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"Kip Hawley is an Idiot"
October 2, 2006 7:14 AM   Subscribe

"Kip Hawley is an Idiot". Careful what you say about the Director of the TSA when you're waiting to pass airport security.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese (208 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Hawley would be right at home in that thread, as it's full of idiots.
posted by item at 7:19 AM on October 2, 2006


Pretty dumb that he was detained. Equally dumb that he wrote that on there.
posted by dead_ at 7:34 AM on October 2, 2006


Um, a post to another blog. Nice. As for the individual that wrote Kip Hawley is an idiot on his bag, I'd say he looks like the idiot. What did he think was going to happen? Dolt.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:37 AM on October 2, 2006


As much as I applaud challenging authority on occasion, I find I have less and less empathy with vacuous dicking around in these situations. What the hell else would he have expected would happen?
posted by peacay at 7:37 AM on October 2, 2006


I KNEW there would be people who would say it was okay to detain this guy for writing a political comment on his bag. And it was the second comment!

The MeFi authoritarian crowd never fails to disappoint.
posted by Malor at 7:39 AM on October 2, 2006


When I saw this I couldn't help but wonder if he was one of our own.
posted by BackwardsCity at 7:39 AM on October 2, 2006


As for the individual that wrote Kip Hawley is an idiot on his bag, I'd say he looks like the idiot. What did he think was going to happen? Dolt.

Are you seriously saying that he should've expected to be detained for writing something completely innocuous on a plastic bag?

You honestly believe that? Jesus Christ.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 7:43 AM on October 2, 2006


Malor, no one's saying it was okay to detain him. We're just saying he's a moron and deserves whatever's coming to him.
posted by item at 7:43 AM on October 2, 2006


item, that's the same thing.
posted by odinsdream at 7:46 AM on October 2, 2006


no one's saying it was okay to detain him. We're just saying he's a moron and deserves whatever's coming to him.

It's not okay to detain him it's just okay to detain him. Genius!
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 7:48 AM on October 2, 2006


I'm frabkly surprised he wasn't waterboarded. Wasn't that the president's promise? A waterboard in every pot? Eevery man a waterboarding king?

I can't remember the precvise nature of the presidents waterboard promises. Maybe he said we should walk softly and carry a big waterboard.

Whatever. I presume this kid wasn't waterboarded mostly because the waterboarders weren't allowed to come in with the water for their board.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:52 AM on October 2, 2006


God damn this keyboard.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:52 AM on October 2, 2006


It's not okay to detain him it's just okay to detain him.

Exactly!
posted by item at 7:54 AM on October 2, 2006


The MeFi authoritarian crowd never fails to disappoint.

Yes, MeFi, home of the authoritarian Bush-bashers.

It's not authoritarian, it's pragmatic. The TSA are anal retentive. Is it stupid? Yes. Will that stop it? No.

Please don't confuse an explanation with a justification.
posted by GuyZero at 7:56 AM on October 2, 2006


I have an idea: I'll paint a sign with the words 'George Bush gives all the kiddies AIDS' and hold it up during a...

I've got nothing.
posted by item at 7:57 AM on October 2, 2006


What a bunch of horseshit. What if it had said "George Bush is an idiot."? Or any other American public figure? Or the Queen? Would it have still been justified? Or is it only ok because it referred to the head of the TSA?
posted by disgustipated at 7:59 AM on October 2, 2006


Q: Someone got detained for writing something on their blog?

A: No, on their bag. They got detained for writing something on plastic.

Q: Plastic? Is that site still around?

A: No, not Plas-- ah, forget it.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:00 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


peacay writes "I find I have less and less empathy with vacuous dicking around in these situations. What the hell else would he have expected would happen?"

He should have expected to get possibly a raised eyebrow and be let on his way. His speech is protected (though possibly libelous) and shouldn't have led to harrassment. It's not like he was trying to sneak nailclippers onto a flight.
posted by Mitheral at 8:05 AM on October 2, 2006


He obviously wanted to get a rise out of someone or he would not have written it. He got what he wanted - big deal.

Here's the simple truth: the folks the TSA hire to be TSO's aren't the brightest or most exceptional folks. They need a job and the TSA is hiring. The TSA's training instructs the TSO's to be ever vigilant and notice everything. If they don't they will be fired. This means if someone walks through the security line with "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" wirtten on something that is in plain view that person will be detained. Is it right? I don't think so but what else are they supposed to do?!

What I think is funny is that a TSO actually realized who Kip Hawley is. My guess is 90% of the folks the TSA hires have no clue.
posted by photoslob at 8:09 AM on October 2, 2006


The thing is, it wasn't just some general political statement that the TSA guys were responding to... it was a message worded and placed so that it was clearly intended to provoke TSA personnel in particular.

I guess the premise of the original post is that the TSA guys were taking vengance for criticism of their organization, but I don't think that would exclusively be the case. I'm sure that they were pissed off - I mean, he was trying to piss them off - but an individual who's intentionally trying to poke and prod the security screeners at an airport bears a closer look.
posted by XMLicious at 8:09 AM on October 2, 2006


StrasbourgSecaucus wrote...
Are you seriously saying that he should've expected to be detained for writing something completely innocuous on a plastic bag?

"Detained"... I like that word, it covers a lot of ground.

In this case it covers "told to stand there for a bit while a TSA officer came over and wrote up an incident report." Oh noes! The humanity, the humanity!!

I particularly like the details about the TSA guy rolling his eyes while the idiot gave his first amendment rant. Cause remember -- not only is each and every member of the TSA supposed to be an expert on constitutional law, but they are also supposed to take seriously the pathetic, pedantic dribbling coming out of the mouth of every idiot who comes their way.

Seriously, what sort of response was this wannabe looking for? "Oh yes, sir. I, a low grade TSA flunky, now understand your first amendment rights. Through some sort of osmosis process, the rest of the TSA staff will now also get it."

If you're going to do civil disobedience, do it right. You want be arrested, you want to be really detained, so that you miss your flight and have standing to sue. When the courts start ruling against the TSA, when their budget starts being drained by attorneys, that is when they will take notice.

Until then, you are just bug splats on the windshield of life. You can whine about it all you want, but the TSA will just wipe you off at the next gas station and go on their merry way.
posted by tkolar at 8:10 AM on October 2, 2006 [5 favorites]


This person wanted to provoke a confrontation, and that's exactly what he did. He insulted, by association, the screeners, etc. at the airport, and so singled himself out for additional attention. Note that the passenger was not incarcerated, strip-searched, or anything else. The people at the checkpoint stuck it to him for being an ass. They shouldn't have wasted their time on this stupid kid, but people can be petty.
posted by Mister_A at 8:12 AM on October 2, 2006


I'm frabkly surprised he wasn't waterfreedomboarded. Wasn't that the president's promise? A waterfreedomboard in every pot? Eevery man a waterfreedomboarding king?

I can't remember the precvise nature of the presidents waterfreedomboard promises. Maybe he said we should walk softly and carry a big waterfreedomboard.

Whatever. I presume this kid wasn't waterfreedomboarded mostly because the waterfreedomboarders weren't allowed to come in with the waterfreedom for their board.


Edited for correctness
posted by Bonzai at 8:15 AM on October 2, 2006


I just want to throw this out there as well: as a photographer I have to deal with TSO's a lot. For the most part they are nice people just doing a job. They don't need or deserve the grief this idiot gave them. Furthermore. why not write Kip Hawley a letter and call him an idiot instead of dragging the TSO's and all the unfortunate SOB's in line behind him into his pissy little protest?
posted by photoslob at 8:15 AM on October 2, 2006


I wonder if he would have gotten detained if he had written that in a different language. Most certianly for arabic, hell I wonder if you could detained for writing "hello, I hope you have a nice day" in arabic? French is probablly pushing it nowadays, but, if he wrote "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" in German what would happen?

Gotta side with those that say this action (on the TSA's part) is heavyhanded and unwarented. If you start labing this behavior (writing messages on the bag) as serious enough to detain someone over what's the next step?

What the hell else would he have expected would happen?

Nothing? That would have been the grownup response. Oh... wait, this IS the TSA after all.

If you don't consistantly challange stupid stuff, stupid stuff becomes the norm.
posted by edgeways at 8:16 AM on October 2, 2006


What did he think was going to happen?

In his defense, I'm surprised anything at all happened, because I'm surprised the goon unzipping bags in the airport would know who Kip Hawley is.
posted by cribcage at 8:18 AM on October 2, 2006


tkolar writes "I particularly like the details about the TSA guy rolling his eyes while the idiot gave his first amendment rant. Cause remember -- not only is each and every member of the TSA supposed to be an expert on constitutional law, but they are also supposed to take seriously the pathetic, pedantic dribbling coming out of the mouth of every idiot who comes their way."

I don't think anyone is crying for the TSA droids to be constitutional experts. However if they aren't they should be mouthing off that the constitution doesn't apply in some imaginary TSA constution free zone.

Currently there is no incentive for the front line workers to be trained in this stuff. The occasional guy provoking an overreaction can be absorbed with current staffing. If a half a dozen guys per flight did this the contractors would educate their staff better.
posted by Mitheral at 8:21 AM on October 2, 2006


I've yet to read a justification for his brief inconvenience. The problem with this as protest is that it doesn't signify a damn thing except that petty buerocrats in positions of power are almost always slightly dickish. 9-11 didn't change that, and it sure as hell didn't create it. Yes, there are some big problems with the current "security"/liberties balance in the US, but no, this incident doesn't highlight even one of them.

It isn't the MeFi authoritarians who've got this one wrong (especially since no one has suggested that this was a best practice), it's the folks who insist that this is indicative of something beyond the workings of large government organizations since time immemorial.
posted by OmieWise at 8:22 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nobody knows how you get on the No-Fly List, let alone how you get removed from it. But provoking TSA staff is probably a pretty good way to do the first.

Not that I think they (the TSA staf) should have done anything but laugh at the comment on the bags and move on, but people in enforcement aren't like that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:22 AM on October 2, 2006


I KNEW there would be people who would say it was okay to detain this guy for writing a political comment on his bag. And it was the second comment!

I hear that! When are we going to say "enough is enough" when it comes to invasive airport security that has no substantive value in protecting against any real threat? The security rules against liquids instituted after the London bombing plot were almost immediately criticized as ridiculous by people who had real expertise about chemistry and bomb-making. If Kip Hawley institutes policies that focus more on "security theater" than on providing real substantive security, then Kip Hawley is an idiot, and it should not be a crime to say so.
posted by jonp72 at 8:23 AM on October 2, 2006


If you don't consistantly challange stupid stuff, stupid stuff becomes the norm.

I don't think that writing _________ is a(n) idiot is a "challenge". It's a puerile outburst from a spoiled, grammatically challenged kid who doesn't have the fortitude to produce a real challenge. Is he challenging the TSOs to re-think the policy? Challenge them on pragmatic issues then, not on 4th-grade playground pettiness. The TSOs, etc. may have exercised poor judgment here in that they focused too much attention on this stupid prick, but it sounds like they followed the rules.
posted by Mister_A at 8:24 AM on October 2, 2006


What a hero! Good for him, sticking it to those powerful, fancy-pants screeners who hate freedom of speech. This point absolutely needed to be made: if you do something deliberately provocative at an airport security checkpoint, you may be scrutinized more carefully, perhaps even for 25 minutes. Get the word out!

Come on, liberty is withering away these days, but this ain't how or why.
posted by brain_drain at 8:25 AM on October 2, 2006


In his defense, I'm surprised anything at all happened, because I'm surprised the goon unzipping bags in the airport would know who Kip Hawley is.

I didn't know who he was either.
posted by JanetLand at 8:25 AM on October 2, 2006


edgeways : "If you don't consistantly challange stupid stuff, stupid stuff becomes the norm."

And if you consistently challenge stupid stuff, stupid stuff still becomes the norm, you get in trouble because you don't understand that "the way things should be" is not the same thing as "the way things are", and a bunch of people on the internet are all surprised because they apparently have a more faith-based understanding of life than a reality-based one.
posted by Bugbread at 8:30 AM on October 2, 2006


Malor writes "I KNEW there would be people who would say it was okay to detain this guy for writing a political comment on his bag. And it was the second comment! "

The actual second comment, for all those lovers of truth and freedom who so deplore the use of obfuscation and propaganda in the fight for liberty and justice:

"Pretty dumb that he was detained. Equally dumb that he wrote that on there.
posted by dead_ at 10:34 AM EST on October 2 [+] [!]"


Let me know if you can find the justification for "detainment."
posted by OmieWise at 8:32 AM on October 2, 2006


How is the phrase "Kip Hawley is an idiot" a threat?

The TSA is supposed to look for threats to air traffic.

How is this phrase a threat?

That's the problem here. The TSA detained a man who had not, in any way, made a threat. There was no indication that there was a threat. Yet the TSA chose to expend resources in investigating the statement "Kip Hawley is an idiot."

Hint: This sort of thing is a big deal, because once you get used to not having free speech in around the TSA, do you think that won't expand to other agencies?
posted by eriko at 8:38 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Look I haven't particularly followed the politics with respect to the TSA and their practises but it seems to me that a large bureaucracy under great scrutiny and both public and government pressure are always going to come down on the side of 'checking the dude out a bit' when said dude is doing something provocative at an airport security check-in.

Maybe he's an escaped psych patient who sent a death threat to Hawley. Maybe he's been assing about airports doing shock stunts for attention. Maybe...............many other scenarios that I'm sure the TSA training staff no doubt drill into these frontline workers in situations they come across where there is something a bit extraordinary, out of place, provocative and the like. It's these little investigative inconveniences, 99.9% of the time which turn up nothing, that they are actually employed to do.

And if he hadn't been checked and something happened, who are the first people that will be later questioned? And if it's your sister or your brother or your partner that's hurt, harassed or fucked about because of a person wanting to commit some unknown act, then you would justifiably be at the head of the line of people wanting to ask why security didn't just do a basic background check.

