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Osama Fin Laden
December 29, 2003 9:48 PM   Subscribe

The fish that threatened national security. Lara Hayhurst, a student at Pace University, needed to take one small thing through the checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport: her pet beta fish MJ. This was, however, an apparent threat to the security of the airport and Lara's flight home to Pittsburgh for winter break. Flush the fish or become a felon? Read about Lara's decision and how the TSA forced her hand. Remember, when 2" long tropical fish can freely gain access to our airliners, the terrorists have... yada yada.
posted by Dreama (53 comments total)

 
Incredible. Just incredible. Glad the fish survived.
posted by jazon at 10:00 PM on December 29, 2003


truly we are a nation run by assholes. how long will we continue to buy their ignorant arrogance?
posted by quonsar at 10:04 PM on December 29, 2003


Arrogance, nothing. I don't want security on flights managed by a person who thought, in his judgement, this was a security problem that merited close attention and a stern dressing down.
posted by namespan at 10:12 PM on December 29, 2003


You know, this story may sound silly to some of us, but what if the fish was one of those, y'know...puffer fish. Then, they could get the fish all scared and it would blow up all spikey and they could hold the plane for ransom...or worse. Or, hey...maybe it could've been a really poisonous fish...or a swordfish! You can never be too careful really.

Ladies and Gentleman, please fasten your seatbelts and let fear overcome your rationality. Enjoy your flight.
posted by fatbobsmith at 10:13 PM on December 29, 2003


I just want to say ARGH! again. Maybe with some moderation. In a Stanford Prison Experiment sort of way, I can see how easy it would be to get sucked into playing a role where the name of the game is zero-tolerance don't-you-mess-with-my-authority kind of thing.

But still, even if there's underlying principles of social interaction at work, the underlying problem is still there: the kind of judgement that might amplify (out of proportion) the danger of a Beta fish, might also attenuate details attendant to real danger.
posted by namespan at 10:33 PM on December 29, 2003


I hate to be the one to say it, because we're so quick to believe in the demonstrable stupid actions of the TSA, but what if this is just a big fish tale? Is there any corroboration whatsoever?
posted by kfury at 10:41 PM on December 29, 2003


"...the TSA to stop me right at the entrance, proclaiming that no small pets, including fish, were permitted through security."

Very strange.
My seventeen year old nephew travelled to and from LaGuardia on US Airways two days before and after Christmas accompanied by his three hamsters housed in their small cage.
No problem from security.

Sound like a fish story to me.
posted by flatlander at 10:58 PM on December 29, 2003


i think the TSA is the administration's terror thermostat. they perpertually, deliberately harass the public over ludicrous things, and carefully observe and record the results. when recorded incidents of anti-patriotic behavior (mouthiness, angry countenance, any reference to rights or constitution, any behavior which is not mewling subservience) reach 7 per 100 harassments, the terror alert level is elevated and administration pinnochios issue vague, amorphous warnings to the public. (the recent rise to orange is more likely attributed to the attitudes of harried and tense holiday travelers than osama bin laden.) of course, if the rate of anti-patriotic behavior exceeds 10 in 100 harassments more jetliners will plunge from the sky and more buildings will collapse, but that's the price of freedom.
</only partly tongue-in-cheek>
posted by quonsar at 11:12 PM on December 29, 2003


This woman is a threat to national security. I bet she owns an almanac.
posted by homunculus at 11:17 PM on December 29, 2003


Sound like a fish story to me.

Does this really seem implausible to you?

I have found that the security varies wildly from city to city
and even if some hamsters made it through that's no reason
to assume that fish would not, or even that hamsters would
the next time.

(I'm still bummed about losing a nice set of screwdriver bits -
nothing long or sharp, mind you, just the bits. that my sister
had gotten me for my birthday and that were apparently a
security risk, I had to surrender them. Perhaps I would throw
them at someone and take down the plane?)

Also consider Penn Gillette's Adventure with Security.
posted by milovoo at 11:17 PM on December 29, 2003


"Does this really seem implausible to you?"

Yes.

And when confronted with over officiousness, escalate, escalate, escalate.
posted by flatlander at 12:14 AM on December 30, 2003


"Unfortunately, residence hall rules required that I take him home with me for winter break. That was just as well, since there would be no one there to care for him."

Hello?
posted by nthdegx at 12:21 AM on December 30, 2003


In the summer of 2002 I had a long layover at George Bush Intercontinental airport in Houston. There was a coffee stand by the ticket counters so I left the secure area and went to buy some coffee. There was a unattended black bag by a bank of elevators that I noticed when I left.

