2.19.2010

can you blame them? four-year-olds often hide bombs in their leg braces

Do you need any more proof that "security theatre" - the appearance of increased security measures, which do nothing to make us safer - is out of control? That airport security and border control are merely opportunities for power-mad brownshirts to have fun at our expense?
Philadelphia TSA screeners forced the developmentally delayed, four-year-old son of a Camden, PA police officer to remove his leg-braces and wobble through a checkpoint, despite the fact that their procedure calls for such a case to be handled through a swabbing in a private room. When the police officer complained, the supervising TSA screener turned around and walked away. Then a Philadelphia police officer asked what was wrong and "suggested he calm down and enjoy his vacation."

Ryan was taking his first flight, to Walt Disney World, for his fourth birthday.

The boy is developmentally delayed, one of the effects of being born 16 weeks prematurely. His ankles are malformed and his legs have low muscle tone. In March he was just starting to walk...

The screener told them to take off the boy's braces.

The Thomases were dumbfounded. "I told them he can't walk without them on his own," Bob Thomas said.

"He said, 'He'll need to take them off.' "

Ryan's mother offered to walk him through the detector after they removed the braces, which are custom-made of metal and hardened plastic.

No, the screener replied. The boy had to walk on his own.

According to MSNBC, the TSA apologized. BFD.

Many thanks to James for sending.

7 comments:

johngoldfine said...

http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/10624

Interesting article by a Conde Nast writer working for two months as a TSA screener. Although she's sympathetic to the screeners, there's nothing in the article that unsticks the label 'security theater' from what we otherwise call so solemnly 'airport security.'

L-girl said...

Thanks, John. I'll take a look.

L-girl said...

Greenwald on the most meaningless and manipulated word: terrorism. Deserves more than a post in comments, but that's all I can do right now.

I haven't finished it yet, so I don't know if he mentions abortion clinic terrorism.

deang said...

Do other passengers who witness these things ever speak up? I always assume that they don't, whether out of fear or conformity. I wonder what would happen if an entire line of passengers and other people who happen to witness something like this all protested vociferously. I assume security would "call for backup" and would not hesitate to tase everybody, but maybe not. Maybe they'd back down. But I honestly can't imagine Americans these days doing anything like that.

L-girl said...

But I honestly can't imagine Americans these days doing anything like that.

It would be something to see - likely something we'll never see.

It is a very tough position to speak up from. Most people are cowed by the authority, and even those who aren't, don't want to be further delayed or prevented from flying.

It's even a situation in which I'd think twice before coming to someone's aid - and that's very unusual for me. I normally wouldn't hesitate. But I think I'd be afraid of not being allowed on the plane - and once you're at the airport, that would really suck.

Scott M. said...

I most certainly would have spoken up as a bystander... calmly but assuredly asking for the TSA supervisor to come over. I've done so for things like this in the past.

I recall when I was in a wheelchair at the airport and they asked me if I could walk through the metal detector. Seemed an odd thing to say, but in my case I could take a few tentative steps so it wasn't all that bad.

As soon as the person said he cannot do it, the TSA person should have backed off. Amazing, actually.

L-girl said...

That's great, Scott. I know most Americans wouldn't do it.

I recall when I was in a wheelchair at the airport and they asked me if I could walk through the metal detector. Seemed an odd thing to say,

The airport is probably the one place where it's not that odd a question - many people who are technically ambulatory but can't walk long distances will use a wheelchair for getting around large airports.

As soon as the person said he cannot do it, the TSA person should have backed off.

He shouldn't have been asked in public at all. If they really need to screen the boy's braces, go in a curtained off area and swab them. Don't humiliate the kid.