It's not like he was locked up. And of course we are only privileged with the guy's own side of things. While I agree, in the circumstances, that detaining said dude for 25mins turned out to be a waste of time and slightly instructive about one security worker's understanding of free speech, I still think that anyone in this day and age who goes through the security rigmarole to board a plane and is intentionally provocative, annoying, disagreeable, disruptive or otherwise acting in a manner other than that displayed by 99% of other voluntary passengers, is a complete and utter fool. Airport security check-in are not the place for political stunts.
posted by peacay at 8:44 AM on October 2, 2006


...not only is each and every member of the TSA supposed to be an expert on constitutional law, but they are also supposed to take seriously the pathetic, pedantic dribbling coming out of the mouth of every idiot who comes their way.

I hate to break this to you, but overreaching by low-level authority figures is how most violations of First Amendment rights happen. I was a political canvasser once, and the Supreme Court has upheld the right to do political canvassing without a permit, but that didn't stop numerous small-town police officers from insisting that I present them with a permit. The reason that these violations are allowed to persist is that is simply not worth the expenditure of time and resources to make a federal case out of every instance where a low-ranking authority figure tramples on your rights. But that doesn't mean that the violations should be allowed to continue, or that anybody who objects should be mocked for their lack of intelligence or pragmatism.
posted by jonp72 at 8:45 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


If they (the screeners) were trained in constitutional law, they would find a complicated and often counter-intuitive set of Supreme Court cases re "freedom of speech." There's no obvious "yes, constitutional" or "no, unconstitutional" answer to the question of whether detaining someone in an airport screening setting to run a background check based on speech violates the Constitution. To the extent there is a rule, it would tend toward the "yes, constitutional to detain" side at the site of security screening (though not in other areas of the airport). See, e.g. one example I found quickly to illustrate. We can disagree with these rulings, but the screeners and supervisors are not incorrect when they roll their eyes at the passenger's First Amendment argument -- in our federal courts it is often if not usually rejected.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:46 AM on October 2, 2006


jonp72 writes "The reason that these violations are allowed to persist is that is simply not worth the expenditure of time and resources to make a federal case out of every instance where a low-ranking authority figure tramples on your rights. But that doesn't mean that the violations should be allowed to continue, or that anybody who objects should be mocked for their lack of intelligence or pragmatism."

He isn't being mocked for either his idiocy or his lack of pragmatism, it's his lack of REALISM that is at issue. And that same lack is present in all of the people bemoaning this as a problem that has anything to do with constitutional law, rather than with petty officials. As your post makes clear, you understand that the rights at issue ARE NOT under threat, or to the extent that they are, that isn't really indicated by this action. What happened is as old as the hills: someone in a low level job with a little bit of power made life more difficult for someone who had gone out of their way to make life more difficult for them.
posted by OmieWise at 8:50 AM on October 2, 2006


"Detained" is the mainstream media's filter word for "bullied" or "roughed up" by the authorities.


Sort of like: "'Insurgents' attacked a police station south of Baghdad."
posted by wfc123 at 8:52 AM on October 2, 2006


Hint: This sort of thing is a big deal, because once you get used to not having free speech in around the TSA, do you think that won't expand to other agencies?

Dude, freedom of speech is already gone. Stop talking about it.

The flyertalk post in question reads more like "Hey, I taunted some stupid thugs. You're not going to believe this, but I got roughed up for it!"

Of course, the stupid thugs are the government, but that's kind of always been the case.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:53 AM on October 2, 2006


j.p. Hung writes "Um, a post to another blog. Nice. As for the individual that wrote Kip Hawley is an idiot on his bag, I'd say he looks like the idiot. What did he think was going to happen? Dolt."

As an American, a nation born from the desire to secure certain liberties, among them freedom of speech, as sacrosanct; as a citizen of a country whose soldiers have fought and died to preserve those liberties; what would you say he should have expected to happen?
posted by orthogonality at 9:02 AM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


it was a message worded and placed so that it was clearly intended to provoke TSA personnel in particular.

Exactly. As for "freedom of speech" - that hasn't existed in airports for decades. Cracked a bomb joke in the security line recently?

If you're going to challenge "stupid stuff", you need to do it intelligently. If I'd been in line behind this guy, and missed my flight because of the hold-up he no doubt caused, I'd have exercised my freedom of speech by strangling him.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 9:04 AM on October 2, 2006


Personally, I'm mortified that I won't be allowed to write stupid shit on the outside of my liquid/gel/paste-wrangling plastic baggy.

Truly, my juvenile understanding and utilization of the First Amendment has been trampled upon.

Come, internerds, let us gather round and incite a riot.
posted by pokermonk at 9:05 AM on October 2, 2006


Reminds me of the kids in my high school. Folks could never tell that "Teachers are not supposed to punish me for XYZ" is not the same as "Teachers will not punish me for XYZ". Now, if they were doing XYZ in order to get punished, as a form of civil disobedience, that would make sense. However, almost universally, they really thought that they wouldn't get in trouble, because they shouldn't get in trouble, and then were authentically surprised by a result that the rest of us could see coming from a mile away.
posted by Bugbread at 9:07 AM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


tkolar writes "Cause remember -- not only is each and every member of the TSA supposed to be an expert on constitutional law"

As government agents they're supposed to obey the Constitution. No, I don't expect them to be experts. I do expect them to be instructed that their job is to uphold the law -- including law that limits government action --, not to just wing it because their boss is criticized.

That's the key different between a government of laws and despotic third-world satrapy. Why do you love America so little that you expect and demand nothing better of the government you pay for?
posted by orthogonality at 9:08 AM on October 2, 2006


orthogonality : "As an American, a nation born from the desire to secure certain liberties, among them freedom of speech, as sacrosanct; as a citizen of a country whose soldiers have fought and died to preserve those liberties; what would you say he should have expected to happen?"

Well, he "should" have been passed through security efficiently and professionally, without being detained. Unfortunately, he has had the unfortunate luck to be born in the real world, and not the Land of Should.
posted by Bugbread at 9:09 AM on October 2, 2006


It wasn't me!

But thanks for the thoughts, BackwardsCity.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 9:16 AM on October 2, 2006


Why do you love America so little that you expect and demand nothing better of the government you pay for?

Wow, that's a nice bit of borrowing from the right-wing "if you disagree with me you must hate America" playbook.
posted by brain_drain at 9:17 AM on October 2, 2006


For those of you who don't realize silly behavior is an end in itself, and ought to be encouraged for its own sake, this person's silly acts show just how useful being silly can be.

TSA clearly has a major attitude problem: they are seen here to be willing to act purely out of loyalty to their superiors rather than loyalty to the Constitution-- which means that no abuse of any citizen is out of the question for them, as long as someone in authority tells them to do it.

Ordinary rendition anyone?
posted by jamjam at 9:18 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't know the definition of the word "justify" enough to say if this is "justified". However, I do think that some people are missing that there are three major positions on this, not just two:

1) This should not have happened.
2) This should not have happened, but it was utterly predictable. As such, the guy shouldn't be surprised, and if he was surprised, he's not too bright.
3) This should have happened.

I think most people here are arguing positions 1 and 2, but people arguing 1 are misinterpreting other folks' responses as being 3, not 2.
posted by Bugbread at 9:18 AM on October 2, 2006


bugbread has it.

And let's be realistic here, people. Your first amendment rights aren't at risk because this fool couldn't write an indignant comment on his damn toothbrush bag and take it onboard without being accosted. His intent had nothing to do with expressing himself.

He got exactly what he wanted.

Yawn.
posted by dead_ at 9:23 AM on October 2, 2006


ha ha kingfisher -- i was just about to search for your ask me question.
posted by Bear at 9:26 AM on October 2, 2006


The oddest thing about this is that a deputy from the sheriff's department was summoned. It looks to me as though TSA thought that some sort of crime had been committed for that to have occurred. If he were merely suspicious, they would have handled him as a suspicious passenger rather than calling the cops.

And while it's true that you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, this whole thing is akin to calling the cops because someone wore a tshirt into a theatre with the word "Fire!" on it.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:31 AM on October 2, 2006


What would he have posted if his stunt got absolutely no attention? What was the desired outcome of the phrase "Kip Hawley is an idiot"? It's true he did nothing that's outright wrong or against a rule, but he didn't get charged for anything either. He wanted to create a hassle, and they obliged him possibly more than he wanted. Boo hoo. The offhand freedom of speech comment wasn't said in any official capacity, and I doubt his message will get anywhere useful.

I'm going to go write "This convenience store's gasoline prices suck" on a t-shirt and go buy a soda over lunch. We'll see how that goes.
posted by mikeh at 9:31 AM on October 2, 2006


Uhhh...the word "fire" on the tshirt, that is--not the theatre.

(You'd never guess that English is my native language, would you?)
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:33 AM on October 2, 2006


Ordinary rendition anyone?

WTF are you talking about? It's really sad when people can't string sentences together and instead write ", anyone?" as if we are supposed to implicitly know and agree with the missing argumentation.
posted by grouse at 9:34 AM on October 2, 2006


bugbread, I think you are trying to make an interesting and valuable point, but are just a little off. That is, you are correct, but you ignore the vehemence in the voicings of point #2. And point #2 is dangerous, motherfucking dangerous, logic.

Example: Solzhenitsyn never should have criticized Stalin, he should have known what was going to happen. Idiot.

But I know that we are talking about petty silly acts in a supposedely petty, silly situation. Few people really believe that writing on a bag will change the world, and few people really believe that a few ounces of liquid will bring down a plane (ok, well maybe a lot believe that, but not experts who have weighed in on this).

But the validity of the act is not found in the possibility of grand change (e.g., the protest found above that a TSA worker is merely a laborer with minimal power), but instead, I think, is found in a few areas.

- at the very least it provokes discussion
- it shines a light on this logic of acceptance that is becoming pervasive where bugbreads #2 is such a strong reaction that #3 is not up for discussion
- it reveals security as theater
- ideally, it starts drawing a curtain back on our real weakness:
- - - if situation X occurs and creates a security / fear backlash, then situations can be created to engineer responses in our society. we are predictable, reactionary, a very very manipulable
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 9:36 AM on October 2, 2006


metafilter should organize a flash flight mob. matt can buy 100 tickets on the same flight and have everyone show up with a quart bag containing a tube of sex lube with the words I HAVE EXPLOSIVE GASSES IN MY RECTUM scrawled on them in red lipstick.
posted by quonsar at 9:38 AM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


To simplify my above point, the #2 I referred to is in bugbreads post:

1) This should not have happened.
2) This should not have happened, but it was utterly predictable. As such, the guy shouldn't be surprised, and if he was surprised, he's not too bright.
3) This should have happened.



We are fucked if we start accepting the predictable wrongs of power and mocking the people that fall to them.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 9:38 AM on October 2, 2006


'Detained'... I like that word, it covers a lot of ground.

In this case it covers "told to stand there for a bit while a TSA officer came over and wrote up an incident report." Oh noes! The humanity, the humanity!!


"Detained" was the TSA officer's word.
I asked if I was under arrest, and his response was "Right now you are not under arrest, you are being detained."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:42 AM on October 2, 2006


The passenger was totally correct and fully justified, and that the TSOs -- and his critics here -- are fascistoid idiots. And one difference between flying on a plane and buying a soda in a(ny particular) convenience store is that some places ain't served by Amtrak or Greyhound, and even if they are land travel takes a long time and ain't really cheaper.

Of course that won't stop the authoritarian Bush-bashers around here from sieg heiling. They're not even smart to realize that "authoritarian Bush-basher" is not necessary a contradiction in terms; FYI, Stalinites spent 20 years criticising Hitler (for, among other things, human rights violations).

In closing, "He knew they didn't want no ["N-word"]s asking for coffee in that diner, so he shouldn't complain that they knocked his teeth out."
posted by davy at 9:44 AM on October 2, 2006


We are fucked if we start accepting the predictable wrongs of power and mocking the people that fall to them.

Exactly. If you state that "Well, it shouldn't have happened, but it was going to, so the guy was stupid for even trying to assert his first amendment rights by making a non-threating statement in a public forum," what you are really stating is that "Rights are only rights if the government agrees with you", which is, of course "I surrender completely to the authority of the government, as the government defines it."

Congratulations on your surrender. Personally, I'd like to thank you for helping the GOP and the Terrorists destroy the rights that the founding founders fought for, bled for, and died for.

I'd also like to thank you for promoting the TSA to the de facto government authority responsible for suppressing dissent. Hopefully nobody will actually get a bomb aboard an airplane, since the TSA will be busy making sure that you don't say anything bad about your lords appointed government officials.

Rest assured that I won't forget this, should a time come when you need someone to stand up for your rights.
posted by eriko at 9:48 AM on October 2, 2006 [3 favorites]


I'm going to go write "This convenience store's gasoline prices suck" on a t-shirt and go buy a soda over lunch. We'll see how that goes.

I'm assuming, out of fanatical loyalty to the organization for which he works, the cashier will immediately wrestle you down and bind you in duct tape for easy retrieval by the authorities.

* scratches head, mutters, leaves *
posted by furiousthought at 9:49 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


We are fucked if we start accepting the predictable wrongs of power and mocking the people that fall to them.

But like, he got on the plane. With his little bag, and his little statement. What's the big deal? He got checked out, and it didn't even seem very intimidating to me.

Airports are staffed with the most anal-retentive people on the planet, also the most paranoid. They have no reason to take any chances with anything, and I don't blame them, because people like you would be the first in line to pounce were another 9/11 to happen.

And to keep things in perspective... this is all about being able to take liquids on a fucking plane, right? Man, what whiners we are, seriously.
posted by dead_ at 9:50 AM on October 2, 2006


He got exactly what he wanted.

That's a good point.

We are fucked if we start accepting the predictable wrongs of power and mocking the people that fall to them.

Volunteer ≠ Victim. The first half of your statement would make us realists, and the second half isn't relevant here.
posted by cribcage at 9:50 AM on October 2, 2006


If you hate airport security so much, don't fly. That's an actual protest. I take Amtrak everywhere unless its an emergency. Sometimes it can be a pain, but it beats the hell out of flying and airports.

