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TSA agents took my son
October 16, 2009 8:59 PM   Subscribe

Woman tries to go through metal detector at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson aiport with her infant son, only to have his pacifier set off the alarm. TSA did the only rational thing and took the woman's son
posted by cgs (653 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Spoiler: HE WAS A BOMB
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:01 PM on October 16, 2009 [17 favorites]


-facepalm-
posted by strixus at 9:04 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was kinda skeptical about the story (the "pocket Xanax" remark didn't hep), but the bottom line is whether I trust the mom's judgment about what is appropriate vs the TSA's, and the TSA loses every single time.
posted by SirOmega at 9:06 PM on October 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Get a grip lady.
posted by keep_evolving at 9:07 PM on October 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


I had an emergency Xanax in my jeans pocket. I always carry an emergency Xanax in my pocket. The result of severe anxiety.

Aaaaannnnd that's where I stopped reading....
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:10 PM on October 16, 2009 [30 favorites]


TSA, I'm ashamed of you! Don't you know that potential explosives should be put into a concrete drum and detonated by remote? It's incompetent weak willed liberal death squad abortion supporting Obamapuppets like you that let the terrorists win!
posted by yeloson at 9:13 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I had an emergency Xanax in my jeans pocket. I always carry an emergency Xanax in my pocket. The result of severe anxiety.

Aaaaannnnd that's where I stopped reading....


Really? Why? (not snark. really why?)
posted by Naberius at 9:13 PM on October 16, 2009


'cheers nic!'
posted by fuzzypantalones at 9:17 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Okay. I hate the TSA just about as much as anybody, and always mutter "fascist bully boys" when I pass, but this is just melodrama. I hate when people use the excuse that they are going to miss their flight -- if that is the reason why you are outraged at the TSA you are missing the point. But she goes even further into ridiculousness. Height of ego.
posted by gingembre at 9:18 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Really? Why?

Because the taint of mental illness makes it easy to dismiss the woman's story. I'm sure that her subjective experience was horrible, and I'm equally sure that the TSA was wrong to separate her from her son.
posted by soft and hardcore taters at 9:18 PM on October 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


While I agree with SirOmega, this woman really needs to put her life in perspective. Anyone who thinks they're gonna get through a situation like this by rolling their eyes and sternly speaking to someone with any sort of badge on (cloth, metal, real or fake) is sorely mistaken.

This is 2009, right? Screaming at TSA and cussing at them rarely ends well.

I'd be angry if the TSA took my kid and walked away, it's not cool, but it's not like he was maybe in the basket of a mylar UFO type thing that just got loose in her backyard.
posted by twjordan at 9:19 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fuck all the way off, TSA.
posted by Ratio at 9:20 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's tempting to misunderstand the situation here.

You really, really don't get between a mother and her child.

I'm serious. I am genuinely impressed the mother didn't turn violent. This is one of those "humans have been doing this since before they were human", waterboarding-level gut reactions. Note the focus on eye contact. From the moment that baby was out of that mother's sight, he was dead. Dead, murdered, eaten.

Irrational, sure. But that's the emotional programming, and there's no getting around that. They could have started beating that mother with truncheons and scared her less.
posted by effugas at 9:20 PM on October 16, 2009 [79 favorites]


Yes, I also think the mother comes across as an unreliable narrator, here. Not from the Xanax, but from the scattered writing job a full day later. Of course, that doesn't excuse the central thing: if the TSA rep really removed the child and had him alone away from his parents for minutes.... then there has to be a lawsuit coming.

Because that's just plain crazy.
posted by rokusan at 9:23 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


bottom line is whether I trust the mom's judgment about what is appropriate vs the TSA's, and the TSA loses every single time.

Funny -- when the question is whether I trust a blogger's judgment vs the TSA's, the TSA always wins.
posted by jayder at 9:23 PM on October 16, 2009


How do they teach those TSA assholes to be so consistently heartless and obtuse? Are they bred for those qualities, or do they find them growing in the splooge near a superfund site?
posted by klanawa at 9:23 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Aaaaannnnd that's where I stopped reading....

Really? Why?

Because the taint of mental illness makes it easy to dismiss the woman's story.


So... you did the easy thing! Wonderful! A big round of applause for you!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:23 PM on October 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


We will not ask you to do anything that will separate you from your child or children.

From the TSA website.
posted by hippybear at 9:24 PM on October 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


100% agree with effugas. I thought of some TSA taking my daughter away from me, and just the thought filled me with a primal rage for a second. Plus, I went through a period of really severe anxiety and I always kept a valium in my bag then. So I'm just as scornworthy as this woman is, to the Metafilter snark brigade.
posted by Ruki at 9:25 PM on October 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Do we have a "Recreational Outrage" tag?
posted by fatbird at 9:26 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


TSA Gangstaz
posted by delmoi at 9:27 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Now THAT'S good security theatre.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:27 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Really? Why? (not snark. really why?)

First, it's just one blog post, so I have no idea if this is even close to accurately portraying what happened. If the 10 smartest, most reasonable people in the world see a car crash, you'll get 10 different descriptions of what happened, and some of them will be flat wrong. That's just human nature.

But when you get to the "emergency Xanax" part, the blogger's credibility gets thrown even into question. IMO, the credibility bar gets raised significantly. "Jackson was out of my eyesight ... My guess is that all of this took place within a period of 10 minutes or less."

Well, by "out of eyesight," does she mean another room? Another terminal? Or, like, behind a post? And 10 minutes? Sure it wasn't, say, 90 seconds? If the whole thing took 10 minutes, how long was Jackson actually out of eyesight? What portion of 10 minutes did that take?

Note that I'm not saying she's lying. Just highly, highly emotionally charged about the whole thing, to the point where mistakes in one's perceptions and memories become highly likely.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:28 PM on October 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


UTSA! UTSA! UTSA!
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:29 PM on October 16, 2009


When the guy picked up her son, I don't understand why she didn't just calmly follow him where they were going? Why watch him go and THEN freak out?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:29 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


gets thrown even into question.

Err, gets thrown into even greater question.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:32 PM on October 16, 2009


Get a grip lady.

Yeah, so the tone of her writing is breathless and overwrought.
And she could have handled the situation a lot better.

But the TSA were still being fucking insensitive morons, and violating their own policy, and very likely breaking the law. I hope she sues and wins.

No stranger touches -- let alone takes -- my child, without my permission, period.
posted by Ratio at 9:32 PM on October 16, 2009 [42 favorites]


Reading my TSA link a bit more in detail:

Do not pass your child to our Security Officer to hold.

Sounds like someone's TSA crew needs a refresher on their training. That's two direct violations off one single page outlining their policy for dealing with children.
posted by hippybear at 9:33 PM on October 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Ugh. That's awful. This is why I always ship my little cousins back home by helium balloon.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:34 PM on October 16, 2009 [36 favorites]


I blame Sgt. Crowley. Seriously, though, why is everyone in a rush to blame the victim?

Just highly, highly emotionally charged

They took her child. Under what circumstances does that make sense, even it was for 90 seconds? Are there al Qaeda baby-bombs now?
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:34 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Also, I totally identified with her primal-rage-vision-going-black sensation. Can't believe they thought it was a good idea to take the baby away from the mother to pat him down. That's dumb even for the multibillion dollar whirlygig that is the TSA.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:34 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I definitely rolled my eyes at this:
I had an emergency Xanax in my jeans pocket. I always carry an emergency Xanax in my pocket. The result of severe anxiety.

I took the pill, but it did very little. I was so traumatized that it would’ve taken probably 4 Xanax to get my blood pressure back down to a normal level.
I mean come on, how are we not supposed to think you're prone to overreaction if you need an 'emergency pill' on you all the time just because you freak out so much. They only took the kid for a few minutes to check him. The freak out doesn't seem accompanied by any rational fear at all.
posted by delmoi at 9:35 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fast-acting Xanax, eh? Methinks its efficacy is all in her head.

What TSA did was wrong, though. You don't friggin' walk off with someone's child. Good god.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, oh, I know this one - the baby contained more than 3 ounces of liquid. Or he wasn't properly placed in a baggie with her other belongings. Am I getting mixed up?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:36 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


They took her child. Under what circumstances does that make sense, even it was for 90 seconds? Are there al Qaeda baby-bombs now?

I have never understood why people think Al Qaeda wouldn't put bombs on children. I mean if children were never searched, then terrorists would have a 100% effective means of smuggling whatever they wanted onto planes.
posted by delmoi at 9:36 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This was, of course, an emotional blog entry, and one wonders why anyone would want to put this into the intertubes if it really happened. That said, if it really did happen, whether it was another room, another terminal, behind a post for 90 seconds or 10 minutes, all TSA agents involved, that is to say, all who admonished her one way or another, should lose their jobs and be put back in the alley they probably came from. Just sayin'.
posted by carping demon at 9:37 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow. I'm not saying it's right, but I wouldn't have been even a little bit shocked if this had ended with her gouging out somebody's eye. You do not take the baby from the mama. No. That's generally a bad idea in species that have fur and mammary glands. That is right up there with coming out of the shower, seeing your Doberman has piddled, then bopping him on the nose with your dick as punishment. It's not really called for and if it ends badly, nobody would have any sympathy for you.

I dunno, maybe the end of Song of Kali stuck with someone and they tried to make it into a policy decision. Here's hoping that these brave men and women of the TSA are promoted to a new job which requires them to defend the sewers of DC from the terrorist threat of guys who have smuggled in explosives and have crapped them out somewhere far, far upstream where the water is still clear.
posted by adipocere at 9:37 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


They took her child. Under what circumstances does that make sense, even it was for 90 seconds? Are there al Qaeda baby-bombs now?

Straw man for the win!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:37 PM on October 16, 2009


I hate the TSA. I hate that the TSA is the face of the United States. I hate that, when people come over to visit us in the United States, they have a nasty experience with Immigration, and then when they're going back home, they have an experience with the TSA that makes Immigration seem like a lover to TSA's rapist.

I hate everyone who expresses one syllable of support for the TSA.

The TSA is the gang problem of America. The TSA is the thug problem of America. The TSA is a colony of criminals and bullies. The TSA should be a prison and its employees should be inmates, and the warden and the guards should be the millions of people who have been humiliated and fucked up by the TSA.

For no reason at all.

There is no longer any reason to search anyone before they board an airplane. The cockpit is locked. Anything that anyone does with a boxcutter -- or a pacifier clip -- is going to be put down by passenger vigilantes.

It should be easier to pass through security, post 9/11, than it was before.

Fuck and destroy the TSA. I'd rather the United States be represented by Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond and Glenn Beck and George Bush and Dick Cheney than have the TSA be the official "hope you enjoyed your visit" representative of the United States to the rest of the world.

Break the TSA over my leg. Wreck the TSA in a hit-and-run.
posted by gum at 9:39 PM on October 16, 2009 [75 favorites]


Also, I totally identified with her primal-rage-vision-going-black sensation.

It was a hyperventilating alternating with forgetting to breath sensation. She says as much.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, not cool to dump on the story just because she has a Xantax. Just because she has medication to help her deal with excess anxiety does not mean that she's not credible. I thought people on Metafilter were beyond perpetuating stigmas against people with psychological issues.

I mean, would you take a person's stance on politics less seriously if he had depression?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:40 PM on October 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


You really, really don't get between a mother and her child.

Or a father. If someone tried that crap with me and mine, there'd be hell to pay. And before the dust had settled, I'd slap a lawsuit on them so fast they wouldn't know what hit 'em.
posted by zarq at 9:41 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Speaking as a depressed person, tim, yes. Depression tends to throw things quite a bit out of proportion.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:42 PM on October 16, 2009


What or who is the TSA?
posted by taff at 9:43 PM on October 16, 2009


There is no longer any reason to search anyone before they board an airplane.

Quick, somebody show this person the link about the sh ... oh, wait, I got it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:43 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Note that I'm not saying she's lying. Just highly, highly emotionally charged about the whole thing, to the point where mistakes in one's perceptions and memories become highly likely.

Because it's not like the TSA/DHS hasn't fucked with people they don't like, and it's not like they haven't seriously considered wrapping electric dog collars around passengers' necks on domestic flights. Maybe she really is just another hysterical woman.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:43 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every time I've dealt with the TSA, I've always come away feeling like I've just encountered a mall security guard granted his heart's desire: license to fuck with whomever they please with the slightest justification. For a certain personality type, even the smallest dose of authority is dangerously intoxicating and, just as in the case of the racist Louisiana Justice of the Peace, you can always expect obnoxious behavior from small people who are granted just a little bit of power.

For my part, I don't doubt the veracity of this story in the slightest, emergency Xanax or not. I've seen the smug expressions on the faces of too many TSA agents while I hold up my pants and await the return of my obviously bomb-concealing belt. It doesn't surprise me one bit that employees of this agency, which has too much authority and not near enough expertise, could bumble something so badly.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:44 PM on October 16, 2009 [25 favorites]


They only took the kid for a few minutes to check him. The freak out doesn't seem accompanied by any rational fear at all.

So... no children, huh?

I mean seriously, the fact that a TSA badge or whatever they have that identifies them as having that authority is enough that you would think it okay for a total stranger to be alone in a room with a child without a parent's permission is mind boggling to me.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:46 PM on October 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


I have never understood why people think Al Qaeda wouldn't put bombs on children. I mean if children were never searched, then terrorists would have a 100% effective means of smuggling whatever they wanted onto planes.

Obviously there's a way to search a mother and child and there's a way not to search a mother and child. On the face of it, it looks like this is a textbook case of the latter. Unless people want to suggest infants should be separated from their parents and strip searched because of a pacifier, they should stop arguing inanities.

Straw man for the win!

What's the straw man? Let me switch from rhetorical question to honest question: under what circumstances would the TSA separating an infant from its mom be justified? Whatever the answer, it seems pretty obvious there was nothing about this particular case that demanded mom and infant being separated. It's just common sense, even if the mom is being a P.I.T.A.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:48 PM on October 16, 2009


I mean seriously, the fact that a TSA badge or whatever they have that identifies them as having that authority is enough that you would think it okay for a total stranger to be alone in a room with a child without a parent's permission is mind boggling to me.

Just to point out, it hasn't at all been established that this man was in any room alone with her kid...
posted by twjordan at 9:48 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


They only took the kid for a few minutes to check him.

Oh, and she only knows it was 10 minutes after it happened. That's about 9 minutes and 30 seconds too long in my opinion. 9 minutes and thirty seconds of which they would have had to tackle and hold me down for heading after the agent. How this woman didn't chase them is beyond me--though I recognize it would have ended worse for everyone involved if she had.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:48 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, not cool to dump on the story just because she has a Xantax. Just because she has medication to help her deal with excess anxiety does not mean that she's not credible.

Well, I don't think that's actually how you're supposed to use it, is it?

Fast-acting Xanax, eh? Methinks its efficacy is all in her head.

Well, Wikipedia lists it's onset as "Fast" with a duration of 3-5 hours.
posted by delmoi at 9:48 PM on October 16, 2009


Break the TSA over my leg. Wreck the TSA in a hit-and-run.

Take the children of the TSA away from it!
posted by ericost at 9:49 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


What's the straw man? Let me switch from rhetorical question to honest question: under what circumstances would the TSA separating an infant from its mom be justified? Whatever the answer, it seems pretty obvious there was nothing about this particular case that demanded mom and infant being separated.
Not only is there no reason, it's also against the rules.
posted by delmoi at 9:49 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, the blogger sounds like a nut job.

At the same time, separating a small child from his/her mother is likely to be extremely distressing for both the mother and child (and the father if he is present).

I've been through airport security with my daughter when she was just old enough to walk. We had to take her stuffed animal from her to go through the x-ray machine, and she had to walk through the metal detector by herself. She dealt with both of these things, but just barely. I can't imagine what we would have done if the TSA insisted on taking her from us. Protecting your own babies and small children is a very, very strong instinct (go try to take a cub from a mother bear and see how well that goes).

This is one of those situations where we would have said "not in America" ten years ago.

It amazes me that the TSA gets to do whatever they want just because we might be safer. Do we give the police this type of power? The armed forces? No. For some reason, if a commercial airplane is involved it's okay that we no longer have any rights.

If you fly in a private jet, though, you do not go through security. No metal detectors, no searches, no TSA, just walk right on.

Why is a private jet somehow not a security threat?

When did we get to vote that to give the TSA their powers?
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 9:54 PM on October 16, 2009 [19 favorites]


Well, I don't think that's actually how you're supposed to use it, is it?

My wife has bipolar disorder, and in the past she has been given a prescription for Xanax for precisely this purpose--extra help during an unusually stressful situation.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:00 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Security Theater of the Absurd.
posted by scody at 10:02 PM on October 16, 2009


When the guy picked up her son, I don't understand why she didn't just calmly follow him where they were going? Why watch him go and THEN freak out?

Airport security is a confusing, frightening mess. I travel a lot for work, and so I'm pretty used to the routine, but I'm really surprised by the people who don't remove change or keys from their pockets, bring cases of wine as carry-on.

And then you have the pressure of having your bag opened and picked through. And you have to hurry hurry hurry to open your bag, remove your jacket, etc., all the while being stared at by slack-jawed security monkeys.

It's a stressful, disorienting situation at the best of times.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:03 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


She was being hysterical, which made the situation much worse. Clearly, that's a problem she's prone to.

The TSA violated their policy, and probably should've invited the mom to at least see the kid as he was examined. That said, she probably shouldn't be allowed to touch her kid during that time, as it could threaten the security process if the kid was being used to hide something.

What this tells me is that there are TSA employees who are new, not particularly intelligent, and lack experience to deal with such situations. More can and should be done. Really, I'm not adverse to the idea of someone getting fired over this, if only because it shows a general lack of common sense by the employee in question.

But the fact remains... if you aren't careful and trigger their sensors, you can -- and should -- expect to be searched thoroughly.

(Oh, and despite the occasional neo-fascist clusterf*ck, sometimes airport security can be really kinda funny.)
posted by markkraft at 10:03 PM on October 16, 2009


Airport security is nonsense. The TSA is nonsense squared.

It would be much simpler for any real terrorist worth his/her salt to get a job with any one of the many companies which has access to the tarmac and which provides load-on services to an airplane during its time waiting for the passenger load-in. Meal services, fuel services, even a baggage handler can pretty much bypass most airport security and go whereever they please.

Heck, I have a certificate from the TSA saying that I'm a "known shipper" and therefore I can go to airport cargo offices and give them a cardboard box to put on an airplane. A certain number of those are screened, but not all of them...

Plus, well, there was that article in the Atlantic from not long ago which outlined how much of a theater experience the whole TSA process is anyway.
posted by hippybear at 10:05 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know, I was 100% on this woman's side in the outrage department until I got to the statement about how I can't possibly understand this because I'm not a mother. The woman who helped her gather her belongings? Must have been a mother. The husband who couldn't help her by phone? Because he wasn't a mother.

Well, fuck you, baby lady. I do not need to have given birth to be entirely sure that you do not separate non-verbal children from their custodial parent. I also do not need to be a mother to realise that you do not take a child out of sight of a parent except under the most extraordinary circumstances, and never without a witness.

Except now I don't care what happens to you because you've moved from being a victim of TSA gestappo thugs to just being another moron sobbing on Maury or wherever you turn up next.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:05 PM on October 16, 2009 [30 favorites]


Metafilter: Right up there with coming out of the shower, seeing your Doberman has piddled, then bopping him on the nose with your dick as punishment. It's not really called for and if it ends badly, nobody would have any sympathy for you.

(Sorry. Just had to call out this bit of brilliance from adipocere.)
posted by effugas at 10:06 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The biggest gripe I have about the TSA is that the workers are government union employees. Government employees shouldn't belong to unions. Collective bargaining sure, but no unions/job protection. I'm pretty sure the agents involved were violating TSA rules, but the worst they'll get is some mandatory training. Nothing that might actually change their behavior and provide punishment for their actions.

And I belonged to a government employee union for several years.
posted by SirOmega at 10:06 PM on October 16, 2009


delmoi: hit up RxList for info like that.
Following oral administration, alprazolam is readily absorbed. Peak concentrations in the plasma occur in 1 to 2 hours following administration.
Also, I note that nowhere in the extensive documentation does it for a moment suggest that Xanax should be taken in the manner the blogger suggests. I suspect her use of the drug is incorrect and ineffective except as a placebo.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:08 PM on October 16, 2009


I mean come on, how are we not supposed to think you're prone to overreaction if you need an 'emergency pill' on you all the time just because you freak out so much.

That's right, folks. If you have problems with anxiety, so much so that you need prescription medication, make sure to never, ever fly again. Because when someone steals your baby even for ten measly minutes, people on the internet will rightly find you lacking.

Might as well start saving up the old vacation time for that cross-Atlantic steamship trip you'll get to take one day. As long as you're not prone to seasickness.
posted by sugarfish at 10:08 PM on October 16, 2009 [38 favorites]


Opps. I forgot to add the link.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 PM on October 16, 2009


Security Theatre of Cruelty.
posted by rdc at 10:10 PM on October 16, 2009


I always like these little conundrums, where party A is, say, 2 points in the wrong, and party B is, say, 6 points in the wrong, and then people are asked for their reactions. Some people either like party B enough, or dislike party A enough, that they will only emphasize the 2 wrong points of party A. Some will say, compared to 6, 2 is nothing!; or, people are 2 points in the wrong all the time, but 6, that's worth talking about. And some will weigh 2 versus 6 for a measured judgement, as if they are adjudicating a trial, or as if it made much sense to say party B was 4 points wronger than party A.

My take is that she's a bit nutty (and not because of the anxiety, but because she doesn't appear to take the sorts of conscious measures to control it that many of us struggle with every day), clearly over-reacting, but with solid provocation. And the TSA is a micro-state of fascism, as always (and like such a state, many of the citizens are perfectly fine one-on-one, when they've finally given up on trying to confiscate my scissors). Ethically, though, these two stories have nothing much to do with each other; she's a 2, they're a 6. There's a lot of over-wrought mothers out there, and the TSA is, well, a good reminder of what this country might slip into if we don't watch it...
posted by chortly at 10:11 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm goin' for a Xanax. It's depressing to see so many missing the point.
posted by carping demon at 10:11 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


We are going to have a lot of explaining to do in future

Somebody get this guy an Emergency Xanax.
posted by dhammond at 10:11 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think anyone on this thread who's suggested the mother overreacted, pretty clearly doesn't have children. So, homework assignment:

Go to one of your friends who does, and ask how they'd react. Father or mother, doesn't matter. Heck, go to three of your friends.

TSA has this policy for a reason. "Every rule a body" and all that.
posted by effugas at 10:12 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't have kids, probably never will. But I have been in situations like this, where the part of my brain that could have hope of "remaining calm" and trying to reason with the intractable authority figures just shut down, with only a really, really angry animal beneath it.

Luckily for me it's never been in a situation like that - just things like internet flamewars. And luckily for her she made it through with her kid, with nobody arrested, and hopefully with no lingering emotional trauma.

But yeah. She's already stressed out from being close to her flight time and being completely ignored, and then they take her baby away. Those TSA agents are lucky this woman folds in on herself under stress, or they might have had their throats ripped out. Seriously. Never get between two lovers fighting, and never get between an angry mother and her kid; you have very good chance of suddenly finding yourself dealing with one pissed-off animal who has just enough sense to use anything in reach to hurt you as much as possible.
posted by egypturnash at 10:14 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's the straw man?

The straw man was, if you back way, way up in the conversation, you attacking a point about an unreliable narrator by switching the discussion to "Al Qaeda baby bombs."

/me raises glass, drains it
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:15 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm not going to point fingers, but with my own experience with the Atlanta Airport TSA folks, this doesn't surprise me in the least. Anecdotes are not evidence, but when six people watch you fall to the floor, be unable to get up for a minute, pull yourself to your feet, check yourself for injuries, find several LARGE bruises from the floor, trays, and other things you hit on the way down trying to catch yourself, and only one even asks "Are you ok?" as if you'd just done nothing more than stub your toe? Yeah, these people are heartless bastards.
posted by strixus at 10:15 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't think that was a straw man: merely a rhetorical point of emphasis, and one I stand by 100%. You, on the other hand, have failed to defend your preemptive attempt to dismiss this woman as a Xanax-taking hysteric: which was the real straw man of this thread.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:17 PM on October 16, 2009


The biggest gripe I have about the TSA is that the workers are government union employees.

Wrong. While some workers may join a union on their own, when Bush created the TSA, its employees were specifically not protected by the collective bargaining rights accorded to other federal employees. While Obama has said that he wants to change that and there is a bill in the House to do so, right now you can thank the open shop for that special airport experience.
posted by enn at 10:21 PM on October 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


It's pretty easy to come down on that woman for overreacting, but it's not fair at all because you have to consider who is in control. This is not a situation where two equals are interacting. Maybe she's prone to anxiety, so what? The power dynamic is completely tilted in favor of the TSA, and burden is upon them to handle it professionally. That's their job. It shouldn't matter if the woman was a mental patient.

They broke their own rules, they ignored helpful information, they didn't use a hand scanner to verify what the woman said, they were completely callous to her needs both as a passenger and a parent. Given that the woman made her flight, I don't know that there's any need for restitution, but she clearly deserves an apology from someone higher up the food chain, and they TSA employees need some remedial training.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:23 PM on October 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


i thought she sounded nutty even before she got to the xanax, but that was the end of it for me, too.
posted by empath at 10:26 PM on October 16, 2009


Wrong. While some workers may join a union on their own, when Bush created the TSA, its employees were specifically not protected by the collective bargaining rights accorded to other federal employees.

Then I guess I'm wrong. But I guess that doesn't explain why I never hear of TSA agents getting fired for doing asinine shit like this?
posted by SirOmega at 10:30 PM on October 16, 2009


But I guess that doesn't explain why I never hear of TSA agents getting fired for doing asinine shit like this?

Have you ever worked for the government? You have to kill someone to get fired.
posted by empath at 10:32 PM on October 16, 2009


Fast-acting Xanax, eh? Methinks its efficacy is all in her head.

You might be really surprised at the power of the placebo effect, to the point that it can trigger the exact same effects as the drug or whatever that it actually replaces. It doesn't matter if the early efficacy is self-induced, it achieves the result of calming her down enough to function. I think people who don't suffer from actual, clinical anxiety find it very difficult to understand that it can be completely overwhelming at times. That pill can help her get back under control, how much of it is the pill and how much of it is her seems pretty inconsequential in the long run.

I'm very surprised that people are thinking that the mother somehow asked for this. She might have been a bit snotty, but seriously, at a certain point, TSA officials (and others like them in other countries) need to start using some common sense. Look at the kid, he has a clearly visible piece of metal on him that seems easy to forget. Maybe let them take it off and walk through one more time?

And in the end, it seems like if you're going to do something like this, you damn well better communicate every single action to the mother before you actually do it. Tell the mother you need to take him around the corner for whatever reason. Don't just do it without saying anything other than "I need to pick him up", that's just asinine.

Seriously though, common sense, where's the regulation on that?
posted by dnesan at 10:32 PM on October 16, 2009


But when you get to the "emergency Xanax" part, the blogger's credibility gets thrown into even greater question.

This person is very matter-of-fact about her panic attack, just like most people who are managing an ongoing medical condition. People who are managing an anxiety or panic disorder are very, very aware of their state of mind, which she describes quite consistently throughout her story. In fact, they tend to be hyper-aware of their immediate surroundings until panic fully manifests, with the fear burning every word and detail into their brains.

IMO, none of that reduces her credibility regarding the main events. The key event took place before, as she says, 'panic set in,' at which point she describes telltale symptoms of a classic panic attack.

The fact remains that they took her child out of sight. The exact distance they took the child, and whether for two minutes or ten minutes, doesn't matter one whit. But you may want to note that, in the interim before getting her child back, she was searched and then left alone long enough to make two phone calls.

Having an anxiety disorder sucks, not least because otherwise rational and open-minded people can dismiss you with the word, 'unstable,' and not be called on it.
posted by zennie at 10:33 PM on October 16, 2009 [33 favorites]


GIVE ME BACK MY SON!
posted by banishedimmortal at 10:33 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


The male TSA agent repeated, “I’m going to have to pick him up to inspect him.”

I handed him my son.


She handed him her son??

The proper response in this situation is:

"Fuck No."
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:33 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, just to check, how are the TSA supposed to deal with people medically prone to anxiety? Like, are they supposed to specially aggravated it by taking away their kids?
posted by ntk at 10:39 PM on October 16, 2009


I've said it before and I'll say it again. You should be able to pay cash and walk on a plane. Planes are just buses. There is no way to make a plane safe from a determined bomber. So in the meantime, we suffer moments like these.
posted by CarlRossi at 10:41 PM on October 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I suspect the TSA is an employment program for the kinds of people George Bush liked to hang with when he was a fresh young adult.

You might be really surprised at the power of the placebo effect

Or I might not.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm not a big fan of these "TSA is horrible" anecdotes because of that Mom who dumped a sippy cup of water onto the floor then tried to make it seem like TSA abused her. The footage was revealed to show that she purposely dumped the water on the floor. Who knows what this woman was really doing.
posted by anniecat at 10:43 PM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The TSA funsters are clearly retarded, but geez, so is that woman. Her panic is ridiculous. What a victim.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:48 PM on October 16, 2009


Who knows what this woman was really doing.

I don't know how reliable her story is, and her panic seems really over the top, but the TSA goons at ATL are terrible. Like, mean and bitter, not just poorly trained and incompetent like security in other airports. It wouldn't be a surprise if they really did take the kid into a room for 10 minutes, spent most of the time talking over a crying child about which coworkers they'd like to fuck, and then made fun of the mother after she left.
posted by cmonkey at 10:56 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I find it weird that so many of you non-brown people are so enraged at the TSA when I'm the one getting pulled aside nine out of ten times for being brown at the checkpoint. It's so routine for us that we make sure there's plenty of time for us (my equally brown husband) to get to our gate because we most likely will be pulled aside.
posted by anniecat at 10:57 PM on October 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


Or maybe she's just crazy.
posted by cmonkey at 11:16 PM on October 16, 2009 [63 favorites]


Cmonkey, I just tried to post that response too... but my internet is being unreliable. I can't see the video. But I'm in Australia. Can you see it?
posted by taff at 11:25 PM on October 16, 2009


I hope I didn't miss any comments to this effect but I didn't see these questions raised:

1) if the detector beeped and the person claim they know what it was... why don't they have them step back, put the thing in question under the scanner and have them pass through the detector again? Then, if it beeps again, search them.

2) If a physical search is deemed necessary why can't they search the kid in front of the mom? All you need is 2 agents to create a safe situation for the officers (one to watch mom, while the other looks over the kid).

IANAL but I'm fairly certain it's got to be completely illegal to remove a minor from their guardian unless that guardian is in some way considered to be a threat to them or gives permission.
Regardless of mom's mental state and use of medications... I think the response to having your kid taken away is way beyond any of that. It's basic, visceral and instinctive. In fact it seems miraculous to me that they didn't have to restrain her. Maybe the medication worked better than she thought.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:26 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm a little confused over the objections to the "emergency Xanax," or assumption that its benefit is based on a placebo effect. In my experience, it's a relatively fast-acting benzo, which begins to take effect in about 30 minutes (in contrast to, say, Valium).*

Maybe people are reacting to the hyperbolic tone of the post, in general. But it doesn't strike me as particularly outre or irresponsible that someone would take medication because they're having a panic attack, and are about to get on a plane. I imagine people with flying-related phobias do so pretty regularly.

So, to repeat the earlier question, why does that make people stop reading? I'm honestly curious.

*Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that peak serum levels =! therapeutic serum levels.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:27 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it wasn't the xanax in isolation, only the generally hysterical tone in combination with the xanax anecdote.

And the fact that based on the video, she basically made everything up.
posted by empath at 11:29 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hairy Lobster - Check out cmonkey's video link. Looks like the kid was patted down while still in Mom's lap, then placed in his stroller, in her line of sight, while she got searched.

So, move along folks, nothing to see here. No taken child, just standard-issue TSA mild humiliation.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:30 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's hoax week on metafilter!
posted by empath at 11:30 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Cmonkey: if that's the footage of the incident in question, then yeah, mom's a big fat liar. Nice find.

I love the internet so much.
posted by Ratio at 11:30 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cmonkey, I just tried to post that response too... but my internet is being unreliable. I can't see the video. But I'm in Australia. Can you see it?

I can, and if it's her in the video, the only truthful thing in her weblog post was her and her child getting shunted into one of those tall plastic containment areas while she waited for additional screening.
posted by cmonkey at 11:31 PM on October 16, 2009


It actually bugs me a little bit that the TSA posts the video on these incidents. It's not the first time they've done it and it kind of strikes me as an abuse of power, but I can't quite put my finger on why.

But I'm about 100% sure that if their had been abuse, the TSA wouldn't have been so quick to post the video.
posted by empath at 11:32 PM on October 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Well, the video worked for me. Absent any tampering, I gather it just shows a boring total 15' with the waitings plus extra checking with a wand and hands (I think? blurred for privacy or something). Kid is always at hand reach during this whole thing. Mother is over the baby at one point, which might be when they search the baby?
posted by Iosephus at 11:34 PM on October 16, 2009


You really, really don't get between a mother and her child.

I wouldn't have been even a little bit shocked if this had ended with her gouging out somebody's eye

If someone tried that crap with me and mine, there'd be hell to pay.


If I ever have a kid and TSA takes it away at the airport I'll scream like a kzin and leap on to the back of the nearest TSA agent, then I'll reach down and with my Hulk-rage I'll punch right through their fucking chest and rip their heart out and then I'll plunge my bloody hands right through both cheeks and rip their face off and eat it, and then I'll leap off taking their head with me, blood and spinal fluid spurting everywhere, and the last thing they'll see with their bloody no-face decapitated skull will be me taking a giant shit in their mouth-hole. And my howls of animal rage will be so powerful that they will shatter everyone's skulls for 20 feet around me. And then people will rush to see what's going on and they'll see me there pantless and bloody-handed in the middle of corpses and skulls and giblets screeching incoherent obscenities around someone's face in my mouth and they'll think "HOLY SHIT, THAT THERE IS THE WORLD'S GREATEST FATHER." With all-caps.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:35 PM on October 16, 2009 [145 favorites]


If that video is of the incident, it does appear that people's initial suspicions were correct. Events did not appear to follow anywhere close to her story. It looks like she had a typical "additional screening" experience and confabulated an alternative narrative, possibly brought on by stress or medications.
posted by justkevin at 11:37 PM on October 16, 2009


blurred for privacy or something

Yeah, i though that was kind of weird. And then I thought that there is probably a whole underworld of japanese girl-on-girl security checkpoint fetish porn out there that i had no idea i was missing out on.
posted by empath at 11:37 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This will be the second time I say this today:

What a bunch of bullshit.

