Category Archives: TSA

My thoughts on The Vibrator Incident

The internet (or at least my small corner of it) is buzzing (and tweeting, and probably plussing) today about a “personal” note left by a TSA screener who found a woman’s vibrator during a standard luggage screening and handwrote a note on the official screening slip. If you haven’t heard about it yet, I think the BoingBoing article covers it pretty well.

This brought several thoughts to my mind:

  1. “Violation of privacy”? No more so than any other baggage screenings, which have been going on for far longer than the PATRIOT ACT has been around. It’s just one of those things you implicitly consent to when you fly. If there’s something you don’t want seen, don’t fly with it.
  2. “Wildly inappropriate”? Let’s just go with “horribly unprofessional”.
  3. I really think the note was rather positive, or at least intended in a positive manner, as misguided as the impulse to leave any sort of personal note was.
  4. I think it’s shameful that in modern society we still treat sex toys, or any acknowledgement of their existence, as taboo. This should not have been note-leaving-worthy, nor should the note be generating as much shock and rage as it is.
  5. While I acknowledge the leaving of a personal note is horribly unprofessional, I also think it’s sad that we really detest personal contact. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we didn’t think it was “creepy”, but rather thought it was nice that somebody made some effort to be human and personable? TSA employees have certainly committed far worse offenses, such as theft.
  6. She’s “retiring” it because she’s uncertain if they handled it… Would she retire it if there was just the official form and not the note? If not, why not? The same level of uncertainty would be there. Perhaps they should leave additional documentation certifying that nothing has been handled without gloves on. Also, can’t the toy be sterilized? Or is this more about the emotional baggage?
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Loaded gun in airport, TSA says it’s OK

A man who carried a loaded gun past the security checkpoint went back and informed security of the incident. He got misdemeanor charges for his honesty (who says that’s the best policy???), and the TSA says, “We know this is not a systemic problem”. I’m not sure how they can say that based simply on an absence of people turning themselves in to face criminal charges, and I’m not sure why anybody would believe them. Just remember the next time they take your fingernail clippers what a good job they are doing of protecting us all.

I feel secure, don’t you?

When the airports aren’t stealing knitting needles from old ladies or confiscating slightly-too-large containers of liquid (unless clearly labeled as saline solution, even if they aren’t filled with saline solution any longer), they’re letting butcher knives go through inside purses, or allowing “someone who was confused” to completely bypass security.

Now I have to question any airport whose security can be evaded by a confused man, because that pretty much means any terrorist actively trying to avoid security is going to have no problems at all. I’m also wondering what the point is in re-scanning passengers after those planes land. I mean, the purpose of airport security is to keep somebody from hijacking or blowing up a plane. Once they have arrived safely at their destination, all you’re doing is pointlessly hassling them for the purpose of looking slightly less incompetent for having let somebody bypass security back when it mattered.

I wish this had happened back before Bruce Schneier interviewed Kip Hawley… I’d like some answers for this!