Airport security sucks. But you make a choice to go through it.

(on preview: ehh, Davy might be right that there are a few places in America, like Hawaii, that you can't take the bus to. But not very many)
posted by Bookhouse at 9:51 AM on October 2, 2006


Kingfisher, I disagree with your absolutist reasoning. It is dangerous to equate this stunt with the real threats to free speech in this country. Free speech zones at the RNC/DNC conventions, and things like that, are the real problem.

Had this kid been locked up, etc. then my reaction would be much, much different, but as it was, there was a little bit of inconvenience for the guy, and it was treatment for which he singled himself out. Again, it's an over-reaction on the part of the staff at the checkpoint, but a mild one, and probably not against regulations. People are detained for 25 minutes because their names pop up through the mysterious machinations of the watch list apparatus. THAT my friends is cause for alarm. How does the list work ? Who is on it? Why? That's the problem.

Airport security is almost all theater - as is most "security" these days. I was a bike messenger for a long time, and we messengers always got hassled going in and out of various buildings in town, but people in suits walked right on in. I had to laugh when I returned to these same buildings in the guise of a job applicant, and was free to go wherever I wanted unescorted (usually). The point is, if you are going to start trouble, you probably don't want to make yourself look like a troublemaker - but security guards and TSOs are only human; if you challenge or provoke them, they are going to bust your balls, even though it may not be fair or just or wise.

Note to TSA: There are bigger fish to fry.

Note to Mr. Bird: THere are bigger fish to fry.

Note to MetaFilter: Respectfully disagree with
posted by Mister_A at 9:53 AM on October 2, 2006


Ha! Premature post.

I respectfully disagree with the outrage over this trifling incident. It ain't right, but I'm past tilting at every goddamn windmill.
posted by Mister_A at 9:55 AM on October 2, 2006


kingfisher, his musclebound cat : "We are fucked if we start accepting the predictable wrongs of power and mocking the people that fall to them."

Well, first:

I don't buy into the whole Bush "faith-based reality" crap. Understanding reality does not fuck one. My comment was not about accepting wrongs, but understanding that those wrongs do and will happen. And my comment was not about mocking anyone that falls to a wrong, but mocking those who fall to really really insanely obvious wrongs and yet for some reason don't see them.

After all, that's what civil disobedience is all about. "I see these wrongs. They are real. I will challenge them, and I will get arrested. I do this to bring attention to others, to fight these wrongs."

davy : "The passenger was totally correct and fully justified, and that the TSOs -- and his critics here -- are fascistoid idiots."

Yes, he was correct, and justified, and dumb. And a black guy walking into a Klan rally and saying "You are all a bunch of fucking racist shitheads" is also correct, and justified, and dumb. And, in my town, where pedestrians have the right of way, stepping into a crosswalk when the night-time racing groups are about to come through is correct, and justified, and dumb.

"Correct and justified" does not automatically grant immunity from dumbness. And doing something that gets one in trouble (I repeat for clarity), does not necessarily make one dumb. Taking a stand and losing does not automatically make one dumb. But being surprised by a result that pretty much anyone could predict is dumb.
posted by Bugbread at 10:05 AM on October 2, 2006


davy: good point, this pathetic little stunt is commensurate with the Civil Rights movement.

I think it is entirely appropriate that people who are deliberately provocative be checked out more thoroughly by screeners. Once they are assessed, they should be let go (20 minutes sounds like a very reasonable length of time). If the assessment takes too long or results in further unwarranted harrassment, then there is an issue and impingement on individual rights. Simple commonsense (as opposed to nonsensical bureaucratic rule-based screening policies) reveals that anyone who is acting out of the ordinary in a confrontational way should be double-checked.
posted by Falconetti at 10:10 AM on October 2, 2006


Who's claiming that this guy was surprised in any way by this result? It seems to me he clearly wanted to get an (over)reaction from TSA so he could then post the story on his blog. I too have been dismayed at the security situation at airports and have wanted to toe the line to prove a point, but I've always decided its not really worth risking missing my flight, wasting the money I spent on my ticket, holding up the line, and deliberately pissing off the people who's job it is to keep us safe (which they might not do perfectly, but they still do).

If this was civil disobedience, it could be directed at better places and more effectively. If, on the other hand, he wasn't expecting any trouble, he really is an idiot.
posted by SBMike at 10:15 AM on October 2, 2006


f*ck Kip Hawley
posted by specialk420 at 10:18 AM on October 2, 2006


First, they came for the guys who wrote "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" on his travel bag, and I did not speak out, because I did not write "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" on my travel bag.

Then they came for the people who call President Bush "Chimpy," and I did not speak out, because I didn't call President Bush "Chimpy."

Then they came for those who wrote blogs that, really, man, just totally blow the lid off this whole Repuglican shitstorm, because I did not write a blog that, really, man, just totally blows the lid off this whole Repuglican shitstorm.

Then, they didn't come for me, but twenty five minutes later those other guys came back and told me how fascist it was.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:18 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I take Amtrak everywhere unless its an emergency.
Bookhouse, I hope you've contacted your representatives.
posted by vsync at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2006


Arrgh! I left out the middle "I did not speak out"!
posted by Bookhouse at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2006


photoslob writes "He obviously wanted to get a rise out of someone or he would not have written it"

So is he to be stopped ? What specific threat did he pose ? He didn't harras anybody, he wasn't resisting search or refusing to have his bag examined by xray

Mister_A writes "This person wanted to provoke a confrontation, and that's exactly what he did."

Sentences don't offend people, their own interpretation of the sentece does.

So if I wrote here that Matt is known to suck my penis, wheter true or not, it is likely to provoke somebody who thinks they know that I am referring to Matt, but Matt who ? It is their own interpretation. If somebody wrote on a tshirt "I am a well know terrorist" or "I love bombs on airplanes" or something that reasonably could suggest the person is a dangeours maniac with a bomb, I would have asked the person to remove the shirt, invert it or something else in order to avoid some idiot thinking a terrorist would really do that and panic.

But "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" doesn't contain any particular threat or menace, is just an opinion. Obviously, the "authority" knee jerk-reacted and that is exactly what they should be trained NOT to do as it is pure abuse of authority. Yet as JamJam points out :

jamjam writes "which means that no abuse of any citizen is out of the question for them, as long as someone in authority tells them to do it."

which is a little extreme, I doubt they would feel entitled to do anything to a passenger, but certainly they don't have a clear notion of what would be an abuse of their authority, which can quickly lead to an actual abuse.

mikeh writes "I'm going to go write 'This convenience store's gasoline prices suck' on a t-shirt and go buy a soda over lunch. We'll see how that goes."

Most likely the store owner will ask you to leave the premise and I really don't think that you could refuse to obey his request, as it is private property. In practice some of his minions may beat the shit out of you because they don't like you telling your side of the story, expecially if it is true.
posted by elpapacito at 10:20 AM on October 2, 2006


bugbread writes "Well, he 'should' have been passed through security efficiently and professionally, without being detained. Unfortunately, he has had the unfortunate luck to be born in the real world, and not the Land of Should."

The United States is the Land of Should. The delegates to the Continental Congress, until then subjects of King George the Third, declared "[t]hat these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown"; they said this when this "Should" was backed only by parchment it was printed on, a meager and starving army, and the signers' "lives... fortunes... and sacred honors".

Thier forefathers in came to this land of "Should" in leaky boats smaller than today's toy yachts, impoverished but for their faith in their God and their "Shoulds", saw an untamed wilderness and proclaimed that it "Should" be a "shining City on a Hill" and an Light unto the world.

Their sons and daughters looked to the west and said that our Nation "Should" span the continent from sea to shining sea, and armed only with that "Should" and their own determination, set forth to the back-breaking work of carving homesteads form wilderness and building a nation from homesteads.

Brother against brother, we fought our bloodiest war because some men argued that all men "Should" be brothers , and none "Should" be enslaved.

In the last century, the idea that Europe "Should" be free of the darkness of totalitarianism sent the sons and daughters of this Nation forth in 1941 and again throughout the Cold War, to defeat the twin tyrannies of Hitlerism and Stalinism.

To defeat our own tyrannies, our own "real world", thousands marched and suffered hoses and police dogs and some died to because they believed women and African-American "Should" have the right to vote. Many said that in the "real world", woman and blacks were too "simple" to vote, but the "Shoulds" prevailed and made a new real world and a better one.

And today, -- while I consider it a foolish perversion of our ideals -- some argue that spilling American blood in the sands of eth Middle East is "merely a comma" because there "Should" be Democracy there.

This nation is built on "Shoulds", "Shoulds" are the compass by which we have always steered our course, "Shoulds" are that Light we hold up Unto the World that the New England preachers prophesied as our American destiny in the New World.

Do we -- "Should" we -- give that up that birthright just because a few fanatics with bombs can hijack our planes? "Should" we sell our liberties that cheaply, for a mess of pottage of false security? Are we the heirs of Patrick Henry, or are we servile dogs?
posted by orthogonality at 10:23 AM on October 2, 2006 [4 favorites]


Here is what I find scary:

I find it incredibly sad and scary that so many people think that he should have expected trouble. WTF?? There was not threat, there was no reason WHATSOEVER that he should have been given any more attention then another passenger. It is inexcusable that he should be hassled for that alone. The screeners job is to look for dangerous people and goods; at best this guy is a crank.

Unless you all think that the terrorists have taken to writing anti-Hawley epithets as a cry for help.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:30 AM on October 2, 2006


So if I wrote here that Matt is known to suck my penis, wheter true or not, it is likely to provoke somebody who thinks they know that I am referring to Matt, but Matt who ?

mathowie sucks your penis, whoa!!!
posted by Falconetti at 10:31 AM on October 2, 2006


The thing that was somewhat chilling for me about the article I read on cnn.com over the weekend was the TSA officials described the man as being "combative." As in it could be grounds for being an "enemy combatant."
posted by birdherder at 10:32 AM on October 2, 2006


Anyone who does anything should expect trouble. That's what you get for being uppity. Know your place. Don't speak unless spoken to. Make excuses for abusers of petty authority; we can't do it without you.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:32 AM on October 2, 2006


There was not threat, there was no reason WHATSOEVER that he should have been given any more attention then another passenger.

Yes there is. As many people have said, he was being deliberately provocative (acting out of the ordinary). That is a reason, or at least one of the reasons. So, argue why that is an insufficient reason, rather than declaratively stating that there is no reason.

The screeners job is to look for dangerous people and goods; at best this guy is a crank.

So was the Unabomber. Mentally unstable people are cranks. Some of the specifics of how the TSA screeners handled this are toubling to me, but the idea that they took him out of the line briefly for further investigation not only seems acceptable to me, but the right thing to do. Not every dangerous person getting on a plane is a terrorist, they could just be violent or crazy or have some other personal grudge.
posted by Falconetti at 10:37 AM on October 2, 2006



Here is what I find scary:

I find it incredibly sad and scary that so many people think that he should have expected trouble. WTF??


Of course he should have expected trouble. Writing that the head of the TSA is an idiot reveals a few things about your opinions. Such a person probably has a low opinion of government beuaracracy. Given this, it is fairly safe to assume that he has a preconceived idea of what an airport security guard is like. They tend to overreact and abuse their authority. I'm positive he had already read the story about the man with the shirt in Arabic who was hassled at the airport. Hell, it was probably what inspired this little cry for attention. He was hoping for this reaction so he could prove the point that he had already written on his bag. I'm not saying he should have been hassled, but it's a bit silly to suggest that this wasn't at all orchestrated to acheive a desired result.
posted by SBMike at 10:42 AM on October 2, 2006


"Detained" was the TSA officer's word.
I asked if I was under arrest, and his response was "Right now you are not under arrest, you are being detained."
posted by kirkaracha


Actually, it wasn't the TSA officer's word. They called local law enforcement who detained him:

After he had finished I started to remind him he had left out his statement that my First Amendment rights didn't apply "here" but was cut off by the deputy who demanding my ID. I asked if I was under arrest, and his response was "Right now you are not under arrest, you are being detained."
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:45 AM on October 2, 2006


Are we the heirs of Patrick Henry, or are we servile dogs?

we're servile dogs who like to give ourselves credit for being edgy, rebellious, and contrarian even though many of us have more or less admitted in this thread that the founding documents are just goddamned pieces of paper.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:46 AM on October 2, 2006


My primary concern is how accepting we are of regulations that are irrational and inspired from fear. I live in NYC and think it's absurd that after a train attack we guard the subways, and after bombings at hotels we guard hotels. This is predictable and idiotic, and maybe it makes some people feel good but it makes me feel less safe.

My secondary concern is that the same fear that creates these security theatrics grants power to different agencies. So what it if is about liquids on a plane? Am I whining because of that detail? No I am angry because it happened so easily. I am angry because people accept the reasoning and results. And I am concerned because the logic can be carried much further.

If a threat elsewhere, whether realized or not, causes a reaction here which increases "security procedures" (which are at the lease inconveniences, at the worst threats to our rights, and in almost all occasions a small drain on the economy) then we are more susceptible to imagined threats than we are to real ones. I know the argument is that it saves lives, but what if it doesn't? What if the threats are not realizable, or statistically negligible? When does the cost of reacting outweigh the cost of accepting the risks?

So some poor kid volunteered for an experiment and got detained but still got on the plane. So what? Right? It's only about liquids, it keeps us safe, he was an idiot, his message was meaningless, he should have known, TSA people felt insulted, TSA people were being cautious, he held up other passengers, and so on. Fool, jerk, child. But you know what? In the end he only wrote an innocuous little sentence criticizing a government official. So choose, what do you defend, the right of an idiot to criticize? Or the right of the government to detain, question, and restrict? What's more idiotic, writing on a bag, or changing the entire country's air travel infrastructure to prevent people from bring hair gel on board?