That lady lied her ass off.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:39 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


also, i think ROU's comment should be in the goddamned snark hall of fame or something.
posted by empath at 11:39 PM on October 16, 2009


Wow.
posted by effugas at 11:39 PM on October 16, 2009


Metafilter: They'll see me there pantsless and bloody-handed
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:39 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm on the mother's side, because it's the only side being represented, and I read it on a cutesy pink blog with cutesy pink blog name.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:41 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the video, cmonkey. Clears a lot of stuff up -- violation of privacy or no.

It probably felt like it went on forever, but it didn't. And no-one removed her baby from her sight.

Anyone who wants to start talking about the Wonderful Power Of A Mother's Bond With Her Child needs to watch the video before they make their post.
posted by jrochest at 11:41 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Regarding the video blurring, her post says that they "forced me to unbutton my jeans because the button beeped when she went over my abdomen with her wand." So, assuming that did happen, it would help explain why they blurred the video. (Not exactly pantsless like ROU but...)
posted by girlhacker at 11:42 PM on October 16, 2009


a whole underworld of japanese girl-on-girl security checkpoint fetish porn

Ew. I wonder what the hell will they do with the new scanners that show your body "naked", then. Dirty little pervs are probably going to animate them with Blender or some such in all kind of mindbogglingly nasty situations. ;)
posted by Iosephus at 11:43 PM on October 16, 2009


You know what? FLAGGED!

This is garbage.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:44 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just amused reading the RSS comment feed. While you can no longer read the comments from the page or comment on her post, you can still see everything posted until a little after midnight est and it seems she changed her original post from some longer length of time to 'ten minutes'.

She probably should have removed the RSS comments feed link too. oops.
posted by darlingmagpie at 11:44 PM on October 16, 2009


Let's assume that's her -- though I wonder a) how they knew, and b) how much time and how many people it took to assemble that nice video, with 5 different shots well-edited from who knows how many possible cameras. But assuming it's her, and the episode she refers to, then clearly she made up a lot of stuff. So, referring to my previous post, that bumps her up to a 4 or 5 on the nutty scale. But even apart from the 2 minutes in a box, 3 full minutes being wanded down (what the heck were they doing behind that blur?), it's pretty scary to me personally that the TSA can, whenever it feels, deploy its thousand cameras and team of editors to display your behavior to the world. Yeah, they (it appears) gotcha'd her; but I don't suppose there's a general policy on disseminating the video of a dispute -- and none of us imagines they would ever show it were they in the wrong (I'm sure even they grant that accidents do happen). A system that so elaborately scanners and wands you, and then publicizes the video of it all if you get a bit flakey, is even worse than mere surveillance. So again -- she's bumped up to a 5, sure, but as for them, in my mind immediately posting that video is at least as creepy as going off with her kid for a few minutes.
posted by chortly at 11:46 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


japanese girl-on-girl security checkpoint fetish porn

That's tame, you're /b/ stare is losing focus.
posted by Mblue at 11:46 PM on October 16, 2009


COUNTER-EXAMPLE...
A few days ago, a 14-year-old kid talked his way past the TSA and onto a flight from Portland, Oregon to Chicago, with a boarding pass with his mother's name on it and NO I.D., exposing a TSA loophole you can pass a high school marching band through.
posted by wendell at 11:47 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm too lazy to check her blog to confirm this, but I am guessing she's a single mom. There's no way there's some dude tolerating her crazy-ass bullshit day in and day out.
posted by jayder at 11:49 PM on October 16, 2009


[Bunch of comments removed. The "no seriously fuck you" stuff just isn't gonna fly; either find a way to make your point without getting nasty or take a walk.]
posted by cortex at 11:50 PM on October 16, 2009


At this point, going through her blog for personal stuff to pick on her about seems kind of over the line. I mean, she's got emotional problems, she over-reacted, leave her alone.
posted by empath at 11:52 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


At this point, going through her blog for personal stuff to pick on her about seems kind of over the line. I mean, she's got emotional problems, she over-reacted, leave her alone.
posted by empath at 11:52 PM on October 16 [+] [!]

Eponyhysterical
posted by jayder at 11:54 PM on October 16, 2009


I'm too lazy to check her blog to confirm this, but I am guessing she's a single mom. There's no way there's some dude tolerating her crazy-ass bullshit day in and day out.

LOLTROUBLEDWOMAN!
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:55 PM on October 16, 2009


Over-reacted is an understatement. She basically charged the TSA with KIDNAPPING.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:55 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: "... then I'll plunge my bloody hands right through both cheeks and rip their face off and eat it ..."

Sorry, ROU_Xenophobe, but you obviously managed to get into the comments in her RSS feed and see what Ed had to write on October 16, 2009 @ 16:02. And I quote:
"If that happened to me I would be in jail for ripping the head off the male TSA agent… period."
HOLY SHIT, THAT THERE IS THE WORLD'S GREATEST FATHER.
posted by barnacles at 11:59 PM on October 16, 2009


what the heck were they doing behind that blur?

Oh, feeding.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:59 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


jayder, she says she called her husband and her mom in the interval while (she says) her kid was out of her sight.

I would think you would know this about people: dudes (and ladies) will put up with all kinds of crazy from their partners.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:59 PM on October 16, 2009


So again -- she's bumped up to a 5, sure, but as for them, in my mind immediately posting that video is at least as creepy as going off with her kid for a few minutes.

The TSA is responding to public complaints from a FUCKING CRAZY woman who made up a story about them stealing her child and you're objecting to the fact that they're calmly rebutting this with CCTV footage of something that basically happened in a public space? With all due respect, you probably need to recalibrate your outrage meter.
posted by dhammond at 12:01 AM on October 17, 2009 [19 favorites]


LOLTROUBLEDWOMANF*CKINGLIAR!

jayder, she says she called her husband and her mom in the interval while (she says) her kid was out of her sight.

Yeah, and that didn't happen.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:03 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Chortly -- why is posting the video as creepy as walking off with her child? It's pretty clear that both the wait and the search are much shorter than she claimed, and the video makes it clear that she was not separated from her child or treated discourteously. Sure, posting random CCTV footage of someone is a violation of privacy, but this woman made specific claims, which the video disproves.

My guess on why they took three minutes to wand her down is "because she was being really, really annoying and uncooperative". So they were extra careful, and did it twice. :)
posted by jrochest at 12:04 AM on October 17, 2009


You know, a mug the shape and size of a human skill with WORLD'S GREATEST DAD (or, better, WORLD'S BEST GRANDPA) would be pretty awesome. Someone should get on this and set up an Etsy shop.
posted by cmonkey at 12:04 AM on October 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


TSA taking away a child from a mom, regardless of whether it was to another room or not, is not good.

However, mom then escalating into shouting "fuck" and other profanities at TSA agents is guaranteed not the best way to resolve the situation. I don't know what I'd do. I do hope that I'd stay calm and not scream profanities.
posted by blucevalo at 12:05 AM on October 17, 2009


Hmm. Looking at a list of flights from Atlanta to Baltimore on Thursdays by Delta, and comparing this to the clock on the TSA video (10:55AM), we see the closest flight she could have missed to be the 12:05PM.

But that's over an hour away...hmm.

Comparing the girl in the video to the girl in the photos is rough -- once again, the limited value of video-resolution is annoying -- but yeah, the hair certainly matches up.

Lets look at the kid...

OK, yeah. Kid's hair totally matches up. Here's a sample pic. All signs do in fact point to total fraud.
posted by effugas at 12:05 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure if people get it. It's fake. She made it all up. There is no story. Especially not one about a child being taken away from a mother.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:06 AM on October 17, 2009


I don't have a problem with them posting the video either. It's good, I think, and about equivalent to a police dashcam except it's basically a space with a million people where anybody could have been recording.

What I'd really like is for the public to have access to all CCTV footage after some sort of delay time. Although with faces automagically blurred somehow. I think it'd keep people with authority honest, and if the public had a problem with it as far as privacy goes, good. Maybe they'll think twice about allowing the government to record them so much if it brings it home.
posted by floam at 12:07 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


"jayder, she says she called her husband and her mom in the interval while (she says) her kid was out of her sight."

Yeah, and that didn't happen.


Yes, just noting that she doesn't seem to be a single mom.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:07 AM on October 17, 2009


Jesus fucking Christ. Leave it to Metafilter to fucking hate hard on a woman with clear and honest anxiety issues who gets her child taken away from her by strangers at an airport while going through security (an already stressful and anxiety-inducing situation). Just, wow, unbelievable people.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:08 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So never mind her story. Just watching the video just up to when she's put in one of those cages. WTF? She's in there almost two minutes. Without her belongings. That's easily long enough for someone to steal her possessions (hello! laptops? Things people could just grab and walk off with). Moreover, how humiliating is it to stand there while so many people go by? Whenever I've been deemed "needing extra screening", they've always done it near immediately. I presumed this was policy so as to make the whole nonsense as minimally degrading as possible.

Apparently I was wrong. And I note that humans react very funny to being publicly humiliated. And as others have said, the TSA has all the power in this situation and everyone knows it.

Then when they were wanding her, the blurring actually makes me more suspicious .. because that was an *incredibly* long and involved wanding. I've been extra-screened several times and the wanding never too more than 30 seconds. And there's so much movement by her that I wonder if she was required to shift her clothing around (or remove / unbutton it) in public.

And then as others have just said ... it's scary that they have this video .. and as far as I can tell only use it to make them look good. Surely there are hundreds or even thousands of incidents where the TSA really did fuck up, but it's not like we'll be seeing the video proof with a mea culpa any time soon.
posted by R343L at 12:09 AM on October 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


The TSA is responding to public complaints from a FUCKING CRAZY woman who made up a story about them stealing her child and you're objecting to the fact that they're calmly rebutting this with CCTV footage of something that basically happened in a public space? With all due respect, you probably need to recalibrate your outrage meter.

I'm not particularly outraged. But I do object to a security system where they tape everything, and if you accuse them unjustly they deploy staff to edit together a tape of the event and quickly publicize it, whereas if they accuse you unjustly -- or just treat you poorly -- you have no recourse, except possibly to a full-scale (and unlikely to succeed) law suit. My judgment of her is totally independent of my judgment of the TSA. She is, it appears, nuts. The TSA, as a separate matter, is a security establishment with powers of surveillance, inspection, and it now appears publication, that go well beyond what I believe a open, democratic society should allow.
posted by chortly at 12:09 AM on October 17, 2009 [17 favorites]


sez Lutoslawski: Jesus fucking Christ. Leave it to Metafilter to fucking hate hard on a woman with clear and honest anxiety issues who gets her child taken away from her by strangers at an airport while going through security (an already stressful and anxiety-inducing situation). Just, wow, unbelievable people.
She made it up.
posted by floam at 12:10 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Only crazy people use Xanax for short-term anxiety treatment (one of many).

So she lied. But this brings up another point that chortly and others mentioned. This surveillance network is only really available to the authorities. And they'll only show it when it matches their story. I'm sure hundreds of people every day have issues with the TSA, but they don't have near-instantaneous access to this footage, if any access to it. The power dynamic is completely one sided, and reinforces the needs for a robust sousveillance system, similar to what Brin argues for in The Transparent Society.
posted by formless at 12:11 AM on October 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yes, just noting that she doesn't seem to be a single mom.

Shoot. Who knows? At this point I don't believe anything this woman has to say.

Jesus fucking Christ. Leave it to Metafilter to fucking hate hard on a woman with clear and honest anxiety issues who gets her child taken away from her by strangers at an airport while going through security (an already stressful and anxiety-inducing situation). Just, wow, unbelievable people.

IT'S FAKETY FAKE FAKE FAKE
posted by P.o.B. at 12:11 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Looks like the lady took down her comments on the linked page, too.

Oops.
posted by squorch at 12:14 AM on October 17, 2009


sez Lutoslawski: Jesus fucking Christ. Leave it to Metafilter to fucking hate hard on a woman with clear and honest anxiety issues who gets her child taken away from her by strangers at an airport while going through security (an already stressful and anxiety-inducing situation). Just, wow, unbelievable people.

She made it up.


Well, shit. I just don't even know what to say now. Metafilter, I apologize. I should not have doubted you for spotting a hoax when you saw one.

God people will do the craziest things for some fucking attention.

P.o.B. - I really thought you sounded like a jackass earlier, but you totally called it. Fuck me.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:18 AM on October 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Why are people saying the tapes are only available to one side? I'm sure a lawsuit and a subpoena would provide the tapes, as have happened (for example) in the recent homeowner shooting case with the 911 tapes busting the cops.
posted by effugas at 12:18 AM on October 17, 2009


It's funny: when I first read this story I immediately disbelieved it, I think mainly because of other over-the-top TSA complaints that turned out not to be true (such as the sippy cup incident). That was before I got to the enormous image signature at the end of the post (oh, the horror).

I think many of the general comments about the TSA are valid. But I've learned that you really need to hear or see both sides of the story before passing judgment on a specific incident like this.
posted by grouse at 12:19 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


What I'd like to know, is where is all the surveillance video for the thousands of cases of theft. The luggage handling areas probably aren't as well covered by surveillance (because god knows nobody could slip a bomb into a suitcase in the luggage handling area). But you know there are at least a few of these cases that were caught on video, and a few people have probably complained about items getting stolen on blogs. And yet.. no videos.
posted by formless at 12:20 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


To elaborate briefly on my point: I am objecting (a) to any public area that you are obliged to use (such as airports) where the government tapes everything as a matter of course. But more importantly, (b), if our government is going to tape everything we do, I want there to be an explicit, public rule about who gets to use the footage and for what. Their should be rules about it, and they should fairly allow both sides to use footage with equal ease. As it is, one side can use the footage whenever it helps their case, while the other, of course, has no hope of that outside of a lawsuit. (My guess is, were such fairness rules in place, the TSA would be much less eager to deploy quite so many cameras; but that's just speculation.) The idea is, surveillance is bad, but surveillance where only one party can use the material to exculpate itself when it (even justifiably) wants to is much worse. Perhaps it's an abstract point (relative to a lying mother), but that's the argument, for those who were perplexed.
posted by chortly at 12:20 AM on October 17, 2009 [14 favorites]


I think that what the TSA does is unnecessary and ridiculous but I've never had any problem with the people who work for the TSA. I know one person who used to work for the TSA. She's not power-hungry. She's not a bully. She's not stupid. The TSA does an incredibly silly and useless job but that doesn't excuse mis-treating their workers.

A few years ago I was flying to San Jose. When I got to the counter I discovered that my driver's license had expired. So I got to go through the extra security lines. I was amazed at the amount of crap the TSA people took without retaliating. At the very least if people were mouthing off to me like that to me I would have guaranteed that they missed their flight.
posted by rdr at 12:21 AM on October 17, 2009


effugas: "Why are people saying the tapes are only available to one side? I'm sure a lawsuit and a subpoena would provide the tapes, as have happened (for example) in the recent homeowner shooting case with the 911 tapes busting the cops."

The problem is that when a traveler gets harassed and has a very bad experience with TSA, the likelihood that they'll apologize and post such a thing on their blog for all the world to see within a few hours is very, very small. Any CCTV footage that comes out from them will always be favorable to them. It's an imbalance and it's bad.
posted by TypographicalError at 12:21 AM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Why are people saying the tapes are only available to one side? I'm sure a lawsuit and a subpoena would provide the tapes...

A lawsuit is a major investment, both in terms of time and money. It's something that most common citizens can't undertake lightly. Whereas the TSA can use these surveillance videos whenever it's convenient for them. The issue of ease of use turns it into a power issue.
posted by formless at 12:23 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now I'm curious. How many times has the TSA used their surveillance in this way? Have they never allowed other people to see the videos?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:26 AM on October 17, 2009


I guess next time she'll take the train, the pain train that is. A Train fueled by shame, on a rail that runs through the heart of America's security concerns. David Bowie will be on this train, and will challenge her to a game of bridge. She blogs about this but no one believes her, especially after Amtrak posts a video on their blog (yes, Amtrak has a blog) of her and David Bowie actually playing Go Fish. It's a roller coaster of emotions.
posted by hellojed at 12:32 AM on October 17, 2009 [13 favorites]


1> Outrage is outrageous. Even if her kid was searched without her being there, it would still pale in comparison to actual serious causes for outrage. We should try focusing on what matters most for a change.

2> It's pretty damn cool that there is a TSA blog. Its refreshingly more transparency than I would've expected.

3> They should put the woman on the "too dramatic to fly" list.
posted by markkraft at 12:32 AM on October 17, 2009


The video, for the most part, is anonymous and I really don't see how anyone is being harmed in this specific case by its airing. The woman is not named and you can't even really make out faces very well. There is also no "invasion of privacy" because there is no expectation that one's actions are at all unobserved while going through airport screening. So while whether or not the public has access to these security tapes is something that certainly could be up to a fair discussion, raising stern objections to this really appears to be grasping at straws.
posted by dhammond at 12:34 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


formless--

Well, there's imbalance towards the woman too. Doesn't take anything special to be able to make these claims, and the burden of proof was rather noticeably on TSA to disprove them. TSA can go ahead and "fire the first shot", and she can (with some time, not necessarily much money) get the video. Do these two balance out? To some degree, yeah.

All things being equal, the value of video being available during interactions with law enforcement doesn't seem to be a bad thing.
posted by effugas at 12:36 AM on October 17, 2009


Here's a recent case where the TSA refuses to release a video to The Salt Lake Tribune (probably worthy of its own front-page post).
Here's another case where the TSA refuses to release video that supposedly shows a screener stealing.

On the other hand, here's a case where they released the video, the sippy cup incident

There's a pattern here.
posted by formless at 12:37 AM on October 17, 2009 [30 favorites]


Even if her kid was searched without her being there, it would still pale in comparison to actual serious causes for outrage. We should try focusing on what matters most for a change.

I think one of the important elements in this kind of outrage is the "it could happen to you!" feeling.
posted by grouse at 12:38 AM on October 17, 2009


Where's Joey Ramone when we need him?!

The lyrics write themselves!
posted by markkraft at 12:40 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"But I've learned that you really need to hear or see both sides of the story before passing judgment on a specific incident like this."

Boy howdy this should be above the posting box in relationship AskMe's instead of "Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it" etc.
posted by Mitheral at 12:41 AM on October 17, 2009


"I think one of the important elements in this kind of outrage is the "it could happen to you!" feeling."

I hear FoxNews is offering her the slot after Glenn Beck.
posted by markkraft at 12:42 AM on October 17, 2009


What I REALLY want to know now is whether she did place those crazy calls to her mom and husband, and whether she did board the plane crying and causing a scene. And if she did, I can't imagine what her husband and mother and the people she cried at are thinking now.

I figure she must have actually done those things, or at least called her husband and mother. It seems likely that one or both of them would read her parenting blog, anyway, so it would be harder for her to make up that story just for internet-attention only. I guess it's possible her husband or mom knew it was made up and didn't approve and couldn't do anything, or knew it was made up and approved of it for some reason, but that's just messed up in different ways.

And then I think, was it just that she wanted attention from them? And that afterward there was no way she could avoid posting about the whole made-up thing on her blog because if she didn't, her husband and mom would wonder why not?

Or she just wanted attention from everyone?

I dunno. Whichever way it goes, it seems sad.
posted by Nattie at 12:43 AM on October 17, 2009


formless--

Fair enough. That's a problem.
posted by effugas at 12:46 AM on October 17, 2009


So this woman was mildly inconvenienced and possibly slightly humiliated by an extended search (which she had full rights to ask be conducted in private if she wanted, although that would have taken her oh-so-precious time) and blows it up into a story about "TSA STOLE MY BABY!" Not just any story either, but one that serves as a what-not-to-do guide regarding airport security.

Of course, it's no surprise that this was a fabrication. She suggested that Delta employees, during a heavy day of the week, heavy part of the day, and (for some) school holiday (thus encouraging even more travel) would be going above and beyond on a flight that was running enough below capacity to have two adjacent seats.

Two open adjacent seats on a Delta regional flight on a Friday. Talk about a dead giveaway to a story packed full of lies.
posted by Saydur at 12:46 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a pattern here.

So the TSA has never complied in releasing video when someone makes a complaint or an alleged situation happens when it doesn't support them?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:47 AM on October 17, 2009


There's a pattern here.

Agree 100%. But there's also a pattern here among people with the TSA locked dead in their sights who only seem to object to the footage when it doesn't show the TSA doing something bad. So I guess they cancel each other out.
posted by dhammond at 12:48 AM on October 17, 2009


I mean, would you take a person's stance on politics less seriously if he had depression?

I might be leery of their opinion on whether or not a particular situation is depressing, which is the apt analogy (for reasons the denouement of this story make clear.)
posted by Bookhouse at 12:49 AM on October 17, 2009


So the TSA has never complied in releasing video when someone makes a complaint or an alleged situation happens when it doesn't support them?

I don't know. There might be, those were found with just a few minutes of searching. I'm sure there are civic-minded employees at the TSA who push for equal access to the videos, but I'm also sure there are administrators who don't want to be politically embarrassed. It's a tough situation, I'd just like to see rules in place to ensure that the system is fair.
posted by formless at 12:56 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what? FLAGGED!

This is garbage.


It should have been flagged before it was exposed as fake. Seriously, this is a blog post by a woman who had a bad experience in an airport, the degree (and apparently, lack of veracity) of which was mostly due to her anxiety disorder. It was a weak FPP in the first place, offering little more than a chance to talk about crappy the TSA is.

This is not 'the best of the web'.
posted by fatbird at 12:57 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jackson, now there's a name you don't hear often.
posted by mattoxic at 12:58 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is not 'the best of the web'.

Is it too late to turn this into a referendum on "mommybloggers"? That might be fun.
posted by dhammond at 12:59 AM on October 17, 2009


So I got to go through the extra security lines. I was amazed at the amount of crap the TSA people took without retaliating.

I'm amazed at the amount of crap The People take given they are Citizens not subjects.
posted by mikelieman at 12:59 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a little baffled by this idea that being wanded or subjected to more hassle by those troglodytes is "public humiliation." Rage-inducing, sure, but humiliating? Huh.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:00 AM on October 17, 2009


Looks like the lady took down her comments on the linked page, too.

Here.
posted by Ratio at 1:01 AM on October 17, 2009


The blogger was right about one thing.

It really did take 10 minutes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:03 AM on October 17, 2009


Did you guys know TSA has found 21 grenades since July? One of them inside a stuffed animal?
What do you think about that, fake-story-mommy-blogger? Maybe they are actually doing their jobs, and protecting you and your loved ones?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:04 AM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think the stories formless shared sum up my unease w/ the TSA's video footage release policy. In cases where the footage could be damaging and hurt their already very tenuous credibility, they always seem to come up with a hundred and one reasons to drag their feet and hold onto the tapes. "it'll be a threat to security. contact our legal team. File this or that request form in triplicate so we can process your request for authorization." and so on. But in a case like this, where they've got a slam-dunk case to make against someone who is actually slandering them, all of a sudden all these concerns which delay the release of other bits of footage evaporate, and the tape is on the interwebs within hours.

So, let's remember this moment next time the TSA fucks up or someone accuses them of the same. Tonight, a falsified blog story was disproved with video footage within hours. Will they be so swift with the footage next time? Every time? And if they don't make with the tape the next time an account of them disrespecting a citizen breaks nationally, can we then consider this pattern of selective footage release at least plausible?
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:05 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I guess next time she'll take the train, the pain train that is. A Train fueled by shame, on a rail that runs through the heart of America's security concerns. David Bowie will be on this train, and will challenge her to a game of bridge. She blogs about this but no one believes her, especially after Amtrak posts a video on their blog (yes, Amtrak has a blog) of her and David Bowie actually playing Go Fish. It's a roller coaster of emotions.

Upvoted for good crazy.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:05 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you guys know TSA has found 21 grenades since July?

ho. ly. fuck.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:07 AM on October 17, 2009


On the other hand, here's a case where they released the video, the sippy cup incident There's a pattern here.

Yes. Liars are outed. In particular, liars who create a viral internet meme are outed as frauds.

This is a good thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:09 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


*boggling at the grenade story*

This is actually a pretty well-written blog ...
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:12 AM on October 17, 2009


Bookhouose- I don't think that analogy holds, precisely given the denouement. The problem isn't that she was more nervous than the situation warranted (though she certainly seems to have been, by her own report). The problem is that she seems to have fabricated an entire chain of events, whole cloth.

As someone who has an anxiety disorder, I can say that when I get all fight-or-flight-ish, I am not as observant as I would normally be. But people with diagnosed anxiety disorders are generally capable of recognizing their symptoms. As such, even if my heart is racing, I can later be critical of my previous interpretation of events, and failing that, I can always provide a caveat when recounting what happened.

She isn't an unreliable narrator because she's a "crazy person," but because she's a fabulist. And anxiety or not, she can be held accountable for that.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:22 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think a single one of those 21 grenades were live fragmentation or concussion grenades.
posted by floam at 1:22 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey, it strikes me to be curious:

What is it about Atlanta that its citizens make for thuggish TSA security, and what is it about other citizen that their citizens are not so thuggish? Does Atlanta have some sort of dire social problem? Do they hate people who travel? Feel the Wright Bros stole their glory? Why so hostile, why so mean?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:22 AM on October 17, 2009


It's a huge hub airport. There may just be more experiences of all sorts there.

Plus it's in Georgia, which I hear is part of The South. Maybe that affects travelers' perceptions or maybe people in the south are different.
posted by floam at 1:27 AM on October 17, 2009


As a badass motherfucking survivor of mental illness, listening to people whining about their "anxiety issues" just makes me smile. My "that's hilarious" smile. Because- quite often- I'm getting a very strong reading that tells me, "This person is full of shit , and all medication in the world won't help one little bit."

(I posted after beer and will now go away to enjoy my awesome sense of humor and blinding insights in a convivial atmosphere of friendship. We'll laugh at the neurotic, insecure, "anxious" people, and give thanks for not being bullshit-enabled consumer princesses.)
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:31 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The TSA took my baby!"*

* Please read this with a "cockney" accent.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:31 AM on October 17, 2009


I don't think a single one of those 21 grenades were live fragmentation or concussion grenades.

How would you know? Granted it talks about some inert and gag ones they found, but it only listed a couple (7?) incidents and some of those very well could have been fragment or concussion grenades.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:31 AM on October 17, 2009


"Or she just wanted attention from everyone?"

Not every blogger considers themselves a "freelancing writer", asks for donations, and does "Bottle of the week" contests.

Seems to me that she was trying to build up her portfolio more than anything else.

This seems appropriate. (This, not so much.)
posted by markkraft at 1:31 AM on October 17, 2009


But how many "grenades" were really mp3 players?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:32 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't give a good godamn if they all were mp3 players. Don't bring grenades on the airplane please.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:35 AM on October 17, 2009


Apparently she is upset that people are trolling her. WTF?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:37 AM on October 17, 2009


She isn't an unreliable narrator because she's a "crazy person," but because she's a fabulist. And anxiety or not, she can be held accountable for that.

You're completely right, of course.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:37 AM on October 17, 2009


Those 21 grenades were probably more or less innocent (it looks like one of them was the "Complaint Department—Take A Number" tchotchke).

Speaking of weapons and luggage: I have an Asian-American friend who's a smart lady, and a fantastic artist, but who can be absentminded as all get out. One time, coming back from visiting her boyfriend in Chicago, she forgot that her etching needle, and a set of ninja stars she had bought the day before, were in her carry on.

Fast forward to her being taken to a closed room, where the TSA officers spent 15 minutes repeatedly asking her where she was born (Manhattan), and which country she was from (the US), even though she had her US passport on her. In the resulting report, they wrote her up for carrying the ninja stars, and a "martial-arts writing device."

Lessons:
1) The TSA can be stupid and racist.
2) The person who tries to bring a grenade onto a plane is an asshole, but probably not the sort of asshole who wants to blow you up.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:39 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's the CCTV footage of the incident from the TSA's blog.
posted by mdonley at 1:40 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


David Bowie will be on this train, and will challenge her to a game of bridge.

After which he'll advise her that it never hurts to do something absolutely outrageous.
posted by scody at 1:41 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


How would you know? Granted it talks about some inert and gag ones they found, but it only listed a couple (7?) incidents and some of those very well could have been fragment or concussion grenades.

Do you really think that if they had found a real live grenade intended to be used to blow something up, they wouldn't have thought it interesting enough to put in the blog? And, y'know, perhaps report it to the media?
posted by darksasami at 1:45 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I actually think this post should stay up, in that it's more interesting as a notorious fraud.

She's already strategically erased all of her comments, in an attempt to avoid reality leaking through to her readers, her family, etc.

I see no reason to help Nicole White avoid the fame and attention she so desires... ideally *before* she becomes a published writer.
posted by markkraft at 1:49 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


(I should clarify... she's erased all her *negative* comments... and apparently is screening the rest.)
posted by markkraft at 1:50 AM on October 17, 2009


floam "She made it up."

Having watched the video, I'm not sold. Yet. The video, as far as I'm concerned at this exact point in time, does not prove conclusively to me that this is THE incident in question. All it really is is nothing more than very weak evidence to support the other side of the story. The fact that it appears at a blog entry on a subpage of the TSA website, rather than an official statement handed down from the highest rungs of the organisation, isn't helping me buy their side of the story either.

In the end, it may be conclusively proven that the original blogger made it all up, in which case I'll take my humble pie in the study, please. Personally I think the truth will fall somewhere in between these two versions of events. But at this stage, people's willingness to leap onto this semi-official evidence to fuel their blame-the-victim mentality speaks words about how well Authority has taught us to trust them first, and trust each other as little as possible.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:54 AM on October 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


FFS, okay, let's clear up the fake grenade facts. 10 out of 21 grenades specifically talked about. So 11 possible grenades that could take down a whole plane up. Out of the 10 grenades it talks about it lists 4 of them as inert. Another 3 as smoke, flash, and pepper spray. The last 3 are not specifically mentioned as to what they are. 4 out of 21 were fake grenades. How about the next time your on a plane a dude next to you pulls out a grenade and starts fiddling with it? But he tellls you reassuringly that's it fake. How about a fake gun? It's cool right?

Do you really think that if they had found a real live grenade intended to be used to blow something up, they wouldn't have thought it interesting enough to put in the blog? And, y'know, perhaps report it to the media?

No I don't. That would create hysteria for no reason, and like I just said they did find live grenades.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:56 AM on October 17, 2009


If the story is fake, i.e. the video is actually her, then I'd say chances are she is crazy. If she didn't make it up, I still think she's an extremely unpleasant person, but I hope TSA looses millions in the lawsuit. I say trolling her seems fine either way.

France's TSA once took pink fussy handcuffs from me. I didn't really mind loosing them, except they wouldn't let me get a photo with the clear plastic disposal box. :(
posted by jeffburdges at 1:57 AM on October 17, 2009


But at this stage, people's willingness to leap onto this semi-official evidence to fuel their blame-the-victim mentality speaks words about how well Authority has taught us to trust them first, and trust each other as little as possible.

I kind of think it's heartening that some people are still willing to employ skepticism in the face of outrageous claims, but YMMV.
posted by scody at 1:57 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


MeTa
posted by knave at 1:58 AM on October 17, 2009


"The TSA took my baby!"*

* Please read this with a "cockney" accent.


Nonsense. This should clearly be read with a Queens accent. Yeah.
posted by dersins at 2:10 AM on October 17, 2009


darlingmagpie: I'm just amused reading the RSS comment feed. While you can no longer read the comments from the page or comment on her post, you can still see everything posted until a little after midnight est and it seems she changed her original post from some longer length of time to 'ten minutes'.

Can you give a bit more information? This doesn't match what I see now. Were comments deleted?

The comment feed is minimal now - under a dozen comments. Bing still has a cache of the first page of comments, & the second and later pages are still up.

From those, around an hour after the first comment, at 9:50 local time, a commenter mentioned "ten minutes," & I see no mention of a longer length of time.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:24 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"blogger Bob of the TSA blog team?"

nice to know my tax dollars help the many ex felons on the TSA staff earn marketable new skills.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:39 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The most irritating part of the CCTV footage the TSA releases is the number of TSA folks it shows doing fuck-all.
You'd think one the most loathed government agencies currently in existence would be PR savvy enough to tell its employees to take their damn coffee break off the floor.
Or, at the very least, if you're gonna hang out on the floor and talk to your buddies, learn to look busy!
posted by madajb at 2:52 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


i thought she sounded nutty even before she got to the xanax, but that was the end of it for me, too.

Little earlier for me. Nothing screams emergency xanax like a blog with a colour scheme modeled on red wine stains.
posted by fire&wings at 3:49 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really hope that nothing like this ever happens to me, because I'll end up getting shot. Or Tazed, depending on the weapons that the TSA folks have at hand.

If someone (say, the TSA or the police or anyone with the supposed authority to do so) were to take my child and walk away, I'd follow them and take my child back. If someone tried to stop me, I'd start to yell and then I'd start to push and then I'd start to scream and then I'd do my (ineffectual) best to kick them in the testicles and get them on the ground. And then I'd get shot in the leg, and boy howdy, good luck getting on that flight to Baltimore when I'm handcuffed to a hospital bed and my child is in custody with Social Services.

I enjoyed ROU_Xenophobe's very funny paragraph upthread that ended with HOLY SHIT, THAT THERE IS THE WORLD'S GREATEST FATHER, and I appreciate that some of us parents get all righteous and huffy whenever a story (real or fake) like this occurs, but the truth is more like what others have said. Don't get between a parent and his/her child, because bad things will happen to just about everyone involved.

