Gorillas of the TSA

I just returned from a weeklong trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. In company was my wife, her parents, and my parents (yes, we all get along swimmingly). It was a great trip, all in all, not marred by one single unfortunate event.

But it was tarnished, nonetheless—purposefully and willfully—by a group of loathsome people with the effrontery to call themselves “public servants.”

The first incident came right at the start, leaving from San Francisco (SFO). I don’t travel a lot, per se, but I’ve made two business trips to Chicago and one to DC over the past few months. I try to block it out—the absurdity of it all—and typically I get through “only” moderately inconvenienced. I’ve never taken off my shoes, have never been compelled to do so, and have never set off the Citizen Inspection Device.

So, as I’m disassembling myself (belt buckle, watch, wallet, pocket change, laptop computer, etc.), a TSA goon walks up and asks about taking off my shoes (classic Converse All-Stars with 1/4” soles, at most). I ask if it’s mandatory. He says no, “not if you have lots of time.” Since I knew I wasn’t going to set anything off, I proceeded through the Citizen Inspection Device, and as typical, didn’t set it off. Notwithstanding, I am immediately pulled aside. My high-end laptop, leather Hartmann carry-on, and other valuables—including a very expensive watch—are just sitting there unattended, having come through the Property Inspection Device. I ask, “Is anyone going to attend to my valuables?” “Yes,” he replies, and then just looks away. Another half minute passes and other people’s stuff is stacking up against mine. Finally, I discreetly motion my wife, she gets the clue, and comes and collects my stuff.

I wait another three minutes, there, Temporarily Detained in Federal Custody, and in all that time, not once did any “Authority” look to make sure my property was secure from theft or damage. Finally, a Comrade Interrogator arrives with the express purpose of assaulting me, in person and in dignity, for the crime of Non-Immediate and Non-Cheerful Submission to the faintest suggestion or admonition of “The Authority.” This is where I get to endure the spread-‘em pat down in front of my family and the whole world.

Then there was the trip back. This time, like a Good German, I took off my shoes. But my dad, age 67, failed to heed the sign about putting his video-camera into a separate bin and was taken into Temporary Federal Custody for Search and Interrogation. My father-in-law, age 74, was taken into Temporary Federal Custody for the Crime of having a film canister and pack of gum (foil wrappers) in his pocket.

You know what? Fuck the TSA. Fuck George W. Bush for spearheading it. Fuck Norman “the moron” Mineta. And Fuck every last one of his goons, including even the TSA bitches currently out on maternity leave. Every last one of them can be God damned, and then they can Kiss My Ass. I’m serious.

There’s not one scintilla of a microgram of redeeming value in the TSA. Not one bit. Not for any rational purpose under the sun. Its sole reason for being is intimidation, and in so doing, the Gorillas make all the chimpanzees feel nice and “safe.”

Update: See TSA – Part 2

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  1. Billy Beck on February 27, 2005 at 07:45

    "You seem like the type that would be the first to complain the the government didn't do enough to prevent a terroristic event aboard an aircraft."

    You don't have a reason on earth to say something like that about Rich. You just made that up.

  2. Mary in the Midwest on February 27, 2005 at 13:27

    Just be thankful you don't wear an underwire bra!

    Seriously, I understand your frustration, but I also recognize the need for security. Fortunately, I enjoy driving, and I have a reliable car, so I've managed to avoid airport hassles for more than three years. But then, I won't be getting to Hawaii that way, either, will I?

  3. zeb palmer on February 26, 2005 at 22:55

    You seem like the type that would be the first to complain the the government didn't do enough to prevent a terroristic event aboard an aircraft.

    we can't have our cake and eat it too.

    I feel sorry for them [TSA]. those folks have to put up with idiots all day. they have to treat everone as if they are innocent and think of them as guilty.

    give em a break and cooperate. as a Government employee I'm on the "automaticly pulled aside and searched list" have been for a long time. and carrying Government electronics that most TSA folks have never seen can make for some interesting times.

    have a snickers and chill.

  4. Richard Nikoley on February 26, 2005 at 23:01

    "You seem like the type that would be the first to complain the the government didn't do enough to prevent a terroristic event aboard an aircraft."

    If it "seems" like that to you, then you don't have the requisite perception to count in such a discussion.

    If you're not offended at being _routinely_ treated as a criminal suspect when you've done nothing in the world to hurt a soul, then you're lost, and I can't sympathize with you in the slightest.

  5. debate08 on February 27, 2005 at 12:43

    Wow, I was reading your post with interest and couldn't help but think that you're a well-reasoned, educated, level-headed individual … then, of course, I read the last two paragraphs of your post.

    Get help.

  6. Kathy on February 27, 2005 at 13:07

    My son served in Iraq for a year and each time he went through TSA inspection in full military uniform with his buddies he had to remove his steel toed shoes. No exceptions are made for the military who are fighting against terrorism which got us in this mess in the first place, so I wonder why as a civilian on vacation are you complaining?

  7. billy-jay on February 27, 2005 at 19:22

    Richard, I would add zeb and debate08 to your next-to-last paragraph.

  8. Richard Nikoley on February 27, 2005 at 13:32

    debate08 writes:

    "Get help."