Bring back the real circle of safety, that warned us not to bring chainsaws on board:


posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 10:49 AM on October 2, 2006 [4 favorites]


Papacito, I live on earth. I don't have time to fight every petty injustice - people cut me off on the highway, splash mud on my shoes, and even take a disproportionately large portion of my income (compared to the wealthiest Americans, that is) to fund illegal wars.

What is that drivel about sentences? Your hypotheticals are bizarre and irrelevant. Would you really just ask someone to change his/her shirt if it said "I have a bomb"? Thank great Crom that you are not in charge of airport security.

Have you not heard of fighting words? If I walk up to you and impugn, loudly and graphically, your mother's virtue, this is no longer protected speech. I should not be surprised to see a fist heading straight for my aquiline nose. What if I walked to the town square and said "I am going to shoot the next motherfucker who says the word and"- I would expect a swift and severe response.

Why would a person react so strongly to "mere words"? I don't know. Maybe because words have meanings. The words that this person wrote on his bag were probably offensive to the TSOs. THey were not fighting words, but they were deliberately offensive to the TSOs, who exacted a petty revenge - they delayed him somewhat.

I believe that Mr. Bird's behavior was uncivilized, but not illegal, and that his actions reveal a contempt for the screeners that perhaps extends to other low-income workers who are not college graduates. He should be ashamed of himself. He is not a free speech hero, he is a cad and a dilettante whose self-conception, that of a person who is superior to, and untouchable by, the miserable security-screen peons, was badly damaged by the perhaps overly robust response to his foolish prank.

If the personnel involved violated protocols, then let them be rebuked. But remember - they did not confiscate the kid's belongings, nor make him miss his flight. If he is on the no-fly list as a result, I would very much like to learn more; otherwise this is just tilting at windmills.
posted by Mister_A at 10:50 AM on October 2, 2006


So choose, what do you defend, the right of an idiot to criticize? Or the right of the government to detain, question, and restrict?

Now you're distorting the argument.

I defend his right to say what he wants, as does everyone else in this thread. His political speech was never censored at any point. He simply had to endure a minor inconvenience in order to make his statement. In fact, that minor inconvenience allowed him to make his statement, and without it he'd just be a bozo on a plane carrying a bag that says "so and so is an idiot."

I honestly wonder how many times he's tried this before and been let through without issue.
posted by dead_ at 10:58 AM on October 2, 2006


Not every dangerous person getting on a plane is a terrorist...

That's right. The fact that TSA stopped him doesn't indicate that they believed he was Al-Qaeda, and Al–Qaeda are not the only people who should be stopped. If I were a passenger on that plane, I'd be glad the guy was stopped. I don't want my fellow passengers causing trouble at 30,000 feet — where "trouble" indicates any deliberately provocative action, whether aimed at me or aimed at TSA, that could predictably result in my flight being rerouted — and if someone indicates his intent to "test the system" before stepping onto a plane, I think that warrants extra attention to examine whether he'll create a disturbance once he's aboard.
posted by cribcage at 10:59 AM on October 2, 2006


Your first amendment rights aren't at risk because this fool couldn't write an indignant comment on his damn toothbrush bag and take it onboard without being accosted.

Not at risk? Then, how do you explain this?

*Green Party activist put on no-fly list after calling Bush "dumb as a rock."

*Woman kicked off flight for wearing anti-Bush T-shirt.

*Blogger Raed Jarrar forced to remove T-shirt with Arabic script.

*Travel writer detained after asking whether a man outside the security checkpoint was really a TSA employee.

*Passenger fined $700 for saying "This is bullshit" to airport screener.

*TSA baggage screener writes "Don't Appreciate Your Anti-American Attitude" on an antiwar sign found in a passenger's private luggage.
posted by jonp72 at 11:00 AM on October 2, 2006


I refuse to fly in the US for exactly this reason.
posted by Vindaloo at 11:06 AM on October 2, 2006


You all knew it was coming: KipHawleyIsAnIdiot.com
posted by jonp72 at 11:07 AM on October 2, 2006


jonp72: I agree with what you've posted and I'm sure our opinions are in line on the issue. Those cases are bullshit, particularly the one dealing with Raed Jarrar.

However, this case seems to have been handled differently and appropriately to me. There's a guy acting weird (outside the status quo) at an airport so the employees take 15 minutes, check him out, let him go without any major incident. I just don't see the issue on this one.
posted by dead_ at 11:08 AM on October 2, 2006


So choose, what do you defend, the right of an idiot to criticize? Or the right of the government to detain, question, and restrict?

Now you're distorting the argument.

I defend his right to say what he wants, as does everyone else in this thread. His political speech was never censored at any point. He simply had to endure a minor inconvenience in order to make his statement.


No, I don't think I am. If you cannot make a simple statement without being subject to "minor inconveniences" at the hands of the government, then your right to free speech is threatened, not taken away, but threatened. In a situation where we are about to see habeas corpus vanished, we need to vigilant about all aspects of free speech. And part of that is the right to say what you want without be questioned about the meaning or your motivations by the government.

The minor aspect of this -- the statement, the detainment -- is not the point. The point is the government capability and the people's ready acceptance. This is small, indeed, but it is also ugly.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 11:09 AM on October 2, 2006


I live in NYC and think it's absurd that after a train attack we guard the subways, and after bombings at hotels we guard hotels. This is predictable and idiotic

The World Trade Center was attacked, and then it was attacked again?

Iraq was attacked, and then it was attacked again?

Moscow was attacked, and then it was attacked again?

Maybe idiotic, maybe predictable, but it's not like it doesn't happen.
posted by pokermonk at 11:16 AM on October 2, 2006


Jonp72-
These examples are a horse of another color. I don't know exactly where the line is, but these excesses are well on the other side of the line from Mr. Bird's discomfiture. He was not prevented from boarding, nor forced to relinquish his items.

Not everyone who is searched is a terrorist. Let me tell you something - I had my shoes swabbed at San ANtonio in 2002 - even though I am not a terrorist! I tried to explain that I was not a terrorist, but to no avail. The swabbing took a few minutes, and it took some of the lustre off the shoes too.

Are we all supposed to write the ACLU and post to our blogs if we get stopped at a "sobriety check", and we turn out not to be drunk?

The magnitude of the response to the provocation is the critical issue here. The responses Jonp72 catalogs are completely out of line - you shouldn't even bat an eyelid at an anti-bush shirt. The response to Mr. Bird's smirking provocation is borderline, and probably reflects poor judgment and/or training on the part of the TSO, but this is not a cause celebre.
posted by Mister_A at 11:19 AM on October 2, 2006


Poker, let's say someone want to attack NYC and hit, say, Times Square. They would benefit by diverting attention away from Times Square, so how do they do that? Well it is now pretty simple, create a threat to subways or a stadium or hotels elsewhere. We look the wrong way and Times Sq. is more open.
It's like a play action fake, a brief diversion to create an opening elsewhere.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 11:21 AM on October 2, 2006


I don't know exactly where the line is

A sure indicator that we are reasoning from principle.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:23 AM on October 2, 2006


Endless comparisons to situations involving klan rallies, biker bars, talking about your mother, the local gas station, etc etc etc are irrelevant. The TSA is an arm of the government, which we pay for whether we like it or not - not a business who is free to choose not to serve us or which we can choose not to do business with, not is it an individual who has the right to associate with us or not. Every single person working for the government might find an individual repugnant to themselves personally but that doesn't entitle them to exclude that person from his or her place within the citizenry.

Talking about "if he is on the no-fly list" as a result to determine if this is outrage-worthy somewhat illustrates the core point of this over-reaction - you will never know if someone is on the no-fly list until such a person tries to fly. Then try to get off it, using the well-documented procedures to address this issue by communicating with the independent oversight groups. Of which their are none.

Determining if the powers that be utilize their largely unchecked and unsupervised authority in a reasonable way to accomplish their goals - rather than to defend their power and squash criticism - is a valid exercise, however ham-handedly it is done. Pooh-pooing the detention as no big deal in the scheme of things because it was brief and (maybe) lacking in long-term effects overlooks the fact that these people diverted resources from checking for a threat to engage in a pissing match. Re-scanning him a few times as a potential agitator is fine and reasonable.

And spare me any rationalizing that then he's the bad guy for diverting resources. If that's what little it takes then the real baddies will use this tactic and therefor it should be planned for.

And I would expect more from everyone here than to think that speech has to be serious or seem worthwhile to any of us in order to qualify as worthy of defending. None of us have to think it's weighty - only the speaker, so that s/he can try to convince others it's worth listening to. Their failure to persuade is a strike against them, not the worthyness of speech in general.
posted by phearlez at 11:23 AM on October 2, 2006


She shouldn't be surprised that she got raped, her skirt was too short. Idiot.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:26 AM on October 2, 2006


"It's his lack of REALISM that is at issue."

"It's not that it's right to resettle the Jews, it's just it's NOT REALISTIC to complain about it."

[Sometimes if one doesn't hyperbolize with a sledgehammer some Mefites won't get it.]

To spell it out another way: this "REALISM" involves WILLING AND WITTING SUBMISSION TO INJUSTICE AND TYRANNY -- AND DISDAIN FOR THOSE WHO DON'T JOIN AND ENJOY YOUR 24/7 D/s INTERNALIZED SLAVERY GAMES. Got that yet?

If y'all want to be REALISTIC get your butts to REALISTIC countries like Iran and North Korea where you'll feel right at home. There's no need to pull the rest of us Americans down into your crab pot.

And Mister_A et al., the best way to learn and practice a new skill is to start with the small and easy stuff before you get to the really obviously important tasks. E.g., FIRST Lance Armstrong took off his training wheels -- which would probably never have occurred to him if he'd never seen anybody else pedalling around on only two wheels. (Must I Godwinize that for y'all or can you figure out how it pertains by yourselves?)

[I bet most of y'all are still too internally enslaved to do anything but baah, but I've also done my democratically libertarian bit to free and enlighten you.]
posted by davy at 11:30 AM on October 2, 2006


After reading through things again, and thinking it over more, I think I'm going to revert to my first comment in this thread and leave it at that.
posted by dead_ at 11:30 AM on October 2, 2006


She shouldn't be surprised that she got raped, her skirt was too short. Idiot.

This man's 25-minute delay was the equivalent of being raped?
posted by GuyZero at 11:33 AM on October 2, 2006


Yes, he was correct, and justified, and dumb. And a black guy walking into a Klan rally and saying "You are all a bunch of fucking racist shitheads" is also correct, and justified, and dumb. And, in my town, where pedestrians have the right of way, stepping into a crosswalk when the night-time racing groups are about to come through is correct, and justified, and dumb.

Disagree.

There are well-established precedents for what happens when you step into the road in front of a moving car. There are well-established precedents for what happens to just about anyone the KKK doesn't like.

There are also well-established precedents for what happens when you write your ideas down: you are allowed to do so unmolested.

That's why so many people are surprised and angry - this doesn't only break the spirit of the Constitution, it breaks established precedents. This is crossing an empty street, with the light, and very nearly getting run over anyway. By a cop.

Why does the average bag-searching TSA goon even know who Kip Hawley is, anyway?

I particularly like the bit about "Perhaps your comments made them feel threatened." As if the TSA's purpose is to protect... the TSA.

I'm sure Kip Hawley hasn't issued a standing order to question anyone who insults his intelligence. Which means these font-line goons acted on their own initiative, in a way their training and group culture have taught them to. So I think it's good that this guy wrote on the bag. Not as a mere gesture of feeble resistance; I think it's good that we have stories like this to illustrate the culture of fear and authoritarian servility that we've cultivated for ourselves. I think we should be hit over the head with the consequences at every opportunity. Because this isn't "business as usual;" this is madness. And recognizing the problem is the first step toward fixing it.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:34 AM on October 2, 2006


Unbelievable. Someone is a security risk because they call Hawley an idiot? If they pick a personal fight with a TSA agent, I could possibly see it, but calling some political figure an idiot is hardly provocative. God knows what would have happened if he had a anti-Bush T-Shirt.

Do you really think dangerous people go around writing such stupid things on plastic bags? Do you think the unibomber wrote anti-establishment slogans on his hat when he went to mail his packages? The agents wasted their time, governement money and most importantly their attention on a complete wild goose chase. What a waste.

(*) All this is assuming the story is as told. For all we know, a very simple question was asked of him (fair) and he freaked, in which case, its a whole nother ball game.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:35 AM on October 2, 2006


This man's 25-minute delay was the equivalent of being raped?

I think the damage you have done to the fine device of analogy is the equivalent of rape.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:37 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I call "Bullshit", That one would have to endure such "detaning over a written, non-threatening statement. These are truly the worst of times.
posted by winks007 at 11:39 AM on October 2, 2006


Falconetti writes "they could just be violent or crazy or have some other personal grudge."

Yet do they have a bomb or weapon on them ? No ? Case closed. Did the 9/11 terrorist have written all over them "I wanna die for some delusional God" all over them ? Nah, not that stupid ! So pray tell, how can I know you never borded a plane without thinking about killing everybody ?

Hey but, if I disagree with whatever crap you write over some piece of cloth or plastic, hey that MUST be that you are dangerous and terrorist in some way that I deem to be possibily dangerous. If it is a menace to me, it is to the whole goddamn universe ! Wait a minute, what is that cross you wear on your neck ? That's a christian symbol that may upset somebody, tuck it in your shirt ! You say this plane was booked entirely by nuns ? Fuck cares I am the boss around here and no matter how deraged and delusional I am, you must obey otherwise you are enemy of everybody, because I know everybody agrees with me !

Mister_A writes "THey were not fighting words, but they were deliberately offensive to the TSOs"

Oh so they were not fighting words, neither power moves, yet the petty officed exacted a petty revenge ? HE should be ashamed of abusing his authority, that wasn't give him to exercise his petty revenges ; if the screener doesn't have his marbles togheter and can't take whatever he finds "offensive" without knee-jerk reacting, he clearly isn't fit for a position in which he will meet diversity. Luckly we are NOT all the same, we are not uniformed, we don't think equally and if one can't deal with others without feeling compelled to _abuse_ his power then he shouldn't meet people....go baggage screening, unless he is offended by printing on bagagges too !

