It's no velociraptor, but...
August 28, 2004 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I *heart* Bea Arthur:
Bea Arthur sparked a security scare at Logan Airport in Boston this week when she tried to board a Cape Air flight with a pocketknife in her handbag. The "Golden Girls" star, now 81, was flagged by a Transportation Security Administration agent, who discovered the knife - a strict no-no following 9/11. "She started yelling that it wasn't hers and said 'The terrorists put it there,' " a fellow passenger said. "She kept yelling about the 'terrorists, the terrorists, the terrorists.' " After the blade was confiscated, Arthur took a keyring from her bag and told the agent it belonged to the "terrorists," before throwing it at them. As she boarded the plane, she told the TSA employees, "We're all doomed."
Kuro5hin offers a novel proposition: Bea for President!
posted by Vidiot (58 comments total)
And just think, this was BEFORE the in-flight gin and tonics.
posted by orange swan at 12:32 PM on August 28, 2004

Stay away from my woman.
posted by dogwelder at 12:37 PM on August 28, 2004

Bea is my kinda lady. And she carries a pocketknife, to boot. Rock on, Dorothy.

Although *some* people I know insist on calling her "Used to Be" Arthur. Har-har.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:41 PM on August 28, 2004

Hell hath no fury like that of a dry shaven, de-loused Golden Girl.
posted by sharksandwich at 12:52 PM on August 28, 2004

Everyone knows, or should know, that Cape Air flies to Provincetown, one of the strongholds of the axis of evil seeking to destroy marriage by filling chapels, picturesque restaurants, and other likely venues with men and women claiming to "love" one another, along with champagne, flowers, rice, and other marriage-terrorist paraphernalia.

Clearly, Arthur should be put some sort of watchlist.
posted by digaman at 1:13 PM on August 28, 2004

So, old people (or white people or celebs) shouldn’t be searched? Or they should be allowed to carry knives on planes? I guess I don’t get the point of all this. Why should Bea Arthur be president? Because she is standing up for celebrity rights?
posted by found missing at 1:17 PM on August 28, 2004

All hail femputer!
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:21 PM on August 28, 2004

and she is an ex-marine to boot! probably could've gutted that TSA ego-jockey. Semper fi Bea!
posted by Duck_Lips at 2:07 PM on August 28, 2004

Bea, thank you for being a fiend.
posted by stonerose at 2:51 PM on August 28, 2004

kudos on the remarkably clever post title. And well done to bob sarabia for catching it. more to the point, go bea!
posted by jonson at 3:32 PM on August 28, 2004

found missing, you humorless twit, I hope the next time you fly you are pulled over and strip searched by the foul smelling Neanderthals that make up this nation's "airport security" as karmic payback for your utter lack of common sense.

This "all or nothing" mentality is just laughable, since it treats everyone like a suspect, which so far hasn't turned up a lot of "thwarted hijackings" or "terrorist events." Let's see, how many of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were something other than males of Middle Eastern descent between the ages of 25 and 40? How about we start looking for them, and let passengers who are female Americans with pretty much universal face recognition and who happen to be twice that age just get on their plane and be on their way?
posted by JollyWanker at 3:34 PM on August 28, 2004

Jollywanker - do you support cops' racial profiling of african american males?
posted by kahboom at 3:41 PM on August 28, 2004

Or how about we don't pull anyone over for strip searching, thus ending the harassment for everyone?
posted by amberglow at 3:42 PM on August 28, 2004

JollyWanker, I agree with you 100 percent about the once-size-fits-all security, and that our nation really needs to focus on young males of Middle Eastern descent (or at the vary least, anyone named Mohammed); but found missing has a point, inasmuch as, as long as its the rules, and everybody else has to go along with it, why should this particular aged prostitute be exempt? We can all pretty much guess that her pique is not so much about national policy, but about her being treated like "everybody else."
posted by Faze at 3:43 PM on August 28, 2004

JW: I will probably confirm for you both my humorlessness and twit-ness by saying that I don't find knives on planes funny anymore, no matter who carries them on (babies, retarded people, white people, conjoined twins, and centenarians all included). By the way, someday you’ll have to let me in on the secret of your great good humor.
posted by found missing at 3:58 PM on August 28, 2004

