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TSA Groper Files Suit Against Blogger 699

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-what-you-say dept.
An anonymous reader writes "TSA employee Theldala Magee has filed a lawsuit against a blogger demanding $500k in damages for alleging a particularly invasive search involving multiple incursions of a finger into the passenger's vagina. The passenger, who likened the feeling to being raped, is being sued for defamation for supposedly sullying the otherwise good name of a checkpoint smurf."
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TSA Groper Files Suit Against Blogger

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  • No more bullshit welfare-to-work program for her.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:34PM (#37331404)
      If Theldala Magee didn't want to be known as a rapist, she shouldn't have raped that woman.
    • by DaMattster (977781) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @04:09PM (#37331986)
      Whoever modded the comment as a troll needs to relax and take the stick out of their arse The comment was meant to be funny and it was. In actuality, Theldala does not have a leg to stand on. She is a public employee and gives up certain protections against defamation. In any case, she would be hard pressed to demonstrate any actual damages. If the TSA were more than just blue suited security guards with two brain cells to rub together, they'd be screaming out against the x-ray body scanners. After all, they are the ones working at least 8 hours a day around radiation. Certainly that can't be healthy. Is protecting America worth dying a slow agonizing death from cancer for?
      • by SomePgmr (2021234)
        Well and, I'm not a lawyer, but her legal representation spelled it out nicely. If what the TSA employee did can't be called rape, what she said would still be a matter of free speech. The word "rape" can be used (as illustrated by cases they provide) as rhetorical hyperbole. As in, "The state just raped me on my vehicle registration." or "Paying $8 for a coffee is a raping."

        Either way, it sounds as though this won't happen. What I can't help but wonder is if the AFGE is footing the bill for the suit
  • by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:29PM (#37331342) Journal
    It's hard tho, when you can't decide if you want to work for the TSA or for McDonalds. On the one hand you get to alienate people by doing whatever you want to them in the name of security and in the other you get to spit on their burgers. What to do? What to do?
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Why not get fired from one, then go work for the other? Best of both worlds!

  • Cyber stalked too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tokul (682258) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:29PM (#37331346)
    If they knew what woman wrote in her blog, she was not only raped. She was stalked too.
  • Gee no bias here. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044)

    "supposedly sullying the otherwise good name of a checkpoint smurf.""
    Really? No wonder CmdTaco left.

    • The point is that TSA workers don't have "good names". They're unknowns, no one knows them by name. In other words, checkpoint smurfs.
    • "supposedly sullying the otherwise good name of a checkpoint smurf."".

      Really? You read that far? I suspected bias when I read "TSA groper". :P

      • Re:Gee no bias here. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @04:18PM (#37332130)

        In fairness, one could stop reading after the first word of the headline, "TSA" to know what the article & comments will contain.

        Red meat for the masses means more clicks, more pageviews, more ad impressions!

        I went to Ms. Alkon's wikipedia page to find out more about her; I'm forced to roll my eyes and conclude "she's got a chip on her shoulder from moment one of any interaction."

        From wikipedia:

        In her daily life, and in her blog, Alkon has a number of campaigns. In her article, "Hello, Psycho" (entitled after the opening salutation of one of her respondents), she describes her anti-SUV campaign, which consists of placing small cards on the windshields of SUVs. The cards (which are her own composition) refer to the driver as a "Road-Hogging, Gas-Guzzling, Air-Fouling Vulgarian" and pointedly suggest that the driver is compensating for "an extremely small penis" by driving "such a monstrosity."

        I do not doubt that this particular TSA agent may have overstepped boundaries in this particular case. But I'm also pretty sure, reading about this self-professed behavior on Ms. Alkon's part, that she's also a drama queen just looking for some new controversy to embroil herself in, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she was also deliberately provocative and confrontational, making the situation more tense than it needed to be, and blowing events out of proportion with histrionics.

        I know the white knights here who already despise the TSA will crucify me for saying it, but millions of people fly every fucking day. Yet this shit mostly seems to happen to self-important bloggers who have a history of engaging in nasty, vicious, spiteful little "campaigns," who are so broken up by the experience that they rush home and pound out 2000 words on their blog to generate some pageviews, extra bonus when they just happen to have a videocamera handy to record all the harrassment and abuse they're subjected to.

        • by anyGould (1295481)

          But I'm also pretty sure, reading about this self-professed behavior on Ms. Alkon's part, that she's also a drama queen just looking for some new controversy to embroil herself in, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she was also deliberately provocative and confrontational, making the situation more tense than it needed to be, and blowing events out of proportion with histrionics.

          Entirely possible, although I'd wonder under what circumstances those allegations become a proportional response to anything.