Mister_A writes "and that his actions reveal a contempt for the screeners that perhaps extends to other low-income workers who are not college graduates"

And you read contempt for every screener in "Kip Hawley is an idiot" ? You automatically think that screener must be low-income and undereducated ? Who told you a screener can't be an hard working college student doing a second job to pay the goddamn tuition ?

What if the officier found this MIGHTY SUPEROFFENSIVE on a t-shirt ?


posted by elpapacito at 11:41 AM on October 2, 2006


davy writes "'It's not that it's right to resettle the Jews, it's just it's NOT REALISTIC to complain about it.'

"[Sometimes if one doesn't hyperbolize with a sledgehammer some Mefites won't get it.]"


He made his flight Mr. Sledgehammer. He was delayed 20 minutes. If he'd spent those 20 minutes in line at Starbucks would you be throwing around holocaust analogies?
posted by OmieWise at 11:41 AM on October 2, 2006


kingfisher:

The only reason a play action fake is effective is because successively running at the goal line is a standard approach.

The worst goal line strategy one could possibly have is upon seeing a team run on successive downs to assume the third attempt will be play action. Better to stack the line appropriately but be wary of play action. I mean, if someone breaks into your home using the door that doesn't lock, you replace that lock... you don't assume the thief is going to sneak attack by drilling a hole through the ceiling and leave yourself open in the same, vulnerable spot.
posted by pokermonk at 11:41 AM on October 2, 2006


I defend his right to say what he wants, as does everyone else in this thread. His political speech was never censored at any point. He simply had to endure a minor inconvenience in order to make his statement.

So. How much "inconvenience" is permissible before it does constitute an infringement?
posted by Western Infidels at 11:45 AM on October 2, 2006


If he'd spent those 20 minutes in line at Starbucks would you be throwing around holocaust analogies?

Depends on if he was denied service due to a political message on a shirt or something equally evocative of Nazis.

elpapacito: Who makes that shirt, that's super-clever!
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:46 AM on October 2, 2006


winks007 writes "These are truly the worst of times."

Oh jesus christ. You and davy should get a room.
posted by OmieWise at 11:46 AM on October 2, 2006


Man, I like football, but there sure is a lot going on in pokermonk's last comment. I think I get it.
posted by dead_ at 11:46 AM on October 2, 2006


In the unedited version, I started going on about quarterbacks pulling out baggies that said "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" and how a defense should respond. I thought it was interesting, but that's usually a sign that it's not.
posted by pokermonk at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2006


Actually, Poker, play action is not so much for the goal line, since you are trying to freeze the linebackers and DBs . . . ah, fuck it. The point was that with limited resources you do not want to be predictable with them since that makes determining the weak point easier.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 11:54 AM on October 2, 2006


He should not have been detained at all, is the point. Suppose I beat you on the head with a mallet for "only" 20 minutes -- but stopped in time for you to make your plane; please tell me you'd still have enough gorm and nads to complain that I bothered you at all?
posted by davy at 11:55 AM on October 2, 2006


pokermonk: that would have been awesome.
posted by dead_ at 11:56 AM on October 2, 2006


Yet do they have a bomb or weapon on them ? No ? Case closed. Did the 9/11 terrorist have written all over them "I wanna die for some delusional God" all over them ? Nah, not that stupid ! So pray tell, how can I know you never borded a plane without thinking about killing everybody ?

My point was very simple and very circumscribed. Part of what screeners should be looking for (as opposed to ridiculous bureaucratic rule-based lists of things to ban) is anything out of the ordinary. Being deliberately confrontational is something that is out of the ordinary. Here especially because he was being specifically confrontational to the TSA itself). In such a case, it is appropriate for the screener to take a short amount of time to further check the passenger.

If there is nothing else to warrant detainment, then the passenger should be let go. If a passenger is detained unreasonably, then that is a serious problem. If a passenger is pulled aside for further searching or investigation based upon something that does not merit further review (such as wearing a Democrat shirt, a shirt with Arabic writing on it, etc.), then there is a problem.

Another very, very simple point I was trying to make was that screenings are done not just for terrorists but to screen out any type of potentially dangerous people. I never said that screeners need to read minds, but if there is something they feel in their discernment may indicate a potential for violence and it is reasonable, then it is appropriate to do some extra checking.

As far as the facts of this particular case match this ideal version of how such incidents should be handled, I am in agreement with the TSA's actions. As far as the facts of this particular case are dissimilar from this ideal version of how such incidents should be handled, I am in disagreement with the TSA's actions.

But please keep up the following, because they are good entertainment: pompous bloviating on the line of liberty drawn from the Magna Carta to the Continental Congress and beyond, disproportionate, offensive, and wild analogies, and deliberate misreadings.
posted by Falconetti at 12:01 PM on October 2, 2006


Yeah, but he wasn't beaten on the head for 20 minutes. I think it's worth thinking about why the examples of malfeasance on the part of the TSOs are always exagerrated. As far as I can tell its a combination of a slippery slope argument and a concession that this particular instance of "detainment" on the part of the TSA doesn't really meet the standard for getting too worked up about.

It's also worth noting, for all of those who care so much about their fellow man that they want him to be free free free, that the TSOs are worried about their jobs while the passenger is worried about their flight. That doesn't justify the behavior, but it might explain why someone might be likely to stop anyone perceived (even if wrongly) to be "causing trouble." Checking the guy out and sending him on his way really doesn't seem like the end of constitutionally protected civil rights.
posted by OmieWise at 12:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Wow talk about your hyperbole filter! I for one refuse to get upset about someone who was inconvenienced by low-wage workers at the airport, when he he went out of his way to pick a fight with them. Mr. Bird's actions betray a lack of respect for working-class people in general, and the airport screeners in particular.

The other thing to consider - imagine that you are one of the screeners. Do you not think it is unusual for a passenger to have such a familiarity with with Kip Hawley? Not illegal, just unusual. And is it not also unusual that this person has taken the time to scrawl an insult about Kip Hawley on a bag of toiletries and unguents? Again, not illegal, just unusual. Maybe the security person found that, in his/her experience, this was unusual enough to warrant closer inspection and a consultation with a law enforcement official. Because, you know, people who blow up airplanes generally have some unusual qualities, like a fervent hatred for government officials, for instance. Do we have so little regard for the screener that we assume, because of his/her occupation, that he/she is completely lacking in judgment, and is a raging apparatchik looking for a chance to humiliate and finger-fuck passengers? Some people are like that, sure, but a lot of airport screeners are people of color who are trying to keep a roof over their heads, and hey - they might get testy when you mock them.

Some here are desperately trying to take a case that is very grey and paint it in black and white. THere is no possible way to train for every eventuality the screeners will encounter, and there will always be a need for them to use their judgment, and sometimes people will disagree with that judgment. THis is not a flagrant abuse of civil rights, this was an error in judgment that was remedied by returning the passenger's belongings and sending him on his way when it became clear that he did not pose a threat to the safety of anyone on the aircraft or in the terminal. End of story.
posted by Mister_A at 12:07 PM on October 2, 2006


Falconetti, if you'll excuse my bloviating, I will overlook your truckling.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 12:09 PM on October 2, 2006


Yeah, you're right, king... which is what our Chicago Bears are showing with some kind of crazy offense out of Hell. My thought, though, is that if the point has been targeted, its foolish to not reinforce it. History proves that targets are targeted for a reason and are likely to be targeted again and again and again. How you reinforce them is where the brilliance or incompetence of a defensive strategy reveals itself.
posted by pokermonk at 12:13 PM on October 2, 2006


The "bloviating" wasn't directed at you, but thank you for teaching me the word "truckling" which I didn't know, o great master!
posted by Falconetti at 12:16 PM on October 2, 2006


Omni, as a former soldier I normally assume (forgive me) that, what little rights I have, mean so much more to me than what they mean to other folks. I have been found guilty of having a small chip in regards to my freedoms. It just gets under my skin when someone lets one of them slip just as bit. Remember in the name of security, we are giving up our rights and freedoms DAILY! It still makes me sick to see someone "detained", for something so innoculous. If I were the employee and you had a bag that said ***** is an idiot, I not ashamed to say that I would get a chuckle out of the message
PS. The typing error are because my laptop keyboadr sucks, the grammer on the other hand, is entirely of my own doings!
posted by winks007 at 12:17 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Mister_A,

I agree this guy was not overly violated.

But the screening process at the airport is joke, right? We all agree about that. The screening process is total window dressing.

At what point can we as consumers simply voice our protests over what is a clearly a failed and worthless impediment to travel.

They don't have comment cards at the securty line. And if they did nobody would listen to them.

I think every thinking member of mefi should do some version of what this guy did. Accepting the delay. But send the message.
posted by tkchrist at 12:17 PM on October 2, 2006


Is my "Kim Jong Il in '08" shirt banned or is it dangerous?

How about, "Jesus Wouldn't Bomb ANYONE".
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:19 PM on October 2, 2006


Sorry Falconetti, I was just trying for a new Metafilter tagline.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 12:19 PM on October 2, 2006


Goes off to look up realism.........
posted by winks007 at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2006


I'm sure we all remember this . . . .
A 17-year-old boy was arrested at Boston's Logan International Airport on 1 August 2003 after a note with a reference to a bomb was discovered in his luggage.

The boy and his mother, father and younger sister were removed from a United Airlines flight to Honolulu, Hawaii via San Francisco after the note was discovered in his luggage during a random search. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has revealed that the note read: "[Expletive] you. Stay the [expletive] out of my bag you [expletive] sucker. Have you found a [expletive] bomb yet? No, just clothes. Am I right? Yea, so [expletive] you."

The teenager was arraigned on a felony charge. He has pleaded not guilty to one count of making a bomb/hijacking threat. The boy, who has no previous record, has been released on USD1,000 bond.

He is scheduled to appear for a pre-trial conference on 26 September 2003, reported The Boston Globe.

posted by landis at 12:23 PM on October 2, 2006


Metafilter: I was just trying for a new Metafilter tagline.

Everyone wins!
posted by Falconetti at 12:23 PM on October 2, 2006


Being deliberately confrontational is something that is out of the ordinary.

Seeing as I come from a family of confrontational people, I disagree.

On my way back from fishing in Alaska with my old man we were in the Anchorage airport security line. We had faced delay after delay from all the smaller hopper flights. Nerves were frazzled. It was 4am.

The security line was 500 people long. In Anchorage. At 4am. The reason was obvious. The TSA had ONE secuirty line operable at that time. They were running a training shift. A few people had violated a rule at some point and had mucked up the works housr before. The TSA guys were in full nazi mode. Litterally YELLING at people. When we finally get to the screening and xray conveyor there was this consultant guy there bossing people around lecturing everybody that "You don't know what real terror is... in Israel we have to take this seriously stop complaining. Take this war seriously. We take war seriously in Israel" He was an Israeli security guy - obviously - hired by the TSA. And he was a dick.

My old man, a 74 year old three tour (six years) Vietnam combat vet, smiles at the guy and says... "Yeah. How many days was that war anyway?"

They pulled us out of line and brought out our checked luggage and made us open our coolers. Coolers. Full of Salmon. In Alaska. Every guy there had cooler full of Salmon. Luckily we had duct tape to re-seal the coolers (the then confiscated the duct tape, BTW)

It only took a couple of minutes. But they did it out of spite. Not for security.
posted by tkchrist at 12:33 PM on October 2, 2006


The civilized world can do airport security without being rude and moronic. In Japan if the security man (or woman) has to ask you to do something he does so politely instead of barking out orders, and his English is quite probably better than the slangy mishmash you'll get from a TSA thingy in most US metropolitan areas.

You gotta feel bad for people who live in the US and therefore have to deal with the TSA and the DHS. I can avoid them by choosing my flights carefully, having no interest in going to the US anyway. I might pay a little bit extra, but frankly it's worth it.
posted by clevershark at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2006


tkchrist -

definitely, nothing more than window dressing. What we have now is beyond useless. Human intelligence is what's needed. I really want to make this point though - the screeners are people too. They have rights. They have feelings.

You can disagree with what they're doing without being uncivil about it. This kid was acting like an asshole to some poor people who were trying to put food on the family, so to speak. They (the screeners) didn't ban hair gels. It was the higher-ups, and common decency, that banned it.

Don't abuse the screeners, and don't forget that they, too, are human beings. I don't know about the screeners in Milwaukee, but in Philadelphia, they are mostly black and hispanic. I think that there is more than a little bit of racism underlying this whole incident, to be honest. My guess (and I admit it is just a guess) is that Mr. Bird has a superiority complex with regard to the screeners, and that he resents their intruding on his privacy, and that this is at least partly due to their race.

Finally, with all this talk of rights, let us remember that there is no constitutional right to fly in airplanes. The rules really are different in the airport and on the plane. Mr. Bird disagrees in some way with these rules. Write an editorial. Write to Kip at the TSA. Do something constructive. I support Bird's right to be an asshole, but I do not condone his behavior in this matter.

And finally - the rape analogies upthread are tasteless and callow. This was not the "short skirt" situation described above. This is walking up to someone and saying "Wanna fuck?"
posted by Mister_A at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


"His intent had nothing to do with expressing himself. "

Wrong. His intent was clearly to express that Kim Hawley is an idiot. That's, you know, the simplest explanation given the amount of evidence we have. The desired outcome? Probably a chuckle from the TSA stooge.

"I'm going to go write "This convenience store's gasoline prices suck" on a t-shirt and go buy a soda over lunch. We'll see how that goes."

You do that, oh ye of crippled analogy, lurching lamely toward nonsense. I'll bet you a double sawbuck that not a goddamned thing happens. And that's assuming that the clerk's at least semi-literate.

"It is dangerous to equate this stunt with the real threats to free speech in this country. Free speech zones at the RNC/DNC conventions, and things like that, are the real problem."

Except that the same people will trot out the same justifications. "Shouldn't have gone to a protest. You should expect to get tear-gassed."