Do you honestly believe that you hear about everything that the TSA finds? Okay, everyone out there who's been on a plane and has a blog is willing to share their experience about the $8 scissors they had to leave behind, but just because you don't hear stories on the news about loaded firearms, brass knuckles, stun guns, switchblades, blades disguised as phones, buckles, lipsticks, etc., doesn't mean that people aren't trying to bring them aboard. And funny enough, not only young middle eastern men are trying. However, what does seem to be a given is the sense of entitlement your average white guy or gal expresses when caught. As if someone's word that "I'm not a terrorist!" should be a carte blanche to bring anything on a plane they want.
posted by ferociouskitty at 4:01 PM on August 28, 2004

"foul smelling Neanderthals that make up this nation's "airport security"

Seems like every time I go through it's a middle aged filipino lady. I'm usually treated reasonably, perhaps because I go out of my way to be pleasant and cooperative in a situation that nobody likes.

If throwing tantrums and demonizing the low wage earning security people is how you want to deal with the situation, I don't think your flying experience is going to improve any time soon.
posted by 2sheets at 4:06 PM on August 28, 2004

but just because you don't hear stories on the news about loaded firearms, brass knuckles, stun guns, switchblades, blades disguised as phones, buckles, lipsticks, etc., doesn't mean that people aren't trying to bring them aboard.

There's a really easy way to stop that from happening--don't let people that bring deadly stuff to the airport on their plane. They'll learn really fast, and the rest of us won't have to be treated like terrorists. Most of the people bringing stuff they shouldn't be are not terrorists, btw. Making old people take their shoes off is not making us safer either.
posted by amberglow at 4:11 PM on August 28, 2004

My father can't go through a metal detector or be checked with the wand, due to his defibrillator/pacemaker. Dad is polite, accommodating, and understanding of the pressures and aggravations that people who serve the public can have, but woe to the first airport security personnel who decides to give him a hard time about his physical inability to go through the magnetic screening.
posted by oflinkey at 4:30 PM on August 28, 2004

I just want to hear Bea say "Step the fuck off or I'll cut you!".
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:55 PM on August 28, 2004

The rules might be silly, but she's lucky they let her on the plane.
posted by bingo at 5:41 PM on August 28, 2004

I certainly hope that everybody who advocates the racial profiling method of security realizes that as soon as that becomes policy, the terrorists will just find some desperate addict and her adorable little six-year-old girl in blonde pigtails to carry the guns on for them. And then everybody will be all "oh, we never imagined that they'd would use a little girl to hijack a plane" just like nobody ever imagined that they'd use box cutters.

Besides, it probably won't be planes next time anyway. There's all kinds of ways they can strike. I mean how hard would it be to send 5 or 10 guys to various cities throughout middle America for a coordinated mission to hijack a bunch of school busses and kill on all the kids in some gruesome way. As soon as Jane Soccermom realizes that her family isn't safe in Boise, she's going to freak right the fuck out.

Be vigilant sure, but let's all stop pretending that these security efforts make us safer. America is easy to hit. We're never going to be 100 percent safe, so stop inconveniencing everybody, stop trying to scare everybody and let us all get comfortable with the fact that we're vulnerable, somebody's going to do something evil sooner or later, but there's no point obsessing over it since chances are it won't be us that gets hurt.
posted by willnot at 5:51 PM on August 28, 2004

We should have started profiling white males of a certain age after Oklahoma hum?
posted by edgeways at 6:10 PM on August 28, 2004

There's a fairly simple reason for random searching, as opposed to profile-based searching - it can't easily be gamed. If the security staff at the airport have a profile that determines who they search, then the way to get something through the security check is to send lots of different people through, and look at who never gets searched.

Then you can happily send those "safe" people through, and assuming that whatever they're carrying would get through the screening that everyone receives (X-rays, metal detectors, etc. - and if they wouldn't, what extra security does the searching provide?), they won't get picked up. Random searching avoids this problem - you can't know that any particular traveller won't get stopped.

The question of whether there should be any searching is a different matter, but if searching is required, then profiling would be the worst thing to do from a security perspective.
posted by wilberforce at 6:13 PM on August 28, 2004

This is what I was thinking of.
posted by wilberforce at 6:34 PM on August 28, 2004

I decided years ago that post-911 airport security procedures are really about instilling in the public the perception that steps have been taken to ensure their safety.