And that's the problem. The rational part of me would be saying, "Oh, they're just bringing my son over to that table so that they can look through his backpack. It's only a few feet away. He will be fine. And besides, I probably shouldn't assault a police officer in the middle of an airport, because then I'm facing thousands of dollars in legal fees, possible jail time, and permanent placement on the no-fly list, not to mention the whole handcuffed-to-the-hospital-bed scenario, all for nothing". But the irrational part of me would be saying, "MY BABY MY BABY THEY'RE TAKING MY BABY" and I would end up doing something really stupid that would just end up a huge disaster. I blame 260 million years of mammalian evolution.

And that brings me to my second point. Instead of attacking red in tooth and claw, does the modern mammal simply post an angry entry in their blog? Perhaps this is Nic's response to a humiliating and stressful event in which she felt threatened. More humane than kicking TSA agents in the testicles, and also more cathartic.

So what have we learned? Don't threaten a mother and child. Don't trust eyewitness testimony. And don't mess with the TSA.
posted by math at 5:02 AM on October 17, 2009


"Here's the CCTV footage of the incident from the TSA's blog."

Since when has a blog entry written by pseudonymous "BloggerBob" become the venue of a police organization's official statements? Why does the footage bear no camera or even airport identification?

If the traveler spoke to a decent attorney she's probably recommend that the traveler shut up while preparing any action.

I have no idea what happened or didn't, I'm just saying the data is of dubious provenience and therefore can't establish that this recording even happened in the same time zone as the claimant was in.
posted by fydfyd at 5:08 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry about the double post, but I continue to be fascinated by this story.

First, there are the (entirely predictable) comments on Nic's blog of "OMG HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO YOU" and others that approach the level of intensity of ROU_Xenophobe's posting above.

Second, also on Nicole's blog are comments, supposedly from some local news stations, saying, "Please contact us so we can run your story", etc.

Third, there are the interesting comments on the TSA blog site, the last entry of which is from what seems to be a TSA spokesperson (although I couldn't be sure), saying the following (in response, in part, to others who asked if the TSA video was legit):

As soon as we saw the blog post, we reached out to the Atlanta airport. TSA at the Atlanta airport contacted Nic, but she didn't respond.

The blog post gave some key details: the airport, the gate (which can pinpoint the checkpoint) and an approximate time. The post also notes things that happened - the passenger calling out to people and officers from the holding area, and a female passenger getting Nic's bags for her. All of these details were helpful.

The blog has numerous pictures of the woman, the baby and the stroller. They match the video.

We take claims like this seriously, and the TSA staff at ATL used the information to pull the CCTV tape within a window of time that matched details in the blog post.

Nic was contacted more than once by TSA yesterday, but as of last night, had not responded.


I'm curious to see what Nicole's response will be. I'm also curious as to what the true story is, although the evidence currently favors the TSA, doesn't it?

If I had to guess, I'd say that we will never hear from Nicole again. I'd like to see some sort of admission of guilt and a mea culpa, but in real life people are pretty reluctant to own up to their (alleged) mistakes. And even when they do, it's never as satisfying as we might want. Even James Frey's admission on Oprah that his non-fiction book was mostly fiction was not as cathartic as I'd like. (But to his credit, it was a hella good book.)
posted by math at 5:35 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


To fydfyd, I'm not worried about the provenance of the TSA blog. The url is www.tsa.gov, and I can see it as an informal way to try to humanize the TSA and to disseminate information quickly to the public. Furthermore, the TSA has a lot to lose if it turns out that they faked the video, so I find that unlikely.

I'm not saying that it's ironclad, but I am saying that I've seen the video and that it seems to have a certain veracity. For me at least, the burden is now on Nic to respond to the video. She could say that it wasn't her, I suppose, although the details seem to match pretty well.
posted by math at 5:40 AM on October 17, 2009


It is obvious through reading the other posts that many people have a really difficult time with a concept known as empathy. This woman shared a traumatic experience and how dare any of you judge someone with severe anxiety issues, I have 2 sisters that suffer with anxiety and it is no joke. Carrying around pills like that is normal for people with paralyzing anxiety.

Perhaps it is a lack of education on behalf of some of you perhaps the rest of you are just judgmental and rude...I am a mom and if this happened to me I would have probably been arrested because I would NOT have turned my son over. I also would have stayed, filed a complaint and hired an attorney! Things are getting out of hand in the name of homeland security.

Anyway in summation, I feel for this woman she was frightened, overwhelmed and being stripped of her rights...then her son was taken and nobody would answer her questions...that evokes panic which evokes anxiety.

I had an emergency Xanax in my jeans pocket. I always carry an emergency Xanax in my pocket. The result of severe anxiety.

Aaaaannnnd that's where I stopped reading....

Really? Why? (not snark. really why?)
posted by Naberius at 9:13 PM on October 16 [+] [!]

So smug you are. She even said the result of severe anxiety if you don't have it then don't judge.
posted by gypseefire at 5:50 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a deeply weird story. This is like Munchausens Syndrome or something: the desire for care and attention completely trumps fears of discovery. Let's say you have an anxiety problem and you misremember events during a particularly stressful moment. Wouldn't you still want to see the video that shows what really happened? Wouldn't you at least delete the blog post where you falsely accuse a bunch of people of something that you now know didn't happen? How deluded do you have to be to suppress evidence of your fabrication?

That said, if I were the TSA I'd pay people to pull stunts like this. Nothing makes an embattled and largely irrelevant agency look better than being the target of delusional attacks. You get a twofer: people who don't like you have to defend you, and any later attacks will be received more suspiciously. (This is also why I hate how common false rape charge story-lines are on television. It provokes a recency bias.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:13 AM on October 17, 2009


Is the site down from too much traffic for anyone else?
posted by fermezporte at 6:39 AM on October 17, 2009


They took her baby away because he had a metal pacifier clip. Took him away from the special transparent plastic security-area holding box with several airholes in which they displayed her, and her baby, in front of other airline passengers, as a lesson, for a period of time.

Before they took her baby away.

For no actual security rationale that any nonblushing nonmoron person could possibly express.

And then observers here criticized her Xanax intake, and cited the Shoe Bomber as a reason why the TSA was A-OK in its indiscriminate bullying in this situation.

I am super proud to "lash out" at anyone who thinks that's OK.
posted by gum at 7:01 AM on October 17, 2009


So really, this was all the illegitimate, overblown rant-fest from an indignant woman who is essentially pissed off that the TSA didn't give her a special room, a closer parking space and a free balloon just because she's had a child, right?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:09 AM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


I don't fly much anymore, but I can remember when the metal detector used to go off, they would ask, do you have anything metal on? And then you'd remember the cheap pin or the key in your pocket or the baby's pacifier clip, and they'd take it off, send you back through the metal detector and you're done. Do they do this with every single person who forgets about some little metal thing now?
posted by nax at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2009


Everything but her story is "down for too much traffic", but is not actually an error message from the web server but rather normal web pages edited to display that message.

Really telling that she kills the comments and leaves the story up, keeps referring to trolls on her twitter, doesn't reply to TSA's attempts to communicate with her, and doesn't even address the video they put out.
posted by splice at 7:28 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


To gum: you do know that the story is (most likely) a fake, right?
posted by math at 7:33 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


FFS, okay, let's clear up the fake grenade facts. 10 out of 21 grenades specifically talked about. So 11 possible grenades that could take down a whole plane up. Out of the 10 grenades it talks about it lists 4 of them as inert. Another 3 as smoke, flash, and pepper spray. The last 3 are not specifically mentioned as to what they are. 4 out of 21 were fake grenades.

Your math doesn't add up at all. Of the nine they do discuss, 2 are real (held by military or ex-military personnel), 3 are non-destructive (and held by a law enforcement officer), 2 are fakes, 1 (in teddy bear) is unexplained whether real or fake, and 1 (WWII souvenir) presumably inert if it's been knocking around for that many years. The other dozen undescribed ones could be real or fake, they don't say, but I'd assume if any of them were real they'd have been mentioned in the "highlights".

So that's two or possibly three that could pose even theoretical danger to the plane, and zero which represent terrorist threats.

I agree that that's 21 grenade-shaped objects which shouldn't have been brought through security in the first place, and I agree that the people carrying them were idiots. But looking at that post and concluding "4 out of 21 were fake grenades" is just plain fearmongering.
posted by ook at 7:37 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've had relatively good experiences with the TSA. They let me drink my water and go back through security again, instead of taking my water bottle. They don't spend ten minutes going through all my stuff because something in there looks like lipstick and it should have been in my ziplock bag. They let slide my chapstick too. They've always been polite. In Canada the security seems much more strict, and snottier too, which is not what I would have expected.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:29 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been in the TSA plastic box once, when I went through the security line and stupidly forgot my cellphone or my metal belt buckle or something like that. I was really tired and out of it, so I don't remember if I got a second or third chance to go through the metal detector. But at a certain point, once they've decided you get an individual wanding, you don't get a chance to talk your way out of it. So saying, "I'm sorry, I forgot about my cellphone," didn't help at all. The agent didn't respond, and only gave me short, simple commands to follow. ("Step into the box please.") I'm sure this is by design, because responding to a passenger's protests or otherwise engaging them will only raise the possibility of the passenger getting more upset, or the agent getting confused by a fast talker who's actually trying to get something through. Getting wanded while holding up my pants with one hand inside of a plexiglass box was pretty humiliating for me, but it was over fast and obviously nothing personal. I would have probably felt a lot worse if the agent had tried making small talk. What looks like bullying to some people could be a strategy for fair, equitable treatment for the thousands of people the agents will deal with on their shift, some of whom will be nervous, some of whom will be confused, some of whom will be obnoxious, some of whom will glaring at them with outright hostility, and some of whom will complain afterward and make up a bunch of lies about what happened.

There are a lot of people in this country who want more security, but don't want that security to inconvenience them in any way. I really think high school civics classes out to include a section on how to interact with police and other security agents, so everyone knows, on one hand, what their rights are, and, on the other, what the officer or agent is going to expect from you.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:37 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


The TSA took my baby away
Said she was going to LA
She never got there
She never got there
She never got there...
posted by fixedgear at 8:43 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some of the attitudes and assumptions about anxiety in this thread are revolting.

When I have a panic attack, I know that there is no logical reason for my body to be reacting in the way that it is (pounding heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.). My body has a biological reaction, but my thoughts remain clear -- I know exactly what is happening. I was also prescribed "emergency Xanax" to prevent such attacks. Does this make me insane? Unreliable? I would have thought not, but apparently some of you know better than I do.

Please do not assume that someone with anxiety disorder is "crazy." Irrational thought and anxiety can be separate. Please do not conflate the two.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 8:43 AM on October 17, 2009 [13 favorites]


Are you my husband, my mother, my father, my sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandmother, grandfather, friend? Are you my baby's doctor, nurse, dentist, or daycare provider?

If you do not say yes to any one of these, then you do not touch my baby.

My baby. Not your baby. No touch. For reals.

Regardless of whether the baby was gone for for 10 seconds or 10 minutes it was too long. I don't have major anxiety problems, but I sure would have needed an emergency Xanax after that situation as well. And the phone number for a good lawyer.

If this turns out to be fake, well okay. Then it's not real and that makes it all kinda bizarre. But it doesn't change this really simple fact:

MY BABY. NOT YOUR BABY. NO TOUCH. Really really FOR REALS.
posted by zizzle at 8:46 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


From her twitter stream:

i can put it on my blog, but get paid if someone picks up my story... MWUAHAHAHA.... pay me for my insanity!!!!
posted by drlith at 8:48 AM on October 17, 2009


So by the time she got to security she had 45 minutes till her plane departed.

TSA melodrama issues aside, a person travelling alone with a small child shouldn't be showing up at the airport one hour before departure. No one should, for that matter. Especially not at ATL.
posted by matty at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2009


I can see it as an informal way to try to humanize the TSA and to disseminate information quickly to the public

I'd prefer competent hiring, training, supervision, discipline, and termination practices enforced in an open, auditable, and transparent manner, myself, to a propaganda or PR effort.

Of course, I haven't ever been able to reconcile the TSA's security theatre with The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It's pretty straightforward, so maybe I just have a weird definition of 'reasonable' or something... I get the "Border Exemption" for Customs and assessing excise tax, sure... No Problem... I get why we want cops to be able to frisk people for easily accessible weapons prior to an informal questioning. It can be abused, but if properly training and supervision shouldn't be a problem.

But given the updated Rules of Engagement (The first rule of Hijacking is DO NOT COOPERATE WITH HIJACKERS!) I'm not sure what the point of searching people like they're being checked into New York Maximum Security Penitentiary became 'reasonable'... ( But The Duke of New York is A-Number-1! )
posted by mikelieman at 9:19 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate that, when people come over to visit us in the United States, they have a nasty experience with Immigration, and then when they're going back home, they have an experience with the TSA that makes Immigration seem like a lover to TSA's rapist.

I don't think Americans have much idea about how awful their immigration staff are. The ESTA system works fine ... until it doesn't, and then you've got nobody to contact except an embassy you'd have had to call a month in the past. You're left sweating at check-in, because a junky web form programmed by the US government says "application pending" and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. It's like the no-fly list, except even more faceless.

And the staff on the US side, wowsa. On my last visit, the agent asked me how to spell "journalist", and I still can't work out if this was his super-cunning plan to make sure I actually was a journalist or if he simply couldn't spell it. He couldn't understand their own visa forms either, and repeatedly asked me how I was getting to Aurora, Illinois because I'd put Aurora Ave (NY) in the "street" line of the form. Meanwhile my girlfriend was getting power-tripped by a border-sentinel giving her the third degree on exactly why she'd want to take a vacation. In New York.

The deep unpleasantness of the immigration staff is famous across the world but virtually unknown in the US. I think the Olympic committee tried to diplomatically suggest this was a problem to the US team, but few natives realise what a big problem it is for everyone. I reckon this was a factor in Chicago getting so few votes. (Ah, I was just googling for a link to the committee, and it turns out the NY Times has covered this angle too.

Planes are just buses.
I agree with the sentiments, but no bus can do what happened on 9/11 or in Lockerbie. Not that the current security theatre is how you deal with that, but still.

As for the anxiety-defenders: this woman is doing you a big disservice by making all the people who immediately dismissed her look like they were correct. You should be going after her, not them.
posted by fightorflight at 9:21 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


so if you watch the TSA video, and if that video is of her...

She was in the box for exactly 2 minutes.
The entire event took 8 minutes.
She never handed her child to the TSA agents... she placed the child in the stroller herself.
The child was never taken out of the stroller.
The child was never more than 2 feet away from her.
posted by matty at 9:25 AM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't think Americans have much idea about how awful their immigration staff are.

Yes, why would they? Most British don't realize how awful their immigration process is either.
posted by grouse at 9:28 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


She was in the box for exactly 2 minutes.

Exactly what kind of sick mind-game is the story behind "The Box", anyway?

Is it a "You are insufficiently obsequious! To THE BOX!", thing or what?
posted by mikelieman at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, that's true (although I certainly do). I didn't mean it as a dig. Perhaps I should have said "I think Americans would be dismayed if they knew just how awful their immigration staff are".
posted by fightorflight at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2009


(that to Grouse, btw)
posted by fightorflight at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2009


This incident is an interesting counterexample to Lawrence Lessig's recent claim that increased government transparency will destroy faith in government.
posted by gsteff at 9:34 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Meanwhile my girlfriend was getting power-tripped by a border-sentinel giving her the third degree on exactly why she'd want to take a vacation. In New York."

This is number two in my "Questions customs agents grill me with that drives me crazy" right after "Can you _PROVE_ you aren't entering the US to work?". American Customs agents seem completely unwilling to believe anyone would want to visit and explore their country. It always gives me pause; like planning to tour Texas is the equivalent of proposing to tour Watts in the summer of 65 or something.
posted by Mitheral at 9:41 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a piece of work. She should get together with Richard Heene and swap "look at me" stories.
posted by ericb at 9:44 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Flipping through the first dozen or so photos of her Flickr stream, and considering the theme of her blog, alcohol seems to be a rather important part of her life. So she's a heavy drinker, with an anxiety problem that necessitates carrying an emergency Xanax at all times ... and a desire to profit from her encounter with the TSA.

Not exactly the most credible person.

I doubt she realized what she would be stirring up with this. A lot of people think they can cause a big public relations stink against a big entity --- on their terms. It rarely works out that way. The person who tries to cause the stink often ends up cowering, frightened, and humiliated. In this case, she seems to deserve it.

If she were telling the truth, why doesn't she take the TSA's calls? Why has she taken down her blog?
posted by jayder at 9:55 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


At the time I write this, she hasn't "taken down her blog," but she took down the comments; I can't say that I'd blame her one way or another for that.

And how do we know she hasn't taken the TSA's calls? We have some unknown person saying that on the TSA's blog; it's no more reliable because they also distort the truth (cf. that story about "grenades" on their blog).
posted by artsygeek at 10:06 AM on October 17, 2009


Hey, cgs, how about adding the "hoax" tag to this post?
posted by grouse at 10:08 AM on October 17, 2009


Looks like she just completely made up the story.

As for the anxiety-defenders: this woman is doing you a big disservice by making all the people who immediately dismissed her look like they were correct. You should be going after her, not them.

Two wrongs make a right. Who knew?
posted by zennie at 10:10 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"The TSA took my baby!" (Please read this with a "cockney" accent.)
Nonsense. This should clearly be read with a Queens accent. Yeah.


Not at all. It should be read in an Aussie accent, thus: "The TSA ate my babies!!"
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 AM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


What happened is that the TSA did something that pissed her off, and she decided to go all Tawana Brawley on their asses.

Whoops, she forgot about the cameras.
posted by jayder at 10:15 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Getting wanded while holding up my pants with one hand inside of a plexiglass box was pretty humiliating for me, but it was over fast and obviously nothing personal.

Note to self: Start going commando when travelling.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 AM on October 17, 2009


This is number two in my "Questions customs agents grill me with that drives me crazy" right after "Can you _PROVE_ you aren't entering the US to work?". American Customs agents seem completely unwilling to believe anyone would want to visit and explore their country.
To be fair, I always get asked this same question by British Customs officials at Heathrow and/or Gatwick. Especially on those visits where my primary destination was Southport. "Why are you going to Southport?" "For a Queen convention." "Her majesty has a convention?" "No, the band." "You mean Freddie Mercury?" "Yes." Incredulous stare. Pause. "You've come all the way from America to go to Southport? For ... what?!"
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:33 AM on October 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


This incident is an interesting counterexample to Lawrence Lessig's recent claim that increased government transparency will destroy faith in government.

This is not transparency. This is a government agency's self-selected and self-edited public release of information that disproves negative claims made against them. There is absolutely nothing transparent about it.
posted by imbri at 10:39 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is not transparency. This is a government agency's self-selected and self-edited public release of information that disproves negative claims made against them. There is absolutely nothing transparent about it.

I think true transparency would be if there were, say, a website which had full live and archived CCTV footage of the TSA screening points in all the airports in the country, so any citizen in the US could examine, at will, the actions of those who we are paying with our tax dollars to supposedly protect us from teh terrorist.
posted by hippybear at 10:45 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Most of the posts here sound like the product of really good Germans.
posted by Forrest Greene at 10:49 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


My only observation at this juncture is that if she were to announce that her baby has now been carried off by a large, muffin-shaped helium balloon, I wouldn't believe her.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:49 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, I saw this post last night, read Nic's somewhat melodramatic and inaccurate recounting of events on her blog, and watched the TSA security camera footage, and this is all pretty disturbing on a few levels, not the least of which, is the somewhat glib pronouncements on having a child and Xanax, on the blue where, traditionally, knowing what the F**k you're talkin' about has, been valued.

First off someone who takes Xanax is not mentally ill, they may have panic attacks, general anxiety disorder or suffer from stress and moments of hysteria for quite normal events (Travelling on a plane, taking care of a child, dealing with abusive govt employees can all be stressful and of themselves, add them up and Nic is more than justified in losing it and lashing out. But calling such an individual "mentally ill," and dismissing her account is just insensitive, snarky, intellectually lazy and ignorant BS.

IN terms of the child "being taken away" from Nic and "carried away by a male TSA employee," that is clearly not the case, as can be clearly seen from the video so the TSA gets a point for that. The TSA guy leans towards the boy as he's sitting safely in his mother's lap and what looks like gently, quickly and unobtrusively does his his job. He never takes the child out of her hands and this is plainly where this woman loses a goodly amount of her credibility, but watch the video further and under the surface and things get just as creepy and troubling and her response has validity, even if the baby was never "carried away."

There's an element of harassment and intimidation in the black TSA woman's attitude towards Nic, who from observation appears to be well-educated, entitled, wealthy, arty, bratty and liberal and well...white as white gets.

The TSA woman escalates the situation too quickly, by NOT letting Nic remove the metal clip and sticking a harried anxious mother and her baby in a holding pen straight out of a nightmare scenario of a repressive government. And it wasn't simply that she put the lady, AND a BABY in a f88king pen, she put a woman, who clearly gets nervous easily in an enclosed space and lets her "cool her heels" for what seems to me to be an inordinate amount of time even though she's got to take a tram to even get to her boarding gate.

TSA implicates itself by using the translucent box to obscure what's taking place during the search, and while the baby is clearly sitting in his carriage, Nic is repeatedly asked to unbutton her pants, lift up her shirt, and turn away from her baby, I think the box is meant to obscure the harsh treatment she's receiving (I'm sure the TSA will say it's a security issue) and it's obvious Nic is concerned and trying to keep the baby in her line of sight yet the TSA person repeatedly seems to stop and command her to look away.

It's pure harassment and mental and emotional duress and they're covering it up. Ding, ding and ding....

So is Nic Full of BS, yeah a bit to be sure, but to anyone who doesn't have a child you're in no position to understand what someone is asking of you when they command you to turn away from your child, especially to the mother of a toddler. That's an emotional bond that you simply do not mess with, ever. Yet, this sadistic powertrippin' TSA woman (who should know better) decides to make Nic repeatedly turn away from her baby and generally torture her mentally and emotionally as much as she can get away with.

Another thing: Thanks for the long stretch of steady unbroken footage of your processes and layout and screening mechanisms TSA. Now, people you really should be worried about as opposed to anxious mothers with toddlers, can analyze it from the comfort of his or her home. Brilliant move.

Also, as far as I understand you have to get a person's consent to broadcast his or her or their childs image. This woman did not commit a crime and yet you make this footage available online like some petty bitch needing to get a final shot in.

I'd say Nic here, has a hell of a lawsuit she can and should bring and I wouldn't be surprised if she's already been put in touch with a good attorney and the ACLU.
posted by Skygazer at 10:57 AM on October 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm trusting the TSA video is accurate. I hope that the baby's father and family keep a close eye on this lady and her time with the baby. I firmly believe she is a danger to her child. Reading some of her other postings, she has far too much hysterical behavior in her life. That, to me, is a dramatizing bid for further attention, sympathy, and connection. I wouldn't put it past her to actually harm her baby for sympathy and attention. The child has already been hospitalized repeatedly for reasons the doctors could not determine, but she somehow determined was allergy to breast milk?

I would not be surprised if she isn't on nearby hospital watch lists as a probable Munchhausen syndrome mom.
posted by ick at 10:59 AM on October 17, 2009


All I'm going to say is that one plane trip I took, I had tossed my socks and underwear into my suitcase hurriedly due to them being out of the dryer just before I had to leave for the airport. When I got to my destination, there was a "your bg was searched by the TSA" letter in the bag...

...and my socks and underwear were folded up.

I sent them a letter thanking them for their efficiency.
posted by mephron at 11:00 AM on October 17, 2009 [21 favorites]


Most of the posts here sound like the product of really good Germans.

Oh, for Christ's sake. Looking at a video and recognizing that this person was lying about what happened is equivalent to enabling genocide?
posted by EarBucket at 11:03 AM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


I can't believe all the attacks on the mother in this thread. So she is imperfect! It isn't her job to be the professional, that is what the TSA folks are paid for. I think everyone involved is fortunate that her panic attacks manifest in helplessness. What if she had reacted to their breaking their own rule by actually becoming abusive or standing up and attempting to follow the individual who was walking off with her baby? Would that have been unreasonable? What if they had attempted to restrain her and used force to separate the mother and child?

She isn't the sort of person I necessarily enjoy being around (I have no kids and would be Dad, not a Mom even if I did so it sounds like she would have trouble relating to me), but I'm still pretty convinced that the TSA is 100% in the wrong here. Flying is an anxious enough time for a lot of people, there is no reason to subject them to this sort of absurdity and stress. I bet if you were able to meaningfully test it, the TSA causes more deaths by stress and anxiety than it saves by preventing terrorism. I don't appreciate having to pay taxes and fees for that 'service'.
posted by meinvt at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2009


Okay, scanning back up I see there is additional information about this I missed that wasn't part of the initial post. My resentment of the TSA and opinion that it is there job, not the passengers, to make everyone happy and comfortable is unchanged.
posted by meinvt at 11:27 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Her account of the story is completely and entirely wrong; the video shows that nothing like she reports on her blog happened. I think a big part of what's informing the reactions here is also that she is a very, very bad writer.

But.

I'm astounded and saddened by the "Oh, she's a drama queen; fuck her," "Oh, she took a Xanax; fuck her," "Oh, she keeps an emergency stash of mental-health meds on her; fuck her," reactions here. I'm not arguing whether this woman is in the best of mental health (clearly, she isn't); I'm responding to the distressing number of posts that immediately dismiss the idea that someone who needs mental-health medication must be, by default, a liar, a drama queen, an addict, and has little worth as a person. This particular situation is but one example of one person who needs this kind of medication. The broad, near-communal eye-rolling at the need for anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds and the reliability or emotional states of people who take them is disheartening to see on the Blue.

Before we knew that her account of the story was made of fail, there were people who posted "I assume you're not a parent; you don't understand" in reaction to the eye-rollers. That's possible, even probable--I'm not a parent, and I don't assume I can fully grasp what it would be like to have my child held by another person and taken out of my sight, though I can try to imagine and sympathize. I'd ask those of you who are in good mental health and who don't need anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication to take a moment to try to understand that you can't know what that experience is like either.
posted by tzikeh at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


"There's an element of harassment and intimidation in the black TSA woman's attitude towards Nic, who from observation appears to be well-educated, entitled, wealthy, arty, bratty and liberal and well...white as white gets."

Geez even the delusional blog author didn't play the race card.

"Another thing: Thanks for the long stretch of steady unbroken footage of your processes and layout and screening mechanisms TSA. Now, people you really should be worried about as opposed to anxious mothers with toddlers, can analyze it from the comfort of his or her home. Brilliant move. "

Good security does not rely on obscurity. Especially when the obscurity could be penetrated by anyone making a few flights.
posted by Mitheral at 11:32 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


So is Nic Full of BS, yeah a bit to be sure, but to anyone who doesn't have a child you're in no position to understand what someone is asking of you when they command you to turn away from your child, especially to the mother of a toddler.

Um, a BIT? She said the kid was taken from her, out of her sight, for 10 minutes. This is 100% untrue. The kid was withing 2 feet of her the entire time.

What is it, precisely, that I don't understand because I don't have kids?
posted by tristeza at 11:36 AM on October 17, 2009 [15 favorites]


I'm astounded and saddened by the "Oh, she's a drama queen; fuck her," "Oh, she took a Xanax; fuck her,"

I don't think anyone said that. I think it was the general hyperbolic tone of the story that turned people off and the fact that she followed it up by mentioning that she keeps an emergency xanax around that led people to think that her story wasn't reliable and so they stopped reading it. I mean, I know lots of people that take xanax and I don't think less of them for it, but when I got to that point in her blog post, I was already exhausted by her hyperventilating.

If she had made a calm, reasoned post about what happened to her, I don't think mentioning that she had to take a xanax to calm down would have gotten those kinds of responses.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Of course, if she had made a calm, reasoned post about what happened to her, it would have never been a FPP because there would have been no story.)
posted by empath at 11:44 AM on October 17, 2009


There's an element of harassment and intimidation in the black TSA woman's attitude towards Nic, who from observation appears to be well-educated, entitled, wealthy, arty, bratty and liberal and well...white as white gets.

How uppity of her.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've read this whole thread, read the parts of her blog post I could stand, watched the video.

What I don't get is why she just didn't tell the truth -- I think she was clearly intimidated by the TSA, as others have pointed out (I'm a pretty experienced flyer -- I am agreeable and patient and I have nothing to hide and do everything right, and the TSA still feels a bit threatening to me) and I think the angle of "I was harassed by the TSA over some stupid little thing when I'm already a stressy traveler" would be still be narrative that people would sympathize with.

Instead, she upped the drama and lied about what happened. She destroyed any credibility of complaints she may have had. I mean, fine, she wants attention, but I think if she had been honest about her story, she still would've got it.
posted by darksong at 11:46 AM on October 17, 2009


Two trivial dramas have yielded two excellent threads in as many days.

This and the balloon boy thread have followed amazingly similar trajectories, moving from "look at this crazy situation" into personal anecdotes that inform the story, and then both attacks and explanations of she's right, no she's right, they're crazy, and merging around mid thread with new information that proves one approach was more accurate (with the obligatory, "see I told you up there in 10th comment that it was all bullshit!")

And then an amazing thing happens. The members of this community start to analyze the old facts and the new facts, look for cites and corroborations, throw in a few LOLUSians remarks just so we remember we're in the blue, add a little bit of math, and discussions of how we can take our idiosyncratic reactions to these stories to help us better understand ourselves, this community and our world.

Metafilter gives me hope for humanity.
posted by nax at 11:50 AM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Every time I've dealt with the TSA, I've always come away feeling like I've just encountered a mall security guard granted his heart's desire: license to fuck with whomever they please with the slightest justification. For a certain personality type, even the smallest dose of authority is dangerously intoxicating and, just as in the case of the racist Louisiana Justice of the Peace, you can always expect obnoxious behavior from small people who are granted just a little bit of power. -- EatTheWeak
So true. I wish they would give psychological examinations to weed these people out, or something.
Obviously there's a way to search a mother and child and there's a way not to search a mother and child. On the face of it, it looks like this is a textbook case of the latter. Unless people want to suggest infants should be separated from their parents and strip searched because of a pacifier, they should stop arguing inanities. -- HP Laser Jet
I didn't say it was right, in fact I said it was wrong in another comment. It would obviously be wrong if it were true because it violates their stated policy (we now know it was a lie). I was commenting on the whole "Are there al Qaeda baby-bombs now?" snark, which is ridiculous. Like I said, if kids weren't searched, then people with kids could smuggle whatever they wanted onboard.
But the fact remains... if you aren't careful and trigger their sensors, you can -- and should -- expect to be searched thoroughly. -- markkraft
Since when? I don't fly very often, only a couple times since 9/11 but didn't they let you remove whatever and try again if you forgot something in the past? That seems like it would save a lot of time, not to mention not be insane.
That's right, folks. If you have problems with anxiety, so much so that you need prescription medication, make sure to never, ever fly again. Because when someone steals your baby even for ten measly minutes, people on the internet will rightly find you lacking. -- sugarfish
But like FFF said, that's not how you're supposed to use it. Xanax is a drug with a pretty high abuse potential, by the way.
It actually bugs me a little bit that the TSA posts the video on these incidents. It's not the first time they've done it and it kind of strikes me as an abuse of power, but I can't quite put my finger on why. -- empath
I think it's good. People are primed to believe anything about the TSA, and I think it's good we get to see what actually happened.
A few days ago, a 14-year-old kid talked his way past the TSA and onto a flight from Portland, Oregon to Chicago, with a boarding pass with his mother's name on it and NO I.D., exposing a TSA loophole you can pass a high school marching band through. -- wendell
That's not a security loophole, because it doesn't actually matter who you are. The security should work the same for everyone (unless you're on the "no-fly" list or something). The reason they make people match up their names to their boarding passes is so that you can't resell your tickets.

---

Also, seems like her whole site's down now.
posted by delmoi at 11:51 AM on October 17, 2009


Skygazer: I'd say Nic here, has a hell of a lawsuit she can and should bring and I wouldn't be surprised if she's already been put in touch with a good attorney and the ACLU.

And I wouldn't be surprised if the ACLU has already said "Yeah, no, sorry, we sorta like our defendants to have actual, legitimate complaints. Maybe some gullible lawyer blogger will do pro bono for you."
posted by barnacles at 11:52 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most of the posts here sound like the product of really good Germans.

Some of the posts here sound like the product of people who delude themselves into thinking they are the American equivalent of the White Rose.
posted by Snyder at 11:55 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Yeah, no, sorry, we sorta like our defendants to have actual, legitimate complaints." barnacles

I still say all this TSA buffoonery is outside the limits set by the Fourth Amendment, and as such, I wonder why the ACLU hasn't been all over this. ( Unless they don't want to end up on some secret no-fly list or something. )

Really, when did we start giving people timeouts in "Shame Boxes"?
posted by mikelieman at 12:05 PM on October 17, 2009


> If she had made a calm, reasoned post about what happened to her, I don't think mentioning that she had to take a xanax to calm down would have gotten those kinds of responses.

This is precisely my point. People on anti-anxiety (or anti-depressant) meds are all different, and all react in different ways to any situation. Since she was irrational and overly-dramatic, the meds came into play in the discussion as a way to further belittle her, simply because she takes them, and often in a "well, that explains it" or "and that's where I stopped reading" way. It allows people to dismiss irrational behavior as a result of being the kind of person who needs this type of medication. But if the reaction of someone on the meds was "rational," no one would have responded to that point (or very few would have) at all, proving that individuals in this medical situation are different from others in the same boat, and the ones who act more "crazy" than the others can be brushed off because of it, while others won't be, depending upon their reactions. But this is an all-or-nothing argument--you can't say "meds=crazy person" in one post and "meds=irrelevant to the conversation" in another. She's a mess, Xanax or no. But I'm removing her response from my point, because my point is general, and not specific to this instance.
posted by tzikeh at 12:06 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So is Nic Full of BS, yeah a bit to be sure, but to anyone who doesn't have a child you're in no position to understand what someone is asking of you when they command you to turn away from your child, especially to the mother of a toddler.