"Yes there is. As many people have said, he was being deliberately provocative (acting out of the ordinary). That is a reason, or at least one of the reasons."

Oh, that's retarded. "He was wearing gym shoes! That's a reason!" Yeah, but it's a fucking retarded reason and one that no rational person would point to as requiring the level of response. Or is your broader argument that we should expect the TSA to be retarded and irrational? Because, y'know, we really shouldn't.

"Of course he should have expected trouble...."
SBMike: What follows the above quote is such an egregious abuse of logic that even a Creationist would lecture you about possible versus probable.

"I believe that Mr. Bird's behavior was uncivilized, but not illegal, and that his actions reveal a contempt for the screeners that perhaps extends to other low-income workers who are not college graduates. He should be ashamed of himself."

What bullshit. While you're off being a high-minded defender for the poor, keep in mind that in no way did this impugn the workers who were facing him, only the head of the TSA (and by extension, his policies). But the comparison to "fighting words" shows what pussies Americans have become in the face of the government, along with a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship of government to the citizens. (Remember, there's a higher bar for restricting speech critical of the government for just that reason— you're supposed to be able to criticize them).
posted by klangklangston at 12:40 PM on October 2, 2006


Being deliberately confrontational is something that is out of the ordinary.

For pussies.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:41 PM on October 2, 2006 [3 favorites]


Mr. Bird disagrees in some way with these rules. Write an editorial. Write to Kip at the TSA. Do something constructive. I support Bird's right to be an asshole, but I do not condone his behavior in this matter.

I think writing to the TSA will have zero effect. There are people who pull much more wieght than we do, security experts, media figures and polliticians, who called the TSA out and the TSA did nothing to change proceedures.

Hell. I can't be specific but I have a relative well placed in the airline industry who will affirm all our negative opinions about the TSA and airport security. Even THEY know it's all bullshit.

It's going to take open rebellion from the consumer to change anything.

Though. It may be too late. As we are seeing the end of casual air travel any way.
posted by tkchrist at 12:44 PM on October 2, 2006


Mister_A, it is true there is no constitutional right to fly in airplanes, but it is also true that after years of air travel, our business culture has adapted to it, making it a necessity for some people.

I disagree that Mr. Bird was necessarily an asshole to the "poor screeners" and if he was I would agree with your reaction to it. I want to kick over the people who chat on their cell phones and ignore people at cash registers. But I also wonder if your quick assessment of the situation displays some condescension on your part. I am not saying this as an attack, but I honestly do not understand. Why do you assume that "Kip Hawley is an asshole" is unkind, mocking, or anything that screeners should not be able to bear? If this message went in front of well-to-do, educated, white people, would you find it so insulting to them?
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 12:47 PM on October 2, 2006


The civilized world can do airport security without being rude and moronic. In Japan if the security man (or woman) has to ask you to do something he does so politely instead of barking out orders, and his English is quite probably better than the slangy mishmash you'll get from a TSA thingy in most US metropolitan areas.

I love the comparison to Japan.

Check the conviction rate on their "justice" system and get back to me about the civilized world.

(I do agree however that their airports are fabulous)
posted by dead_ at 12:48 PM on October 2, 2006


dead_ writes "Check the conviction rate on their 'justice' system and get back to me about the civilized world."

Check their incarceration numbers (both totals and per capita) and get back me to about that...
posted by clevershark at 12:57 PM on October 2, 2006


"If he'd spent those 20 minutes in line at Starbucks would you be throwing around holocaust analogies?"

The beans are roasted. LIKE THE JEWS!
posted by klangklangston at 12:57 PM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


You gotta admit - Kip's a pretty idiotic name.
posted by NationalKato at 12:58 PM on October 2, 2006


Would I be wrong in guessing that a lot of the disagreement here is due to a semantic confusion over the word "expect?"

There seem to be two definitions floating around here. In one case, expect refers to the possible outcomes you have decided are likely to result based on empirical evidence, past experiences, etc. In this case it is completely reasonable to expect to be hassled by the TSA.

In the other case, expect means an idealized version of the way the world should be. We expect the government to protect our rights and not enforce rules blindly or arbitrarily. In this case, it is completely reasonable to expect the TSA to wave him through.

The two positions are not mutually exlcusive.
posted by SBMike at 12:59 PM on October 2, 2006


sonofsamiam writes "elpapacito: Who makes that shirt, that's super-clever" No idea, but it is pretty pop in italy
posted by elpapacito at 1:00 PM on October 2, 2006


I hope this clarifies the use of "expect", as in this flatulent idiot should have known what to expect: The Farting Dissident (note, this is a news article, not a musical).
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Klang - What bullshit. While you're off being a high-minded defender for the poor, keep in mind that in no way did this impugn the workers who were facing him, only the head of the TSA (and by extension, his policies).

I submit that Mr. Bird was not trying to rile anyone except the screeners. Who else would see his emollients and so forth, with the fateful message scrawled across the li'l ziploc bag? Certainly not Kip. If you want to get Kip's attention, contact him. And I am not "off" being a high minded defender of the poor.

Also, the "comparison" to fighting words was a tangent in a response to someone else who said somethign about words not being important, etc. I wrote about fighting words as one example of speech that is not protected, but if you read the rest of that comment, you will see that I feel that Bird's speech is indeed protected.

And I do sincerely believe that "free speech" zones at conventions, etc. are more of a threat to my American values than are minor inconveniences incurred by intentional provocation of overzealous minor security officials. What if the screener really thought that Bird was up to something? It would be his duty to check him (Bird) out, and then, if nothing suspicious is found, to send him on his way.

Also - just because you're acting like an ass doesn't mean you're not up to something.
posted by Mister_A at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2006


"I mean, if someone breaks into your home using the door that doesn't lock, you replace that lock... you don't assume the thief is going to sneak attack by drilling a hole through the ceiling and leave yourself open in the same, vulnerable spot."

Except that it's impossible to protect America from every possible threat, and impossible to protect America from most concievable threats without becoming draconian.
That's why stores accept a certain amount of shoplifting, rather than just shooting anyone suspected of it. The cure you're prescribing is worse than the disease.

"Do you not think it is unusual for a passenger to have such a familiarity with with Kip Hawley? Not illegal, just unusual."

No. But you make such an impassioned case for bureaucratic stupidity that I wonder if you're using this thread as a job application for the TSA.
posted by klangklangston at 1:05 PM on October 2, 2006


It's pretty astonishing the number of posters who don't see this sort of occurence as a problem. Are we all "good Germans" now? Can we at least define at what point restricting our right to free speech IS a problem, those of you who think this is a bunch of hysteria? Because I gotta tell you, by the time "free speech zones" turn into "detainee pens" it's probably a little late. And history does show us that the line between "necessary measures, for now, don't worry it won't affect the good citizens" and "voice dissent and go to prison" is almost never bright and clear.

Honestly, once we had the cases of Padilla and Arar to refer to, why should we NOT believe that our rights are being systematically stripped away?
posted by emjaybee at 1:07 PM on October 2, 2006


"Of course he should have expected trouble...."
SBMike: What follows the above quote is such an egregious abuse of logic that even a Creationist would lecture you about possible versus probable.


It would be nice if you included the text of, or at least a link to "what follows the above quote" so other readers can determine if I've abused logic to such an extent. Please point out my logical flaws. It would be nice to avoid making them in the future.
posted by SBMike at 1:08 PM on October 2, 2006


It's pretty astonishing the number of posters who don't see this sort of occurence as a problem. Are we all "good Germans" now? Can we at least define at what point restricting our right to free speech IS a problem, those of you who think this is a bunch of hysteria? Because I gotta tell you, by the time "free speech zones" turn into "detainee pens" it's probably a little late. And history does show us that the line between "necessary measures, for now, don't worry it won't affect the good citizens" and "voice dissent and go to prison" is almost never bright and clear.

Honestly, once we had the cases of Padilla and Arar to refer to, why should we NOT believe that our rights are being systematically stripped away?
posted by emjaybee at 1:08 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Of course he should have expected trouble...."
SBMike: What follows the above quote is such an egregious abuse of logic that even a Creationist would lecture you about possible versus probable.


It would be nice if you included the text of, or at least a link to "what follows the above quote" so other readers can determine if I've abused logic to such an extent. Please point out my logical flaws. It would be nice to avoid making them in the future.
posted by SBMike at 1:11 PM on October 2, 2006


Falconetti writes "Being deliberately confrontational is something that is out of the ordinary."

I would agree with you that one should look after unusual events, according to one experience. But given that each and every event that doesn't repeat could be described as "out of ordinary" and given that we hardly can appreciate what the person could find "ordinary", it seems that posing some restriction on what kind of events are actionable would make sense ; otherwise one could have an overzealous officier just stop everybody for every facet of an the event he deems to be out of the ordinary, and righlty so as no two events are always exactly the same.

As it was determined that the person didn't present any immediate danger by the means of x-ray/metal detector analysis , we could safely conclude that unless the person was physically assaulting somebody else, he wasn't presenting any immediate threat or evident potential menace, like holding a knife even if without using it. Yet the officer saw a potential threat in a opinion that didn't advocate violence or hate toward TSA, but just stated a personal opinion regarding a person that could be or not be the director of TSA.

What was out of the ordinary, maybe, is the reaction of the screener.
posted by elpapacito at 1:31 PM on October 2, 2006


You gotta feel bad for people who live in the US and therefore have to deal with the TSA and the DHS.

Yeah, but you're stuck with Air Canada. And flying through Canadian airports doesn't really compare favorably with flying through U.S. airports (with the possible exception of Logan), anyway.
posted by oaf at 2:03 PM on October 2, 2006


It's scary how some of you Americans feel that it is okay to be punished for writing something.

What the hell happened to your much-vaunted dedication to free speech? There was a time not even a decade ago when you Americans were all about trumpeting to all in earshot about how you had the greatest free speech, greatest democracy, greatest rights, greatest everything.

For fucks' sake, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO GIVE IT UP! My gods, are you all insane? What you had was a GOOD thing. Don't let it be taken away!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:04 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Not everyone who is searched is a terrorist. Let me tell you something - I had my shoes swabbed at San ANtonio in 2002 - even though I am not a terrorist! I tried to explain that I was not a terrorist, but to no avail. The swabbing took a few minutes, and it took some of the lustre off the shoes too.

I have had my shoes swabbed too, but doesn't it bother you that most security experts argue that these "shoe swabs" do nothing substantive to reduce the threat of terrorism on airplanes?

Bruce Schenier noted, "When I travel in Europe, I never have to take my laptop out of its case or my shoes off my feet. Those governments have had far more experience with terrorism than the U.S. government, and they know when passenger screening has reached the point of diminishing returns."

The issue isn't just how some Americans get pissy when their freedoms are infringed. It's also about how our government encourages counterproductive, non-reality-based security policies that waste valuable time and resources when we don't have the time and resources to spare.
posted by jonp72 at 2:08 PM on October 2, 2006


"I submit that Mr. Bird was not trying to rile anyone except the screeners. Who else would see his emollients and so forth, with the fateful message scrawled across the li'l ziploc bag? Certainly not Kip. If you want to get Kip's attention, contact him. And I am not "off" being a high minded defender of the poor."

Submit all you want. It's still unfounded. Again, most likely senario— He thought the TSA stooge would get a chuckle out of it. That's how a human would react.
posted by klangklangston at 2:09 PM on October 2, 2006


"Such a person probably has a low opinion of government beuaracracy. Given this, it is fairly safe to assume that he has a preconceived idea of what an airport security guard is like. They tend to overreact and abuse their authority. I'm positive he had already read the story about the man with the shirt in Arabic who was hassled at the airport. Hell, it was probably what inspired this little cry for attention. He was hoping for this reaction so he could prove the point that he had already written on his bag. I'm not saying he should have been hassled, but it's a bit silly to suggest that this wasn't at all orchestrated to acheive a desired result."

You want a fisking, SBMike? I didn't link to it because it was long and retarded.
You start with an unfounded assumption, then at each step make another assumption that further reduces the probability of what you're asserting. There's no way to prove that he was looking for over-reaction, there's no way to prove that he had read the story about the man with Arabic script being hassled, there's no evidence to prove that it was orchestrated. You start with faulty premises, you massage them into your preconcieved view of the text, and then you demand a thorough criticism of your flat-earth bullshit.
Perhaps you've never been much of a smartass, Mike, but those of us who have recognize that the usual reaction is a smirk or scowl and that's it. He was being a smartass in an inoffensive and harmless way (which delineates it from, say, jokes about having a bomb on him).
posted by klangklangston at 2:15 PM on October 2, 2006


It's scary how some of you Americans feel that it is okay to be punished for writing something.

It's scary how some of you Canadians feel that it is okay to be punished for writing something. Especially when it's nothing more than the truth.
posted by oaf at 2:17 PM on October 2, 2006


The point of my previous comment is that speech is not always free without limit.
posted by oaf at 2:18 PM on October 2, 2006


Yup, klangklangston nailed it, all this says is: TSA stooges are inhuman.

Don't try this by yourself, but if you get 20 friends or so, go for it!
posted by jeffburdges at 2:20 PM on October 2, 2006


This kid was acting like an asshole to some poor people who were trying to put food on the family, so to speak.

Yeah, since most screeners have a personal relationship with Hawley it's hurtful to denigrate him in their presence.
posted by phearlez at 2:27 PM on October 2, 2006


What the hell happened to your much-vaunted dedication to free speech?

People got scared. I'm at a loss as to how to get them un-scared. Personally, I'd rather risk the bombers getting on the plane than curb liberties in fear. But most people don't agree.
posted by zennie at 2:30 PM on October 2, 2006


MaxVonCretin:
Exactly. As for "freedom of speech" - that hasn't existed in airports for decades. Cracked a bomb joke in the security line recently?
That's the most retarded thing I've heard in a while. Of course freedom of speech exists in airports --- there's no constitutional amendment saying 'Oh, that first amendment doesn't apply to airports...'

What's next, there's no freedom of speech in cinemas 'cos you can't yell 'FIRE!'?