I've been hassled about a fucking alan wrench in my carry-on. Who knew they would be on the no-no list?

A few weeks later my mother flew out of the same airport and boarded her plane with a box cutter in her jacket pocket. She had been boxing up old books a few weeks earlier and simply forgot she had left it in her pocket...
posted by crank at 7:06 PM on August 28, 2004

Random checks are more secure in the long run, as soon as you know that there's a 95% chance of being searched because your name is Mohammed and your skin is brown you provide people with a way of gaming the system.

So in the short term maybe you're somewhat more efficient in preventing terrorist attacks. In the long term you give terrorists the opportunity to find somebody who doesn't fit your profile to do their work. Maybe they recruit from prisons, maybe they recruit from people of mixed heritage, maybe they find a white kid who sympathises. Maybe they rely on the fact that not all arabs are dark skinned (hint, look up the words Iranian and aryan on google. I've worked with some Iranians who are whiter than I am though they are far from terrorists)

Maybe a white supremicist decides that nothing will turn the country against non-whites faster than another terrorist attack. Maybe a Christian fundamentalist decides that further friction between us and an every widening them justifies a little falsely attributed terrorism. After all the raptures not going to happen without some help.

If you rely on profiling you're just enabling a means for terrorists to calculate the best way to carry out the next terrorist attack. When the scenario is reconstructed it'll turn out that the person didn't even appear on the radar.
posted by substrate at 7:23 PM on August 28, 2004

posted by solistrato at 7:25 PM on August 28, 2004

Also, sort of echoing what wilberforce said, the screening we go through is all about the illusion of security anyway. Almost 100% of passengers are honest people using an aircraft as a means of transporation. If people have a sharp object on them, so what? It just means that on average if somebody did try to hijaak the aircraft as opposed to blowing it up from the luggage compartment or from the ground they would face a lot of opposition.

Aircrafts are hazardous places anyway. Break your tray table and you've got a couple of sharp aluminum stakes. They're not perfect but they're better than nothing. Piping hot coffee can be more than a beverage. Your laptop can be used both defensively and offensively (while voiding the warranty)
posted by substrate at 7:29 PM on August 28, 2004

Somewhere, John Currin is having an orgasm.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:35 PM on August 28, 2004

Won't someone think of the old men and their velcro shoes? For chrissakes.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 9:47 PM on August 28, 2004

our nation really needs to focus on young males of Middle Eastern descent

You mean like John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla, or Richard Reid?
posted by jonp72 at 10:43 PM on August 28, 2004

Funny story for sure... but she's lucky she didn't get her ass chucked in jail. I'm sure it would have been the case had a younger, less famous person done the same thing.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:21 PM on August 28, 2004

she's lucky she didn't get her ass chucked in jail

No worries. This time, she would have thought to give Sophia the extra Burt Reynolds ticket.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:58 PM on August 28, 2004


The thing is, the planes that hit the WTC were not hijacked with only box cutters, but ceramic knives.

I could get a ceramic knife on a plane just by sliding it into the center of my bra, in the front. This is why the metal detectors did not find the knives, and why the methods now change nothing.

I've seen airport security in both New York and Connecticut search my bag and I can tell you, they missed no less than 20 places I could have hidden something. After 20, I stopped counting. Pathetic.

Oh, and Bea Arthur is lucky they didn't throw her in the pokey. I would have.

The only thing that will help, really, is the searching thoroughly of all carry-on bags and strip searches for everyone.

Why don't they do that? Because that would cause a decline in business for the airlines and then they would claim bankruptcy (riiiight) and then the government would have to pay for it and that would screw the economy even worse and nobody wants to foot that bill.
posted by erratic frog at 12:10 AM on August 29, 2004

What would have prevented 9/11? Stronger security? No -- they'd have scrapped the box-cutters and used exclusively ceramic knives/composite guns/straight plastic explosive.

Issuing everyone on the plane an 8" steak knife would have stopped 9/11. This is why airport security doesn't do much for my peace of mind. The overwhelming majority of passengers on any flight will be law-abiding citzens; sure, someone could try to fill a whole flight with confederates, but what are the chances that many terrorists can get together in one place without someone's ID setting off red flags?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:21 AM on August 29, 2004

Meathead "What are you gonna do about airplane hijackers?"
Archie "First, youse arm all your passengers"
posted by bashos_frog at 1:08 AM on August 29, 2004

I think before they let people bring box cutters onboard an airplane they should make cockpit doors out of something stronger than cardboard.
posted by srboisvert at 3:33 AM on August 29, 2004

Simple solution: everyone flies naked.