Why? I'm genuinely asking. PLENTY of people who have not sprogged mini-mes were fully onboard the outrage filter bandwagon when this "story" broke. I was, until I got to the part in her narrative that implied, like you, that I just wouldn't understand because I am not someone's mommy.

If a handful of people in this thread have blinked dimly and said what equates to "OK so if they did direct her to turn away from / remove herself from her child for a few minutes, it's no big deal" then the problem with those people is that they are either not very bright or not very empathetic. It is not that they have not given birth and just could not possibly understand.

This sort of division of basic human decency along parenting lines is ridiculous, offensive and counter-productive. When you are trying to bring people around to your point of view, you do not make progress by alienating your allies.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:07 PM on October 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


So what the hell was in her sock, anyway?
posted by Addlepated at 12:07 PM on October 17, 2009


Tzikeh, I wish it was possible to favorite your comment more than once.

Clearly the woman's account of the story is unreliable; clearly she overreacted to a relatively minor thing. Maybe she doesn't deal with her anxiety disorder/issues particularly well - but judging her just for having an anxiety disorder is pretty ableist. I know there are multiple MeFi users who struggle with severe anxiety in various forms - I'm one of them - so I know I'm probably not the only person who feels really alienated and defensive when reading this thread. Curbing the "hurf durf anxiety equals drama queen/bad parent/incompetent idiot, end of story" sentiment would be nice.

Look, I'm not defending her - but I don't see just her being pilloried here. If that were the case, it would be fine - if the commentary was more along the lines of "yeesh, she needs better coping mechanisms for her anxiety" and not "oh, she has anxiety? Clearly it is this, and not how she handles it personally, that makes her so prone to being a hysterical lady." The former recognizes that mental health issues do not automatically render someone a complete moron; the latter implies that they do.

It is possible to comment on how someone deals with their individual mental health issues without making broad, dehumanizing, derogatory statements about the personalities, capabilities, etc of people with mental health issues in general. It is. You can do it. I believe in you.
posted by ellehumour at 12:07 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Some of the posts here sound like the product of people who delude themselves into thinking they are the American equivalent of the White Rose.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Isn't being the Government's Conscience *always* a good thing?
posted by mikelieman at 12:10 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really, when did we start giving people timeouts in "Shame Boxes"?

"Shame Boxes?" Really? Have you been through airport security in the last 8 years? Is it scary to be singled out for more searching/questioning, yes. Is it annoying to be delayed when you might already be worried about missing your flight, yes. Is it shameful to be subjected to the same security theater that anyone else who fails the metal detector might be, no. She immediately starts flipping out once she's told she needs to be re-screened.

Say what we will about our country, but the chances of a white mother being "disappeared" by TSA security is pretty much 0% at this time.

I'm a dad and I've had my share of issues with airport security after being on the TSA watch list for 2.5 years. This woman has really nothing special to complain about. She was treated pretty much exactly like everyone else, if not better than some, I am sure. Every time I go through the airport I see people subjected to additional searches. Do I think they really help, probably not. Is the time to raise your hackles and protest the injustice of airport security when you are in their effective custody? Not if you have any common sense.
posted by twjordan at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The TSA can be a bunch of assholes, or not. Depends on the airport or day and the particular people. I've seen plenty of indefensible rudeness and meanness as someone who is in a security line every couple of weeks. There are real horror stories every single day.

But this wasn't really one of them. And if you spin a big, obvious lie online, you should expect to be trashed. Clearly the blog performance is of a piece with the airport performance.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bet if that Xanax she carried was a hit of Ecstasy, y'all'd think she was hep.
posted by Forrest Greene at 12:57 PM on October 17, 2009


Mithrael: Geez even the delusional blog author didn't play the race card.

Oh please, let's not be naive okay. But I will grant you the race thing clouds the issue and I'll gladly drop it. There's enough in this thing to implicate both of these parties, Nic and Child, vs. the TSA. I just happen to think in this case the TSA shows horrible processes and continues to creep me out. Frankly, I don't need to hear "Bob the Fu*kin' Blogger" for the TSA get all institutionally empathic (Christ, I can feel the contrived homey TONE they spent hours on with psychological consultants to perfect. Insert vomit here.) And Lawrence LEssig is right, government will always have a self-interest in spinning any sort of "transparency." [So, yeah Bob, take your "empathy" and "transparency" and fuck the right off to whatever psychological consultancy they plucked you from. The footage was edited AND manipulated. Period. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.]


Good security does not rely on obscurity. Especially when the obscurity could be penetrated by anyone making a few flights

Sure it does, I'd say the opposite is true, when good security is happening you have no effin' idea that it's a Goddamn presence or if it is a presence it's minimal and understated and gives off a sense of competence and something not to be messed with AT ALL. This nonsense with the TSA...pure fuckin' grade A theater. But just to test it, I suggest you contact the TSA and ask them for the plans and layout and mechanisms for ensuring the competent screening of airline passengers. While your at it, ask them who makes their equipment and any blindspots in the brilliant "TSA Process." Because you can bet even money that all that information and more is in that footage and it can be studied over and over and over again from the comfort of ones terror cell bunker.

Tristeza: Um, a BIT? She said the kid was taken from her, out of her sight, for 10 minutes. This is 100% untrue. The kid was withing 2 feet of her the entire time.

She said she lost track of time, and it felt like days had passed and I don't question the validity of her inner experience. She sounds like a pain in the ass, but seriously she's under an enormous amount of emotional and mental duress. The TSA agent takes her sweet time and passes the wand over her TWICE, in the same areas, as if through some magic trick the mother had conjured up a bomb at some point and she had to be extra sure. You can see Nic losing her patience and pretty much losing her understanding of the whole thing and she appears to be crying and agitated when she comes out of that godawful frickin' plastic torture device and also if you try to see what's going on behind the translucent box at some point in the search when it seems obvious the TSA agent is just going to mess with her head for as long as she can.

What is it, precisely, that I don't understand because I don't have kids?
posted by tristeza at 2:36 PM on October 17 [4 favorites +] [!]


Something I don't even pretend to understand, even though I'm the relatively new dad of a 14 month old, and that is the connection between a mother and her baby. It's one of those mysteries like love and death and the meaning of life, that are worthy of some humble consideration and respect.
posted by Skygazer at 1:14 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can see Nic losing her patience and pretty much losing her understanding of the whole thing and she appears to be crying and agitated when she comes out of that godawful frickin' plastic torture device

Well, at least we're not being being hyperbolic about this.
posted by dersins at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2009 [13 favorites]


I do think that if they are going to post videos to embarrass people who complain illegitimately, they should also be forced to release videos when people complain legitimately. Let's make all airport screening videos public domain. It can't be selective.
posted by delmoi at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


You say that like it's a bad thing.

Isn't being the Government's Conscience *always* a good thing?


Good, inasmuch as it's not part of an overblown worldview where they feel they are in direct opposition to Nazis, when in fact they are not. It's not good when people are unable or unwilling to perceive not only differences in quality (police brutality vs. systemic genocide), but differences in kind (an innocuous if irritating event vs. blatant violations of policy and good sense.)
posted by Snyder at 1:22 PM on October 17, 2009


I'm astounded and saddened by the "Oh, she's a drama queen; fuck her,"

Look, I hate the TSA with the force of a thousand suns, mostly because I do a lot of last minute one-way flying and so always end up selected for the extra humiliating public groping. But this chick made up a pack of lies that, without the tape, could have gotten some of those obnoxious-but-innocent-this-time TSA drones in trouble, wrote a ludicrous hyperventilating blog post and twittered about getting someone to pay for her story. She's a drama queen. Fuck her.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:23 PM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


My niece does that thing of imitating the phrasing of someone with whom she wants to have an argument, too. She's four.

Keep it up, & I may have to start charging royalties.
posted by Forrest Greene at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2009


I can't remember the last time I saw the Metafilter Snark Brigade in open war with the Metafilter Outrage Brigade.

As usual, the Metafilter Hyperbole Insurgency is always lurking in the bushes.
posted by fatbird at 1:39 PM on October 17, 2009 [14 favorites]


It allows people to dismiss irrational behavior as a result of being the kind of person who needs this type of medication.

When I got to the xanax part of her story, I actually assumed she didn't particularly need it and that it was a talisman or prop for her drama-queening.

It was the point at which credibility just fell away for me, not because people who are prescribed xanax are CRAZY LOL, but because she'd already been pushing a lot of self-important-drama-queen buttons for me (the ginormous header, the LOOK AT MY EDGY TATS picture, the histrionic language), and the LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY XANAX DID YOU KNOW I HAVE ANXIETY? bit implied to me that she'd learned that claiming a medicalized label for herself expanded the range of behavior she could get away with.

And self-important drama-queens aren't generally the most reliable narrator of their own life stories.

Honest question: do people with diagnosed anxiety disorders generally carry around just one or two tablets loose in their pocket?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:45 PM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


But this is an all-or-nothing argument--you can't say "meds=crazy person" in one post and "meds=irrelevant to the conversation" in another.

I said neither of those things -- meds in combination with crazy behavior = crazy person. It basically confirmed what I already suspected, which was that she was being irrational. It's possible that if she hadn't mentioned the xanax I might have ended up taking it more seriously, I dunno. But it was definitely the point at which I tuned her out.
posted by empath at 1:49 PM on October 17, 2009


I wrote her off as a kook long before I got to the Xanax. In fact, I stopped reading at the bit where she began to panic at only having 45 minutes to get to her gate. It was only after reading the uproar here about whether her pills should discredit her that I went back to finish her post.
Her pills didn't discredit her. Her hysterical hyperbole did. Then the video did.


She just twittered that she's writing a response.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:51 PM on October 17, 2009


And self-important drama-queens aren't generally the most reliable narrator of their own life stories.

Speaking as a reformed self-important drama queen (oh, my glorious 20s!) who could have once hosted a TV show entitled "Love Me, Love My Dysfunction," I can attest to the personal veracity of this statement.
posted by scody at 1:51 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I don't need to hear "Bob the Fu*kin' Blogger" for the TSA get all institutionally empathic (Christ, I can feel the contrived homey TONE they spent hours on with psychological consultants to perfect. Insert vomit here.) And Lawrence LEssig is right, government will always have a self-interest in spinning any sort of "transparency." [So, yeah Bob, take your "empathy" and "transparency" and fuck the right off to whatever psychological consultancy they plucked you from. The footage was edited AND manipulated. Period. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.]

I think you might need to take a xanax yourself, jesus fucking christ.
posted by empath at 1:53 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, I found the Twitter account of the "phony guy" on Family Guy.
posted by ALongDecember at 2:13 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


According to her Twitter feed, Nicole White is traveling now. She had a friend take down her blog until she could compose a response, which she's now working on (she just got her hotel about two hours ago).

Wonder what her response will be.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:16 PM on October 17, 2009


When I'm elected King of the World, I promise I'll put a chicken in every pot and a Xanax in every pocket.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:18 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clearly she just likes the sound of her story better. She had an entire Xanax-fogged plane ride to sit and rationalize it to herself, and by the time she got off the plane she had successfully rewritten history in her own mind.

While virtually no part of her story, the part that struck me as the most damning insight into her character was this:

"Both female Delta agents looked at me and asked how they could help. I told them that my ticket had me at an aisle seat and if I could switch to a window (Jackson LOVES the window)."


She is wielding this child as a blameless extension of her own desires and intentions. She's pretending it's all OMG JACKSON but really it's all about herself.
posted by hermitosis at 2:24 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sorry, incomplete sentence:

While virtually no part of her story didn't make me cringe...
posted by hermitosis at 2:25 PM on October 17, 2009


Wonder what her response will be.

"It may not be the truth, but it's my truth..."
posted by fatbird at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


She just twittered that she's writing a response.

If you have any questions for her, put them in the box.
posted by jayder at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


Wonder what her response will be.

Just posted:

"I got people e-mailing me, calling me. They got a lot of questions, and I don't know how to quite frankly answer any of them other than I got a box, so later on tonight, 7:30, I want to meet you guys again, I can look these questions over and then I can answer them. I'm going to place the box up front, you can write your questions down. Friends are telling me this or that, I have no idea what the web is saying, I don't have MetaFilter. Absolutely no hoax. I want your questions in a box, I'll get right back to you, OK?"

preview, dammit jayder
posted by ALongDecember at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason I utterly despise people like Nicole White is that they make it harder for people with legitimate grievances to get a fair hearing. They add to the public perception that people are lying when they claim they were harassed by authorities. This woman is a crazy, melodramatic buffoon who, in falsely accusing the TSA employees, just made it harder for people who really were injured by TSA to get justice.

Way to go, Nic. I hope you have enough wine and Xanax to endure the shame this ought to cause you.
posted by jayder at 2:35 PM on October 17, 2009 [15 favorites]


Who are these "trolls" she keeps referring to on her Twitter feed?

Are they the people who keep pointing out that her story isn't, uh, true?
posted by jayder at 2:38 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I don't have MetaFilter.
posted by hermitosis at 2:39 PM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


delmoi: "But like FFF said, that's not how you're supposed to use it. Xanax is a drug with a pretty high abuse potential, by the way. "

Who cares if it's a drug with high abuse potential? So is alcohol. Big deal. Plenty of people take it and yes, it works quite quickly. 1 hour to peak serum level is pretty quick.

ROU_Xenophobe: "Honest question: do people with diagnosed anxiety disorders generally carry around just one or two tablets loose in their pocket?"

Why not? So do people who are just afraid of flying or whatever. I would rather do that with my controlled prescription (adderall) than fly with a bunch of it in a prescription bottle. Who knows when they're going to get all worked up about them?
posted by kathrineg at 2:40 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


DarlingBri: "This sort of division of basic human decency along parenting lines is ridiculous, offensive and counter-productive. When you are trying to bring people around to your point of view, you do not make progress by alienating your allies."

It seems completely natural to me that parents (particularly mothers of young babies) have different experiences and probably different feelings towards their child than I do. I don't find it offensive in the least.

Of course, saying stupid shit like "that nice woman moved my stuff for me, she must be a mother!!!!!" is, well, stupid.
posted by kathrineg at 2:43 PM on October 17, 2009


Jesus H. Macy, people. At this point you're twitter-stalking the mentally ill. Give it a rest.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:44 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The most ridiculous part of her story is when she can magically reach her cell phone. Bullshit. Makes no sense from what I know of her situation and the TSA. And I get specially screened both ways, every time I fly.
posted by kathrineg at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2009


And...a big hearty fuck you to anyone who implied that taking anxiety meds makes you an unreliable nutball.
posted by kathrineg at 2:46 PM on October 17, 2009


So that's two or possibly three that could pose even theoretical danger to the plane, and zero which represent terrorist threats.

I agree that that's 21 grenade-shaped objects which shouldn't have been brought through security in the first place, and I agree that the people carrying them were idiots. But looking at that post and concluding "4 out of 21 were fake grenades" is just plain fearmongering.


...and you're full of shit, at least as much as I am if not more. All the grenades real or fake are a terroist threat. I mean I can't believe I would have to spell that out. Someone walks onto a plain and says "I have a bomb!" You don't say "Prove it!"
posted by P.o.B. at 2:46 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And...a big hearty fuck you to anyone who implied that taking anxiety meds makes you an unreliable nutball.

How about this -- the situational necessity of taking anti-anxiety medication implies that you may be experiencing symptoms that are altering your perception of reality and make you seem irrational to others who are not similarly afflicted.
posted by hermitosis at 2:57 PM on October 17, 2009


Skygazer: It's one of those mysteries like love and death and the meaning of life, that are worthy of some humble consideration and respect.

Yes, and the TSA deeply respects that mystery with their stated policy never to separate parent from child. They fear pantless entrails.

So is there an internet meme name for a fear or outrage causing event that sucks everyone in and makes them examine all their basic assumptions when they find out it was fake?
posted by psyche7 at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2009


Fuck TSA. FUCK THEM. To add insult to injury, they use fucking Comic Sans on their "Traveling with children" page.
posted by ratita at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


That's cool, hermitosis, and I completely agree with you, but unfortunately that's not what was being implied. What was being implied was OMGHYSTERICALXANAXWOMANMENTALILLNESSSSSSOMG!!!!

I mean, there was an askme where someone had dental anxiety. Know how many people suggested benzodiazapenes? A lot. Having anxiety medication in your possession doesn't make somebody a whack job.

If we really wanted to talk about what major malfunction this woman has in a decent and respectful way, then fine. That's not what happened early in this thread.
posted by kathrineg at 3:02 PM on October 17, 2009


Looking at her twitter stream again she @Msg'd This Stream The whole purpose of which is to call her a liar.

Which is, um, interesting.

(What could be more fun then reading several interleaved conversation halves)
posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on October 17, 2009


kathrineg: It seems completely natural to me that parents (particularly mothers of young babies) have different experiences and probably different feelings towards their child than I do.

Nobody is talking about her specific feelings about her specific child. That is unique to every individual parent/child relationship. A number of people are, however, saying that if you do not have children, you cannot understand this situation. Since not taking children away from their parents without consent (which is what the situation was described as originally) is a pretty fundamental concept, I reject out of hand the idea you need to be a parent to be on board with that.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:15 PM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


I am objecting…to any public area that you are obliged to use (such as airports) where the government tapes everything as a matter of course

Thanks for reminding me—I haven't met my mandatory being-in-airports quota for the year. Please don't report me to the FAA.
posted by oaf at 3:17 PM on October 17, 2009


Sort of ironic: Nicole (Self) White is married to "a 6′6″ Navy fighter pilot". Here's from her blog:

"I pull down our duvet and fluff the pillows in an attempt to move beyond the fart and continue with our nightly routine. After a few minutes, the smell dies down (or my nose just becomes immune). Paul and I each get in bed. I pull up the covers, open my book, and then…
“Sorry, again…” is quietly uttered from his mouth. I look at him and think to myself, why on earth do you always mumble? And then I realize why.
“Are you kidding me?! Seriously, Paul!!!” I say, sitting straight up in bed, looking for an escape, this time clearly unable to breathe. The dog even smells it and buries his face in his bed in an attempt to cover his nose.
“Can you not get up and go in the bathroom or something?” I say out of desperation, wanting to hide under the covers from the rancid smell of his ass, but knowing that would be far from a safe haven.
“Yeah, I guess I could,” he responds, again feeling bad for the smell his body has projected into our bedroom.
“I will next time.”
Yeah. Right."


And there's this, posted 2009-04-16:
Why I Have Anxiety About Traveling with My Son
posted by iviken at 3:20 PM on October 17, 2009


self-important drama-queens aren't generally the most reliable narrator of their own life stories
...
Speaking as a reformed self-important drama queen (oh, my glorious 20s!) who could have once hosted a TV show entitled "Love Me, Love My Dysfunction," I can attest to the personal veracity of this statement.


You're trying to trick me into dividing by zero or some other DOES NOT COMPUTE thing, but it won't work.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:23 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least she ends her blog post on an up beat.

Cheers!
posted by graventy at 3:27 PM on October 17, 2009


...and you're full of shit, at least as much as I am if not more. All the grenades real or fake are a terroist threat. I mean I can't believe I would have to spell that out. Someone walks onto a plain and says "I have a bomb!" You don't say "Prove it!"

So then, no need for a grenade-shaped object at all, right? Just being a good actor and claiming any old thing contains explosives will work.

I doubt any of those grenades were real threats either, just because a real terrorist wouldn't be so blatant. Only a dope who thinks they're so clearly not a threat that they should be exempt and allowed to carry their military history relics with them would try...
posted by mdn at 3:30 PM on October 17, 2009


Honest question: do people with diagnosed anxiety disorders generally carry around just one or two tablets loose in their pocket? Honest answer: Sometimes.

I generally carry pills in their labeled bottles, in my giant bag. In a tiny part, it's so that, should someone need to search my stuff (in the subway, or at an airport), they'll be able to see that my drugs are 100% licit.

That said, there are times, like when you're running through an airport, or just don't want to draw attention to yourself, that you don't want to spend time digging through your things, only to whip out a giant bottle of pills. In that case, it makes sense to set that day's dose aside in a pocket (or in a pillbox in a pocket, if you're feeling all fancypants about it).
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:34 PM on October 17, 2009


to anyone who doesn't have a child you're in no position to understand what someone is asking of you when they command you to turn away from your child, especially to the mother of a toddler.

True. Not sure what bearing it has on the brazen lies posted on the blog in the quest for a big teary, fawning pity party.
posted by fire&wings at 3:38 PM on October 17, 2009


TSA implicates itself by using the translucent box to obscure what's taking place during the search

How do you come to that conclusion?

I'd say Nic here, has a hell of a lawsuit she can and should bring

For what, exactly? She does not appear to have been mistreated, or even treated abnormally.
posted by oaf at 3:39 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


She said she lost track of time, and it felt like days had passed and I don't question the validity of her inner experience. She sounds like a pain in the ass, but seriously she's under an enormous amount of emotional and mental duress.

Her "inner experience" was that a man took her baby from her and walked away to a location she could not see.

Her "actual experience" was that her baby was in a stroller 2 feet from her or in her arms the whole time. Girl's got issues, all I'm sayin'.
posted by tristeza at 3:45 PM on October 17, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: Honest question: do people with diagnosed anxiety disorders generally carry around just one or two tablets loose in their pocket?

I do, yes (though in my pillbox in my pocketbook, not loose in a pocket). You never know what might set off anxiety on any given day. I find Xanax works for me in about 30-45 minutes, and last for several hours. So, it's not the best for something that produces instant anxiety, but (example that hasn't happened to me) I realize that I forgot that I'm supposed to present a lesson in a new class in four hours, I take a Xanax, and in about an hour I can sit down, find a way to prepare, and go into class without any fear at all (fear of not being prepared, not fear of talking in front of people--I don't have that fear). Without the Xanax, I'd be entirely incapable of reading or writing anything, because I'd be shaking and/or crying and/or terrified, and certainly unable to concentrate on anything requiring more thought than "where can I hide."
posted by tzikeh at 3:47 PM on October 17, 2009


Wonder what her response will be.

Probably a sentence.

Followed by another sentence.

A four word sentence.

A. FOUR. WORD. SENTENCE.
posted by Ratio at 3:50 PM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


So then, no need for a grenade-shaped object at all, right? Just being a good actor and claiming any old thing contains explosives will work.

Yep. Agreed, you would still treat them as a threat.

I doubt any of those grenades were real threats either, just because a real terrorist wouldn't be so blatant. Only a dope who thinks they're so clearly not a threat that they should be exempt and allowed to carry their military history relics with them would try...

So now you disagree? If you don't understand the implications of a possible threat, then I doubt your veracity to qualify something as a threat. I also doubt your ability to accurately gauge someone's intelligence.

*Honestly I don't know why people are still engaging on this idea. It's a fairly simple idea to wrap your head around, but is totally irrelevant to the larger discussion...that is if you still consider there is a discussion here.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:57 PM on October 17, 2009


At this time, her blog has gone black.

This woman's going to ground. We won't hear from her again, is my prediction.

Part of me feels a bit sorry for her. As mentioned upthread, she probably just thought that she'd get some sympathy and some publicity, and not the storm of fury that's fallen upon her. It can't be pleasant to be the subject of such intense, bitter national scrutiny.

That said, she did act like an idiot, so I can't feel too sorry for her.
posted by math at 3:58 PM on October 17, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: Honest question: do people with diagnosed anxiety disorders generally carry around just one or two tablets loose in their pocket?

In a word: yes.

I honest to God double puffy heart love Xanax, but I take it only occasionally. I am not going to carry around a full sheath of pills on the off chance I encounter a Xanax moment. However, on the off chance I do need one, I don't want to be caught without it, either, because I like breathing. There are two dirty, disgusting Xanax floating at the bottom of my change purse right now, and one in the top zip of my laptop bag.

Clearly I do not experience anxiety about germs.

Also, for the record, I don't think people are correctly understanding the action of BZDs. While they may not hit peak concentration for a number of hours, they are extremely fast acting (what Wikipedia describes as "rapid onset of anxiolytic action") which is why they are so successful in the treatment of anxiety and panic attacks. My drug label, in common with those of many other people, says "as needed." So while I think this woman is a raging moron, I also think the low-level accusation that she's an unstable pill junkie abusing her meds is unfounded.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:00 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The site itself is down and all of the other blog posts are down, but original post about the flight experience is still up at this time.
posted by artsygeek at 4:09 PM on October 17, 2009


quoting myself from 2007...

"You haven't lived until you've accidentally left your steel cock-ring in your travel bag, only to have a TSA employee dump your bag's contents onto an aluminum table for inspection...

Rinnnnnggg-ring-ring-rrrrrinnnnngggg goes the cock-ring as it spins to a stop on the table.

TSA lady as she picks up steel ring: "What exactly is this?"
Matty: "That's my cock-ring."

TSA lady puts down cock-ring, walks over to counter, and puts on some latex gloves.

I had a great trip."
posted by matty at 4:11 PM on October 17, 2009 [23 favorites]


sorry, didn't mean to derail, just meant if toy grenades are threats because people can be convinced, then isn't just about anything? Where is a line drawn if it just takes a good actor - the actor can get on the plane no matter what.

But, nevermind. you're right, I don't have any ability to judge someone's intelligence & didn't mean to suggest otherwise...

posted by mdn at 4:11 PM on October 17, 2009


Geez, where did all of the bootlickers come from? I had no idea so many MeFites were pro-TSA and anti-mother.
posted by anvilcity at 4:16 PM on October 17, 2009


...the situational necessity of taking anti-anxiety medication implies that you may be experiencing symptoms that are altering your perception of reality and make you seem irrational to others who are not similarly afflicted.

I still think that her narration is unreliable because of her hyperbolic description of the situation—and not because of whether or not she takes Xanax. It's entirely reasonable to expect her to to think critically, after the fact, about what happened. I have an anxiety disorder, and used to have a prescription for Xanax. But I can, and should, be held to the same standards as anyone else (and not just be dismissed as a crazy person who can't, on reflection, sort out fiction from reality).
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Geez, where did all of the bootlickers come from? I had no idea so many MeFites were pro-TSA and anti-mother.

You're kidding, right?

Sort of ironic: Nicole (Self) White is married to "a 6′6″ Navy fighter pilot".

If it is true --- and I seriously doubt the fighter pilot thing --- it's definitely a strange pairing. You can see photos of him in her Flickr feed. The disparity in their attractiveness quotient is striking. I am having a hard time reconciling the spineless, pathetic doormat of a man who could be bamboozled into marrying this nut job, with the kind of alpha male qualities I associate with being a fighter pilot.
posted by jayder at 4:21 PM on October 17, 2009


I had no idea so many MeFites were pro-TSA and anti-mother.

This is just lazy argumentation. You can disagree with folks all you like, but characterizing anything other than hardline anti-TSA sentiment or unquestioning support of White as you have makes you sound like you're more interested in a cheap fight-starting shot than you are in participating in anything like a good-faith discussion.
posted by cortex at 4:24 PM on October 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


I had no idea so many MeFites were pro-TSA and anti-mother.

I'm anti-making-up-a-bunch-of-deceptive-shit-and-have-a-willing-audience-people. Especially if you're going to shoe-horn in the hottest topic you're captive audience will glom onto and go into a frenzy over. Oh, and especially if it was just because you were inconvenienced. "Hi, I'm a victim." No. No you weren't. There are real victims in this world, and the only thing that you are a victim of is not having a enough patience.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:31 PM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


How intelligent were we expecting an Atlanta TSA employee to be in the first place?
posted by hamida2242 at 4:34 PM on October 17, 2009


Geez, where did all of the bootlickers come from? I had no idea so many MeFites were pro-TSA and anti-mother.

You missed the bit where it's all invented.
posted by fire&wings at 4:48 PM on October 17, 2009


I dunno. There are lots of people on Twitter still claiming the TSA must have edited the video or put out film of a different woman.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:51 PM on October 17, 2009


I had no idea so many MeFites were pro-TSA and anti-mother.

I had no idea so many people would respond to Obvious Troll. Hell, it's so obvious that I decided it was probably well-targeted snark. Well played, either way.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:53 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


The response is up.
posted by ALongDecember at 5:07 PM on October 17, 2009


The first (and only) comment I see on her response blog entry is "You're full of shit and you know it."
posted by Locative at 5:16 PM on October 17, 2009


Sort of ironic: Nicole (Self) White is married to "a 6′6″ Navy fighter pilot".

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure the Navy's maximum height for fighter pilots is 6'5".
posted by EarBucket at 5:18 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]




what is shown in the video is incomplete as it leaves out when the security agent took my son to a separate area and out of my sight.


Wow, sad.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:20 PM on October 17, 2009


IT WAS TIMESTAMPPED!
posted by P.o.B. at 5:23 PM on October 17, 2009


in the video, it looks as though my son is playing happily in his stroller while i am being searched with a wand. obviously this is the big discrepancy with my story, since he was not in my sight at that time, and one that i too am thoroughly looking into.

Wow, man, all that crazy stuff I made up isn't in the video. O_o

I thought she might come back and say that the blog post was an attempt at fiction or a description of a dream or something, as that was the only way I could see her getting out of this and saving any face whatsoever. The vague way she circumvents having to actually admit she lied is painful. She suggests that the video was edited but I think a person in her position would do the minute-by-minute breakdown to show where and how, wouldn't they?

However, big ups for pulling the classic "this is between my family and TSA" and "I'm going to take a break and process" stuff so that she never has to answer any questions again.

God I hate when people cry wolf like this. She is full of shit and she does know it.
posted by juliplease at 5:23 PM on October 17, 2009


Yeah, I'm not getting much out of the apology. First, it's not an apology for making up (part of) the story, in particular the key part about being separated from her son for 10 minutes. Rather, she says,

my sincere apologies to all of you who have been concerned, wanting answers and looking for an immediate response from me

Second, as mentioned above, how can she explain the fact that on the tape she is clearly never more than 2 feet from her son? And that the entire tape, from entry into glass box to exiting the area, is about 10 minutes? There's clearly no missing ten minutes that was taken out of the middle of the tape, either.

Sad.

On preview, what juliplease said.
posted by math at 5:24 PM on October 17, 2009


Comment of the week:

"Yo Nic, I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish, but Balloon Boy had the best hoax of this week."
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:27 PM on October 17, 2009 [23 favorites]


Sort of ironic: Nicole (Self) White is married to "a 6′6″ Navy fighter pilot".

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure the Navy's maximum height for fighter pilots is 6'5".
posted by EarBucket at 10:18 PM on October 17 [+] [!]


Navy max pilot height is 78 inches (6'6"), but it also depends on aircraft type. You can also apply for a waiver. I've flown with guys who were taller...
posted by matty at 5:30 PM on October 17, 2009


"in the video, it looks as though my son is playing happily in his stroller while i am being searched with a wand. obviously this is the big discrepancy with my story, since he was not in my sight at that time, and one that i too am thoroughly looking into."
Hear that? She is thoroughly looking into these nefarious discrepancies!
posted by scody at 5:34 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


So is there an internet meme name for a fear or outrage causing event that sucks everyone in and makes them examine all their basic assumptions when they find out it was fake?

If there isn't, then in the vein of glurge, I propose roarge.
posted by Iosephus at 5:39 PM on October 17, 2009


Just so I can check in with my own opinion here:

Is her claim that a section or sections of the video are missing entirely, 100% impossible?

I ask only because this seems like an enormously stupid lie to have made up. I was expecting either "that isn't me" or "I'm sorry, I clearly blew this whole thing out of proportion." (I ws totally not expecting "the tape has been doctored." And because, on the off chance she isn't lying, I don't really see any way for her to prove that when faced with this tape. So I'd like to know how 100% untampred with and genuine we should all assume this tape to be.

I'd also be very interested to see if any witnesses step forward to say that they did indeed see her sitting there with an empty stroller.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:42 PM on October 17, 2009


This one trumps Balloon Boy and TSA Mommy, to say the least. It's real...

Baby hit by train.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:50 PM on October 17, 2009


Is her claim that a section or sections of the video are missing entirely, 100% impossible?

It's not impossible, but for it to have happened, the timestamps on the video would have to be faked, which is almost beyond the ability of any TSA blogger or office responding within hours to a blog controversy.
posted by fatbird at 5:54 PM on October 17, 2009


*almost certainly
posted by fatbird at 5:54 PM on October 17, 2009


The video is time stamped, and it looked to me like all the parts were contiguous, has anyone else noticed whether or not the timestamps don't match up? I'm just going to assume they do.
posted by delmoi at 5:57 PM on October 17, 2009


...a blog controversy...

Surely you meant blogtroversy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:57 PM on October 17, 2009


I had no idea so many people would respond to Obvious Troll.

I think the proper response is to favorite cortex and move on.
posted by oaf at 6:03 PM on October 17, 2009


as far as my site being “blacked out” or me “going into hiding” as some people have referenced, in my opinion, i have done neither.

Wha?? Her site, except for the one blog post at issue, was nothing but blank black pages. So I guess it wasn't "blacked out" just like her child wasn't in the stroller next to her.

a trusted friend who is abundantly more tech savvy than i am temporarily shut down my site because i was concerned about the amount of traffic. given that my blog chronicles my life with my family and my son, the last thing i wanted was for it to crash.

This makes no sense.
posted by ericost at 6:04 PM on October 17, 2009


Comment of the week:

"Yo Nic, I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish, but Balloon Boy had the best hoax of this week."


I like the guy who posted her contact information and then said "not that anyone will see this, since the comments are moderated."
posted by delmoi at 6:07 PM on October 17, 2009


What a lame response. "I'm moving on so others should move on as well??" WTF?!

Thanks a whole lot for helping a horrible abusive gov organization look like the victim of a delusional manipulative drama queen, Nicky. Well done. Well fu*kin' done.
posted by Skygazer at 6:13 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Shame Boxes?" Really? Have you been through airport security in the last 8 years?

No. Last time I flew Commercial Air was New Years' Day 2000, on the way back from Widespread Panic's show in Atlanta.

Remember how it used to be? Show up on time, put your bags on the X-Ray, walk through the metal detector and you were DONE.