If you're going to challenge "stupid stuff", you need to do it intelligently. If I'd been in line behind this guy, and missed my flight because of the hold-up he no doubt caused, I'd have exercised my freedom of speech by strangling him.

I think you'll find strangling people is a crime, and not covered by the first amendment :)

I'm more concerned that somebody, somewhere, is training TSA supervisors to think that the first amendment does not apply to their little part of the world.

Seems the ACLU is a tad concerned too:
ACLU letter posted on forum
posted by kaemaril at 2:30 PM on October 2, 2006


Do "they" hate us any less since we've been getting rid of our freedoms?
posted by davy at 2:30 PM on October 2, 2006


davy:
Do "they" hate us any less since we've been getting rid of our freedoms?

Probably not, since that's almost certainly not why they hate you in the first place. Having said that, I dare say there are some naughty terrorist types reading the papers, seeing what we are doing to ourselves and wondering what on Earth they can do to top that ...
posted by kaemaril at 2:41 PM on October 2, 2006


If one thinks that being deliberately confrontational is nothing to warrant an extra search, that is a reasonable argument, although I don't agree. My larger point was that screeners should look for something that is out of the ordinary in a way that signals there might be something up (not in the sense that it is the first occurrence of something). Furthermore, it has to be a reasonable. I much much much prefer this sort of system over the ridiculous and counterproductive policies of banning substances from flight.

In almost every other case involving the TSA, I am against them and find their policies to be inicimal to personal liberty. I just don't find this single example very troublesome. I find some of the comments made during his "detainment" to be worrisome and worthy of correction, especially if they result from some sort of training procedure, but the idea of removing him briefly for an extra screening or some questions seems pretty reasonable to me.
posted by Falconetti at 2:51 PM on October 2, 2006


Writing 'Kip Hawley is an idiot' on a plastic bag is in no way being deliberately confrontational. At best, it's a legitimate method of expressing genuine exasperation and at worst it's juvenile humour. But even at worst it's still constitutionally protected juvenile humour.

But even if it were 'deliberately confrontational', even if the guy got in the screener's face, jutted out his chin and said 'Yeah, you read that right. Now, what are you going to do about it?' the correct response should be 'Absolutely nothing, sir, you have a constitutionally protected right to express such an opinion. Have a nice day' which would have defused the whole situation. If he doesn't calm down after that you know he's deliberately making trouble and should be taken to one side.
posted by kaemaril at 3:05 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


The issue isn't just how some Americans get pissy when their freedoms are infringed. It's also about how our government encourages counterproductive, non-reality-based security policies that waste valuable time and resources when we don't have the time and resources to spare.

Bingo.
posted by Mister_A at 3:16 PM on October 2, 2006


Oaf, a judge placing a publication ban on a case because he's protecting the right of the defendent to receive a fair trial is hardly comparable to some minimum-wage rent-a-cop jumping up a customer's ass because of a childish scrawl across the top of a baggie.

Give your head a shake.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:42 PM on October 2, 2006


People got scared. I'm at a loss as to how to get them un-scared. Personally, I'd rather risk the bombers getting on the plane than curb liberties in fear. But most people don't agree.

I'm not scared, and most of the people I know aren't scared. But things like this make me think the government is scared, primarily of its citizens.
posted by landis at 4:29 PM on October 2, 2006


five fresh fish writes "For fucks' sake, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO GIVE IT UP! My gods, are you all insane?"

Nah, they/we are just humans. And possibily misguided. As I write I am giving a look at the film-documentary "His Big White Self" (no it's not a film on Moore :) which so far pretty much describes how delusionally insane ordinary people can become and become in South Africa during the transition phase ending Apartheid.. The interesting part so far is that the same people is shown roughly10 after their defeat...not surprisingly, born-again-christian and whatnot.
posted by elpapacito at 4:38 PM on October 2, 2006


Ops forgot link to Big White Self
posted by elpapacito at 4:49 PM on October 2, 2006


The interesting part so far is that the same people is shown roughly10 after their defeat...not surprisingly, born-again-christian and whatnot.

Come again?

I'd love to hear more about life in de-segregating SA. I know next to nothing of recent SA history.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:28 PM on October 2, 2006


Check ur mail
posted by elpapacito at 5:40 PM on October 2, 2006


As for the individual that wrote Kip Hawley is an idiot on his bag, I'd say he looks like the idiot. What did he think was going to happen? Dolt.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:37 AM PST


Someone get to the grave of Henry David Thoreau, put magents on the corpse and wires around the coffin so the spinning energy can be harvested.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:55 PM on October 2, 2006


What the hell happened to your much-vaunted dedication to free speech?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:04 PM PST


Perhaps it never really existed...
posted by rough ashlar at 5:58 PM on October 2, 2006


Hell with that, wire up Arlington National Cemetery. Every single one of those who died defending the US's freedoms must be spinning in their graves at the state of the US now. Who needs a nuclear reactor when you can harness all those dynamos?
posted by kaemaril at 6:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Give your head a shake.

If you don't understand that sometimes "free" speech is violating another's right to a fair trial, and sometimes it causes you to exhibit suspicious (read: abnormal) activity, perhaps you should take your own advice. To say that the TSA should have taken no notice whatsoever is just plain silly.
posted by oaf at 6:04 PM on October 2, 2006


oaf: One can take notice, but that doesn't imply one has to interfere. Plus the unrestricted speech isn't interfering with trial, it happens that its unlimited exercise could expose a witness to a risk, maybe a life threatening one. It is up to the judge to take reponsability about his decision and to motivate his decision and he can't just decide to do whatever the fuck he wants as the laws, which is also public, says

avoiding simple embarrassment or inconvenience are not sufficient reasons to justify a publication ban.

So the judge can't just wake up on a morning an decide to censor whatever, plus there must be a request from the victim or witness, unless he/she is less then 18 and victim or witness of sexual crime.


Now we can discuss if these limitations should be considered valid or not and how and if to modify them, but the judge has to follow a public law and not at his complete discretion, as opposed to a screen who is following vague, possibly secret security rules (certainly not know before by the passenger) and that can wake up one day and decide he is the master of his little universe.
posted by elpapacito at 6:36 PM on October 2, 2006


gawd, after reading all these threads after returning from a happy hour, i can't believe all the responses.

i just am seriously curious as to your folks' line in the sand. at what point will y'all step up and say, "for fucks' sake, we should be able to write anything we want to on a goddamned baggie without getting hassled!" the guy wasn't trying to harm anyone. the guy was trying to get a message across. he wasn't do ANYTHING illegal! he had no legitimate reason to be hassled.

obviously, a letter to kip hawley wouldn't have garnered this type of discussion or debate. regardless of whether you feel the guy is a dipshit or not, i'm raising a pabst to him for at least starting a dialogue.

"here's to you, mr. questioner of airport security..."
posted by Bear at 6:42 PM on October 2, 2006


orthogonality writes "The United States is the Land of Should."

Ah, well then, there's no problem. The guy didn't get detained, and we aren't discussing it.

Or perhaps you mistyped "The United States should be the Land of Should". In which case we're right back to square one.

Bovine Love writes "I find it incredibly sad and scary that so many people think that he should have expected trouble. WTF??"

Except that, in the end, he did get trouble. So these "WTF" people were evidently correct. I'm frankly a little surprised at the position so many people are taking that ignorance is a virtue and awareness is bad. All I'm saying is "It is obvious to people who are aware of how things work in the real world that a result like this would happen". If he knew it would happen, and he did it because it would happen, then I say "Bravo, man". If he didn't know it would happen, and was surprised that it happened, I say "Open your eyes". And "open your eyes" is being described as "sad and scary". Well, in a way, yes: understanding the real world is sad and scary. But pretending it away and then being surprised is no answer. Willfull and proud ignorance of reality is even more sad and scary.

davy writes "this 'REALISM' involves WILLING AND WITTING SUBMISSION TO INJUSTICE AND TYRANNY -- AND DISDAIN FOR THOSE WHO DON'T JOIN AND ENJOY YOUR 24/7 D/s INTERNALIZED SLAVERY GAMES."

If you truly believe that, what hope do you have? Being realistic is submitting to injustice. Ignoring reality is living in a fantasy land, and then being surprised when people don't behave the way your fantasy says they should.

I believe, firmly, that reality exists. I believe that knowledge of reality better enables one to make good decisions. I am of the opinion that the whole "I don't like reality, so I'm going to pretend it doesn't exist" mentality is what's driving America into the shit it's in, and I'm amazed and dismayed to discover that this anti-thought virus has spread.

In my world (which, I hope, matches the real world), 'REALISM' involves KNOWING THAT INJUSTICE AND TYRANNY EXIST, AND FIGHTING THEM. POSSIBLY SHOWING DISDAIN FOR THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO JUST PRETEND THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE, THAT INJUSTICE AND TYRANNY DON'T EXIST, AND WHO CONSIDER KNOWING ABOUT AND TRYING TO FIGHT INJUSTICE AND TYRANNY TO BE THE SAME AS WILLINGLY SUBMITTING TO THEM.

davy writes "If y'all want to be REALISTIC get your butts to REALISTIC countries like Iran and North Korea where you'll feel right at home."

So if they're the only countries that exist in the real world, what the fuck do the rest of us live in? Some sort of magical land in the eyes of a god? I'm an atheist. It is my belief that the entire universe is "the real world". If you believe otherwise, then it seems that the problem we have is merely one of atheism versus some sort of religious belief, and that's never an argument that gets anywhere.

Western Infidels writes "There are also well-established precedents for what happens when you write your ideas down: you are allowed to do so unmolested."

I think this is the central point of disagreement, then. In my experience, that isn't true. It should be true, but ever since I was a kid (way before 9/11) I've been told that if you joke about bombs, drugs, undeclared money, etc. in your luggage, you will have to go some pain-in-the-ass procedures. Not that you should have to go through PITA procedures, but that although you shouldn't, you do. What with 9/11, my assumption has been that pretty much anything other than sheeplike servitude in the security zone will result in PITA procedures. Not that it should, mind you, but that it will. So I found this totally unsurprising. Dismaying? Yes, of course, dismaying. A whole lot of changes in the US suck donkeys. But that doesn't make them less real.

Western Infidels writes "I think it's good that we have stories like this to illustrate the culture of fear and authoritarian servility that we've cultivated for ourselves."

There we agree. Whether the guy did it on purpose, knowing he would get detained even though he shouldn't, or whether he was an idiot who didn't know he'd get detained, in the end it adds more fuel to the "things are all fucked up" signal fire, and that's good.
posted by Bugbread at 7:21 PM on October 2, 2006


If he expected the TSA goons to react the way they did, why does this make their actions any less outrageous?

Do you people who call this guy an idiot realize how dangerous your attitudes are?

Have you read about the white activists who went down South to register black voters, and were killed by shotgun-toting Alabama rednecks? Or the freedom riders who rode buses in the South to test whether the free access promised by the Constitution was really permitted? I'm sure there were plenty of people who said, "what did they expect to happen, the idiots?" Have you read about Cohen v. California, a seminal U.S. Supreme Court case in the area of freedom of expression, where a guy wore a jacket that said "Fuck the Draft" into a courthouse? I'm sure there were plenty of people who said, "what did he expect to happen, the idiot?" After all, it was dumb that he wrote it on his jacket; and there was no practical reason why he needed to be allowed to wear that jacket, with a vulgar slogan, into the courthouse -- so didn't he deserve whatever happened to him?

You people who attack this guy as an idiot are sick and dangerous, and it makes me realize how shockingly prevalent idiocy is in this country -- even among the most privileged and supposedly enlightened -- to see that supposedly "smart" people like MeFites are reduced to pathetic sheep when it comes to defending individual liberty. You have no standards other than the supremacy of sarcasm.

I'm going to quote, in closing, from an insightful comment made by member mdn in a MeFi discussion about John Gilmore's wearing of a button, "Suspected Terrorist," in which the issues seem surprisingly close to the ones raised in this incident:

The constitution is our collective moral code. Even if we're tempted, in individual situations, to say, well, he's a jerk, or, what he wants to say is inconsequential to me, we have to stand by our overarching system. Sometimes what seems inconsequential or rude at the time, in the thick of it, so to speak, turns out to be more important than you thought. As long as the speech is not intruding on the rights of others, it should be allowed.

To claim that a small pin on a man's shirt is intruding on your rights is just silly. To you, his need to express it was superficial, but it may be important to him. As I said above, there are many times where the majority doesn't see why the minority is going on about something. The back of the bus is just as good as the front; what's the big deal? Don't cause trouble...

posted by jayder at 7:40 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


That was beautiful - thank you jayder and mdn.
posted by caddis at 7:57 PM on October 2, 2006


jayder : "If he expected the TSA goons to react the way they did, why does this make their actions any less outrageous?"

In my opinion, it doesn't.

jayder : "Do you people who call this guy an idiot realize how dangerous your attitudes are?"

I'm calling him an idiot for not understanding the shitty situation the country has fallen into. If he understood it, predicted the outcome, and did it anyway, I'm not calling him an idiot. If he had his blinders on, and convinced himself that "nothing will happen, because nothing should happen, and the world is perfect and good and everything happens the way it should", then I'm calling him an idiot. And, no, I don't realize that saying people should look at the real world is dangerous. Do you people who think that willfull ignorance is better than understanding the real world realize how dangerous your attitudes are?

jayder : "You people who attack this guy as an idiot are sick and dangerous, and it makes me realize how shockingly prevalent idiocy is in this country -- even among the most privileged and supposedly enlightened -- to see that supposedly 'smart' people like MeFites are reduced to pathetic sheep when it comes to defending individual liberty. You have no standards other than the supremacy of sarcasm."

So understanding reality is "sick and dangerous"? Burying your head in the sand and pretending that everything is alright and that people in power always do what they are supposed to do, and never abuse their power, is not sick and dangerous? George "I talk to God" Bush is a paragon of proper living, and Random "The situation in Iraq is fucked up, and we have to think of some practical way to end this war and minimize future casualties on all sides" MetaFilterGuy is sick and dangerous for focusing on reality instead of pretending everything is fine?

jayder : "Even if we're tempted, in individual situations, to say, well, he's a jerk, or, what he wants to say is inconsequential to me, we have to stand by our overarching system."