I tried to reenter the secure area with my hot coffee, the bag was still there 20 minutes later. I mention it to the folks checking boarding passes and ID. They blew me off. I get to the screeners and they say I can't bring my coffee through. I offer to take a sip. No way. I bought the coffee from a place that was in view of the security check.

The black bag caused no alarm. A hot cup of coffee was a threat to national security. Do I believe this could have happened? Yes. Do I have any proof that this coffee incident happened to me? No.
posted by whatever at 1:46 AM on December 30, 2003


Okay, so maybe this was a miscarriage of justice. Here's the thing, though:

My boyfriend Trey and I arrived by taxi at the US Airways terminal...

You really want to hate her already, don't you?

Fucking Trey. You know that guy is bad news. I bet he's behind this whole thing.
posted by Samsonov14 at 3:07 AM on December 30, 2003


How can any mother in her right mind name her child "Trey"? That is a dog's name, if you know the folish song that goes: I had a doggie and his name was Trey etc etc

Is the chick still crying over something else?
posted by Postroad at 3:19 AM on December 30, 2003


As an addendum to what quonsar said:

President Al Gore told college students Tuesday night in Murfreesboro that the Bush administration is using fear as a political tool.
posted by nofundy at 4:30 AM on December 30, 2003


Wait, she smuggled a prohibited item on board an airliner against the express orders of security, and you people are supporting her? Have you no respect for authority? What if it had been a battlefield nuke in her backpack instead, huh? What then? You people make me sick.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:53 AM on December 30, 2003


Check out the June 10th Entry for Alton if you think the fish story is fishy(you'll have to scroll down or search for "Armed" or "Dangerous":

http://www.altonbrown.com/pages/rants.html
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 5:41 AM on December 30, 2003


This isn't a news article. It's an opinion piece. With no verification. Or even dates. Written by a drama student.

When you add all that to lines like "only mine is a fish tale, a contemporary melodrama of the absurd to prepare you for future travels," I'm really going to need even a remote smidgen of fact here before I join quonsar in the usual diatribe against how bad the PATRIOT Act is.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:06 AM on December 30, 2003


Her email address is on the page. Someone should email her and call 'el bullshitto'.
posted by angry modem at 6:32 AM on December 30, 2003


We'll miss you, Abe.


posted by sharksandwich at 6:33 AM on December 30, 2003


And when confronted with over officiousness, escalate, escalate, escalate.

Not a good option when dealing with the TSA. That'll lead you to jail, jail, jail. (Or a guaranteed missed flight.)
posted by Vidiot at 6:48 AM on December 30, 2003


sharksandwich: huh?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:51 AM on December 30, 2003


When boarding a flight in 2002, my wife had her hair clip confiscated - I guess they thought it could be used as a weapon... how? I don't know. The truly baffling thing was that when they brought us the in-flight meal... it came with metal forks. How is a hair clip more dangerous than a fork???
posted by Stuart_R at 6:55 AM on December 30, 2003


I can't believe they did this. Of course, I can understand if the fish in question were a flying pirhana or a Siamese Fighting Fish, but this ...
posted by seanyboy at 6:56 AM on December 30, 2003


doesn't seem to have anything to do with security - the rule of the airline was no small pets. I know if you want to bring a cat you have to book it in advance and pay an extra $50. I dunno about hamsters, or how things ordinarily go with fish. Still, I would have called ahead about it.

Yes, the hair clips, fingernail files, etc, have been completely ridiculous security measures. But I don't think we can add tropical fish to the list - no one was claiming the pet was a threat.
posted by mdn at 7:01 AM on December 30, 2003


Mdn, can you read? They were told repeatedly by the airline that it would not be a problem to bring the fish on board.

I know a couple screeners for TSA, and they're not the brightest folks. Yet, they complain about how stupid their co-workers are. Not quite confidence-inspiring.
posted by notsnot at 7:07 AM on December 30, 2003


If you create enough sound and fury, people will think you are doing a good job of security.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:12 AM on December 30, 2003


I snuck a hamster through security once. Poor little jiggy traveled from San Fran to Chicago to Orlando in one day. I can't believe she wasn't killed from the security pat downs while she was hiding in the pocket of my oversized winter coat. I was convinced I would reach into my pocket and find a messy glob of a pet.
posted by tcaleb at 7:20 AM on December 30, 2003


sharksandwich: huh?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:51 AM PST on December 30


Abe Vigoda, pictured above, played Detective Fish on the sitcom Barney Miller.
posted by SPrintF at 7:31 AM on December 30, 2003


Have you no respect for authority?