I live on the East Coast, so anything I really need to get to is a day's drive away anyway.
posted by mikelieman at 6:18 PM on October 17, 2009



Isn't being the Government's Conscience *always* a good thing?

Good, inasmuch as it's not part of an overblown worldview where they feel they are in direct opposition to Nazis, when in fact they are not.


Well, I'd say that it's a matter of degree.

It's not good when people are unable or unwilling to perceive not only differences in quality (police brutality vs. systemic genocide),

Isn't systemic genocide sorta predicated on a country where police brutality is excused in the first place? If a nation is intolerant of police brutality, what are the chances of it developing systemic torture or genocide in the first place?

A few bad apples spoil the barrel.

but differences in kind (an innocuous if irritating event vs. blatant violations of policy and good sense.)

Yeah, for me, knowing about the 4th Amendment and such, this IS a blatant violation of policy and good sense. Mileage Varies, depending on your tolerance of being a subject rather than a Citizen, and how much you cherish Freedom and Liberty.
posted by mikelieman at 6:26 PM on October 17, 2009


I am having a hard time reconciling the spineless, pathetic doormat of a man who could be bamboozled into marrying this nut job, with the kind of alpha male qualities I associate with being a fighter pilot.

I am overwhelmed by your display of masculine virility.
posted by odinsdream at 6:44 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]




Good Lord...so not does she continue to insist that TSA took her baby away, but now there's a government conspiracy to cover it up.

She needs to go into business with Balloon Boy's family.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:56 PM on October 17, 2009


The video is time stamped, and it looked to me like all the parts were contiguous, has anyone else noticed whether or not the timestamps don't match up? I'm just going to assume they do.

Missing time: 20 seconds between the overhead view of the x-ray conveyor and the view of the holding box (11:01:40, 11:02:00), then 19 seconds between that view and the view of the search table area (11:04:12, 11:04:31).

Her claim of conspiratorial editing is extremely dubious. The only other missing part is about 5 minutes of standing in line at the beginning.
posted by zennie at 6:58 PM on October 17, 2009


It's not impossible, but for it to have happened, the timestamps on the video would have to be faked, which is almost beyond the ability of any TSA blogger or office responding within hours to a blog controversy.

Beyond the timestamps are all of the other things happening in the video - during key parts of her story, there is no sign of editing (people moving through don't suddenly appear or disappear).

She claims that she handed her son over to the male TSA agent and he walked away.

In the video, you can see people walking in the background during the period that the male TSA agent arrived up to and after she placed her son in the stroller.

She also claims that her son had not yet been returned to her while she was searched - but you can see him there sitting in his stroller the entire time that she's searched and, again, with no signs of editing.

She then claims that after she was searched, she was told to sit down (this was when she made the calls) and, finally, after a period of time of sitting & sobbing the TSA returned her son - she runs and grabs him from the TSA agents before holding him as she gathers her stuff.

Yet, in the video, she's gathering her belongings the very moment they are done searching her. No sitting. No calling. No holding her son - who has been sitting in his stroller for 4 minutes now.

Could that be edited together with people & actions that weren't necessarily going on? Sure. But it's so beyond improbable that the TSA could have found the footage and edited it to such an extent in the time period they had that I'm calling it impossible.

(I cannot believe that I just spent so much time comparing her version of events with the video. On a Saturday night. This is depressing.)
posted by imbri at 7:00 PM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


On her "my apologies" post, comments have been disabled, and all comments that used to be up are gone.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:14 PM on October 17, 2009


Well, I'd say that it's a matter of degree.

It is absurd and self-important to conflate the TSA and Nazis.

Isn't systemic genocide sorta predicated on a country where police brutality is excused in the first place? If a nation is intolerant of police brutality, what are the chances of it developing systemic torture or genocide in the first place?

It is absurd and self-important to look at a case or cases of police brutality and say that it is or similar to genocide.

Yeah, for me, knowing about the 4th Amendment and such, this IS a blatant violation of policy and good sense. Mileage Varies, depending on your tolerance of being a subject rather than a Citizen, and how much you cherish Freedom and Liberty.

By "this," you mean the confabulation that Nicky came up with, or the fact that she confabulated it? Not sure what either has to do with the 4th Amendment. Yes, the TSA is ineffective security theater, but I don't take seriously an assertion to a Constitutional right to fly commercial aircraft. Or this is some value Freedom and Liberty that is similar to the Freedom and Liberty that would be lost by the passing of a public option? Because then I guess I don't cherish that kind of Freedom and Liberty.
posted by Snyder at 7:17 PM on October 17, 2009


It is absurd and self-important to look at a case or cases of police brutality and say that it is or similar to genocide.

To clarify, it is good and useful to condemn and work against police brutality, but it is absurd to gin it up to make your work seem more epic or "important."

As people have said, stories like this have a way of making people dismiss authentic complaints.
posted by Snyder at 7:21 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you can't control yourself when it comes to insane over-reactions to anything to do with your child, you're a parent- sure - but you are also a big shiny tool. Kids don't need vigilante-style protection, they need adults who have their act together.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:22 PM on October 17, 2009 [15 favorites]


It is absurd and self-important to look at a case or cases of police brutality and say that it is or similar to genocide.

What if it contributes significantly to systematic oppression which results in much higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy? Is that close enough for you to consider them part of the same spectrum of behavior?
posted by kathrineg at 7:25 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


First they came for the babies, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a mother...
posted by ericost at 7:28 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The TSA contributes to high infant mortality and lowers life expectancy? Wow. Some needs to really gather statistics on that.
posted by hippybear at 7:28 PM on October 17, 2009


*Someone (where is that 3 minute edit window again?)
posted by hippybear at 7:29 PM on October 17, 2009


I was continuing the broadened discussion which is including all police brutality, yo.
posted by kathrineg at 7:33 PM on October 17, 2009


What if it contributes significantly to systematic oppression which results in much higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy? Is that close enough for you to consider them part of the same spectrum of behavior?

Oh, come on.

Yes, the TSA is security theater. Yes, most of what they do is annoying and inconvenient and doesn't really make us any safer. But comparing it to the fucking Holocaust? That's the most offensive thing I've heard in a long time.
posted by EarBucket at 7:33 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's funny that you're using hyperbole to criticize a hyperbolic assertion that isn't really that hyperbolic if you take the time to read it in context
posted by kathrineg at 7:34 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


By "this," you mean the confabulation that Nicky came up with, or the fact that she confabulated it?

By "this" I mean the existence of the TSA, their entire process, and the time and money wasted on it all including that we even need to engage in such a discussion in the United States of America.

What failed us on 2001-09-11 wasn't the screening at the airport. What failed was our naive understanding and acceptance of the dumbest rules of engagement ever.

You Do NOT Cooperate with the hijackers. You do your damnedest to kill hijackers.

Now that everyone knows better, and hijackers have a zero-percent chance of doing anything but crashing the plane, ( and the pilots still have that fire axe, so I'm not worried about them too much ) the entire participatory security theatre is especially pointless.

Maybe it's my "Small Goverment/Fiscal Responsibility" gene or something, but hiring federal employees to do something pointless which materially removes our freedom and liberty just ain't right.

I'm not against the idea of hiring people to do makework as an alternative to welfare benefits, but this ain't the way you do it in the USA.
posted by mikelieman at 7:37 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


On her "my apologies" post, comments have been disabled, and all comments that used to be up are gone.

Good thing we saved the "I'mma let you finish..." rif for posterity!
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on October 17, 2009


The TSA contributes to high infant mortality and lowers life expectancy?

I'd like to see a breakdown of mortality in "Oppressive Governments" like ours has become and "Free Nations" like... I dunno.. Are there any left, or is the moon ( or Mars if you like Varley ) our only option at this point?

I wonder if there's any historical studies from East/West Germany about? Naively, I'd expect that oppressive governments cause more stress, and that might be linked to heart disease, alcoholism, etc.

All I know is it all totally hashes my buzz, and when I drive to Disney -- I get as big a cup of coffee as I want and I can go to the bathroom whenever I want without anyone rifling thorough my person or papers.
posted by mikelieman at 7:43 PM on October 17, 2009


What if it contributes significantly to systematic oppression which results in much higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy?

What if you actually had a shred of sense of the world outside your own self-important pronouncements about "systematic oppression" and realized that pretty much every civilized society in the world has some form of airport security mechanism, many of which operate at a much higher level of scrutiny than what's enforced by the TSA? Get a grip.
posted by dhammond at 7:47 PM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


I am talking about police brutality as part of systematic oppression. Not just the fucking TSA. Damn. Feel free to read this again as an honest question, which it is, instead of an assertion:

What if it contributes significantly to systematic oppression which results in much higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy? Is that close enough for you to consider them part of the same spectrum of behavior?

Also, "get a grip?" You're the one responding to polite discussion by freaking out and insulting me.
posted by kathrineg at 7:58 PM on October 17, 2009


Too much argryied-up blood is kryptonite to my proofreading skills.

s/hashed/harshed/
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 PM on October 17, 2009


Also, it's making me lol that I considered extrapolating beyond individual acts of police brutality to a larger system of oppression and you responded by implying that I'm close-minded and unable to see beyond my worldview. OK, dude, whatever makes you feel like you won the point.
posted by kathrineg at 8:01 PM on October 17, 2009


That was a response to dhammond, by the way, not you, mikelieman.
posted by kathrineg at 8:02 PM on October 17, 2009


Feel free to read this again as an honest question, which it is, instead of an assertion:

What if it contributes significantly to systematic oppression which results in much higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy? Is that close enough for you to consider them part of the same spectrum of behavior?


kathrineg, do you really not see how the way you phrased that makes it sound like a snarky rhetorical question intended to express your opinion?
posted by ericost at 8:05 PM on October 17, 2009


OK, kathrineg, so what does that have to do with the topic of the thread, which is about the accusations this blogger is making against the TSA?
posted by EarBucket at 8:05 PM on October 17, 2009


Man, people are getting real bitchy and angry about things in general. What's with all the aggro these days? Are things getting grim in real life?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 PM on October 17, 2009


What if it contributes significantly to systematic oppression which results in much higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy? Is that close enough for you to consider them part of the same spectrum of behavior?

I think it's a tenuous link that needs support, and I also think it's irrelevant, police brutality is bad enough on it's face. I also already consider them in the same spectrum of behavior. "It's not good when people are unable or unwilling to perceive not only differences in quality (police brutality vs. systemic genocide)", but it is stupid and not a good thing when crusaders call it something it is not. Keds and ice boots are on the same spectrum of clothing, but I'd only try to climb a Everest with the second.
posted by Snyder at 8:06 PM on October 17, 2009


Also, this event, even if it was true, would not have been police brutality. And accusing people of being bootlickers or Nazi enablers because they feel that way is a chump move.
posted by Snyder at 8:08 PM on October 17, 2009


Are the TSA's security-screening videos subject to the Freedom of Information Act? If so, that would be one way to get them without having to file a whole lawsuit and get to discovery.

If not, they should be.

You know, aside from what appears to be a load of fakery here, I was taken aback by her account of calling her mother and just saying, "Jackson's gone," while crying hysterically. You don't do that to anybody, ever. What a terrible way to heighten the drama. I might be overthinking it, but it seems to me that she gets a little upside from the notion of her child in danger -- how it puts her on a bit of a pedestal as The Devoted Mother In Distress. A little creepy, if you ask me.
posted by palliser at 8:20 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


And now I am reiterating that is a question, hence the question mark. If you refuse to take that in good faith, fine.

It is a tangent that was started by someone saying this:

"It's not good when people are unable or unwilling to perceive not only differences in quality (police brutality vs. systemic genocide)..."

When does police brutality become one of many tools of systematic race-based oppression, and when does that oppression constitute systematic genocide? It's a fair question.
posted by kathrineg at 8:22 PM on October 17, 2009


Snyder: "Also, this event, even if it was true, would not have been police brutality. And accusing people of being bootlickers or Nazi enablers because they feel that way is a chump move."

I assume that you're not mistakenly conflating my statements with those statements.
posted by kathrineg at 8:23 PM on October 17, 2009


Man, people are getting real bitchy and angry about things in general. What's with all the aggro these days?

Hey, you've either hijacked five fresh fish's account, or you, five fresh fish, have forgotten that you can be one of the bitchiest and most aggressive people on this site! And I say that as someone who sometimes likes your contributions. But man, talk about pot/kettle/black!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:24 PM on October 17, 2009


Snyder: "I think it's a tenuous link that needs support, and I also think it's irrelevant, police brutality is bad enough on it's face. I also already consider them in the same spectrum of behavior."

I think it's quite relevant in general, perhaps not so relevant to this particular play-act.
posted by kathrineg at 8:26 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I assume that you're not mistakenly conflating my statements with those statements.

Not at all! It was an aside concerning the comment and the others like it that inspired me to respond in the first place.
posted by Snyder at 8:26 PM on October 17, 2009


OK, dude, whatever makes you feel like you won the point.

I apologize for being a little harsh with my tone, but I think it's insulting to victims of actual oppression to blur the lines like you're doing and play "six degrees of separation" between the TSA and genocide.
posted by dhammond at 8:27 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Systematic police brutality absolutely is actual oppression. You don't need a furnace.

The wires got crossed when I went from this particular incident, and the TSA, to the subject of police brutality in other contexts. Obviously I did not make myself clear.
posted by kathrineg at 8:32 PM on October 17, 2009


I feel sorry for her. Whatever is wrong with her is really keeping her from leading a happy, well-adjusted and productive life (well, productive in the sense that it is gotten by honest means), and it doesn't appear that her medication is really helping her.

It's too bad that a number of people (the ones who consider themselves full of empathy) are dumping on TSA workers. They are people too, who probably have children of their own, bills to pay, and they are constantly on their feet. It doesn't look like a cushy job to me. Maybe they aren't the nicest people in the world with the topnotch "customer service" groveling skills we're used to, but they probably have abuse heaped upon them from all sides every single day of the week they have to work. Some of them are pointlessly rude (I'm not much of a people person myself though), some of them are not rude but not exceptionally nice, and some of them have been very nice and pleasant, even when pulling me aside.

I'm glad I work in a field that doesn't require me to inspect someone's cockring. I'm sure TSA people could use a few drinks or drugs.
posted by anniecat at 8:59 PM on October 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's too bad that a number of people (the ones who consider themselves full of empathy) are dumping on TSA workers. They are people too, who probably have children of their own, bills to pay, and they are constantly on their feet.

It's sad that this point wasn't made earlier in the thread. Instead, the sentiment seemed to be, "even if the TSA didn't actually do this ... it's the sort of thing they would do... so fuck the TSA!"
posted by jayder at 9:06 PM on October 17, 2009


You know, aside from what appears to be a load of fakery here, I was taken aback by her account of calling her mother and just saying, "Jackson's gone," while crying hysterically.

This was the sentence that convinced me she was either fabricating a story or mentally ill. Call up your mother and tell her her grandchild is gone while going into hysterics is a sure way to drive the ol' lady to a heart attack. Grandchild is dead! Daughter is sobbing! Disaster!

Her mother must have the patience of angels to put up with that kind of bullshit. Lordy.

Unless, of course, she's actually [insert politically correct term here]. In which case she needs to get herself on continuous medication, stabilize that brain chemistry.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 PM on October 17, 2009


Right on anniecat.

I get hassled by the TSA fairly regularly. At least every other flight, I get pulled aside and given the extra special treatment, not because I set off the alarm or anything but just because I have a name that sounds a great deal like an alias. Almost every time, the TSA agents have been polite, and even jovial at times.

And while I detest passionately the fact that they go through my things and pull me aside as often as they do, I understand that these folks are just doing a job. A crappy job in a mostly hostile environment. Because for every person like me who smiles and jokes through their search and shows up at the airport way too early because of the delay possibility, there's 10 Nicoles. Making scenes, causing drama and basically being over-entitled brats because they've been inconvienced.

Do I think what they are required to do is full of shit? YUP. But I understand that most of them are not any worse than any other bureaucrat and at the very least entitled to some element of respect as a fellow human being.
posted by teleri025 at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]



I skipped a lot of comments to ask what the definition of kidnapping is. So it has probably been answered.
posted by notreally at 9:25 PM on October 17, 2009


forgotten that you can be one of the bitchiest and most aggressive people on this site

Fair enough. Nonetheless, I'm seeing increased levels of violent language in MeFi and in other forums. It's odd and a little alarming. Lotta upset people getting more vocal.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 PM on October 17, 2009


That'd make a good grad project: parsing blogs for emotional content, to map the day-to-day changes in the public mood.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I understand that most of them are not any worse than any other bureaucrat and at the very least entitled to some element of respect as a fellow human being.

He's a Bureaucrat.

He's Also A Human Being.

Cognitive Dissonance has too many syllables for haiku.
posted by mikelieman at 9:28 PM on October 17, 2009


I haven't seen anyone mention borderline personality disorder but this seems like the sort of thing I've heard people mention happening with people with that condition.
posted by marble at 9:34 PM on October 17, 2009


It's too bad that a number of people (the ones who consider themselves full of empathy) are dumping on TSA workers. They are people too, who probably have children of their own, bills to pay, and they are constantly on their feet.

There's a long story about this. Anyway, the lesson was: "You need to listen to your heart, not your wallet"
posted by mikelieman at 9:36 PM on October 17, 2009


I'd like to know when the TSA became the de facto scapegoat for all that is wrong with an overreaching government. There seem to be two schools of thought: the TSA is mindless political theater or the TSA represents all that is wrong with a government hellbent on serving its victims to the fascist machine. I really wish its critics would decide which school of thought best applies, because it can't really be both.
posted by dhammond at 9:37 PM on October 17, 2009


It's not mindless. It's designed to convert the former Citizens of a Free Nation into subjects of The Government.

And it's been quite successful, given the apparent consensus.
posted by mikelieman at 9:39 PM on October 17, 2009


We've had airport security for decades now. The TSA is not a sea change but rather a bureaucratic extension of the security systems that were already in place. Sure, the technology and screening have become more robust, and the bureaucracy is set up differently now because of the increased focus on terrorism, but what, exactly, is the TSA doing to its "subjects" that is so very different than what's been done in the past? I've faced substantially more rigorous screening in the 1980s and '90s traveling through Europe than I've ever seen here in the states. I'm also guessing you've never flown El Al.

I'd be a lot more impressed with your "arguments" if they were in any way based on actual facts and not politically-loaded buzzwords like "Citizens" and "subjects." Political theater, indeed.
posted by dhammond at 9:50 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I think the distinction is critical.

The entire notion of passenger screening -- searches and seizures in the constitutional law context -- is predicated upon the 4th Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The heart of the 4th Amendment, as we should all know from elementary school, is the notion of 'reasonable'. In the context of screening for weapons and explosives, what's 'reasonable'?

Is locking someone in a plastic box 'reasonable'?
posted by mikelieman at 10:04 PM on October 17, 2009


Sorry, to finish the original thought.

Which subset of people would believe that locking someone, for whom no suspicion exists of any possession of a harmful weapon or explosive, in a plastic box?

Citizens of a Constitutional Republic, who are guaranteed security in their person and effects?

Or subjects, who by definition are not their nation's sovereign entity?
posted by mikelieman at 10:07 PM on October 17, 2009


Is locking someone in a plastic box 'reasonable'?

For less than two minutes? Um, yes? Is this a trick question?
posted by dersins at 10:08 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is locking someone in a plastic box 'reasonable'?

You've already admitted that you haven't flown in quite some time, so I can understand your confusion, but no one is "locked" in a "plastic box." The box is presumably there to afford a measure of privacy and typically, if you are singled out, you're there for a few minutes. You're not "locked" up. Additionally, the specific location of where the search is conducted doesn't change the fact that we've been subject to these searches for a long, long time, so the "plastic box" has nothing to do with whether or not a search is reasonable or unreasonable.
posted by dhammond at 10:14 PM on October 17, 2009


The box is presumably there to afford a measure of privacy

Those clear plastic doors and walls must be really effective in that, huh?
posted by mikelieman at 10:33 PM on October 17, 2009


Why is it always moonbats quoting chapter and verse of the US constitution? Whenever a sane argument is being made - the US shouldn't torture people, not allowing an interracial marriage is evil and stupid, that sort of thing - there's always a larger argument that can appeal to a reasonable person, and the constitutional elements just serve to reinforce the point.

But when it's looloo time, and it's time for automatic weapons to be on the streets or for all airport screening to be forbidden in the name of abstract citizenship, then hellloo constitution as predicate, conclusion and pwn, all in one.

To be honest, it rather makes me feel the same way "I had a Xanax. I always carry one" made me feel. Like the point is being missed.

To feed the troll, though: can we get a cite on this claim that the TSA was "designed" to make citizens into subjects? And that shitty fallacy of "it was succesfull because people disagree with me" won't cut it.
posted by fightorflight at 10:37 PM on October 17, 2009


Cognitive Dissonance has too many syllables for haiku.

Not if you put it in the middle line.
posted by hippybear at 10:42 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say Borderline Personality Disorder, necessarily, sounds like she might have a factitious disorder with some narcissism thrown in there.
posted by kathrineg at 10:43 PM on October 17, 2009


Additionally, the specific location of where the search is conducted doesn't change the fact that we've been subject to these searches for a long, long time

US v. Davis in the 9th Circuit was what 1973?

And I'm not questioning X-raying carry ons, and having people walk through magnetometers. Hand wands if it goes beep, sure, why not.

Sniffer dogs hanging out, sure, maybe even puffer curtains and automated sampling if it's effective and non-intrusive. To me that seems a reasonable compromise between the requirement of personal liberty and freedom as guaranteed by our founding principles and the requirement of securing against appropriate threats -- dangerous weapons and high explosives.

Is the threat caused by a 20 ounce cup of coffee significant enough for a blanket prohibition of all liquids in excess of 3 ounces? Is that *reasonable*, in both the constitutional context and common sense? How about your pocket knife?

Bush did a lot of things wrong. The TSA is one of them. They add no value which we didn't have back in the day before this insane game they play.
posted by mikelieman at 10:43 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I work in a field that doesn't require me to inspect someone's cockring

I wish I worked in a field that involved cockring inspections.
fuuuuuuuuuuuck I'm bored
at least then I'd have some good new stories.
posted by little e at 10:46 PM on October 17, 2009


"Is locking someone in a plastic box 'reasonable'?"

No one is locked in a box.
posted by the other side at 10:49 PM on October 17, 2009


Also, this event, even if it was true, would not have been police brutality.

Exactly.

Heaven forfend one was to fly El Air out of Tel Aviv. What an inconveniece!
posted by ericb at 10:55 PM on October 17, 2009


can we get a cite on this claim that the TSA was "designed" to make citizens into subjects?

First I'd have to say, can we establish generally at what point people have forgotten not that they have rights in the abstract, but the practical application of those rights, in the contexts where those rights are most needed?

At the top of the "Personal Liberty/Blind Obedience" scale we'd have those who *do* advocate for "for automatic weapons to be on the streets or for all airport screening to be forbidden".

On the bottom of the scale? I dunno. To be snarky, I'd suggest "Those who believe Fox News", but that's not really accurate. How much 'standing up for your rights' is too much, and how much is too little?

Like pornography, "I'll know it when I see it?"

Perhaps I need to seek consensus. What do y'all think the difference between a Citizen and subject is, in the context of asserting fundamental rights?

I'd like to think a Citizen would have a hell of a lot more discriminating attitude towards 'reasonable' and wouldn't tolerate having to schedule a few extra hours to ensue this nitwittery doesn't cause them to miss a plane. Will the people at the gate still let you on as long as the jetway's attached, or do they give you a "FU, it's 15 minutes before departure, TS and go haul ass back past the TSA to the ticketing counter to try again?" I thankfully don't know any more than what I hear and see on the TSA's page. And I *really* don't feel any compulsion to do any first hand experience on this.

Subjects, on the other hand, just suck it up and deal.
posted by mikelieman at 10:56 PM on October 17, 2009


little e: "I wish I worked in a field that involved cockring inspections.
fuuuuuuuuuuuck I'm bored
at least then I'd have some good new stories.
"

offer them with blood pressure checks
posted by kathrineg at 10:58 PM on October 17, 2009


err ... *El Air Al *
posted by ericb at 10:59 PM on October 17, 2009


alprazolam helps
with cognitive dissonance
of plastic boxes
posted by little e at 11:02 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


offer them with blood pressure checks

I don't even do those anymore
I used to get to make Viagra candy, those were good times
posted by little e at 11:03 PM on October 17, 2009


Like, you would put viagra in random candies?!?! That sounds like a fascinating Halloween.
posted by kathrineg at 11:09 PM on October 17, 2009


Man, people are getting real bitchy and angry about things in general. What's with all the aggro these days?

I think it is the fluoride in the water supply. That's why I drink nothing but my own urine.
posted by Justinian at 11:12 PM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Exactly what kind of sick mind-game is the story behind "The Box", anyway?"

If I had a choice of a transparent plastic box with a bunch of people I will never see again witnessing my embarrassment for not realizing that metal is made out of metal...

....or a locked room in a back office somewhere -- presumably staffed with burly looking former mall cops, all of them wearing rubber gloves.

I'll sit down, behave myself, and refrain from saying any obscenities to your face. Just please, oh please, give me the plastic box.
posted by markkraft at 11:12 PM on October 17, 2009


....or a locked room in a back office somewhere -- presumably staffed with burly looking former mall cops, all of them wearing rubber gloves.

I'll sit down, behave myself, and refrain from saying any obscenities to your face. Just please, oh please, give me the plastic box.


How did we get to the point where these are our 2 choices?
posted by mikelieman at 11:14 PM on October 17, 2009


The plastic box saves them time. Saves you time... and, as we've seen in this case, is pretty useful for documenting everything should things get litigious, one way or another.

All hail the plastic box!
posted by markkraft at 11:20 PM on October 17, 2009


I just wanted to say:

I like the TSA. They've never been anything but nice to me, and I tend to thank them for doing what's probably a thankless job.
posted by koeselitz at 11:20 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


You should be sharing that elixer, Justinian.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 PM on October 17, 2009


Why have to sit down at all? Is this suggested scenario "unreasonable"?

Janis Fleugelhiggins walks thorugh magnetometer

Magnetometer: *beep*

Janis: Oh, it's this buckle thing.

Federal Employee, takes magnetometer wand, and waves it at the buckle.

Handheld magnetometer: *beep*.

Federal Employee: (VO) Yup, it's made of metal.. NOT A THREAT TO SAFETY.

Federal Employee: This isn't the threat I'm looking for.... Move along... Move along...
posted by mikelieman at 11:21 PM on October 17, 2009


What do y'all think the difference between a Citizen and subject is, in the context of asserting fundamental rights?

How did we get to the point where these are our 2 choices?
posted by dhammond at 11:22 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like the TSA. They've never been anything but nice to me, and I tend to thank them for doing what's probably a thankless job.

Likewise.
posted by ericb at 11:23 PM on October 17, 2009


Like, you would put viagra in random candies?!?!

It was vaguely similar to the hard candy everybody's grandma makes around the holidays, kind of like this recipe. Except with powdered Viagra in it. And it has to be poured into a troche mold so each piece has the correct dose. I can't remember what flavor we used.
posted by little e at 11:23 PM on October 17, 2009


Her mother must have the patience of angels to put up with that kind of bullshit. Lordy.

She probably gets calls like that every week.

I've faced substantially more rigorous screening in the 1980s and '90s traveling through Europe than I've ever seen here in the states. I'm also guessing you've never flown El Al.

Comparing US to Israeli security procedures would make sense if the terrorist threat were similar, but it's not.

The entire notion of passenger screening -- searches and seizures in the constitutional law context -- is predicated upon the 4th Amendment.

It's also predicated on the fact that flying is a choice. One of the big differences between pre-9/11 and today is that (I think) Airport security people were employed by the airports as private business, rather then by the government. Screenings had to be balanced by customer demand. People wanted to feel safe, but not overly hassled. Now that the feds have taken over, it doesn't matter to them if people feel hassled or not. And that shows.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The TSA has never been anything but nice to me and I still dislike them intensely. Does it really matter if the guy wearing the jackboots is nice?
posted by Justinian at 11:24 PM on October 17, 2009


Choice #3... If they tell you to put everything metal into zee little box... do it. Ideally on the first or second time.
posted by markkraft at 11:25 PM on October 17, 2009


I would imagine the plastic box is simply there to keep track of people so that people don't forget why they are where they are while the extra screener comes to scan 'em. If they let people go through multiple times, then it would slow down the line and inconvenience everyone else.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 PM on October 17, 2009


It's also predicated on the fact that flying is a choice.

And in 1973 when US v. Davis was decided, that choice was 'Take the train instead', which as we all know isn't quite the same option these days.
posted by mikelieman at 11:32 PM on October 17, 2009


mikelieman: It's designed to convert the former Citizens of a Free Nation into subjects of The Government.

If there's anything that disgusts me, it's that the word "citizen" really only gets used when people are all torqued up about a private form of commercial transportation that has absolutely, positively nothing to do with natural rights, at least not in any way that a sane, rational, politically-aware human being could possibly believe.

If you sincerely, genuinely believe that human beings have a natural right to board an airplane in less than two hours – if you actually consider it feasible to claim that people have a natural human right to get on a massive flying vehicle without being bodily searched – then I submit that either you haven't thought a bit about what natural right means or you don't actually give a damn about it at all.

Save the talk about rights for things like bodily welfare (i.e. health care) or freedom of speech or freedom of religion or something that's actually viable, with real precedent. I search the Constitution, the Declaration, the works of Locke, Hobbes, Montesquieu and Thomas Paine to no avail; "the freedom to board various forms of large transport with no fuss" doesn't seem to have been a serious concern to any of them, and until you can prove to me that they were wrong to disregard it, I can't take your line of argument very seriously. There are very real problems in the world; why don't we waste our time tilting at windmills that are at least of somewhat more respectable stature, shall we?
posted by koeselitz at 11:35 PM on October 17, 2009 [14 favorites]


Justinian: The TSA has never been anything but nice to me and I still dislike them intensely. Does it really matter if the guy wearing the jackboots is nice?

Did you just compare the TSA to Nazis, and yourself to a holocaust victim? Seriously?
posted by koeselitz at 11:39 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


How did we get to the point where these are our 2 choices?

Historically, we were British subjects, being born in territory under the sovereignty of the British Crown -- IN THEORY, in the context of the evolution of the Constitutional Republic and the Body Politic.

Note that it's the Crown which is sovereign b : one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere in this relationship.

Now, along about 1776 the was this whole bit brouhaha, whereby the principle of government in these United States changed pretty radically and with it the basic political identity of The People who went from subjects to citizens with their declaration of independence.

Rather than, as subjects being under the authority of the Crown, a citizen is, to hopefully not mangle Ramsay too much "the unit of a mass of free people, who, collectively, possess sovereignty."

Now, that whole "collectively" thing might be a whole other mess of trouble, but the point it's binary. Either you're a member of the Sovereign Collective ( a.k.a: "The People" or you're a 'subject'.

Now, if you're a Citizen who behaves like a subject, are you still a Citizen at all?

Why would a Citizen *need to* be as obsequious as a subject in the first place.
posted by mikelieman at 11:46 PM on October 17, 2009


I was temporarily detailed by airport security.

Now I know how the Jews felt.

posted by markkraft at 11:48 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you sincerely, genuinely believe that human beings have a natural right to board an airplane in less than two hours

Well, uh.... YEAH. We did from 1973 - 2001 without any problem.

– if you actually consider it feasible to claim that people have a natural human right to get on a massive flying vehicle without being bodily searched

I've been fairly clear that I agree, generally, with US v. Davis assertion that *reasonable* administrative searches are fine. It's this whole notion that the status-quo is *reasonable*.

– then I submit that either you haven't thought a bit about what natural right means or you don't actually give a damn about it at all.

Well, neither, given the phony scenario you setup suggesting that I disagree with Davis doesn't match my stated position at all.

But, in your hypothetical scenario, I'd have to agree. If you think making sure people aren't carrying dangerous weapons or explosives is unreasonable, then your two final options do sum up the situation fairly well. But they're doing it wrong.

VERY wrong.
posted by mikelieman at 11:52 PM on October 17, 2009


Why have to sit down at all? Is this suggested scenario "unreasonable"?

Is unreasonable the same thing as idiotic? Because if so, then, yes. Did you miss the part where confirming the fact that someone's buckle is made out of metal isn't quite the same thing as confirming that they're NOT carrying a fucking Uzi and a couple of hand grenades?
posted by dersins at 11:53 PM on October 17, 2009


How did we get to the point where these are our 2 choices?

It's interesting how you're accusing someone of offering a false dilemma when you keep bringing one up between "citizen" and "subject".
posted by fatbird at 12:01 AM on October 18, 2009


Was she locked into any area? I thought you were always free leave the area and the airport, just not always free to fly.
posted by NortonDC at 12:20 AM on October 18, 2009


There are very real problems in the world; why don't we waste our time tilting at windmills that are at least of somewhat more respectable stature, shall we?

The windmills only seem small to those who refuse to get closer than the government allows.
posted by Revvy at 1:00 AM on October 18, 2009


Did you just compare the TSA to Nazis, and yourself to a holocaust victim? Seriously?

The phrase "jack-booted thugs" is common parlance and isn't a reference to Nazis. And falsely claiming that I compared myself to a Holocaust victim is extremely insulting.
posted by Justinian at 1:15 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes. You're right, it was very insulting. Sorry, Justinian.
posted by koeselitz at 1:29 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how you're accusing someone of offering a false dilemma when you keep bringing one up between "citizen" and "subject".

You are either a Citizen or you are a subject. The exclusivity is inherent in the definition of the words.

The secret is "Sovereignty".
posted by mikelieman at 1:35 AM on October 18, 2009


me: If you sincerely, genuinely believe that human beings have a natural right to board an airplane in less than two hours

mikelieman: Well, uh.... YEAH. We did from 1973 - 2001 without any problem...

Now, along about 1776 the was this whole bit brouhaha, whereby the principle of government in these United States changed pretty radically and with it the basic political identity of The People who went from subjects to citizens with their declaration of independence...

Now, if you're a Citizen who behaves like a subject, are you still a Citizen at all?