Now there's an opportunity.

All-Nude Airlines - we love to fly, and it shows.
posted by bwg at 5:28 AM on August 29, 2004

Issuing everyone on the plane an 8" steak knife would have stopped 9/11.

I doubt it.

One of the many defining things about 9/11 was that it changed the script. Up until then, if your plane was hijacked, the odds were that if you stayed calm, kept in your seat, and didn't give anyone any lip, you'd live. (Unless you were Robert Dean Stethem or Leon Klinghoffer.) Almost all hijackers ended up either releasing their captives, or being killed with a minimum of civilian deaths.

Enter suicide terrorism via airliner, though, and the whole script changes. Note that the first three planes' passengers apparently didn't fight back (or if they did, they weren't successful.) If you didn't know what was going on, only that your plane had been hijacked, there was no reason to fight back. United 93 was different, because passengers had learned that other planes had been hijacked and used in suicide attacks. So there was nothing left to lose.

Any future attempts at hijacking will undoubtedly be met with overwhelming passenger attack. So the next terror attack won't happen this way...a dirty bomb in a shipping container, a truck bomb in a crowded intersection, sarin gas in a Midwest shopping mall. They're going to try to keep us off-balance, and they won't do that by repeating the same tactics.

(and bwg: that's just great.)
posted by Vidiot at 5:57 AM on August 29, 2004

Issuing everyone on the plane an 8" steak knife would have stopped 9/11.

No, no, no. Everyone seems to have forgotten what a hijack used to be like. You remember, they'd be some airplane on a runway and every now and then they'd kill someone and throw them out of the door until they got what they wanted. Then later they'd make a film about it starring Chuck Norris. The people on those planes on 9/11 would have been scared but would have expected the same treatment. In other words, their odds of survival were pretty good so long as they kept their heads down and didn't attract attention.

I bet if you tried to hijack a plane with only a few people now you wouldn't last five minutes. Knives or no knives, guns or no guns it's pretty tough to control a whole plane load of people terrified for their lives.

You can be pretty sure that this method or terrorism won't be used again for a long time.

Having said that I was amazed when I heard how American internal flights are run, letting people carry through anything short of a hand grenade. It's a good thing that things have improved. In the UK we're fairly used to terrorism and we're a bit more careful - despite this a bomb was sneaked onto a flight in London and exploded over Lockerbie.

The lesson is that sensible security is a good thing but there are limits to what people will tolerate and getting hysterical doesn't help. The idea of throwing someone in jail for saying the word terrorist as if it's some kind of voodoo curse is the height of hysteria. People need to get a grip and just accept that some terrorism will always be able to sneak through the net but that statistically the chances of being killed by a terrorist are incredibly remote.
posted by dodgygeezer at 5:57 AM on August 29, 2004

Um, it looks like me and Vidiot agree on the changing nature of hijacking - except for the Chuck Norris bit.
posted by dodgygeezer at 6:02 AM on August 29, 2004

Especially on the Chuck Norris bit.
posted by Vidiot at 6:22 AM on August 29, 2004

posted by matteo at 8:05 AM on August 29, 2004

Thanks very much for your insightful contribution to the discussion, matteo!
posted by Vidiot at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2004

yeah, you know, all due respect, but I'm pretty sick at this point of "airport security sucks ass"-related threads. yes, it does suck ass. it does. whenever I see security personnel bothering elderly people my blood boils too. tough shit, tho.
the Miami International Airport TSA just broke into my checked luggage leaving a nice "notice of baggage inspection" where they remind me of a new phenomenon, ie you can't lock your checked luggage anymore, and of course the TSA is not liable (every frequent flier knows that it's usually best not to let your luggage open if it contains remotely valuable items, but still).
again, tough shit. the only solution is not to fly (especially in the US) unless it's absolutely necessary for work of personal emergencies. that's what I do, and it works. at this point I only come to the US for business. it's too much of a drag otherwise

US airport security went from being shockingly bad to being shockingly bad plus very painful and annoying and time-consuming. I sincerely don't know what they'll do next time, after somebody successfully hijacks an American jet, short of X-raying every passenger and giving all passengers anal probes.
I'm a frequent flier, and at this point Secretary Ridge has my photo, my fingerprints, and i am eagerly waiting for the soon-to-come retinal scan and seminal fluid sample collection.
they mustn't be that far away, I suppose.

