Patrick Smith is an airline pilot who writes a column over the Salon.com about, well ...being an airline pilot.
He has created an “American Hysteria Hall of Shame” detailing some of the things the Transportation Security Administration has done to him and others. I recommend the column..
This week, it was about cupcakes and toy lightsabers. No, really, cupcakes. A Boston woman’s cupcakes were seized, because the frosting was a ‘gel-like’ substance and might be “weaponized”. (Weaponize is my word, but it describes what happens when the TSA thinks your cupcakes constitute a security threat.) The cupcakes were judged to be a ‘security risk’ because of the aforementioned frosting is a ‘gel-like’ substance. They didn’t even offer the chance to stuff the cupcakes into a regulation size plastic bottle or a regulation size plastic bag. They just seized the cupcakes.
The manifest stupidity of sizing cupcakes because one might be able to weaponize them is overwhelming.
Maybe, the person doing the seizing was hungry and his supervisor wouldn’t let him go on break or lunch. That doesn’t excuse it, of course, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Next time I try to make it through TSA checkpoints with cupcakes, I am bringing enough for ‘everybody.’ It seems unfair to the rest of the screening personnel not to get a cupcake because I didn’t bring enough for the entire ‘class.’ Having fed everyone at the checkpoint, maybe they will let me take the rest of my cupcakes to the birthday party at my destination.
In the same article, Mr. Smith discusses the ability to weaponize a toy lightsaber. Essentially, a flashlight with a protruding piece of plastic that lights up.
Okay, so I thought the cupcake thing was bizarre. But, a flashlight? They didn’t seize it because the batteries were dangerous. They seized it because it might be weaponized.
Yes, the world’s first child terrorist could cause a security risk with an imaginary weapon. So, the TSA had to ‘save’ everyone from imaginary weapons.
But, WAIT! Surely the lunacy stops here, right? Sorry, it has just begun. Airport Secuity, here and abroad, has also confiscated the following in the name of airline security:
- A purse with an image of a pistol sewed into it. Not an actual weapon, just an image of a pistol.
- A 4” 'GI Joe plastic ‘rifle’ (Maybe they are afraid, if water is added, it will grow into a full size, functional weapon? This happened in Europe, where, apparently, GI Joe action figures come to life and hijack aircraft.)
I am sure there are other things equally ridiculous the TSA has confiscated at security check points. Although I doubt any of them tasted as good as this lady’s cupcakes.
Mr. Smith has written extensively about how a TSA agent confiscated a plastic butter knife while he was trying to pass through security. I thought that was bad enough… But, lately, airline security personal have branched out and are seizing forks from on-duty cockpit crew. Even though the seized utensil was almost identical to the flatware the airline hands out with every meal in business or first class.
But, joy or all joys, the screeners, (this time in Mexico City), did allow him to carry on a serrated plastic picnic knife. Despite it’s serrations.
The concept of screening cockpit crews before allowing them to board is beyond ridiculous. These people are flying the aircraft. They could just fly it into a mountain or any one of the other infinite possibilities available for the pilot to wreck havoc.
Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget that tarmac workers have complete access to all aircraft on the ground. And are never screened when they come to work. This point has been brought home by the recent discovery that baggage handlers, etc were using the cargo compartments of aircraft coming from South America to smuggle drugs.
Apparently, tarmac personnel in the Philippines aren’t watched very closely, either. And they have taken this opportunity to do a little business with drug traffickers, too.
So much for airline security.
The paradigm for ‘air piracy’ has changed dramatically since 9/11. The cockpits are no longer accessible unless you have a key or a pneumatic chisel; so getting to the actual pilots is very problematic.
And people are tired of getting hijacked for whatever political/religious cause the hijackers hold. It is fair to say, if someone someone even tried to do anything the rest of the passengers didn’t like, they would be beat senseless and duct taped to a jump seat. Meanwhile a couple of F15 Eagles or F16 Fighting Falcons would join the flight as it was diverted to the nearest airport.
So don’t try to fly with your cupcakes, your kid’s toy lightsaber or a snow globe…
Have you any bizarre or upsetting experiences with the TSA? Had anything confiscated?
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Copyright January 2012 MSM