*sigh* Okay, one more time, just for clarity:

  • This has nothing to do with the American Revolution, being a subject vs. being a citizen, or personal or national sovereignty. Claiming it does is at best disingenuous.
  • The difference, at least theoretically, between a subject and a citizen resides in the concept of inalienable, natural human rights. Citizens have them; subjects do not.
  • Contrary to your apparent understanding thereof, "natural rights" does not mean "stuff my parents got to do, and so I should get to do that too." Yes, we got on airplanes without security from 1973-2001. We also bought gas from 1973-2001 for less than two dollars. Does this mean that we have a natural right to buy gas for less than two dollars? No, it does not.
  • Natural right is a concept which was laid down very carefully over generations by people much more thoughtful than you or I; they may have been wrong, but it makes sense at least to respect what they said, which generally had to do with trying to decide what things a human being ought, by nature, to be granted, what rights he ought to be able to expect and society had a duty to protect.
  • Again, no, one of those rights was not "to be able to board large transport vehicles without being searched." And, lest I need remind you, they did have large transport vehicles in those times, and doubtless sometimes people were searched – sometimes not – and yet those intelligent people who were putting together the whole concept of "natural right" didn't even once think to consider that people have a right not to be hassled at the boarding call.

    For these reasons, a person who puts up with the TSA is not "behaving like a subject," because the question of subjection to a monarch doesn't even begin to come into it.

  • posted by koeselitz at 1:50 AM on October 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


    "falsely claiming that I compared myself to a Holocaust victim is extremely insulting."

    Just to be clear, I didn't really think that you compared yourself to a Holocaust victim.

    That, of course, is no excuse for not going for the obvious Hoekstra. Humor has its own imperative that must be obeyed.
    posted by markkraft at 1:55 AM on October 18, 2009


    "This has nothing to do with the American Revolution, being a subject vs. being a citizen, or personal or national sovereignty..."

    But, but.... Ron Paul said so!

    *ducks!*
    posted by markkraft at 1:59 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    markkraft: Just to be clear, I didn't really think that you compared yourself to a Holocaust victim.

    I'm the one who made that claim, actually. That's what I was apologizing for upthread.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:59 AM on October 18, 2009


    (Oh, I know. I was just pointing out that even though I didn't agree with your claim, I wasn't above making a joke about it at his expense.)
    posted by markkraft at 3:55 AM on October 18, 2009



    I just wanted to say:

    I like the TSA. They've never been anything but nice to me, and I tend to thank them for doing what's probably a thankless job.


    For the same reason that hyperbolic overreactions like the topic of this thread aren't particularly useful, anecdotes about how nice TSA can be aren't useful either.

    What is useful is a discussion about their relevance, methodology, and effectiveness. If you're interested in this topic at all, and you should be since you're paying for it, you'll quickly learn that they fail consistently on all of these counts. This is what bothers me about TSA because they routinely ignore legitimate security loopholes in favor of showy, high-tech, superfluous alternatives. The extent of these errors has been covered at length in the thread already. I'd just urge you to recognize why "they were nice to me" contains no actionable information.
    posted by odinsdream at 5:55 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


    What is it, precisely, that I don't understand because I don't have kids?

    See, if you had kids, you wouldn't have to ask this question, YOU'D KNOW about the pain and sacrifice and tax breaks and you'd be in the club and we could go to the secret meetings where we desperately try to keep the warm glow of parenthood alive as the goddamn teenagers refuse to vacuum the living room like we already asked (TWICE) while demanding allowance money.

    So yeah, take your obvious jealously about our exulted status of parenthood and go where you want and do what you want because you don't have a human leech sucking out your very life force and bank account and you just try to be as happy and as lucky as us parents are!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 AM on October 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


    Mikelieman, I really don't think the question is one you need to "build a consensus" to answer. Either you can show how the TSA was designed not with transit security in mind but instead to turn citizens into subjects or you can't. (setting up a definition of subject such that submitting to a TSA search automatically makes you one doesn't prove that was the TSA raison d'être, btw)
    posted by fightorflight at 6:41 AM on October 18, 2009


    Was she locked into any area?

    No. The guy who has no experience of flying since 9/11 made up a bunch of stuff before riding off into Ron Paul land.
    There is no plastic box, there is a place where you are directed to stand to await extra screening if you are a selectee or had trouble getting through the magnetometers without beeping. No boxes, no locks.

    I would buy the dude an El Al ticket myself just to see his head explode when security goes through the time stamps on the emails stored on his laptop, one by one.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 6:43 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    # This has nothing to do with the American Revolution, being a subject vs. being a citizen, or personal or national sovereignty. Claiming it does is at best disingenuous.

    Well, I think it does involve the different statuses of Citizen v. subject.

    And in the context of the United States, that changed happened with the American Revolution, right? ( Or precisely, after the Crown removed their protection, the Declaration of Independence)

    So any discussion of the practical use of Freedom and Liberty needs to acknowledge this historical context. It is a straightforward concept. Neither insincere or calculating as you assert.

    # The difference, at least theoretically, between a subject and a citizen resides in the concept of inalienable, natural human rights. Citizens have them; subjects do not.

    SUBJECTS have inalienable rights too. See the Magna Carta. Indeed "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

    A right against UNREASONABLE searches is built in, isn't it?

    The real difference is only to whom you hold allegiance, a individual Sovereign entity, or collective sovereignty of The People .

    For these reasons, a person who puts up with the TSA is not "behaving like a subject," because the question of subjection to a monarch doesn't even begin to come into it.

    I don't think you need a Monarch to act like a Subject. I think as we see there are entities under a Corporate oligarchy works just fine as a practical Sovereign.
    posted by mikelieman at 8:32 AM on October 18, 2009


    I get more invasive searches going to into nightclubs in DC, to be honest. I guess that makes me a subject.
    posted by empath at 8:34 AM on October 18, 2009


    Comparing US to Israeli security procedures would make sense if the terrorist threat were similar, but it's not.
    "In the months following Sept. 11, Logan International Airport here was widely assailed for its string of security lapses, for its inept management and, most important, for its status as the origin of the two hijacked jets that crashed into the World Trade Center.

    Battered by criticism from the public and the press, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the airport, decided to bring in the best: the former head of security at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport, whose safety record is unrivaled."*
    posted by ericb at 8:37 AM on October 18, 2009


    fyi... comments still available for reading, beginning from page two.
    posted by raztaj at 8:57 AM on October 18, 2009


    "Mikelieman, I really don't think the question is one you need to 'build a consensus' to answer. Either you can show how the TSA was designed not with transit security in mind but instead to turn citizens into subjects or you can't. (setting up a definition of subject such that submitting to a TSA search automatically makes you one doesn't prove that was the TSA raison d"être, btw)"

    No reason it couldn't be both; they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
    posted by Mitheral at 9:06 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I'd like to make a comment about one of my earlier comments, deliver an observation, & ask a foolish question. I think I may have been the first person here to bring up the "Good German" notion. My intent was not to make a literal, direct claim of equivalency between this silly woman's experience & The Holocaust. I'm not that grotesque! The apparently-hyperbolized actual incident in the airport interested me less than did the large quantity & breathless quality of defense of the TSA from posters here.

    It seems to me our society is increasingly presented with what might be called beautifully-produced, glossy, studio photographs of life, with all the narcotic kitsch of mass-market holiday cards, rather than having the opportunity to encounter & respond to life itself. This strikes me as bad practice. Institutions such as the TSA are examples of that: "security theatre" as someone else said. I'm also concerned about the deliberate ignoring of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, an increasing feature of daily life in the U.S. of which the TSA is only a trivial example. The well-known technique of boiling frogs over a slow heat comes to mind.

    Overall, there seemed to be a great deal of respect for capital-A Authority, with perhaps fear being mistaken for, or substituting for, respect, as often seems to be the case. "Good German" has become an idiomatic shorthand for that kind of misplaced respect, especially when there are legitimate questions about the motives, behavior, & effect of the authority in question. It was in that sense that I used the phrase.

    I notice there has been in this thread a great deal of faux-outrage, ad hominem attack, & deliberate misconstruing of statements. These are simply the tools of people interested in what they think of as winning what they think is an argument, rather than in having a conversation & as such, deserve little notice.

    Finally, a question. Is there an aphoristic Internet "law" specifying the number of comments necessary to render a topic not only beaten to death & buried, but exhumed, drawn-&-quartered, & then hung up to cure in a gibbet?
    posted by Forrest Greene at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Palliser: You know, aside from what appears to be a load of fakery here, I was taken aback by her account of calling her mother and just saying, "Jackson's gone," while crying hysterically. You don't do that to anybody, ever. What a terrible way to heighten the drama. I might be overthinking it, but it seems to me that she gets a little upside from the notion of her child in danger -- how it puts her on a bit of a pedestal as The Devoted Mother In Distress. A little creepy, if you ask me.

    Bingo. I lot of her story bugged me, this in particular. Who in the F--K, calls their mother or father, the child's grandparents, and makes a blunt idiotic statement like that unless they're complete and utter borderline narcissists (Paging Dr. N.Skye). But, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt or at least let her explain herself, and she's come up dreadfully, embarrassingly lacking in credibility or even likability for that matter. Only a supreme drama queen liar fu*k-up will have a major freak out in public and then say, in essence, uh...nevermind. Carry on as you were, and don't mind me. I feel sorry for Jackson, if this is any indication of what his mother is going to be like as he grows up. The boy will never have an experience or an emotion that isn't cancelled out by his wHack-O pretentious wino mom who seems is only capable of seeing the world through her own twisted self-serving lense. I guess you could also call her a sociopath.

    I defended this asshat vigorously to a lot people here who were right in not buying her story, so I'd like to apologize to them and retract any defense I made for this woman's self-serving fiction.

    I don't for a second take back anything I said about the TSA, it's clear that they're a problematic and abusive and loathsome organization that needs to be reorganized and redesigned from top to bottom, mission...jurisdiction, accountability and everything. They're incompetent and a shit stain on the Fourth amendment, cruel and they hide behind considerable power of the DHS and the Patriot act and it's really only a matter of time before hopefully they completely and utterly overstep and do something so egregious and indefensible towards the ideals of this country that they get a serious Congressional overview anyway. Jesus Christ on critches....a gigantic plastic human habitrail holding box? It boggles the mind and if you'll excuse me...

    I need to go find that emergency bottle of Xanax I keep in the kitchen cupboard behind the toothpicks and take a half or a whole, or maybe a couple....
    posted by Skygazer at 10:21 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


    Of course you're subjects — subject to inspection. Says right on the sign. You don't need a King, you've got a Czar. And the Greys are behind it all, too.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on October 18, 2009


    Forrest Greene -- Is there an aphoristic Internet "law" specifying the number of comments necessary to render a topic not only beaten to death & buried, but exhumed, drawn-&-quartered, & then hung up to cure in a gibbet?

    Why yes, there is. It's called Godwin's Law, and you directly precipitated it for this thread by invoking Nazis. Way to go.
    posted by NortonDC at 10:36 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Koselitz: and yet those intelligent people who were putting together the whole concept of "natural right" didn't even once think to consider that people have a right not to be hassled at the boarding call.

    Can natural inalienable rights, be contextualized to be in effect and protectable in certain areas, and not be in effect and protectable in others?

    Does nature have an off / on switch?

    Obviously not. Your natural inalienable rights to be secure in your person and possessions and your dignity should never be contingent on the actions of that thing we call government or its representatives and mechanisms. Natural inalienable rights are never in doubt, they're the bedrock and foundation of the American system of government, there fore citizens can never ever be subjects. At least on paper and in theory...
    posted by Skygazer at 10:39 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Why yes, there is. It's called Godwin's Law, and you directly precipitated it for this thread by invoking Nazis. Way to go.

    I don't think Godwin's Law works that way.

    "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

    Yeah. This discussion eventually involved Nazis. Per Godwin, all will.

    It says *nothing* about the quality of the discussion, or if the comparison is apt. Simply the expression of a statistical law.

    Which is wholly distinct from Reductio ad Hitlerum, where the conclusion is arrived via the origin, and not the current meaning or context. And I don't believe Forrest Greene did that at all.

    Or to paraphrase Forest Gump, "Nazi is as Nazi Does"...
    posted by mikelieman at 11:04 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I probably go through TSA screening a good 200 times a year on average. I would say, in general, I've never found there to be a problem with their screening and even at the busiest airports during the busiest hours I've been able to get through security in under 20 minutes on average. This excludes major holidays, but honestly if you're not getting to the airport early for the major holidays and you're complaining about screening, you need to unspecial snowflake yourself and step in to reality. I'm not saying that my amount of travel makes me an expert, but I do get to see an awful lot of security screenings first hand and I do go through them way more than most people.

    I've been pulled aside for random screening during the last year about a dozen times, it happens, and it's generally speaking not more than an extra 10 minutes of time. the plastic drama box in the article is just so people don't go wandering off and the screeners can return to moving people through the line. Everyone gets put in the extra screening box eventually. It's not the end o the world, it's there to keep the lines moving. The TSA folks who work in the airports, who man the front lines are just doing a job. That's it. They do it with varying levels of competence and thoroughness but they don't make the policy. They may screen 10k people on a shift or more and they have to deal with all manner of people who both do and do not know the policies, or somehow think that the routine (as ineffective as it may be) doesn't apply to them, or shouldn't apply to them, or is too draconian and must be stopped.

    I admire people who want to challenge authority(on general principal), who think that the system that the TSA uses doesn't work and actively try to change it. However, challenging the procedures that are used by clearly falsifying what happened doesn't do anything other than get people to mentally append the batshitinsanetag to people who complain about the TSA. Writing a blog post isn't going to fix anything and you are not going to successfully attack the patriot act, the incursions on first and fourth amendment rights because you didn't like the policies and procedures you needed to comply with when traveling. It's just not realistic.

    If you think the TSA is nothing but a bunch of horrible people and want to get their processes and procedures changed to be more comfortable to casual travelers it's going to take writing the airline industry, writing your congressmen, writing the FAA. Being the dude (or not dude) who throws a temper tantrum in line with 500 other people behind you isn't going to get you anywhere, especially not with the folks working the lines from TSA who just want to move people through the process they've set up as quickly as possible.

    Are the screening procedures onerous for casual travelers and ineffective and there to make a show of it all? Yep. Are you doing anyone a service by being that special snowflake at the airport who demands to be treated any differently than the rest of the folks? Nope. You want a change, put in the work and write some letters, call some airlines, vote with your wallet. Profits aren't that great in the airline industry, cutting off travel is going to hurt them, but for now until things change, the screening the TSA does is the cost of admission and it's a known part of the process.

    This isn't a rights issue. You are not a special snowflake who has rights to air travel under your own interpretation of the constitution. You can get in a car, you can get on a boat, you can get on a train. You can not travel if you choose not to. You can also change the way the process works by being active and working on the policy makers.
    posted by iamabot at 11:14 AM on October 18, 2009 [16 favorites]


    Can natural inalienable rights, be contextualized to be in effect and protectable in certain areas, and not be in effect and protectable in others?

    Does nature have an off / on switch?

    Obviously not.


    Well, so now you're arguing that people can never be searched, ever? Not when going to meet the President? Nuclear facilities? That's nuts. Most "inalienable rights" have on/off switches built in. You can practice your religion until your child is dying and needs an operation which your religion forbids, you can carry your gun but I can tell you you can't bring it in my house, you can say what you want until you shout "fire" in a crowded theater, and you can be secure in your possessions until you choose of your own free will to get into a security line at the airport. There's a pretty thick line between admiration for our Bill of Rights and all-or-nothing fundamentalism.
    posted by Bookhouse at 11:27 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Your natural inalienable rights to be secure in your person and possessions and your dignity should never be contingent on the actions of that thing we call government or its representatives and mechanisms.

    Ridiculous. I think you need to go back and re-read your Locke and Hobbes.

    Particularly read up on the nature of The Social Contract, wherein we give up some of our rights in so that we can live in a safe, well-ordered society.
    posted by empath at 11:32 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    No reason it couldn't be both; they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
    Well, he hasn't managed to show yet even that it was designed with both in mind, or really that there was any intention of eroding citizenship in its construction (odd, too, to draw the line between subject/citizen at, er, being searched before getting on an aeroplane when there are things like warrantless wiretapping and G-Bay going on).

    He has used a lot of Capital letters, though, that's got to count for something.
    posted by fightorflight at 11:33 AM on October 18, 2009


    I probably go through TSA screening a good 200 times a year on average. I would say, in general, I've never found there to be a problem with their screening and even at the busiest airports during the busiest hours I've been able to get through security in under 20 minutes on average.

    Your observations bring up something I have been wondering about. People's rage against the TSA seems to be based on things like inconvenience, rudeness, and over-intrusive searches. I find the search process irritating, too, but have never been tempted to compare the TSA officials to "jack-booted thugs" or part of systematic oppression that might even cause a spike in infant mortality. Has the TSA been abusing people more than I am aware of?

    Because, when it comes down to it, the stories of TSA abuse I am most familiar with were usually pissed off bloggers, whose stories are publicized by Boing Boing, and have pretty much zero credibility. Discounting those trumped-up incidents, all we seem to have is tales of inconvenience and spurious allegations of over-zealous searching made by the professionally disgruntled.

    I'm not trying to make excuses for abuse of authority -- I'm just wondering if there are substantiated examples of TSA's abuse of authority that I am not aware of. 'Cause I haven't seen any yet
    posted by jayder at 11:37 AM on October 18, 2009


    jayder: "but have never been tempted to compare the TSA officials to "jack-booted thugs" or part of systematic oppression that might even cause a spike in infant mortality."

    Again, I was talking about police brutality in a larger context.
    posted by kathrineg at 11:47 AM on October 18, 2009


    "Particularly read up on the nature of The Social Contract"

    Can you produce an original of this alleged contract with my notarized signature?

    Snarkiness aside, the distillation of all that Social Contract stuff is, I believe, this:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"

    Now w.r.t. these Administrative Searches at the airport. We give our 'consent of the governed' only as long as they're done in accordance with the 4th Amendment, which itself is based on the concept of "reasonableness"

    We consent to a REASONABLE search for dangerous weapons and explosives as part of air travel. It's been upheld by the Supremes since 1973. The question is: Is the TSA "unreasonable" in the context of the 4th Amendment?

    I say, "No." They haven't increased the effective screening of passengers for dangerous weapons and explosives one whit since their inception. Why put up with the additional collective expense of 'yet more federal employees', when they're ZERO return on the expense. On top of being makework, it's intrusive makework. And it doesn't appear they have very effective hiring, training, supervision, discipline and termination practices either. That's unreasonable.
    posted by mikelieman at 11:50 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I'm just wondering if there are substantiated examples of TSA's abuse of authority that I am not aware of

    Their authority is to screen for dangerous weapons and explosives in a reasonable manner. Period.

    Anything and everything else is an abuse of authority.
    posted by mikelieman at 11:54 AM on October 18, 2009


    Forrest Greene: "Is there an aphoristic Internet "law" specifying the number of comments necessary..."

    NortonDC: "Why yes, there is. It's called Godwin's Law, and you directly precipitated it for this thread by invoking Nazis. Way to go."

    In fact, as noted elsewhere, Godwin's Law does not refer to the beating to death of a subject.

    Please note I referred to my question as "foolish," i.e., a good-humored expression of awe at the length & repetitiveness of much of this topic's commentary. I will, from time to time, have my little joke, for my own enjoyment & for the enjoyment of those possessing functional senses of humor. The bile of others may well remain stuck in their own throats.

    As for my Good German comment, as I said before—repeated just this once, especially to help Norton get the facts straight—it was made, not to make a literal, direct claim of equivalency between this silly woman's experience & The Holocaust, but as an idiomatic shorthand for misplaced respect for authority, especially when there are legitimate questions about the motives, behavior, & effect of the authority in question.

    I hoped "Good German" would be less offensive than some of the other ways in which that attitude of misplaced respect for authority could be characterized, but perhaps I was a bit more genteel than the situation warrented.
    posted by Forrest Greene at 11:55 AM on October 18, 2009


    I have to say I have never once seen anyone abused, or treated poorly in my years of travel since 9/11, that's probably something on the order of 8-900 screenings at at least a dozen different airports in 5 countries. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but I just haven't seen it. My experience isn't a complete sample but I travel on all days of the week, on all major carriers, at all times of the year. The vast majority of what I see is people who travel infrequently who are unfamiliar with the process and become frustrated by it or are naturally going to be stressed out during travel with kids or an elderly family member.

    I see people who are drunk, want to talk on their phones through the screening process, have somehow missed that they can't take whole bottles of shampoo on a flight, who don't want to remove their shoes, or their belt, and who are embarrassed when they realize that most everyone else isn't having the problems they are moving through the line and consequently react to that social pressure in a negative way. I've done it myself, when I've forgotten to put my cell phone in my luggage or take off my belt or left coins in my pocket or put too big a tube of toothpaste in my luggage. It's embarrassing, but it's not the fault of the guy working the security screening line.

    However, at most airports they seem to be working towards moving those folks in to their own lines, sometimes with more staff to help them through the process. It's not going to be perfect, it's hand processing millions of people a day. There will be outliers to peoples experience, but there's not a concentrated effort to make the experience as miserable as possible for as many people as possible. That just doesn't make sense financially. Air travel is profit driven and economy driven. They want as many people through the facilities as fast as possible. I don't believe the government is using the TSA as a wedge in to your civil rights, and I find arguments that the TSA policies are akin to the "papers please!" nazi associations absolutely ridiculous, go back to watching war movies. You aren't helping your cause and you sound like an idiot who has no sense of history, has never actually studied it, or you're a troll.
    posted by iamabot at 11:58 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Well, he hasn't managed to show yet even that it was designed with both in mind,

    I didn't really take that comment seriously the first time around.

    What standard of evidence are you thinking is needed? Someone's minutes from a planning meeting? Memos?

    I don't think it's that 'cut and dried'. I'm not sure anyone really conspired to deprive Americans of Constitutional Liberty here in any explicit way. I think the GOAL was "We need to be seen to be doing something", and since the only thing you can do with passengers is to screen them, the shall be screen in excruciating detail...

    The erosion of liberty is a natural by-product of the practical application of the above strategy.

    If we were really such capitalists as we pretend to be people would be all: "OK, screen away. I'm cool with waiting TEN Minutes. and at ELEVEN minutes, you owe me a free-drink-coupon. And every 10 minutes thereafter, I'mma gonna want another coupon. Additional Screening for no reason? Another coupon, baby..."

    But I digress. The real answer is "Dick Cheney"?
    posted by mikelieman at 12:05 PM on October 18, 2009


    I say, "No." They haven't increased the effective screening of passengers for dangerous weapons and explosives one whit since their inception. Why put up with the additional collective expense of 'yet more federal employees', when they're ZERO return on the expense. On top of being makework, it's intrusive makework. And it doesn't appear they have very effective hiring, training, supervision, discipline and termination practices either. That's unreasonable.

    Finally, you make an argument that can be addressed, instead of referring to us contemptuously as "subjects". We'd be much further ahead if you'd started with this.

    Whether or not dangerous items are being removed at an increased rate is an empirical matter. Surely you have a cite to back up your claim that the effectiveness of screening hasn't improved at all. I suspect that you're wrong, as the grenades cite above demonstrates, but I'm open to an authoritative cite.
    posted by fatbird at 12:09 PM on October 18, 2009


    Here's a good one!

    http://www.lowfares.com/travel-news/01-04-08/TSA-screening-facial-behaviors

    It is particularly revealing that one of the unauthorized states of mind cited as being watched-for was "contempt" (of the TSA employees.)
    posted by Forrest Greene at 12:24 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    What standard of evidence are you thinking is needed? Someone's minutes from a planning meeting? Memos?
    Well, they'd be good but I'd settle for just about anything beyond your flat assertion. Because now there isn't even that, as you're contradicting yourself:
    [The TSA is] not mindless. It's designed to convert the former Citizens of a Free Nation into subjects of The Government.
    vs
    I'm not sure anyone really conspired to deprive Americans of Constitutional Liberty here in any explicit way. I think the GOAL was "We need to be seen to be doing something"
    Which is it? Designed, or not really designed?

    On top of being makework, it's intrusive makework. And it doesn't appear they have very effective hiring, training, supervision, discipline and termination practices either. That's unreasonable.

    None of these things have a bearing on the reasonableness of the search. Even a policeman hired last week and given two days of training, supervised by a drunk and with two insubordiation demerits can have reasonable grounds to perform a search.
    posted by fightorflight at 12:29 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    It is particularly revealing that one of the unauthorized states of mind cited as being watched-for was "contempt" (of the TSA employees.)

    Why do you think that's revealing? Behavioural profiling (as opposed to racial profiling) is a generally accepted method of screening. Bruce Schneier (widely acknowledged security expert and no fan of the TSA or "security theatre"), heartily recommends this as opposed to racial profiling or statistical methods that tend to screen for previous patterns.
    posted by fatbird at 12:32 PM on October 18, 2009


    Surely you have a cite to back up your claim that the effectiveness of screening hasn't improved at all.

    Nope. But looking at numbers, the number of planes hijacked since everyone learned that you don't negotiate with hostage takers or cooperate with hijackers appears to be zero.

    Not sure what that has to do with the reasonable search for dangerous weapons and explosives though.

    I mean, it's not like a hand grenade wouldn't show up on the x-ray BEFORE 2001-09-11...
    posted by mikelieman at 12:34 PM on October 18, 2009


    Which is it? Designed, or not really designed?

    It's a perfect example of Unintelligent Design. Ok, I'll go hit the edit button and revise my first comment to read:

    "It's perhaps unintended design goal is to convert the former Citizens of a Free Nation into subjects of The Government."

    Whew. I'm glad that's resolved.
    posted by mikelieman at 12:36 PM on October 18, 2009


    mikelieman: Does not!

    He's a bureaucrat.
    But, cognitive dissonance:
    He's also human.
    posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:37 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Forrest Greene -- it was made, not to make a literal, direct claim of equivalency between this silly woman's experience & The Holocaust, but as an idiomatic shorthand for misplaced respect for authority, especially when there are legitimate questions about the motives, behavior, & effect of the authority in question.
    Godwin has argued,[4] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.
    And
    The term Godwin's law can also refer to the tradition that whoever makes such a comparison is said to "lose" the debate.
    posted by NortonDC at 12:40 PM on October 18, 2009


    Whew. I'm glad that's resolved.

    Yep, now if you just go back to revise all your other posts to say the opposite of what they did, you'll have a really reasonable position on the TSA and we can all go home.

    Nope. But looking at numbers, the number of planes hijacked since everyone learned that you don't negotiate with hostage takers or cooperate with hijackers appears to be zero.

    Did you mean just zero in the US? Because it was zero in the US for decades before 9/11 as well, which sort of destroys the we're-kept-safe-because-we-don't-negotiate line. (If you meant worldwide, you're wrong: In 2004 a plane in Libya was hijacked, and in 2007 a plane from Sudan was hijacked.)
    posted by fightorflight at 12:43 PM on October 18, 2009


    "None of these things have a bearing on the reasonableness of the search. Even a policeman hired last week and given two days of training, supervised by a drunk and with two insubordiation demerits can have reasonable grounds to perform a search."

    Yeah, well, except it doesn't quite work that way here in my city. Which looks fairly comprehensive. And then after all that paperwork, it appears there's 6 months of Basic Course For Police officers

    So, I kind of expect the same professionalism in anyone performing any official duty which directly impacts my Rights. Anything less would be 'unreasonable'
    posted by mikelieman at 12:44 PM on October 18, 2009


    Nope. But looking at numbers, the number of planes hijacked since everyone learned that you don't negotiate with hostage takers or cooperate with hijackers appears to be zero.

    Well, there's hijackings and then there's just attempts to blow the plane up.

    Regardless, your argument that the number of hijackings since 9/11 is zero, as easily supports my contention that more effective screening is responsible. With less effective screening, who knows how many planes might have been hijacked or blown up?

    And that's the problem with your argument: The number of hijackings tells us nothing about why there haven't been any more. Perhaps you're right; perhaps I'm right that more effective screenings have eliminated attempts (or just accidents). Or perhaps all this "security theatre" has simply made terrorists plan to attack other targets because they're less risky. We can't know which from the simple statistic itself.
    posted by fatbird at 12:52 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So, I kind of expect the same professionalism in anyone performing any official duty which directly impacts my Rights. Anything less would be 'unreasonable'

    How the police near you are actually hired is completely irrelevant to the point. I'm really not at all sure how you got there in your head. Do you think police are given two days' training and sent out with drunks where I am? I suppose that would make sense as to why you're railing against imagined Insults to your Rights, if you Think the rest of the World is hoaching with Tyranny and barely-constrained Dictatorships.

    Anyway: It would indeed be arguably "unreasonable" of the government to hire policemen off the streets and train them for two days. But it would have little to no bearing on how reasonable the search (or seizure) is.
    posted by fightorflight at 12:54 PM on October 18, 2009


    mikelieman: The question is: Is the TSA "unreasonable" in the context of the 4th Amendment? I say, "No."

    We agree. Good.
    posted by koeselitz at 12:56 PM on October 18, 2009


    the number of planes hijacked since everyone learned that you don't negotiate with hostage takers or cooperate with hijackers appears to be zero.


    Or, you know, seven:

    * 2006: Turkish Airlines
    * 2007: Air West, Air Mauritanie and AtlasJet
    * 2008: Sun Air
    * 2009: CanJet and AeroMéxico
    posted by CunningLinguist at 1:09 PM on October 18, 2009


    NortonDC: "The term Godwin's law can also refer to the tradition that whoever makes such a comparison is said to "lose" the debate."

    Winning & losing is for little boys, Norton.

    fatbird: "Why do you think that's revealing?"

    I'm a skinny cat. It's my nature to fear & despise fat birds. As part my official position as the trained & pampered house pet of a sweet little old lady—although maybe a little dotty in her declining years—I have free rein to attack & dismember any fat birds I see.

    Personally—not speaking as a cat, now—I have had first-hand experience of being attacked, thankfully only once, & harrassed, numerous times, by people who specifically "did not like the the way I looked." Even though I'm a perfectly sterling fellow!

    My experience makes me a quite wary of prejudice, no matter how well-trained, exhaustively authorized, or thoroughly rationalized, being institutionalized as a basis for detention, arrest, rendition, or other tools of the modern fear-based State. You may recall The Great Writ of Habeus Corpus—not yet, IIRC, re-instituted by President Obama—used, for centuries, to protect us from such abuses.

    You also brought up the question of why have there been no further hijacked-airplane terror attacks. As of September 12, 2001, airplane hijackings were over as viable tactics for the terrorist. This may be due to the good work of TSA, but I think it is probably more due to operational decisions on the parts of terrorists. For example, consider the July 7, 2005 bombings in the London subway system.
    posted by Forrest Greene at 1:34 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    My experience makes me a quite wary of prejudice, no matter how well-trained, exhaustively authorized, or thoroughly rationalized, being institutionalized as a basis for detention, arrest, rendition, or other tools of the modern fear-based State.

    Fair enough, but any tool can be used or abused, and a contemptuous glance at a TSA agent is one indicator of many on the list, and not likely to get one hauled off to the backroom, let alone sent to Guantanamo. No one is denying that security measures can be badly applied and some innocents can be forced to endure some discomfort because of it. Your experience means that behavioural profiling, like any other security measure, needs proper oversight, review, and transparency; not that there's something essentially wrong with it.

    You also brought up the question of why have there been no further hijacked-airplane terror attacks.

    Actually, Mike brought that up as a reason to believe that what happened on United 93 has forestalled any other hijacking attempts. I responded merely to observe that the simple statistic (incorrect, as was pointed out) says nothing about the cause of it being that way.
    posted by fatbird at 1:40 PM on October 18, 2009


    Pardon me, that's "...makes me quite wary..." Extra "a," there, in the original.
    posted by Forrest Greene at 1:41 PM on October 18, 2009


    I had no idea so many people would respond to Obvious Troll. Hell, it's so obvious that I decided it was probably well-targeted snark. Well played, either way.

    Bravo, sir, bravo.
    posted by anvilcity at 1:46 PM on October 18, 2009


    I mean c'mon, wasn't this transparently BS from the beginning?
    posted by anvilcity at 1:49 PM on October 18, 2009


    fatbird: "...any tool can be used or abused..."

    Which of course is why we must be so careful about which tools we do employ, & how, & who by. As many have pointed out, TSA screeners are only human, & well, I just don't have the kind of faith in most humans to want them to have much in the way of powers which can be used to the detriment of others. Poor me, I guess.

    History seems to demonstrate the inevitability of abuse of that kind of power, through design, mistake, or mishap. TSA screenings are a trivial example of the eternal attempts by institutions to accrue power & control unto themselves, at the expense & for the bogus benefit of the individuals comprising the institutions. It is deep within our species' nature, & we need to be very careful of it.

    fatbird: "...a contemptuous glance at a TSA agent is one indicator of many on the list, and not likely to get one hauled off to the backroom..."

    Contemptuous facial expressions were first on a list of suspicious facial expressions & other behaviors, which list was intended precisely to provide examples of what would give a TSA screener cause to haul one off to the backroom, or to the translucent box off to the side —wasn't that where the silly woman at the start of this wound up?—or to some other holding facility.

    How stupid would a prospective hijacker have to be to wait in line, sneering at the screeners? (Too stupid to be much of a threat, maybe.) Suppose you are constitutionally opposed to treatment such as searches & perhaps involuntarily, your feelings show on your face. You will be taken out of line &, in one way or another, you will be taught a lesson about the proper degree of fear-disguised-as-respect to display in the presence of authority. But that's not about hijacking.

    Now, I know you don't run up to the cop on the corner & goose him without having to expect a hearty chase to ensue, just as you don't approach certain groups of people hanging around dark doorways at night when you're far away from your neighborhood. That's what passes for real life. But damn, don't we have to live with enough of that already without extending it to facial expressions that might simply be the results of questionable burritos eaten on the way to the airport?

    Re the statistics / reasons behind future terror attacks (if any, knock wood) I didn't read far back enough to see Mike's original words, & so just responded to your addressing of them. Please excuse my misunderstanding, if any.