False dichotomy. You can call him a jerk, or say that his speech is inconsequential to you, and stand by your overarching system. If a guy holds a flag saying "George Bush supports torture, and should be impeached", we can agree with him and stand by his freedom of speech. On the other hand, if a guy wears a t-shirt saying "Fuck all them niggers", we can call him a racist prick and say that his speech is protected by the constitution. If a guy getting robbed at gunpoint tries to attack his robber with a wet strand of spaghetti, and gets killed, we can call him an idiot and put the robber on trial for murder. Whether you agree with a person does not, and should not, affect whether you think their actions or speech are protected by the law. You shouldn't only argue for freedom of speech for people you like or agree with. Whether you say he's a jerk or not, or whether you say his speech is inconsequential or not, should have jack shit to do with whether you support his rights. Mdn's comment is a bit spooky in that it seems to assume that you must agree with anyone whose rights are being impinged upon.
posted by Bugbread at 8:19 PM on October 2, 2006


"It is obvious to people who are aware of how things work in the real world that a result like this would happen"

Bugbread, how old are you? I ask because to me, age 40, living in Western Canada, it's obvious to me that at one time, and within my recent adult lifetime, I could have written "Fuck The Prime Minister" on a baggie, boarded any airline, and likely obtained a good laugh from the security guard in the process.

I see no reason to have abandoned that standard.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:33 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


jayder, your own examples demonstrate the weakness of your argument. This guy wasn't incarcerated, enslaved, or killed by rednecks. Unlike the defendant in Cohen, he was not convicted of a crime. He was questioned at a security checkpoint for no more than 25 minutes.

There's a spectrum of extremity of governmental responses to free speech. Let's say "no reaction" is a 0, and "murder" is a 10. This is about a 2 or 3. It is enough to warrant some tweaks to the TSA's training procedures about expressive conduct, especially in light of the other cases where people have suffered more serious consequences for their expression in the airport. It doesn't mean this guy's rights were violated, and it doesn't indicate any pernicious efforts to squash free expression.

If this guy were arrested, or placed on the no fly list, or subjected to an intrusive bodily search, or not allowed to fly, or suffered some other non-trivial consequence, then outrage would be warranted. But he wasn't, so it's not. Save your vitriol for something that matters.
posted by brain_drain at 9:22 PM on October 2, 2006


five fresh fish : "Bugbread, how old are you?"

I'm 32. And I agree, there was a time when you could express yourself more freely, and when civil liberties were less curtailed. However (and maybe it's just that I get my US information from MeFi, not having lived in the US for a decade), I have gotten the impression that those civil liberties have been greatly curtailed, especially in airports, since 9/11. If this had happened when I was a kid, I'd be very surprised, but since it happened last month, I'm not so surprised. Things are very different than they were when I was a kid, the Constitution is far more often ignored, and I guess I'm just surprised that so many people seem not to have noticed.

five fresh fish : "I see no reason to have abandoned that standard."

And, again, I think you're conflating "recognizing that in reality good standards are often being ignored" with "thinking those standards are no longer good". I see no reason to abandon that standard, either. I think the way things are going is reprehensible. But I don't think that recognizing that shit is fucked up is somehow a bad, scary, evil, dangerous thing, or that pretending that shit isn't fucked up is somehow good, safe, or nice. One should never confuse "the way things should be" with "the way things are", or you allow bad things to happen.
posted by Bugbread at 9:27 PM on October 2, 2006


bugbread: voice of reason or cure for insomnia?
posted by Hat Maui at 9:40 PM on October 2, 2006


Again: "Mind your pennies and the dollars take care of themselves." If the Man can't fuck you over on small things he's not gonna pull any heavy shit. But if you give him an inch, then another inch, then another inch, you'll never get that ruler off your ass.

Where the line should have been drawn in America is BEFORE somebody could get dicked around for having "Kip Hawley is an idiot" written anywhere. Since that's already happened we Americans need to recoup -- not give up even more. And yes, by mocking this guy and calling him "unrealistic" you're signalling to The Man that next time TSA should strip search you. Or do you think you're somehow exempt from having your rights and dignity violated? Suppose some TSA guy doesn't like the shirt you're wearing, hmmm? Oh I see, let me guess, you're never confrontational at all nor do you ever stand out from the common herd in any way, so since you're such a milquetoast nebbish they'll always fuck over somebody else, is that what y'all think?
posted by davy at 10:45 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


a) Get idiot stickers printed
2) Distribute stickered bags at locations where travelers would gladly accept on their way.
c) Yay! Protest is alive.

brain_drain writes "There's a spectrum of extremity of governmental responses to free speech. Let's say 'no reaction' is a 0, and 'murder' is a 10. This is about a 2 or 3."

Um. How about we make a spectrum of arguably legal and resonable responses. 'No reaction' is a 0, arrest is a 10. That shifts 25 minutes of detention and questioning a whole lot further up the scale and well explains the reactions you consider excessive.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:19 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


davy : "And yes, by mocking this guy and calling him 'unrealistic' you're signalling to The Man that next time TSA should strip search you."

On what grounds? If I mock a guy for trying to attack a robber with a wet noodle, you're telling me that I'm signalling to robbers that next time they should shoot me?

davy : "Oh I see, let me guess, you're never confrontational at all nor do you ever stand out from the common herd in any way, so since you're such a milquetoast nebbish they'll always fuck over somebody else, is that what y'all think?"

At airports, yeah. And it shouldn't have to be that way. And we should fight it. Of course, to fight it, we'd have to know about it, and you seem dead set on sticking your head in the sand and pretending it never happens. "Don't admit that people with power abuse it! Admitting that that happens gives them the right to do more! Instead, just pretend that people in power always do what's right! Pretend that there is no torture! Pretend that civil liberties aren't being curtailed! Pretend that everything is the way it should be! If you admit anything other than that the world is a wonderful place where all of our rights are always respected and the men in uniforms will always do what's right, you're just signalling them to make it worse!"

"...Er, not that the word 'worse' makes much sense, of course, seeing how everything is perfect and no powers are ever twisted and abused."
posted by Bugbread at 11:44 PM on October 2, 2006


Some of you won't be convinced until you awaken to a jackboot on your neck.
posted by oncogenesis at 12:26 AM on October 3, 2006


oncogenesis writes "Some of you won't be convinced until you awaken to a jackboot on your neck."

And even then some people will be saying "Don't admit there's a jackboot on your neck! There shouldn't be one on your neck, so pretend it isn't there!"
posted by Bugbread at 12:32 AM on October 3, 2006


Where's my pointy stick? That bear over there looks like it needs a good poking!
posted by antifuse at 1:23 AM on October 3, 2006


Public : "Hey! That jackbooted guy just kicked me in the nads! He can't do that!"
Government : "Huh? Quit complaining, you whiner. At least he hasn't got it on your neck, so it's not like we're implementing a tyranny or anything. Anyway, as you might be a terrorist you probably deserved it. What, you think a kick in the nads violates your rights or something? Dumbass, you haven't got any rights."
posted by kaemaril at 2:13 AM on October 3, 2006


To say that the TSA should have taken no notice whatsoever is just plain silly.

Bullshit. I don't care if it say "Kip Hawley is an idiot" or "Bill Clinton is an idiot" or "Your boss is an idiot" or "My boss is an idiot."

That. Is. Not. A .Threat.

If you think that calling someone an idiot is a threat, you simply have no idea what a threat is. Hint -- the threat wants to get by security. The threat is going to be nervous. The threat is not going to holler "Alluh Akbar", or for that matter "Kip Hawley is an idiot!" while waiting in line.

The secuirty official who ordered the detention should be fired for incompetence, *then* sued for 1st Amendment violations. Any TSA superior who backed him should also be fired, not for 1st amendement violations, but for sheer incompetence.

If all I need to do to distract a security officer is call someone in the current administration an idiot *on a fucking ziplock bag*, then the TSA should just go home and let us fly -- because we can then spend the money on somethign actually useful.
posted by eriko at 5:42 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


your own examples demonstrate the weakness of your argument. This guy wasn't incarcerated, enslaved, or killed by rednecks. Unlike the defendant in Cohen, he was not convicted of a crime. He was questioned at a security checkpoint for no more than 25 minutes.

I can't speak for anyone else, but what gets me lathered about this situation has nothing to do with the amount of personal discomfort this guy went through. What concerns me about it is the same thing that used to concern me when a date was rude to our waiter: what this small behavior shows about the person's larger life and attitude, or in this case the culture of the organization. When it was a date I could choose not to go out with her again and I could sleep somewhat soundly knowing that there's limits in the culture to what she could accomplish with her selfish and thoughtless behavior.

I have no such reassurances with the TSA. My life requires that I fly, thus I am required to have continued contact with them. I similarly have little confidence in limits and oversight on their behavior.

In the realm of offenses that happen in the world, no, it's nowhere near the worse injustice. It's not genocide when a cop pulls someone over on a traffic stop just because he thinks she's cute, either, but it's creepy and threatening - just like writing someone's personal information down for "a report" because they said something you didn't like. Which is where the claims about giving the guy a second look because of his behavior break down - Putting A Note In His Permanent Record does nothing to make any of us safer. Neither does taking away his bag with his written slur, another attempt to demonstrate controlling behavior within the limits they had at that moment.

So when I see them respond to the pettiness of one person by utilizing all the tools within their reach in a case like this, I wonder when else they're going to use those tools we've provided them for a purpose other than what they're for? What's the next thing that's going to make them feel put-upon that they'll try to redress using their authority? Not meeting enough women? Not making enough money?
posted by phearlez at 7:30 AM on October 3, 2006


If you think that calling someone an idiot is a threat...

Nobody said it was. Ryan Bird's "brave act of civil disobedience" didn't indicate that he was carrying a bomb or that he intended to hijack the airplane — but it did indicate that he might cause a disturbance aboard the aircraft. And whereas poking TSA officials with your Freedom Stick might cost you a 25-minute delay at an airport checkpoint, somebody who decides to push security's buttons at 30,000 feet is liable to cause the plane to be rerouted — so if a mildly ridiculous situation can avert a major inconvenience for a couple of hundred people, then yeah, I'm OK with Ryan Bird being given the once-over.

when I see them respond to the pettiness of one person by utilizing all the tools within their reach...

Read a newspaper. Every couple months, a major airport is evacuated because of excess caution and a false alarm. This guy wasn't even arrested. TSA's toolbox is pretty full, and in this case they didn't even open the latch.
posted by cribcage at 10:05 AM on October 3, 2006


C'mon, you know perfectly we're talking about the tools they have to interact with people, not what happens if they push the Big Red Button. You're also continuing to advance this strawman that anyone had an issue with taking a second look at his possessions or even checking him for active warrants. The bullying behavior here was taking down his information for undisclosed reasons, something that does zippo to make us safer, unless you contend having a written report somehow removes his ability to "push security's buttons at 30,000 feet."
posted by phearlez at 10:45 AM on October 3, 2006


bugbread, you do realize that the jackboot in question is not being applied by al Qaeda, the Taliban, "Islamofascists", or any other external Enemy of the People. The jackboot is laced tightly 'round the foot of Uncle Sam.

The greatest threat to freedom is the state itself. Always has been. Always will be.
posted by oncogenesis at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2006


There's a lot of "where do we draw the line?" talk and "what do the authorities have to do before you get pissed off?" talk flying around here. An assumption that if we're not outraged by this guy getting delayed 25 minutes that somehow we won't be outraged if he were treated more severely. I think we'd be seeing a completely different thread here if the guy were arrested.

I haven't seen so many accusations of freedom-hating since Bush's last press conference. There is a limit to how much intrusion into our liberties we are willing to take. Its a limit that the administration has crossed many times already, and has generated appropriate outrage by the people being accused presently of being "sick and dangerous."

If we do not agree that this particular incident warrants such outrage, it does not mean that we are complacent with the Bush administration. It doesn't even mean we agree with the decision to delay or question him. It just means we see our priorities differently. And while I don't think such injustices are inconsequential, focusing on them so intently takes away from the larger struggle. I really hope every single person here in the outrage camp has already written to their senator and congressperson to urge for impeachment of Bush. These injustices are part of a system. As long as the system is in power, fighting small individual injustices will only gain limited results. Your outrage is a good thing whether I agree with it or not. But please don't think that I don't care about my liberties. I most certainly do.
posted by SBMike at 11:24 AM on October 3, 2006


cribcage: Ryan Bird's "brave act of civil disobedience" didn't indicate that he was carrying a bomb or that he intended to hijack the airplane — but it did indicate that he might cause a disturbance aboard the aircraft.

How so? Was Hawley on the aircraft? Did Bird make some mention of a grudge against aircraft crew or company? Does the TSA have agents on board conducting security checks now? In what way was a slam against a political appointee who heads the agency responsible for the security checkpoint any indication Bird would have an issue on the aircraft? I don't follow your logic.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:34 AM on October 3, 2006


oncogenesis "bugbread, you do realize that the jackboot in question is not being applied by al Qaeda, the Taliban, 'Islamofascists', or any other external Enemy of the People. The jackboot is laced tightly "round the foot of Uncle Sam."

Yes. I do realize that. That was exactly what I was talking about. I may have been unclear, so with that in mind, go back and reread what I wrote.
posted by Bugbread at 11:45 AM on October 3, 2006


Well said, SBMike.
posted by brain_drain at 11:49 AM on October 3, 2006


I have to say that nobody hase ever started an argument with my by calling my Boss an Idiot.

I would agree with them just like most everybody else I know.
posted by Megafly at 4:08 PM on October 5, 2006



AAARGH


I have to say that nobody has ever started an argument with me by calling my Boss an Idiot.

I would agree with them just like most everybody else I know.
posted by Megafly at 4:09 PM on October 5, 2006


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