Ms. Arthur is not OK with airport security? Tough shit. as others pointed out, at least she's a celebrity, nobody'll put her in the slammer. Allah knows a not-famous black woman would have been given a lot of shit by the security people if she had acted like Arthur. even in "Taxachusetts".
Arthur should take her pocket knife on a nice Town Car, and have a nice Hispanic gentleman drive her to the Cape.
yelling about terrorists in an airport in 2004 is dumb, dumb, dumb. even if you're an elderly, washed-up 1970's TV celebrity.

oh, and Logan sucks ass, too
posted by matteo at 11:42 AM on August 29, 2004

"If throwing tantrums and demonizing the low wage earning security people is how you want to deal with the situation, I don't think your flying experience is going to improve any time soon."

No, but it is what passes for clever protest these days. In fact, just about anything that involves inciting a situation that can be used in a sound bite or propaganda poster counts as protest.

Because at the moment anything that involves making "the man" look bad somehow counts as being "anti-bush" and you get a free pass.

So what we really have here is a cantankerous old lady who tried to get a weapon on an airplane. Somehow that's supposed to point out the absurdity of something - but how it makes anything but that washed up hack actress look that way confuses me.

Let's assume for a minute they let her on once she started yelling. There would then have been a post about how money/celebrity or privilege gets special treatment. And if they had missed the knife it would have been an article on how ineffectual it is.

Win win for the insane opposition. You think Kerry is a good guy? Great, vote him in and I might join you. But somehow smuggling weapons onto an airplane and then screaming in denial of the very real threat of terrorist hijackings isn't winning you any IQ points.
posted by soulhuntre at 7:04 PM on August 29, 2004

soulhuntre, if it weren't for the fact that airport security still misses stuff all the time (that's just one small example), you might have a point. These extra security precautions haven't made a difference, and inconvenience all of us, to no end.

...even if you're an elderly, washed-up 1970's TV celebrity.
Hey, she's a 70's and a 90's TV celebrity! ; >
posted by amberglow at 7:20 PM on August 29, 2004

My wife talks about this every time we pass through security. On our last trip through Dulles, I came up with the name of the low-cost option: jBird.
posted by Dick Paris at 12:27 AM on August 30, 2004

"These extra security precautions haven't made a difference, and inconvenience all of us, to no end."

So just to be clear, you think things will be safer if we let people on airplanes with knives?

Just curious.
posted by soulhuntre at 9:02 AM on August 30, 2004

why should this particular aged prostitute be exempt?

posted by t r a c y at 9:19 AM on August 30, 2004

waiting for the soon-to-come ... seminal fluid sample collection.

This might make air-travel fun again! [fap, fap, fap]
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 AM on August 30, 2004

bashos_frog is that a real all in the family quote?
posted by Mitheral at 12:31 PM on August 30, 2004

Why do you find this funny. Assuming the woman still has her wits, I think it's disgraceful.

And so, because security screening isn't 100% it should be 0%?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:37 PM on August 30, 2004

at least she's a celebrity, nobody'll put her in the slammer.
A 76-year-old chef from Hong Kong was arrested at O'Hare International Airport on Tuesday after airline workers found cooking tools in his luggage.
Recently, a similar incident happened last week, can't find link. Recall; Latin or Hispanic male, foreigner, chef and chef knives in luggage which were a gift. The point here, though the incident was seen as an accident by security as he was a foreigner and did not understand the rules, full prosecution is being sought so he will be an example for all.

You could use Barry Switzer as an example of a “celebrity” that was prosecuted because he was famous.

Living in the area, recall it being reported in the news. The DFW International Airport had over 200 similar incidents with Barry being one of the few or only one arrested. This was before 9/11 and the Cowboys were having their share of bad news, yet a majority of airport workers would have recognized him.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:48 PM on August 30, 2004

Iirc, After a week being detained, The Hong Kong chef was allowed to travel home, minus his knives.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:54 PM on August 30, 2004

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