    And just what sort of "help" would you suggest? I accept the principle of _peaceful_ dissention so long as other options are available to us, such as the freedom to speak out. So; not only are we to constrain our arms, but our minds as well?

    I hate the TSA; and I hate every person who works for such an organization that assaults the rights and dignity of ordinary, peaceful people by the tens of thousands every day, as a matter of design and routine. There is nothing redeemable in that organization, and those who work for it can only gain redemption by going and doing something good with their lives instead.

    Kathy writes:

    "No exceptions are made for the military […] so I wonder why as a civilian on vacation are you complaining?"

    Well, Kathy, what I said goes equally well for your son, whom I salute (I served in the Persian Gulf during the runnup to the '91 war, as a Navy officer).

    The truth is that _every_ human being who has given no rational cause to be suspect in any way should be treated special. That's what _humans_ do to other _humans_. Unfortunately, we have too many animals walking on two legs and masquerading as humans. Far more of those faux "humans" work for the TSA than those with designs of hijacking a commercial jet.

  9. Richard Nikoley on February 27, 2005 at 13:39

    Mary in the Midwest writes:

    "I understand your frustration, but I also recognize the need for security. Fortunately, I enjoy driving, and I have a reliable car, so I've managed to avoid airport hassles for more than three years."

    I truly appreciate your understanding, but do you see what's wrong with your logic, here? Certainly we need security, but it's how that task is approached that's important. In this case, it's been approached in such a way that you don't fly over fear of terrorists, but of the "security" that's been set up to impede them.

    You should be outraged, as I am.

  10. whinston on February 28, 2005 at 20:52

    I am on your team pal. What the rest of these people don't understand is that there is a way to conduct this interigation in an humane way. It is not the method that's unsound but the individuals who somehow are placed in these positions. It is not unlike the cop wannabe security gaurd personna. I also wonder what it will take for your non sypathizer, get help commenters to become truly offended! You have not seen even the beginnings of what you poor fools are to endure if you don't speak out while you still can! Think about it!

  11. Lexicography.com on February 28, 2005 at 18:50

    Grab bag

    Mark Steyn feels not only is Europe doomed but it is also dangerous:

    But either way the notion that it’s a superpower in the making is preposterous. Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but…

  12. palinode on March 1, 2005 at 21:24

    Richard, if you were like me – a Canadian travelling frequently into and out of the States with cases of arcane-looking film and video equipment – you'd never get stopped. I am constantly puzzled by the fact that airport security in your country doesn't pay more attention to me. I get searched and waylaid in Canada, but never in the US. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

  13. Patrick Henry on July 14, 2005 at 05:56

    I had the exact same thing done to me last week flying out of Reagan. Didn't take my shoes off and the guy said "Sir, your shoes are going to require additional screening." So I took them off huffingly and put them on the x-ray.

    He still pulled me aside to the federal lockup area. I said "Is that the law now? All shoes have to be x-rayed?" He said, "No, that's not what I said. I said additional screening. That means either x-ray or wanded."

    I said, "Well, what makes my shoes different than hers (pointing to some lady walking through the metal detector with her shoes still on). And he said, "We can't tell you that."

    What a joke.

    Needless to say, they put me through the ringer for my obstinance. And I just got even more obnoxious (I had PLENTY of time before my flight).

    They even went as far as telling me they were going to have to x-ray my wallet! I laughed at the guy and told him to knock himself out. He said "Follow me" while he took my wallet to the xray machine. So I did. When we got to the end of the table, I just kept following him (intentionally) behind it and into the "TSA ONLY" area. When he realized I was behind him in the forbidden area he got irate! He shouted "SIR, YOU NEED TO GET TO THE END OF THE TABLE!" and I shouted back "YOU SAID TO FOLLOW YOU! YOU NEED TO BE MORE SPECIFIC NEXT TIME!" His face got beet red.

    I recommend that everyone who is going to fly get to the airport 2 hours early and not take your shoes off during the screening process so you can experience this process for yourselves. This is an example of how your government eviscerates your freedoms and civil liberties. When the Nazis hauled all of those Jews into the gas chambers the vast majority of those people went in willingly and were murdered because they thought they were just going to "the showers". I refuse to subject myself to the whims of tyrants, especially when my freedoms are at stake.

    Go through the TSA screening and be as uncooperative as you are legally permitted to be. Do not remove your shoes. There is no law requiring it. Do not take off your belt or your watch or your rings. Do not take your wallet out and put it on the xray belt for someone else to steal while you are being harassed.

    Make the pricks do their job. Make them subject us all to some "additional screening". Make them earn that paltry government paycheck and show them just how assinine their procedures are.

    If everyone would do these things we might be able to regain our freedom, dignity, and get our country back from the jackals.

  14. kevin on September 17, 2006 at 10:50

    Patrick Henry, I had an virtually identical experience at Portland Oregon's PDX. Idiot even called his "supervisor" to complain that I "talked back" to him. She shows up and asks if she can "help me." I told her I didn't ask for her help and didn't need it. But I agree. Get there early and make them work for it. Argue and complain and bitch. Otherwise accept that you are a sheep and when they are boarding you on a train to the ovens ask for a good seat.

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