Not this sort of authority, no. Respect must always be earned.
posted by rushmc at 8:08 AM on December 30, 2003


For some reason this story made me remember these words:

"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

posted by Twang at 8:26 AM on December 30, 2003


Of course, I can understand if the fish in question were a flying pirhana or a Siamese Fighting Fish, but this ...

It was a Siamese Fighting Fish. That's one name for a Betta. Still, we're not talking about a ninja fish.
posted by dammitjim at 8:26 AM on December 30, 2003


dammitjim: No!!!! Oh, how stupid do I feel now.
posted by seanyboy at 9:17 AM on December 30, 2003


Have you no respect for authority?
Not this sort of authority, no. Respect must always be earned.


GitM was being sarcastic, rushmc.
posted by terrapin at 9:31 AM on December 30, 2003


Totally aside from whether or not it really happened: yuck, how poorly written.
posted by steviehero at 9:33 AM on December 30, 2003


As for the name Trey. The son of a friend of mine is called Trey. That's because he's the third. You know, his dad is Jr. It's common in the south to avoid confusion.
posted by whatever at 10:33 AM on December 30, 2003


My seventeen year old nephew travelled to and from LaGuardia on US Airways two days before and after Christmas accompanied by his three hamsters housed in their small cage.

Big deal. That just demonstrates that airport security is capricious and arbitrary. It is a farce. A lie, a fake, a false front. It's rubbish, baloney, bullshit. It's ineffective. An airplane is no more safe than a subway car. The security checkpoint instills fear, anger, and frustration. It takes away trust, faith, honesty, and security. It does not work. It cannot work. It is not preventive, it is not careful, it is not better-safe-than-sorry. It does not shield us from enemies, from threats, from attacks. It is unprofessional, incompetent, unorganized, unmanaged. Airport security is a joke, a farce, an empty ruckus. It is a facade, a mask, a Potemkin village through which officials can pass and say, "See? See how we're taking care of you?"
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:37 AM on December 30, 2003


Assholes will always be with us, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:44 AM on December 30, 2003


I believe the name "Trey" is derived from the ancient Hebrew word for a cup-bearer.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:46 AM on December 30, 2003


GitM was being sarcastic, rushmc.

Really? Hmm.
posted by rushmc at 10:59 AM on December 30, 2003


This only pertained to do "small pets"?

Add: A co-worker flying back home after Christmas had to take his ham out of his "checked in luggage"; then purchase a box to place it in. Odd part the box with the ham was then loaded with the rest of his luggage into the plane and picked up at the same location.?!?
posted by thomcatspike at 11:30 AM on December 30, 2003


I travelled back from skiing this weekend and accidently packed the knife that I take on the mountain in my hand luggage. But, I only discovered this on the plane when I was looking for my book. So, (French) airport security is now so secure that it is possible to carry a 5" lock knife onto a flight.
posted by daveg at 11:30 AM on December 30, 2003


do
posted by thomcatspike at 11:31 AM on December 30, 2003


I travelled back from skiing this weekend and accidently packed the knife that I take on the mountain in my hand luggage.

Knives for skiiing? Is it Yetis you're worried about?
posted by Samsonov14 at 11:37 AM on December 30, 2003


Samsonov14: It also has various screwdrivers, etc.
posted by daveg at 11:51 AM on December 30, 2003


I quite like the term "security theater" to describe what the TSA does.

As for pets, it looks like, from the TSA website:
Special Considerations - Pets
Security procedures do not prohibit you from bringing a pet on your flight. You should contact your airline or travel agent, however, before arriving at the airport to determine your airline's policy on traveling with pets.
But the story is entirely believable to me. Capricious, arbitrary, near-useless.
posted by artlung at 11:58 AM on December 30, 2003


But the story is entirely believable to me.
Heard finger nail cutters are ok, yet the airlines can implement their own rules. This may have been the case above I described with a co-worker as the TSA was telling people not pack "fruit cakes" as the density showed up as an explosive.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:07 PM on December 30, 2003


MoNickels sums it up very nicely.
posted by quonsar at 1:38 PM on December 30, 2003


Osama Fin Laden - priceless!
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:03 PM on December 30, 2003


But Ken had fallen.

When he was waiting for the guy to search him they took his walker away. He can't stand with out it.


fuckers.


posted by centrs at 7:50 PM on December 30, 2003


"In American airports security will take your walker."

This is pathetic.
posted by homunculus at 8:50 PM on December 30, 2003


Do I think it could have happened? Absolutely. And furthermore, what MoNickels said.
posted by dejah420 at 8:54 PM on December 30, 2003


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