.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:32 AM on June 14, 2003


Being not such a raging lefty, the story about Joe Foss' Medal of Honor suggests it's more stupidity than fascism at work -- fascists tend to get off on medals and stuff.
posted by alumshubby at 6:43 AM on June 14, 2003


Brown makes a good point... "I’m just saying that people with authority should have to play by a set of rules…published rules."

It seems to me that given a year and three quarters, the TSA could have come up with a nice comprehensive list of things they don't want to see on planes these days. It would save them just as much trouble as passengers; more passengers would be better prepared and less likely to argue, and with those that did, you have a nice sign to point to. You'd be amazed how a sign will shut most people up.

Of course, you need to leave a (small) loophole for dangerous objects that aren't on the list. But maybe if the security people had a little more guidance and training, we wouldn't see these situations happening so often.
posted by hilatron at 7:44 AM on June 14, 2003


Wielded by a truly skilled chef, an omelet pan can be far deadlier than a box-cutter.
posted by troutfishing at 7:45 AM on June 14, 2003


Then they came for the omelet pan-wielding television food show stars,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an omelet pan-wielding television food show star

posted by tss at 8:03 AM on June 14, 2003


The TSA has come up with a list (pdf). The only real difference between this list and the pre-9/11 list is that you can't take pointed scissors, knives or boxcutters. Nail clippers and files, interestingly enough, are once again OK.

No mention of skillets though.
posted by Orb at 8:10 AM on June 14, 2003


Forty lashes to me for not doing proper research. So, since there is this list, why so much confusion and angst? Are the people complaining about having their skillets and medals and what have you confiscated just assholes?

As I said, I do feel that a list can only go so far and that screeners should be empowered to take action if they see something threatening. But I would feel more comforted if the security guards in stories like Brown's were able and willing to explain why they confiscate the items they do (when the items are not explicitly prohibited), or even to engage on a polite, human level. I think a lot of the anger passengers feel is the "shut up, do what I say, ask no questions" attitude exhibited in some cases.
posted by hilatron at 9:06 AM on June 14, 2003


I think a lot of the anger passengers feel is the "shut up, do what I say, ask no questions" attitude exhibited in some cases.

That's what has gotten my dander up the few times I have had problems getting on airplanes with objects deemed dangerous ... no attempt at explanation, just a "I said so, hand it over and move along". My last experience was with a pen that looked like a hypodermic syringe (you've seen them no doubt). Yes, they wouldn't let me take it on because it looked like a syringe, and since I am not diabetic or otherwise in need of syringes, it was "contraband". Didn't seem to matter to them that it wasn't even a syringe at all, but an actual functioning PEN given to me by the company I was working for.

You give some people the feeling that they are in "power" and they run with it or so it seems.
posted by Orb at 9:22 AM on June 14, 2003


Cartmen says: Respect mah authoratai!
posted by billsaysthis at 9:32 AM on June 14, 2003


What the heck is the point of having a list of prohibited items if some goon who isn't even required to have a high school diploma can overrule it with no reason?
posted by ilsa at 9:42 AM on June 14, 2003


"And then I saw it; the same mean little squint I’d seen in those bullies when I was a kid. This guy could do whatever he wanted for whatever reason he wanted. I surrendered the pan and can only hope that one day his wife will liberate herself from his tyranny by introducing it to his head at high velocity."

And because he's "fighting terrorism," this goon is beyond official reproach. Pathetic.
posted by homunculus at 10:28 AM on June 14, 2003


I'm glad to see article like this. It's a sign that the vast majority of the people are starting to notice that you just can't let authority go unchecked. As much it's fun to freak out about the latest small new infringement on personal freedoms it's much more effective to simply state what the problem is and how we can fix it. In most cases it's some combination of consistency and accountability, but it needs to be said without a lot of sarcasm and meanness that's been typical of people like Michael Moore and Penn. This is the kind of story that's actually going to change opinions.
posted by betaray at 11:10 AM on June 14, 2003


"SEE? IT'S A FASCIST CORPORATIST PLOT, etc. etc.," but after some thought and reflection, I think we're dealing with plain, old-fashion stupidity here.

yes, the fascist corporatists have been quite careful to hire only the plainest, old-fashioned stupid people they could find to determine your patriotism level and airworthiness.
posted by quonsar at 11:37 AM on June 14, 2003


Airlines apparently want to maintain their monopoly on assault with food
posted by ElvisJesus at 12:28 PM on June 14, 2003


I don't understand why he couldn't just gate check the pan.
posted by padraigin at 9:19 PM on June 14, 2003


I don't understand why he couldn't just gate check the pan.

The guy cooks for a living - that's like asking a guitarist to check his guitar or something. Geez.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:01 PM on June 14, 2003


The guy cooks for a living - that's like asking a guitarist to check his guitar or something. Geez.

Well, guitarists might have a guitar that's one of a kind and irreplaceable, but he's got an off-the-shelf pan that he can easily replace.
posted by gyc at 10:05 PM on June 14, 2003


The TSA is getting away with confiscating items that aren't expressly prohibited by adding the following disclaimer to their documentation:

The prohibited and permitted items list is not intended to be all-inclusive and is updated as necessary. To ensure everyone's security, the screener may determine that an item not on this chart is prohibited.

And since taking a prohibited item to the security checkpoint, even accidentally, is illegal, you're stuck. You've now committed an illegal act because all it takes is one pointy-headed goon to change the rules in the middle of the game to turn you from traveller to felon.

To me, that smacks as being a pretty strong violation of the spirit (if not the letter) of the prohibition of ex post facto law making. There has to be a definitive, final, unchanging authority that cannot change at the whim or discretion of any one person and is not flexible depending on the airport you're in or which security line you choose. We're supposed to be under the rule of law, not the rule of Bob, Joe or Mary. It's unacceptable, but until someone is willing to stand up and let their incident fuel a test case, it's going to continue, and we're all going to be the poorer for it.
posted by Dreama at 11:20 PM on June 14, 2003


Are the people complaining about having their skillets and medals and what have you confiscated just assholes?
Actually no, they're complaining because skillets and medals aren't on the prohibited list, nor is there a helpful and reasonable explanation given for why they're being added ad hoc to the prohibited list. Most of the stuff is just being stolen by assholes. Skillets I can see being a lateral ban, since they could be used in the same manner as some banned sports equipment, but that needs to be explained, and a more thorough list needs to be developed, unless the goal is simply to annoy the living piss out of air travelers.
posted by mosch at 3:06 PM on June 16, 2003


The reason for carrying a skillet in a carryon is not so much that it's irreplacable (though I know Alton Brown likes pointing out specific details in cookware and couldn't grab just any skillet) -- it's that you're going somewhere and you need to do work WITH THAT EQUIPMENT. Even a delay in getting your luggage screws you over.

There should be some way for them to hold on to it during the flight, like they do with large carryons on commuter planes, having the flight attendants watch it or something. I mean, it's not a bomb, it's a skillet, and it doesn't do you much good unless it's in your hands.
posted by dagnyscott at 9:38 PM on June 16, 2003


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