    BTW, fatbird, thank you for your grace & politesse.
    posted by Forrest Greene at 2:32 PM on October 18, 2009


    It's a Sunday afternoon; what else do I have to do? Mikelieman, this is for you:

    To construe TSA requirements in the light of the fourth amendment, which guarantees freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, is not only ridiculous but not contextual, and goes against all traditional readings of the bill of rights.

    For those playing along the text of the fourth amendment reads thusly:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    First of all, the Supreme Court has repeatedly allowed for discretionless searches, even above and beyond "probably cause" which indicates that a search might be warranted at a certain point; discretionless searches like sobriety checkpoints (allowed by Michigan v. Sitz, 1990), immigration checkpoints (United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 1976), and driver's license checkpoints (Delaware v. Prouse, 1979) where people are stopped and required to produce certain evidence even if they aren't 'behaving suspiciously' have all been allowed variously by the Supreme Court. You should know that the chief precedent in this was established in 1968 by Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), which held that even if not inspired by probable cause, searches and seizures are not necessarily unreasonable, and that reasonable motivations for searches and seizures include officer and public safety.

    Second of all, it's pretty clear that what TSA agents do does not really constitute search and seizure at all. Seizure is a very particular thing – arrest – and search is likewise limited to the mandatory search of a person or her or his private matters. No one is ever required to submit to a search at an airport, much less seized; a person can walk away at any time, and find themselves subject to no search.

    You may believe that this second point is sort of hand-wavey; I imagine you have in mind that you're not really "free to walk away" if you're intending to fly to Dallas and are prevented from flying to Dallas by your desire to avoid a TSA search. But the Supreme Court ruled more specifically on this in 1983 in Florida v. Royer. In fact, I don't know why you aren't quoting Florida v. Royer, since it seems to say exactly what you'd want it to say: it deals with a guy going through Miami International Airport who was stopped, asked for his license and ticket, and then asked to step into a side-room where he was searched and marijuana was discovered; he argued successfully that his fourth-amendment rights were thus violated. As such, I would think that that case would be your clarion call. However, even in that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the violation resided in the fact that he thought he was detained. The police officers conducting the search claimed that the search was voluntary, not mandatory. The Supreme Court ruled on that occasion, all the way back in 1983, that the only mistake the officers made was keeping the man's ID and ticket in their possession when asking for the search, and stated that a reasonable person would under such circumstances consider her or himself under arrest. I don't know that there's a direct connection, but I'll be there is: you'll notice that TSA agents are very careful always to hand back your ticket and identification before conducting any search. It's supposed to be clear throughout the process, and I think it is: you're never under arrest, you're never subject to a probable-cause search, and you're never doing anything that you're required to do regardless of your consent; you can turn around and walk away from a TSA line any time you choose.

    Thirdly, I know that you feel as though a lot of this has changed so much in the last few years that search and seizure has become virtually a given reality within TSA procedure. But the fact is that airlines are run not by the government but by private organizations; the regulation of private organizations by the government is nothing new, and legislation that regulates heavy machinery which can easily pose a threat to citizens is something is commonplace today. The TSA does not stop people who are going from state to state, and it doesn't prevent the free movement of citizens by any standard - it only regulates who gets to go on an airplane. As I said above, being stopped and searched at the US border is absolutely nothing new, and has been approved by the Supreme Court for many decades.

    Finally, you keep mentioning US v. Davis, Ninth Circuit, 1973, which does indeed go on at length about whether certain types of search and seizure are indeed warranted. But I would point out several things about this case. It's the Ninth Circuit for god's sake, which, if you aren't aware, is the one circuit infamous for making intentionally controversial decisions with the apparent aim of goading the Supreme Court into action; we're talking about a court that has at various recent times legalized marijuana and stated that warrantless thermal-imaging searches are legitimate. I don't think that the ninth circuit is an evil liberal cabal like lots of conservatives seem to, but it's clear that they're often in the business more of questioning the status quo than of laying down solid precedent. And I think that's great – the government needs such checks and balances. The point is that the ninth circuit is not the Supreme Court, and in particular there are plenty of parts of US v. Davis that are pretty much wholly invalidated by Florida v. Royer. Most importantly, whereas the ninth circuit tried to claim that this was by implication a fourth-amendment issue, the Supreme Court ruled in Royer that airport searches are not a fourth-amendment issue because they are still within the realm of voluntary action.

    I imagine it's also clear by this point that the Magna Carta doesn't begin to come into this; this isn't a case where Habeus Corpus applies simply because there is no seizure (arrest) which ever takes place in a routine airport examination.

    My point in all of this is that, while you can claim that airport checkpoints are ridiculously inconvenient, or that airport checkpoints are horrendously administered, or that airport checkpoints don't serve the purpose they're supposed to, it's not reasonable to claim that airport checkpoints are unconstitutional. And it's unfair to label anyone who's in favor of them or even who doesn't mind them as a subject of corporate authority rather than a citizen.
    posted by koeselitz at 2:53 PM on October 18, 2009 [17 favorites]


    the language that she chose to use with the authorities, her emergency Xanax comment, the language on her website that she needs to down a bottle of wine sometimes to cope with her child-rearing duties, and the tattoo of her son's birth date on her wrist don't exactly do wonders to establish her credibility as the most centered person..
    posted by pwedza at 3:30 PM on October 18, 2009


    ..still, great lawsuit in the works. especially with the TSA website disclaimer about never separating children from parents.
    posted by pwedza at 3:33 PM on October 18, 2009


    Great lawsuit, right up to the point when the TSA video demonstrates her to be totally lying about being separated from her hid.
    posted by fatbird at 4:15 PM on October 18, 2009


    ..still, great lawsuit in the works. especially with the TSA website disclaimer about never separating children from parents.

    pwedza -- have you read this entire thread?

    If so, you'll realize that her acount of events has been proven to be false. No lawsuit is likely to occur, as she was never separated from her child.
    posted by ericb at 4:24 PM on October 18, 2009


    ..still, great lawsuit in the works. especially with the TSA website disclaimer about never separating children from parents.

    I know it's tl;dr, but it's a hoax. She lied.
    posted by iamabot at 4:25 PM on October 18, 2009


    pwedza -- be sure to also peruse this MetaTalk thread.
    posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on October 18, 2009


    Cool Papa Bell wrote:

    Well, by "out of eyesight," does she mean another room? Another terminal? Or, like, behind a post? And 10 minutes? Sure it wasn't, say, 90 seconds? If the whole thing took 10 minutes, how long was Jackson actually out of eyesight? What portion of 10 minutes did that take?


    That's irrelevant. TSA policy says that:

    a) you have the right to have all of your belongings in your sight at all times (save when they are actually inside the x-ray machine)
    b) your children should never be separated from you

    I don't have any children, so b does not apply, but I have waited around for ground security coordinators for an hour before to make sure that an agent who violates 'a' receives a reprimand. Most people don't have the time. Since I do, I make sure to press them on every little issue since apparently that's the only way to get the front line workers (or even the checkpoint supervisors!) any sort of training.

    I've had the police called on me at checkpoints before, despite never raising my voice, threatening, or doing anything other than questioning the judgment of the TSA folks. Not once have they ever done anything more than note my calm demeanor and wait around for a few minutes to satisfy themselves it isn't just an act. Needless to say, that infuriates the TSA folks. I have to admit infuriating the TSA folks is a bit of a reward in and of itself.

    Thankfully the screeners and checkpoint supervisors have no authority beyond calling the police.

    koeselitz wrote: Second of all, it's pretty clear that what TSA agents do does not really constitute search and seizure at all. Seizure is a very particular thing – arrest – and search is likewise limited to the mandatory search of a person or her or his private matters. No one is ever required to submit to a search at an airport, much less seized; a person can walk away at any time, and find themselves subject to no search.

    Actually, that is not true. Once you have arrived at the checkpoint, TSA claims the authority to force you to be searched. If you then realize that you have contraband and attempt to withdraw from the checkpoint, you can still be searched and fined for having said contraband. They often choose not to exercise the authority they claim, but they still claim such authority, even if you are merely in line.

    dhammond wrote: Is locking someone in a plastic box 'reasonable'?

    You've already admitted that you haven't flown in quite some time, so I can understand your confusion, but no one is "locked" in a "plastic box." The box is presumably there to afford a measure of privacy and typically, if you are singled out, you're there for a few minutes. You're not "locked" up. Additionally, the specific location of where the search is conducted doesn't change the fact that we've been subject to these searches for a long, long time, so the "plastic box" has nothing to do with whether or not a search is reasonable or unreasonable.


    Funny, pre-9/11 the closest thing to a secondary screening I was ever subjected to was the nitrate wipe. And the metal detectors were set to a reasonable level that would detect a knife or gun but not be set off by buttons, belt buckles, and that sort of thing.

    Post-9/11 I've seen my fair share. I just make sure they do it by the book when they do it. You know, change their gloves before pawing through my stuff or touching me, keep my belongings in my sight at all times, take me to a private screening area, that sort of thing. I consider it my patriotic duty to free as many others from harassment as I can on the days my number is called.
    posted by wierdo at 4:40 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I have waited around for ground security coordinators for an hour before to make sure that an agent who violates 'a' receives a reprimand.

    Oh, wow, you're that guy? You also write outraged letters-to-the-editor, don't you?

    I've had the police called on me at checkpoints before,

    Gosh. I can't imagine why.
    posted by dersins at 4:44 PM on October 18, 2009


    Please God let me never be in an airport on the same day as wierdo.




    Also, the TSA has added a bunch of new videos from different angles for the remaining "they doctored the tape" people.

    Scroll down the original post.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 4:56 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I think Blogger Bob might be having a little bit of fun here at pwning Nic so comprehensively. "We took your baby? Here's the video! Oh, parts are missing and you need to "thoroughly investigate"? Here's every spit and fart of video!"
    posted by fightorflight at 5:00 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Yeah, Blogger Bob is now crushing her like a grape. For sport.
    posted by fixedgear at 5:03 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I think Blogger Bob might be having a little bit of fun here at pwning Nic so comprehensively. "We took your baby? Here's the video! Oh, parts are missing and you need to "thoroughly investigate"? Here's every spit and fart of video!"

    You know, Nic is the one would simply would not let up on her allegations. If she comes back with more "It's a government cover-up" after this latest update, Blogger Bob ought to sick the FBI on her.

    Honestly, I don't think the woman genuinely understands the seriousness of her allegations. Does she really want to keep provoking the government at this point? And I don't mean that question in a "facist jackbooted thugs will make your life a living hell" kind of way, but more in a "you keep insisting we did you wrong, so let's just go to court and settle this once and for all; hope your attorney is a miracle worker" kind of way.
    posted by magstheaxe at 6:03 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Just to catch everyone up:

    Blogger: TSA TOOK MY SON IN ATLANTA HARTSFIELD-JACKSON AIRPORT. THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO ANY PARENT. EVER.

    Metafilter: Shame on TSA. Don't hurt the babies! / Xanax hysterics!

    TSA: Uh, Okay. We didn't. Here's the video proof.

    Metafilter: Shame on TSA. That's a power imbalance! / Fakey blogging liar suxors!

    Metatalk: This should have been deleted.

    Blogger: Blahblahblah - yeah, that's me on the video - blahblahblah - metal pacifier clip - blahblahblah - edited video - blahblahblah. [Translation - I'm full of shit and I got called on it but I'm not apologising for it because I've got more traffic to this site than ever before and it quelches my narcissistic tendancies and fills my need for attention and blahblahblah]
    posted by P.o.B. at 6:14 PM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


    This should have been deleted.

    QFT
    posted by EatTheWeak at 6:30 PM on October 18, 2009


    P.o.B., you missed people coming into the thread without reading it and commenting with an assumption that it wasn't all a giant hoax.
    posted by subbes at 7:00 PM on October 18, 2009


    I wonder when her husband understands that his wife is a psychopath..
    posted by pwedza at 7:19 PM on October 18, 2009


    Metafilter: Shame on TSA. That's a power imbalance! / Fakey blogging liar suxors!

    I think it's not really a fair reading of what some people said. I personally just noted that I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of TSA immediately posting the video, because I'm skeptical that they would have done the same had TSA actually done something wrong. It may have been better to simply refute the allegations and give her an opportunity to walk them back rather than make her look like an nutcase in public. On the other hand, it's apparent that she refused to speak to them and that maybe they would have not posted the video had she returned their calls.
    posted by empath at 7:52 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Don't you just read things like this and wished that she'd steered clear of the hyperbole in the relating of the story, so that the real villain could have been obvious. For me, it's just such a shame that her telling of the story was so annoying, and that it detracts at all from the TSA nastiness.

    I can't count how many times I've been ordered to walk here, stand there, No! not there, back there!! by some little person pretty much just for their own amusement, for no real purpose that I can ascertain. Not many people go through any kind of US border control feeling good, or even comfortable with the experience, and there's something really wrong with that, because most countries handle issues of safety with a respectful and courteous attitude. We deal with the TSA all the time, and pretty much just gird our loins, and expect the worst, which we usually get. There's just nothing like being make to feel like a cockroach to get your holiday started right, is there?
    posted by lottie at 8:13 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Well, wierdo, I'm glad someone is making an effort to hold the TSA accountable to their own standards.
    posted by kathrineg at 8:20 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I think it's not really a fair reading of what some people said.

    Well, I wasn't making the comment out of fairness, but I do think the distillation of what was said remains intact. The idea that there is an over-arching notion by quite a few poster that see the TSA as "evil", and that it was consistent and applied regardless of whether the TSA did what was claimed or not.
    Do I think it's fair that they posted the video? Yeah, and I think the blogger had it coming with such a cockamamie story. Do I think it's fair that the TSA doesn't give up their video when asked? No, not at all, but I am curious if that actually does happen across the board. I googled around a bit and couldn't find much to back that up but that doesn't account for my lack of google skills. Or are we just going to look at three instances and assume it is and call it "a pattern".
    posted by P.o.B. at 8:42 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    No one is locked in a box.

    THEY ARE, THEY ARE LOCKED IN A SHARP BOX AND BEATEN WITH GARDEN HOSES AND THE GUARDS MAKE SCARY MONSTER FACES AT YOUR BABY!
    posted by turgid dahlia at 9:31 PM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


    Today's XKCD on the subject of TSA smartassery.

    Really, it's remarkable any MeFi user is allowed to travel at all.
    posted by rokusan at 3:29 AM on October 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


    My point in all of this is that, while you can claim that airport checkpoints are ridiculously inconvenient, or that airport checkpoints are horrendously administered, or that airport checkpoints don't serve the purpose they're supposed to, it's not reasonable to claim that airport checkpoints are unconstitutional.

    WHEW! Good thing I never claimed they were unconstitutional, then!

    I keep referencing Davis to reinforce the point that:

    I BELIEVE SCREENING FOR DANGEROUS WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES IS CONSTITUTIONAL.

    However this does not change my sincere belief that:

    THE CURRENT OPERATION OF THIS PROCESS IS UNREASONABLE in the context of the 4th Amendment.

    And your enumeration:

    # that airport checkpoints are ridiculously inconvenient,
    # or that airport checkpoints are horrendously administered,
    # or that airport checkpoints don't serve the purpose they're supposed to

    Supports my UNREASONABLE SEARCH hypothesis quite well I think.
    posted by mikelieman at 4:58 AM on October 19, 2009


    Supports my UNREASONABLE SEARCH hypothesis quite well I think.
    No, it doesn't. For the third time, those are ancillary to how reasonable or unreasonable the search is.

    But I see you've graduated from Libertarian Caps to shouting at us and bolding. If we keep disagreeing with you what's next? Underline and marquee? Thank god h1 is banned.
    posted by fightorflight at 8:08 AM on October 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


    But I see you've graduated from Libertarian Caps to shouting at us and bolding.

    This is exactly like arguing with my dad. He doesn't know how to have an actual discussion, where people's positions adjust and adapt -- he merely repeats himself louder and louder until my mom gets upset and tries to change the subject.
    posted by empath at 8:14 AM on October 19, 2009


    Well, then. What does "reasonable" mean?
    posted by mikelieman at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2009


    http://www.answers.com/reasonable

    3. Being within the bounds of common sense: arrive home at a reasonable hour.
    4. Not excessive or extreme; fair: reasonable prices.

    Seems to work, right?
    posted by mikelieman at 8:41 AM on October 19, 2009


    It does, but only because you laser-focus on "reasonable", when the key phrase is "reasonable search". There are lots of unreasonable things about the operation of airports, but none of them have a bearing on the constitutionality of the TSA, because there the question is what does "reasonable search" mean.

    A search that is not excessive or extreme, and predicated on justifications within the bounds of common sense.

    Unreasonable search: rectal examination before you enter an art gallery.
    Reasonable search: belongings X-rayed and body scanned with metal detector before getting on an aeroplane

    I'm not going to go any further here, because there's an extensive body of constitutional law and research, and they'll be able to rip holes in anything I can try and define reasonable search to mean in this comment box, but hopefully you get my drift. The phrase relates to how reasonable or not the reasons are for searching, not any of the ancillary stuff like how well trained the staff are or how long you have to wait in line.

    The staff could be piss drunk and it could be carried out on the freezing-cold tarmac and it would still be a "reasonable search". I know you don't like the TSA, but this isn't the angle to pursue to try and defeat them. Shoddy performance of their duties doesn't make them unreasonable. Whether a border search is reasonable depends wholly on balancing the intrusion into privacy against the government’s legitimate interest in the subject of the search. Rectal examinations and counting the fillings in your teeth could be reasonable searches, if the government could show they had a legitimate and necessary -- a reasonable -- need to check for those things.
    posted by fightorflight at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2009


    I wonder if posting a delusional rant on the Internet can get you in trouble with child protective services?
    posted by alms at 9:00 AM on October 19, 2009


    Seems to work, right?

    Whenever someone busts out a dictionary in a discussion about the definition of a legal term, you can be pretty certain they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about, and can probably be ignored.

    The definition of "reasonable" in this case has nothing to do with what a dictionary might say and everything to do with how courts have interpreted it over the last few hundred years.
    posted by dersins at 9:05 AM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Is preventing you from bringing a bottle of water a 'reasonable search'?

    ( or seizure, as the case may be? )
    posted by mikelieman at 9:10 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


    "Whenever someone busts out a dictionary in a discussion about the definition of a legal term,"

    The term 'reasonable' in the Constitution is not a legal term. It is plain English which requires no intepretation.

    The only discussion is the consensus of 'What is reasonable?'
    posted by mikelieman at 9:11 AM on October 19, 2009


    Reasonable

    adj., adv. in law, just, rational, appropriate, ordinary or usual in the circumstances. It may refer to care, cause, compensation, doubt (in a criminal trial), and a host of other actions or activities.
    posted by mikelieman at 9:16 AM on October 19, 2009


    Is preventing you from bringing a bottle of water a 'reasonable search'?
    Well, it hasn't been tested yet, has it? But the government clearly thinks it can make a case that there is a reasonable expectation that if they allow untested liquids on to planes, a terrorist incident will occur. Which, if true, does make it reasonable, yes. A pain in the fucking neck, but not unconstitutional.
    posted by fightorflight at 9:17 AM on October 19, 2009


    The term 'reasonable' in the Constitution is not a legal term. It is plain English which requires no intepretation.

    Okay, you've just disqualified yourself from further discussion at this point. Please don't ever try to represent yourself in a court case.
    posted by empath at 9:19 AM on October 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


    In all seriousness, there are two centuries worth of legal precedent on the reasonable search and seizure clause. Every time it got to the Supreme Court, they had to interpret what the word 'reasonable' meant in that context. If it were obvious, those cases would have never gotten to the supreme court. Hell, it's not even obvious what apparently specific terms like 'search' and 'seizure' mean in every case, let alone a fuzzy adjective like 'reasonable'.
    posted by empath at 9:28 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Well, it hasn't been tested yet, has it? But the government clearly thinks it can make a case that there is a reasonable expectation that if they allow untested liquids on to planes, a terrorist incident will occur

    That's not what I really asked. I didn't want to know if it had been decided in a court.

    You are a Citizen, part of the collectively sovereign People.

    Do YOU think it's reasonable to prevent you from bringing a bottle of water.
    posted by mikelieman at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2009


    Okay, you've just disqualified yourself from further discussion at this point. Please don't ever try to represent yourself in a court case.

    So unless you're admitted to the Bar, you're not allowed to assert that the word 'reasonable' has no specific legal usage distinct from the common usage?
    posted by mikelieman at 10:36 AM on October 19, 2009


    Every time it got to the Supreme Court, they had to interpret what the word 'reasonable' meant in that context.

    That is because the the context is different, and what is reasonable in that context differs.

    But the definition of 'Reasonable' does not shift. It is the definition of 'reasonable in a particular context' which is examined each time. The context is the key.

    And in this context, screening passengers for dangerous weapons and explosives, I see we all disagree on what is reasonable.

    Some people don't mind waiting 20, 30, 60 minutes for a pointless screening.

    Some people don't mind having things which aren't dangerous weapons confiscated.

    If you think that what the TSA is doing is reasonable, then enjoy your flight!

    I'll be relaxing in my car with a 20 ounce cup of hot coffee.
    posted by mikelieman at 10:42 AM on October 19, 2009


    Do YOU think it's reasonable to prevent you from bringing a bottle of water.
    You know what, I actually do. I'm told there's a threat there, and the bar has to be set somewhere. TSA people aren't good or many enough to check every open container that passes through, so until either the liquid plot is exposed as a hoax or there are much better detectors, I think it's probably close enough to reasonable for the lawyers.

    Even though I think TSA is mostly security theatre (but good theatre! I suspect I'd be pretty unnerved if I was allowed get on a plane like I get on a bus) and there are much better ways of preventing terror attacks, I still don't think their searches are unreasonable searches as defined in the constitution. Nor does the legal profession, including judges that have sat on this, so far as I can tell.

    Like I said upthread, you may hate the TSA but hammering this horse into the ground isn't going to get you a yard further away from it. The searches they perform for weapons and explosives simply aren't unconstitutional. Having them performed doesn't turn you into a subject. They are still subject to due process. (When the TSA outsteps its bounds it is restrained. Perhaps not enough, but enough to show that it isn't getting police-state-esque free reign over everyone and everything)

    It may seem unfair, but a layman's definition of "reasonableness" isn't ever going to give you a sound argument against the TSA. Grounds for a solid barroom haranguing, sure, but nothing that's going to make people or organisations go, "hey, you know what? That is unreasonable! Where's my congresscritter?".
    posted by fightorflight at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2009


    Nicole obviously dislikes flying. If Nicole wants to arrive in style, she should get a Renault Clio.
    posted by iviken at 11:11 AM on October 19, 2009


    empath: In all seriousness, there are two centuries worth of legal precedent on the reasonable search and seizure clause. Every time it got to the Supreme Court, they had to interpret what the word 'reasonable' meant in that context. If it were obvious, those cases would have never gotten to the supreme court. Hell, it's not even obvious what apparently specific terms like 'search' and 'seizure' mean in every case, let alone a fuzzy adjective like 'reasonable'.

    mikelieman: That is because the the context is different, and what is reasonable in that context differs... But the definition of 'Reasonable' does not shift. It is the definition of 'reasonable in a particular context' which is examined each time. The context is the key... And in this context, screening passengers for dangerous weapons and explosives, I see we all disagree on what is reasonable.

    Actually, I think you're dead-on correct on this point, mikeliemann; if the meaning of the word "reasonable" is just a shifting thing subject to minute changes in context then it's a horrible word to put in a legal document, much less to base the conception of something as important as the right to not be unfairly searched or arrested. I didn't really understand what you were getting at until I thought about this. And I think you're right about 'context.'

    I think we can even be more specific about the use of the word here; the Supreme Court might say that with regard to constitutional rights what the TSA does is not unreasonable; and unfortunately the Supreme Court (and the Constitution and Bill of Rights) really can only deal with things in that context. In plain language, it wouldn't be unreasonable for the government to stop us for an hour on every trip if such stops were actually saving lives or helping in defense; clearly such stops aren't unreasonable on constitutional principles. But with regard to modern standards of efficiency and even basic standards of efficacy, TSA searches are broadly unreasonable. I would argue that this unfortunately isn't a fourth-amendment issue, since the fourth amendment doesn't deal with ensuring efficiency and efficacy of government but only with the rights citizens may expect.

    However, I agree that TSA searches can in many cases be unreasonable. I still don't believe that this is a subject vs. citizen thing, but to be honest I've got an ear open for any argument that modern Americans have gone a bit soft on their duties. My feeling has always been the Tocquevillian one – that the end of American society won't be some form of vile, reprehensible tyranny, but rather default submission for the sake of convenience – however maybe that's what you mean.
    posted by koeselitz at 12:32 PM on October 19, 2009


    For some reason, I feel the need to step in and sort of break down that "scary" box seen in the video, that some people may not be familiar with. I am a semi-regular flyer, both for personal and business reasons.

    Recently, I cut my hair short and my professional "look" includes 5 or 6 bobby pins. The first time I flew for business with short hair, my pins actually set off the alarm for the first time. I didn't think about them so when I went through the second time, I still set off the alarm. At that point I was pulled for secondary screening inside The Box.

    This secondary screening included both a wanding and a physical pat-down, including a female TSA agent running her hands along my bra wire under my breasts and against my skin under my waistband. In the video, you can see that Ms. White was pulled aside to a semi-isolated section. My own secondary screening happened inside that Box, right by the conveyor belts.

    The box is not locked - some don't even have doors on them. Some people will gawk. My belongings were in my line-of-site the whole time.

    Funny enough, on my flight back at the end of my trip, I forgot about my bobby pins again, and was patted down a second time. Fool me twice, shame on me!
    posted by muddgirl at 12:36 PM on October 19, 2009


    I was wondering what was up with that box. I try to avoid flying to or through the states as much as humanly possible.

    What's the deal with Mommy Bloggers? My god.
    posted by chunking express at 12:58 PM on October 19, 2009


    Actually, I think you're dead-on correct on this point, mikeliemann; if the meaning of the word "reasonable" is just a shifting thing subject to minute changes in context then it's a horrible word to put in a legal document, much less to base the conception of something as important as the right to not be unfairly searched or arrested. I didn't really understand what you were getting at until I thought about this.

    Fair enough, but I'd suggest that without application to a specific context, the word 'reasonable' is almost meaningless. That is, until precedent is established, then the legal meaning of the word is open to interpretation.
    posted by empath at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I've seen several beefs about "mommy bloggers" — uh, wot's the deal? Should a person go back to crazy-lady's site for an update, or are there other mommy blogs that are going apeshit in support of crazy-lady's site.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:50 PM on October 19, 2009


    While dramatic, some of us are a little protective of our children and the TSA did not answer her questions when she asked them. That is bullshit. And I'll agree with her on her anger and panic. They should have said that she could go with while they take and inspect the child. No one separates me from my child without them answering my questions as to what's going on or at the very least keep him in my sight.

    My husband and I had an incident with TSA in San Fran. My husband dives and we just came from Maui. They were making a huge deal over his diving equipment and all he said was "What? Never saw diving equipment before?" And that's when hell broke loose. We were told "It's people like YOU who caused 9/11".

    And that's when I lost it. I snapped back "No, 9/11 happened because people like YOU didn't do their jobs!"

    I was threatened with authorities being called and being made to go into the back room for a "personal inspection." For what? They didn't answer.

    For some reason they let us go. I was pissed. When I got home I immediately wrote TSA offices in San Fran and TSA.gov explaining the situation but moreso how they misused their little embroidered badge on their sweaters to pull 9/11 bullshit.

    I told them they didn't know if I was a servicewoman who served our country. They didn't know my heritage. They didn't know if a family member of mine died in 9/11 and no one should ever spew 9/11 bullshit when, as a passenger I can't even say the word without dogs released on me.

    Two days later we received a call from the TSA.gov heads and San Fran TSA heads apologizing and bending over backwards for us. They said they reviewed the security tapes and were ashamed and upset that this happened. They asked me what I felt was appropriate punishment. I told them 2 weeks without pay and retraining (because I don't mess around with people being assholes for no reason). They obviously abuse their power and it's wrong. They agreed and said all they could do is retrain and reprimand. I said fine; good enough.
    posted by stormpooper at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


    They did not "take and inspect the child." The child stayed with her at all times. She lied.
    posted by NortonDC at 8:33 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Perhaps "lied" is a strong word, but she certainly mis-remembered the entire incident about someone "taking her child". The child was in the stroller not 2 feet away from her the whole time.
    posted by muddgirl at 8:36 AM on October 20, 2009


    Forgot the link. You can see the entirety of the screening here.
    posted by muddgirl at 8:38 AM on October 20, 2009


    Thanks Muddgirl....yea I wouldn't freak out about 2 feet. Still, TSA still thinks their embroidered badge calls for unreasonable assholieness.
    posted by stormpooper at 10:41 AM on October 20, 2009


    "What? Never saw diving equipment before?"

    This reminds me of the time when some lady got all upset because the cashier at the grocery store didn't know what a portobello mushroom was. Hey, you know what, I have a bachelor's from a so-called prestigious American liberal arts college and a master's from a famous British university and I have never bothered to look closely at diving equipment. Does that make me low class or stupid or inept at living in society?

    They asked me what I felt was appropriate punishment. I told them 2 weeks without pay and retraining (because I don't mess around with people being assholes for no reason). They obviously abuse their power and it's wrong.

    Two weeks without pay because you were contemptuous of the TSA and didn't like these folks to do their jobs so you can go on a fancy diving vacation without being inconvenienced? That's nice. They may not know who you are, but you don't know anything about their lives, which probably doesn't include driving to the airport with a big load of expensive diving equipment. You don't know anything about these people, or whether they have relatives who died or anything. It's way more likely they have friends and family in the military than a well-to-do couple going on a diving vacation.

    God, I'm so tired of people who think they're standing up for civil rights when all they are doing is harassing people who have to commute hours a day for an airport job. Maybe this from Oct. 18 will give you some perspective.

    You need to be retrained on empathy.
    posted by anniecat at 10:52 AM on October 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


    "Just pay the parking ticket. Don't be so outraged. You're not a freedom fighter in the civil rights movement. You double parked."
    posted by chunking express at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


    That said, as far as I can tell, there are a shit load of jerk-asses working in airport security.
    posted by chunking express at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    There are jerk-asses working in every job, especially jobs that require long hours standing on your feet and interacting with hundreds of folks who seem to actively want you to get fired.
    posted by muddgirl at 11:17 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    That said, as far as I can tell, there are a shit load of jerk-asses working in airport security.

    Could it possibly be because so many people are jerks to them? I think there's a lot of passing it forward.

    I'm pretty defensive about the not-so-cuddly attitudes of people in shit jobs because I have had family working in shitty jobs and I seriously don't know how they managed to keep an inkling of warmth in them after being beaten down so hard by jerk bosses, jerk colleagues, jerk customers, and people just trying to pass off their bad mood to other people.

    I can be a jerk. I have been a jerk. If I were a TSA agent I would probably groan and roll my eyes a half-million times someone tried to put their half finished bottle of orange Fanta on the conveyor belt.
    posted by anniecat at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2009


    My wife and I have agreed that each of our kids is going to be required to work a year in a retail or service job before heading off to college. We're hoping that will teach them how important it is not to be a dick to people who are just doing their jobs.
    posted by EarBucket at 11:23 AM on October 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


    Perhaps "lied" is a strong word,

    No, it's not. That's what she did. It is the one thing that is clear about her story. Her nose is growing longer. Her pants are on fire. It could not be any clearer. She lied!
    posted by P.o.B. at 11:24 AM on October 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


    Schneier on this incident.
    posted by chunking express at 11:24 AM on October 20, 2009


    Could it possibly be because so many people are jerks to them? I think there's a lot of passing it forward.

    Is certainly is possible. It's also possible some of these people are just abusing what little power they have been given. I mean, it's pretty telling that most people didn't really doubt this ladies story. That the TSA would steal a women's baby isn't actually hard to believe.
    posted by chunking express at 11:28 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


    They asked me what I felt was appropriate punishment. I told them 2 weeks without pay

    Do you have any idea what two weeks without pay really means for people making $600 a month as TSA screeners?
    posted by CunningLinguist at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


    It could not be any clearer. She lied!

    It's not all that clear to me. For some reason, I get the strong vibe that she believes her story. Her story is clearly not true, but that doesn't mean she lied. She doesn't seem like someone I would want to know, but I also feel sorry for her (and her child, husband, mother, etc.).
    posted by Mavri at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Empath: Ridiculous. I think you need to go back and re-read your Locke and Hobbes.

    Particularly read up on the nature of The Social Contract, wherein we give up some of our rights in so that we can live in a safe, well-ordered society.


    Patronize much? Your imperious arrogance is unnecessary. We discuss ideas here and we entertain opposite opinions with support, not pronouncements of "Ridiculous."

    I'm well aware of the Social Contract, but my argument is coming from an idealized and generous reading of it, that I think as a society and as a country especially post-911 and post the repressive regime of Bush/Cheney has taken the idea of an orderly society due to fear and due to ignorance to the extreme outer edge of what these United States were founded on at least from a Jeffersonian approach that was just as wary repulsed by the oppression possible under capital (ism) as it was of a Monarchy. His fears have come to be painfully obvious in a country struggling to break free from the narcotizing economic disaster the Banking/Finance/Real Estate/Insurance industries have led us very close to, and continue to lead us as a nation in outrageous displays of lobbyist muscle, subterfuge, outright lies and greed.

    The opposite point of view is painfully required here to off set the idea that the TSA agency acting the way it acts and employing the tools it uses (a plastic containment box?) has gone off the deep end and and perhaps jumped the shark juristdictionally. It is the outer face of the Patriot act. Because way what you will aof her in bout Ms. Nicole White and how painfully and embarrassingly full of Sh*t she is, the image of her, a mother holding a baby in a plastic containment jail (yeah, she was in jail, because regardless of no locks and no doors, that to me is a JAIL), is pretty revolting and you should be revolted too, because it pushes the idea of "reasonable" to an area that we as a nation, IMHO, should not find reasonable.

    She ended up being a liar and a ultimately a fool. But she deserved the benefit of the doubt and to tell her side of the story, regardless of what was in the TSA CCTV (edited and compiled by the TSA w/o audio). Period. And anyone deserves that consideration.
    posted by Skygazer at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2009


    It's not all that clear to me. For some reason, I get the strong vibe that she believes her story. Her story is clearly not true, but that doesn't mean she lied.

    Let me get this straight: So you're suggesting she's mentally ill, hallucinated or dreamt the whole thing up.
    posted by anniecat at 11:57 AM on October 20, 2009


    Cunniglinguist: Do you have any idea what two weeks without pay really means for people making $600 a month as TSA screeners?

    You mean a week, I think.
    posted by Skygazer at 12:01 PM on October 20, 2009


    It's not all that clear to me.

    Well, it's clear as the sky is blue. The premise to her little story is that a TSA agent took her kid, walked away and she did not have him for around ten minutes. The story is embellished in all sorts of ways; her kid calling out to her as he was being taken away, her almost passing out a couple of times due to anxiety, calling family members, on and and on. I mean she layered the story with all kinds of confabulations that had no basis in reality. So go ahead and believe what you want, but at this point you're either playing into her little rant or arguing semantics. Neither of which changes the fact that what she said happened, in plain English, did not happen.
    posted by P.o.B. at 12:04 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I think some of us are in agreement that, while it's possible she knowingly and maliciously made the whole thing up, thinking she wouldn't get caught, it's also possible that she had an extreme panic attack (you can see her starting to freak out on the footage when she's in the security box) and events that did happen were blown out of proportion. Perhaps she saw a man walk up to the stroller (which seems to have happened looking at the tape) and then was turned around to face away from the stroller for the pat-down. In her mind, she thinks the man has walked away with her kid when clearly it's still sitting right there.

    As she calmed down at the gate or in the bathroom or wherever, she reviewed events over and over in her mind until they were solidified into a false story. Further exaggeration would occur when she wrote it down for the internet.
    posted by muddgirl at 12:05 PM on October 20, 2009


    Do you have any idea what two weeks without pay really means for people making $600 a month as TSA screeners?

    What the hell, can't you read? For fuck's sake, she was coming back from Maui, and they didn't recognise scuba diving gear, and then not only did they not grovel when he got cheeky, they mentioned 9/11. They actually said the words "9/11" and, incredibly, without checking out her history first.

    If you can't see how they're lucky to have kept their jobs, let alone had their pay docked, I don't know what to tell you.
    posted by fightorflight at 12:08 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    You mean a week, I think.

    Augh, of course.

    Hourly wages can range from $11.30 to $16.96 depending on experience, plus locality pay.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 12:10 PM on October 20, 2009


    Wow, stormpooper your story and your general attitude made me feel bad for the TSA, something which I never thought possible.
    posted by ob at 12:15 PM on October 20, 2009


    Further exaggeration would occur when she wrote it down for the internet.

    AKA lying.
    posted by NortonDC at 12:20 PM on October 20, 2009


    PoB: Well, it's clear as the sky is blue.

    This reminds me of what Mel Brooks said when he was asked to explain the difference between comedy and tragedy. And he answered (paraphrasing here):

    "Tragedy is if I get a hangnail. That's a tragedy. But comedy, you see, is something like if you're walking down the street and fall down a manhole and you break your neck."
    posted by Skygazer at 12:20 PM on October 20, 2009


    Cunninglinguist: Hourly wages can range from $11.30 to $16.96 depending on experience, plus locality pay.

    That's just a joke. They should get real wages and proper training that requires an intensive study and certification period.

    I touched on this before, but quickly withdrew it as this whole story is so convoluted already, but a great deal of the ill will between the TSA and the general public is one of class and race differentials. But this is a classic corporate move, make unreasonable rules and regulations that your employees must adhere too in their interactions with customers/clients etc., and let them deal with the abuse, while upper management hides in their offices and whatever legalese the company has put together to justify their policies.

    I've been in that position and its horrible. Especially in retail, lets say, you take constant abuse and it's like a daily warzone that completely burns you out, yet you have to go with the policy no matter how much bullshit it is, which is why in most cases you should take your issues as high up in the chain of command as possible, people on the first and second lines with exposure to the public can't do jacksh*t. And on top of it are basically the ones who take the punishment for the bad policies (ie, Getting fired, pay docked, suspended, reprimanded etc...)

    Have to say I don't want to empathize with the front line TSA people, as their horrible, but ultimately they are just try to earn a living and get through the day.
    posted by Skygazer at 12:33 PM on October 20, 2009


    Just to humor myself and see if there really is any veracity to her argument whatsoever, I watched the TSA video again. Do you know how long her kid was out of her sight? Not. One. F*cking. Second. Seriously. Watch the video. Anxiety attack or not, you would have to be swimming in bullshit to even begin to accept her claims.
    posted by P.o.B. at 12:41 PM on October 20, 2009


    Did she even see the clown on the unicycle?
    posted by ericb at 12:48 PM on October 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Nahhh. She was to busy talking on her cell phone with her parents about how she was mishandled by The Man.
    posted by P.o.B. at 12:51 PM on October 20, 2009


    Her defenders are also forgetting all her tweets about getting her story published.

    I think, looking at her hyper twitter stream, that she started embellishing on twitter and got progressively more excited as her followers responded. Though one of her first tweets about the alleged incident claimed that she "had "the authorities" come talk to me, and raised fuckin hell in th ATL airport." Which you'd have to be pretty delusional to believe.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 1:01 PM on October 20, 2009


    what she said happened, in plain English, did not happen and Anxiety attack or not, you would have to be swimming in bullshit to even begin to accept her claims.

    I think the part where I said, "Her story is clearly not true" might have been a big fat clue to what I thought, but go ahead and just make things up so you can unload your self-righteous snark.

    But, yes, it could be a false memory. Muddgirl explains very well what might have happened. An example from another context--eye witnesses to crimes are often 100% sure that they saw one person commit a crime, only to learn later through DNA that they absolutely didn't.

    Or she could have more than just anxiety and a personality disorder and have genuine delusions. That doesn't seem likely to me, but the false memory does.

    Like I said, it's just a vibe I got, but feel free to attack me more for things I didn't actually say.
    posted by Mavri at 1:04 PM on October 20, 2009


    feel free to attack me more for things I didn't actually say

    It wasn't an attack, nor was it squarely aimed at you or for what you said.

    Muddgirl explains very well what might have happened.

    I disagree
    posted by P.o.B. at 1:17 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The vibe I got from her post, and her twitter stream in particular, is that she's a shrill and/or crazy-ass mommy-blogger. One would think she must believe her version of the events, since it must have been pretty obvious that there would be video cameras all over the place in airport security that would confirm or deny what she said. I'm guessing she just worked herself up – a lot. The thing is, most people don't want to hurt babies. Seriously. What exactly did she think the TSA was going to do, assuming they did grab her baby and run?

    And that said, the airport is a really shitty place. Airport security doesn't do much in the way to make the experience of getting on a plane less stressful. The vast majority of people travelling aren't trying to blow shit up. So why treat everyone like a criminal? Who gives a fuck about half drank bottle of Fanta? This xkcd comic is spot on. Everything is half-assed and arbitrary. There are children on the no fly list. The TSA does a lot of stuff that antagonizes the public. And it does a lot of stuff that's so crazy and ridiculous that when someone is all, "the TSA stole my baby," most people assume the worse.

    I think i'm repeating myself.
    posted by chunking express at 1:26 PM on October 20, 2009


    Muddgirl explains very well what might have happened.

    I disagree.


    You disagree that it's ever possible for false memories to be created, or just that it happened here?

    It wasn't an attack, nor was it squarely aimed at you or for what you said.

    Huh, copying my comment and then following it with "it's clear the sky is blue" seems a pretty clear implication that I am too stupid to realize an obvious truth like the blueness of the sky and the lyingness of her lies, but I'll take your word for it.

    Her defenders are also forgetting all her tweets about getting her story published.

    I couldn't get to her twitter stream when all this exciting drama was unfolding, so, yeah, I didn't know about those.

    One would think she must believe her version of the events, since it must have been pretty obvious that there would be video cameras all over the place in airport security that would confirm or deny what she said.

    I think this is part of where my feeling about her comes from. It seems to me that someone who set out to perpetrate a hoax would've taken down the original story and started back-pedaling furiously once the truth came out. She reacts like someone who just can't understand how the videos don't show what she knows happened.
    posted by Mavri at 1:35 PM on October 20, 2009


    anniecat, fightorflight

    1. I thought Metafilter wasn't a personal bashing ground.
    2. My empathy falls short when people abuse their power.
    3. The point was why can a TSA worker say people like me (and who IS people like me?) caused 9/11? Really? That's appropriate?
    4. Aren't posts in Metafilter supposed to result in comments beyond "look how paranoid and stupid this woman was"? Because the joke is getting old.

    Whatever someone makes in 2 weeks isn't the point. I wasn't asking for groveling. I wasn't asking for a response. All we said was "haven't you seen dive equipment before" because they didn't know what it was. The screener at the Xray machine asked the other agent what it was and they didn't respond. We didn't need to get harassed with "people like you".

    So if I was coming home from a business trip , had a shitty salary and the TSA agent said "people like you", I'm supposed to give her a hug?
    posted by stormpooper at 1:47 PM on October 20, 2009


    You disagree that it's ever possible for false memories to be created, or just that it happened here?

    I disagree with muddgirl's explanation.

    You said: It's not all that clear to me.

    I said: Well, it's clear as the sky is blue.

    and I also said: So go ahead and believe what you want, but at this point you're either playing into her little rant or arguing semantics. Which is exactly what we are doing.
    If you want to get heated about me disagreeing with the clarity of what happened, then...*shrug*probably not going to happen. But if you feel I have posited the possible implication that your ability to detect lies may be in direct proportion to your eyes differential color aptitude...? Don't worry, I'm not assuming you're color blind.
    posted by P.o.B. at 1:57 PM on October 20, 2009


    In reading her "about me", etc. I see that she had some traumatic instinces in her life with her son not eating and being hospitalized. I get it and have been there with a son very sick and hospitalized. And while some go "meh he's fine now so that's all that matters" some moms are still on high anxiety when it comes to their kid getting sick or in this case, out of their sight and out of their control. It spurs reactions that most don't understand and will make fun of. Yea she was a little dramatic. Yea her story didn't match what the video showed. But so what? The mamma bear in her got a little intense out of protection of her child. I think everyone needs to cut her some slack. Give her an eye roll and move on.
    posted by stormpooper at 2:06 PM on October 20, 2009


    All we said was "haven't you seen dive equipment before"

    Do you not understand how incredibly patronizing this sounds? You are pretty much saying "Hey person who makes somewhere in the neighborhood of $25K - $35/year, how can you not know what this expensive equipment is that I just used on my expensive vacation in Hawaii?"

    You're effectively accusing them of being stupid, poor, or both. And you're probably the seventeeth person that day (and the three hundredth person that month) to get pissy with them in pretty much the same way. And you're surprised they got defensive?
    posted by dersins at 2:10 PM on October 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


    or in this case, out of their sight and out of their control.

    Jesus fucking christ on a fucking trampoline. Are you unable to read or watch video, or are you just trolling?

    HER CHILD WAS NEVER MORE THAN TWO FEET AWAY FROM HER. NOT ONCE. NOT EVER. THEY DID NOT TAKE HER CHILD AWAY. SHE LIED ABOUT THIS. STOP ACTING AS THOUGH THERE IS EVEN THE SMALLEST GRAIN OF TRUTH IN THE GIANT PACK OF LIES SHE TRIED TO SELL TO THE INTERNET.
    posted by dersins at 2:13 PM on October 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


    Dersins,

    How do you know the equipment is expensive? It's over 15 years old.
    How do you know my husband doesn't make what a TSA agent makes? Because he does and having his own business in a recession, it's sometimes lower than that. So if the assumption is we're well off because he honeymooned in Maui back in 2001--HA! Oh no, honeymoon in Maui. How dare we!
    How do you know that me and my husband don't put up with utter bullshit from customers and managers on a daily basis? Because we do and we can't get pissy back. I have managers who literally say "are you fucking stupid?" (with a 4 minute rant talking to us like we're 3 years old) to our team all the time. Can we say anything? Nope.

    So that whole "you people" comment still doesn't phase anyone as inappropriate? It's a basic principle in the workplace--don't. get. pissy. to. others. on. the. job. otherwise. you. can. get. fired. It's part of my 8-4:30 rule at work. I would think it's everyone's.

    You can't get pissy to others. I can't get pissy to others. Why was it ok for TSA to do it? And they didn't get dock in their pay. They got retraining. So the lashing out is for not since it never happened.
    posted by stormpooper at 2:20 PM on October 20, 2009





    Wow. Appropriate.

    posted by stormpooper at 2:23 PM on October 20, 2009


    stormpooper, the reason why your comment and attitude annoyed me and made me, God forbid, actually sympathize with the TSA, is that your response to the 9/11 statement was that lax security caused the event to happen, yet the whole situation occurred because one of you got shirty about a TSA officer enforcing tough security by examining what could be potentially, questionable articles. It's inconvenient I know, and basically bullshit, but what is the point of copping an attitude when it won't get you through the line any faster?
    posted by ob at 2:27 PM on October 20, 2009


    Stormpooper, how did TSA people who were so very ashamed of themselves know what you said and what they said? All the TSA videos I've seen don't have audio. I'm genuinely curious.

    Another point: it's pretty clear you didn't bother to read the whole thread and conversation going on. When you notice something is 500+ comments, you'd think a person would read the discussion.

    Furthermore, you want me and everyone else to believe that some mean looking-for-a-brawl TSA agents (with leather jackets? On motorcycles?) were looking for a fight and decided to pick on the sweet, sunny couple returning from a vacation in Maui who were only kindly wondering if they were familiar with the joys of diving equipment.

    Nobody is bashing you personally. They/I are/am bashing your anecdote which serves the purpose of dumping on TSA agents who, in my experience, do not go around picking on people who are complying with the screening process.
    posted by anniecat at 2:30 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    It's also possible some of these people are just abusing what little power they have been given. I mean, it's pretty telling that most people didn't really doubt this ladies story.

    That there are people so blinded by their devout anti-authority beliefs that they have become predisposed to believe any and all outrage-filter, abuse of power-type stories about the TSA (or police or whoever) before both sides of the story have been told and without any evidence beyond the hysterical rantings of an unhinged woman is not an indictment of the TSA.
    posted by The Gooch at 2:31 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Anniecat you'll have to ask the TSA agent who called me that said they watched the video. The snarky attitude is great. Really.
    Ob--You're right. I might have been tired, annoyed and just wanted to go home on my 4am flight (which had no line in security). And obviously they were annoyed screening at 4am. My husband wasn't coping an attitude, he was trying to joke with them.
    posted by stormpooper at 2:34 PM on October 20, 2009


    With the preconceived attitude that some people have towards "all" TSA personnel I'm not surprised that some are subjected to extra screening when going through the security lines. In my book "Haven't you seen dive equipment before" is right up there with "Do you know who I am?" If was a TSA screener and had to put up with shit like that, probably multiple times a day, I'd make you jump through fucking hoops...and more than once!

    FWIW -- as stated above, I fly frequently and have never had any problems with TSA or its predecessor(s). I still get pulled over for secondary screening on every domestic and international flight, as I am on some sort of list (which I attribute to frequent travel to the Middle East before and after 9/11). Heck, a few flights ago the desk agent had to place a call, read details from my driver's license, confirm his own identity (with name and a code) and then get his supervisor to come over to do the same before issuing a boarding pass. Didn't bother me one bit. YMMV. Actually, your "miles undoubtedly do vary."

    I'm with Scott McNealy: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."
    posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Stormpooper, never mind about answering any of the questions I asked about your situation. I don't think it really matters. We've spent an awful lot of time on Nicole White's situation and I don't think parsing through your situation matters, unless you want to start a blog and post videos, etc.
    posted by anniecat at 2:38 PM on October 20, 2009


    After watching the television series Airport (U.K.), Airline (U.K.) and Airline (U.S.) I am astonished at the antics of some passengers and the professionalism exhibited by airline personnel in handling these nutjobs.
    posted by ericb at 2:39 PM on October 20, 2009


    Yeah, guys, maybe just drop it if no one has any really compelling reason to keep arguing that specific anecdote.
    posted by cortex at 2:42 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


    The snarky attitude is great.

    This is funny because you're being sarcastic about my alleged snarkiness. So it's like snarky-snarky. Snarky-snark. I bet if I studied English literature I would know the name of this device.
    posted by anniecat at 2:44 PM on October 20, 2009


    Cortex--agreed
    posted by stormpooper at 2:46 PM on October 20, 2009


    "it could be a false memory"

    ... that she wishes to profit from.

    I do find it odd that a woman who viewed herself beforehand as a "freelance writer" keeps finding that her crappy little TSA story keeps getting more and more lucrative sounding the more she retells it.

    How fortuitous is that?!
    posted by markkraft at 2:52 PM on October 20, 2009


    Dersins, I think it's time for that emergency you-know-what...

    Maybe think about it like this: Could she attend to her baby if let's say he puked and was choking, or became hysterical or cold, or had a seizure, or had an asthma attack and stopped breathing.

    In other words, what if in those 15 mins of detainment, Nicole not being able to attend to Jackson had caused him severe injury or die.

    Could the TSA be held responsible for the death of the child?
    posted by Skygazer at 3:00 PM on October 20, 2009


    ...honeymooned in Maui back in 2001--HA! Oh no, honeymoon in Maui.

    Your incident was in 2001 and did not involve the TSA, but a private "for profit" contractor.

    Just to be clear here -- airport security at that time was provided by private security companies. Airport security was often considered "privatized and piecemeal security."
    "Traditionally, they've hired private security companies, who then hire the people who operate the equipment. The contracts usually go to the lowest bidder. It's those people who are often criticized as the weakest link in the system. Pay is low, and turnover high-- 500% at one airport-- and their training is often minimal. Federal inspectors have repeatedly been able to easily get weapons and potential bombs past them."
    Poor training, low wages, etc. contributed to a porous security system. Then -- 9/11 happened. As a response, the government got serious and decided that tighter oversight, better training, etc. was needed and shit-canned the security companies and formed the TSA in November 2001.
    posted by ericb at 3:00 PM on October 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


    On 9.11.2001 at Boston's Logan International Airport 'Globe Aviation Services' was the private security firm at terminal B and 'Huntley Security' at terminal C (contracted by the FAA). The planes (American Flight 11 and United Flight 175) which slammed into the two towers of the World Trade Center originated from these terminals. Both contractors had poor histories of security lapses.
    '''Two of the planes flew out of Logan, but I don't think Logan is weaker than any other airport. The problem is systemic,' [retired FAA special agent Brian] Sullivan said. 'Morale problems are horrendous' among FAA security staff whose job includes trying to prevent terrorists from boarding planes. 'All you need to do is look at turnover and employee satisfaction,' Sullivan added.

    Sullivan, like many other security specialists, said the weak link in aviation security is the low-paid employees hired to work at security checkpoints by private security firms that are contracted by the airlines.

    A former Massport official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that for years airport officials have been concerned about 'the quality of the people hired, basically at the minimum wage, to check your bags. There were a lot of people at Massport who said this was the weak link.'''
    posted by ericb at 3:16 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    ...honeymooned in Maui back in 2001--HA! Oh no, honeymoon in Maui.

    Your incident was in 2001 and did not involve the TSA, but a private "for profit" contractor
    .

    So it wasn't even TSA? But then how could the head of TSA.gov call them then?
    posted by anniecat at 3:18 PM on October 20, 2009


    In other words, what if in those 15 mins of detainment, Nicole not being able to attend to Jackson had caused him severe injury or die.

    Could the TSA be held responsible for the death of the child?


    OMG ALSO WHAT IF KILLER DEATH ROBOTS RIDING GIANT SLAVERING SPACE KANGAROOS HAD ATTACKED THE ATLANTA AIRPORT BUT THEIR SPACE DEATH-RAYS WERE MAGICALLY DEFLECTED BY THE PLEXIGLASS WALLS OF THE "PLASTIC TORTURE BOX?" WOULDN'T THE TSA BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SAVING JACKSON'S LIFE?
    posted by dersins at 3:25 PM on October 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


    I was pissed. When I got home I immediately wrote TSA offices in San Fran and TSA.gov ...

    Two days later we received a call from the TSA.gov heads and San Fran TSA heads apologizing and bending over backwards for us.

    So if I was coming home from a business trip , had a shitty salary and the TSA agent said "people like you", I'm supposed to give her a hug?

    So if the assumption is we're well off because he [sic] honeymooned in Maui back in 2001--HA! Oh no, honeymoon in Maui.

    So, was it a trip home from a honeymoon in Maui or a business trip? In 2001? Since the TSA was formed in November, but didn't populate airports with their own personnel starting in 2002 after rescinding private security contracts with whom did you deal?
    posted by ericb at 3:28 PM on October 20, 2009


    "False memory" at play here?
    posted by ericb at 3:28 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So if I was coming home from a business trip...

    I get it ... that was a hypothetical. Nonetheless your "home from Maui" incident happened in 2001 when TSA had not yet taken over airport screening.

    April 24, 2002: Secretary Mineta Announces Beginning of Security Screening Program; BWI First to Deploy Federal Screening Personnel
    "U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced further enhancements to the security and efficiency of the U.S. aviation system including the beginning of a new training program for passenger screeners the deployment of the nation's first fully federalized team of federal screening personnel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) and the deployment of thousands of explosive detection systems to screen all passenger bags by the end of this year.

    ...Secretary Mineta announced that the DOT's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has awarded a contract of $105 million to Lockheed Martin Services to begin the training of the airport security screening force. Under the contract each screener will receive a minimum of 40 hours of classroom training five times the amount they received under the previous system. Screeners also will receive 60 hours of on-the-job training and will have to pass a tough final examination as a requirement for graduation.

    Secretary Mineta announced additional measures to enhance aviation safety including the full federalization of the security screener workforce at BWI. Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act all airport security screeners must be federal employees by Nov. 19 and BWI will be the first U.S. airport at which this requirement is implemented. In addition the Secretary said that the TSA will deploy up to 1 100 explosive detection systems and up to 4 700 explosive trace detection machines at the nation's 429 airports to screen all bags for explosives by Dec. 31 2002 as mandated by Congress."
    posted by ericb at 3:47 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I think what's really interesting about stormpooper's story is that the TSA responded fairly even though the videos showed evidence against them. The possibility of the TSA hiding negative evidence was suggested several times up thread. I think that this is really the best you can hope for - as has been said up thread, TSA agents have really awful jobs that involve getting all but spit on (and probably that too, sometimes). Eventually someone will snap and make an inappropriately snarky comment (happens all the time on metafilter!) - it's just human nature. I'm impressed that the TSA is so customer focused, when really, they could have pretended nothing happened, or even justifiably sided with their own employees.
    posted by fermezporte at 4:28 PM on October 20, 2009


    In other words, what if in those 15 mins of detainment, Nicole not being able to attend to Jackson had caused him severe injury or die.

    Right. Because only a mother can save her baby. Forget doctors and nurses. Forget the EMTs. All a dying child with a severe injury needs to heal is a mother's love.
    posted by anniecat at 4:29 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I think what's really interesting about stormpooper's story is that the TSA responded fairly even though the videos showed evidence against them.

    As far as I can tell, the TSA wasn't even involved in "stormpooper's story."
    posted by ericb at 4:34 PM on October 20, 2009


    I mean, it's pretty telling that most people didn't really doubt this ladies story.

    Can I just say that I hate this kind of argument? If you applied that kind of approach to half of the allegations that a lot of the "tea-partier" or birther types charge Obama or Democrats with, you could say the same sort of thing. "So maybe Obama is a natural born citizen, but isn't it telling that so many people actually believed he wasn't?" There's no excuse for lazy credulousness.
    posted by the other side at 4:34 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Y'all ought to lay off stormpooper, she agreed to move on two hours ago.
    posted by Bookhouse at 4:40 PM on October 20, 2009


    I dunno, there does seem to be a fair amount of 'How dare these lowly peons interrupt my important life with their intrusive questions' in a lot of the TSA complaints. I dunno if it's racial, per se, but it does seem to be that people don't respect them because they're not well paid, and that if it were a white guy in a business suit and a badge asking them to step aside, they wouldn't have a problem with it.
    posted by empath at 5:05 PM on October 20, 2009


    What if everyone went around behaving like this? Inconvenienced at the grocery store? Accuse the bagboy of grabbing your boobs! Just hope you don't inadvertently offend someone with a lot of followers on twitter, there might not be video evidence to exonerate you.
    posted by Marit at 6:00 PM on October 20, 2009


    Racial? There's a racial element to the TSA? How so?
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:12 PM on October 20, 2009


    In the airports I've been to, the TSA is largely staffed by people of color.
    posted by kathrineg at 6:52 PM on October 20, 2009


    ...if it were a white guy in a business suit and a badge asking them to step aside, they wouldn't have a problem with it.

    Or, heck, even if it were a if it were a white guy in a business suit and a badge wrestling them to the ground, with their arms pinned behind their back, getting a few swift punches to the back of the head and a taser at their neck! Thank you, Mr. Well-Dressed White Man!
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:04 PM on October 20, 2009


    In the airports I've been to, the TSA is largely staffed by people of color.

    In Atlanta, this is even more likely to be true, as 61.4% of the population is black.

    The TSA actually has an interesting if schizophrenic hiring profile. The pay is awful, and only a GED is required, but at the same time they have a stated policy of actively recruiting veterans (nice way to treat your veterans, Feds.) On the one hand, we argue they are paid too little to do not enough to protect airline passengets; on the other hand, they likely make more than the guy flying your plane. At the same time, consumers have embraced budget airlines and want the cheapest possible tickets, but don't seem to see a correlation between falling industry profits, poorly paid staff, and passenger safety.

    Out of curiosity, if given a choice between what you've got now and a new airline with it's own airport, polite and well trained well paid security staff, and veteran pilots and cabin crew where the tickets were three times as costly, which do you think most people would choose?
    posted by DarlingBri at 7:19 PM on October 20, 2009


    Anniecat: Right. Because only a mother can save her baby. Forget doctors and nurses. Forget the EMTs. All a dying child with a severe injury needs to heal is a mother's love.

    Oh for fu*ks sake enough with the obtuse indignation and projection here lady. It's a hypothetical and there are plenty of babies with asthma who need special inhalers and need them applied quickly or they at risk of asphyxiation. I'm not defending this woman's actions or load of horsesh*t, so take an emergency xanax and sit the hell down already. I'm suggesting a hypothetical situation as in what if....

    Dersins: OMG ALSO WHAT IF KILLER DEATH ROBOTS RIDING GIANT SLAVERING SPACE KANGAROOS HAD ATTACKED....yadda..yadda..yadda..etc....

    tl;dr
    posted by Skygazer at 7:59 PM on October 20, 2009


    Oh for fu*ks sake enough with the obtuse indignation and projection here lady. It's a hypothetical and there are plenty of babies with asthma who need special inhalers and need them applied quickly or they at risk of asphyxiation. I'm not defending this woman's actions or load of horsesh*t, so take an emergency xanax and sit the hell down already.

    Callllm down. Calm down. Breathe in and breathe out...

    See, I hadn't thought of the emergency inhalers for babies. Point taken. But next time, if you type after you're finished having your tantrum, I'll be sure to donate to the Plenty O' Asthmatic Babies Air Transit Fund in your honor. Hypothetically.
    posted by anniecat at 8:22 PM on October 20, 2009


    Could she attend to her baby if let's say he puked and was choking, or became hysterical or cold, or had a seizure, or had an asthma attack and stopped breathing.

    In other words, what if in those 15 mins of detainment, Nicole not being able to attend to Jackson had caused him severe injury or die.


    Yes, she could have attended to him; especially seeing as she was never detained (let alone for 15 minutes) as you just claimed. And you're calling someone else obtuse?
    posted by the other side at 8:28 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Maybe think about it like this: Could she attend to her baby if let's say he puked and was choking, or became hysterical or cold, or had a seizure, or had an asthma attack and stopped breathing.

    In other words, what if in those 15 mins of detainment, Nicole not being able to attend to Jackson had caused him severe injury or die.

    Could the TSA be held responsible for the death of the child?


    Uh, what? She was never more than 3 feet away from her child. She put him a stroller, they wanded her twice, she picked him back up and that was the end of it. She was about 2 feet away from him for 3 minutes, and looking right at him the whole time. I've seen mothers further away from their kids for longer just picking up a box of cereal at the grocery store.
    posted by empath at 8:36 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]



    No stranger touches -- let alone takes -- my child, without my permission, period.


    She gave him permission to touch her child by not objecting when he told her he was going to do just that. Why didn't she just ask them, calmly, where they were taking him, and if she could be moved to a location closer to him? Screaming and cursing is only support for their argument that she was a danger. There were other methods for her to use here, and she fucked it up. Disregarding the fact that her story is extremely emotional, we don't know how accurate it is, and there are no additional links to support it, anyone acting the way she did in this type of situation is a mistake.

    Also, for someone with an anxiety disorder, you would think that she might have foreseen normal airport security being stressful and acted to prevent that before she got there.
    posted by mitzyjalapeno at 7:28 AM on October 21, 2009


    They didn't take her child, we do know how accurate her story is because the events are on video, and she lied.
    posted by NortonDC at 7:40 AM on October 21, 2009


    Why didn't she just ask them, calmly, where they were taking him...

    They never took him anywhere. Please read through the thread!

    ...we don't know how accurate it is...

    Yes, we do. Her story is fake. Please read through the thread!
    posted by ericb at 7:41 AM on October 21, 2009


    Jinx, NortonDC, you owe me a Coke!
    posted by ericb at 7:41 AM on October 21, 2009


    Goddammit, I hate that. Sorry.
    posted by mitzyjalapeno at 8:31 AM on October 21, 2009


    What or who is the TSA?

    They're those nice people in Philadelphia who found and returned my hat.
    posted by vbfg at 5:53 AM on October 22, 2009


    When are they going to return the baby?
    posted by mathiu at 4:49 AM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I heard it tasted like chicken.
    posted by NortonDC at 6:59 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The baby is now up on charges for eating a dingo.
    posted by cortex at 7:54 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


    OMG! THE TSA ATE HER BABIES?! OMGOMG! SOMEONE TELL THE FOX NEWS!!elevntyone!
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


    dersins wrote:
    Oh, wow, you're that guy? You also write outraged letters-to-the-editor, don't you?

    Gosh. I can't imagine why.


    Yes, the TSA should summon the police to arrest me because I calmly ask the TSA to do their job, including not confiscating items that are not on the list of banned items. You're an ass.

    Thankfully, bringing allowed items to a checkpoint that a TSA agent then unilaterally decides is banned is not against the law, as bringing banned items is. Even if it's on the secret list and not the public list.

    That's right kids, there's a secret list. About forty pages long last time I saw it. Yes, that's right, forty pages out of the several hundred in their policy binder is dedicated to prohibited items. And many of the entries are whole classes of items. "Tools" being one particular gem. With a single word, most everything brought on a plane can be construed as being banned. Right down to your clothing. ;)
    posted by wierdo at 2:02 PM on October 24, 2009


    Well, Nicole White has followed up again with another post, entitled "Ownership":

    http://www.mybottlesup.com/ownership

    The quick version: she stands behind what she said. She "owns" it. And the rest of you can just shut up, because it's not about you. Oh, and she's really hurt that she's lost friends in the blogosphere over this.

    My favorite line: "...as far as social media is concerned, they call it social media for a reason. it’s social. it’s not news. it’s sometimes fact and sometimes fiction and sometimes a variance in between."

    So, basically, because she's a blogger, you can't expect her to tell the truth.

    Her online friends, the ones who defended her against accusations, have their own follow-ups:

    http://jadedperspective.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/this-sucks/

    http://allaboutavacakes.com/index.php/2009/10/drama-llama-here-again/

    http://www.princessjenn.com/index.php/2009/10/the-truth-about-ownership/

    Their opinions are best summed up as "You made us look like fools, and you're not accepting responsibility for what you've done."

    Ah, internet drama.
    posted by magstheaxe at 5:22 AM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


    The moral of the story: don't read mommy blogs.
    posted by chunking express at 7:32 AM on October 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


    God, her style is grating. Good to know she's not making much money from her ads, only "peons."
    Interesting, too, in that she is one of those insufferable I-type-everything-in-lowercase people, and yet she chose to write her TSA fantasy with proper caps and punctuation.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 8:16 AM on October 27, 2009


    mags, thanks for the update. psst: next time, highlight your text, click "link" down there at the bottom of the comment box and paste your link into the little pop up window.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 8:18 AM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Nicole is such a douchebag.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 AM on October 27, 2009




    Nicole is such a douchebag.


    I'm stunned that she didn't turn off the Comments section for this latest entry, myself. Her friends and several of her readers are calling on her to 'fess up and apologize.
    posted by magstheaxe at 10:02 AM on October 27, 2009


    The comments are great.
    posted by chunking express at 10:37 AM on October 27, 2009


    I swear this woman is worse than my kids in terms of stubbornly sticking to a lie long after irrefutable evidence to the contrary has been presented.
    posted by The Gooch at 7:40 AM on October 28, 2009


    "i have no further insight to give you in terms of what took place in the airport. i’ve shared my experience. i own that. for some of you, i simply do not have answers to the questions you currently possess."
    Riiiight!
    posted by ericb at 8:08 AM on October 28, 2009


    O! M! G! I just want to know who is giving her advice, or is it just the voice(s?) inside her head. Because it is really bad.
    posted by P.o.B. at 5:15 PM on October 30, 2009


    This lady needs to go away. She's pretentious and tiresome and her writing blows.
    posted by Skygazer at 3:42 PM on October 31, 2009


    vultures: "i’m mad. i’m tired of this shit. and yes, i’m talking about the TSA incident."

    dear marilyn: "ah yes, the hate mail has gone old school and shown up in my ACTUAL MAILBOX, like the box that contains bills and magazines and the occasional letter."
    posted by ericb at 8:45 PM on November 16, 2009


    Hey, Mommy ... shut up and stop playing the victim card. You fucked up. Own up to it!
    posted by ericb at 8:46 PM on November 16, 2009


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