          Also worth noting that the TSA agent is supposed to be a trained professional. (Meaning I wonder why they're allowing themselves to *be* provoked).

          I know the white knights here who already despise the TSA will crucify me for saying it, but millions of people fly every fucking day. Yet this shit mostly seems to happen to self-important bloggers who have a history of engaging in nasty, vicious, spiteful little "campaigns," who are so broken up by the experience that they rush home and pound out 2000 words on their blog to generate some pageviews, extra bonus when they just happen to have a videocamera handy to record all the harrassment and abuse they're subjected to.

          Alternate theory - we don't hear about the folks who don't have blogs or cameras handy, because they don't have a voice or evidence.

          We're always willing to inflate other sexual assault statistics to account for "unreported crimes" - why not

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          that she's also a drama queen just looking for some new controversy to embroil herself in, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she was also deliberately provocative and confrontational, making the situation more tense than it needed to be

          I'm sorry, that's BS. Security agents are supposed to be trained professionals. It should not be even possible to provoke them. If they can be provoked by same lame passive-aggressive behavior, then they are in the wrong profession, and need to be fired. Why do we hav

  • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:35PM (#37331434)

    I dunno... giving the TSA goons a name like "smurf" certainly doesn't give a hint as to their sinister side... Of course one is a little, invasive, annoyingly-voiced bastard that won't just go away, and the other is a smurf.

    Perhaps we should call them "checkpoint trolls" or "checkpoint pervs"?

  • by mewsenews (251487) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:38PM (#37331470) Homepage
    Despite the Slashdot headline, from reading the article all I can tell is that nastygrams were sent by both parties and it hasn't entered the courts yet. I'd like to see a judge get involved, to be honest.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:58PM (#37331822)

      Ultimately, if it reaches court, it's not going to go well for the TSA employee. There's just been too much publicity of coercive practices for her to claim that there was any meaningful consent. Beyond that, just having to give up the fee you paid for the tickets and accommodations is sufficient to question how consensual it really is when you don't get any of that money back if you refuse to be sexually assaulted.

      I'm sure that the defendant will have little to no trouble finding witnesses to support the claim of sexual assault if not rape. And tons to attest to the coercion at the check points.

      What's worse, is that the TSA agents aren't law enforcement and lack the legal authority to conduct the searches in the first place.

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:38PM (#37331474)
    I'm going to be modded into hell for this, but oh well, my excellent karma can take it.

    Wow, so this is it? This is the point where Slashdot isn't afraid to show its radical bias in blatant bold-faced type on the front page?

    You pepper the TSA agent with derogatory remarks ("Checkpoint smurf", "Groper") based on allegations filed in a lawsuit? Do any of you ever look at a murder trial and immediately go "Oh, hey, look at that MURDERER on trial. They're on trial, so they must have killed someone." This crowd froths at the mouth when anyone in government is accused of doing something wrong, but they're the first to stand up and yell "innocent until proven guilty" when someone they can relate to is in the spotlight for something. You're all pathetic. Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt pathetic.

    Now I understand why CmdrTaco left. I'd abandon my life's work, too, if this is what it turned in to.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:45PM (#37331596)

      Probably because enough of us have been patted down by the TSA to know it's all-too-plausible.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Xaositecte (897197)

        Agreed. I personally haven't flown for vacation in several years(I'd rather drive or take the train, depending on availability), but trips for business are often unavoidable, and I imagine many /.'ers are in the same boat.

        It's likely many readers here are personally familiar with how likely this sort of situation is. Even a legitimate screening from a TSA worker who's just doing their job and doesn't even want to be groping you feels like sexual assault, and could probably be described that way without fe

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by LVSlushdat (854194)

          Just after 2001, I flew quite a bit for work, but the last time was in 2004, as the travel requirement on that job ended. After seeing/hearing all of the horror stories about TSA and their peversions, I absolutely refuse to fly anymore. To put it in context, I was out of work, I applied for a position which on the job description said nothing about any travel involved. During the interview it became clear that this position involved about 50% travel. I told the interviewer "thanks but no thanks". He in turn

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrgnDancer (137700)

        I've been patted down by the TSA. It was nothing like this. I'm not saying this woman is lying. Perhaps this particular agent was incompetent, anal retentive about being "sure", or really was a perv; I don't know. I do know that if the pat down is done right, it's annoying at worst. I'm not saying the situation is right in the first place, but I am saying that either the TSA employee was violating procedure or this woman is incredibly over sensitive. What she says happened should be impossible if the

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kat_skan (5219)

      Nah. If you kill somebody you get the benefit of the doubt. Because really who here hasn't taken the passenger seat out of their car full of blood and homicide books?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xacid (560407)

      Pretty much my immediate thoughts. The claims by the blogger are pretty severe for this agent to just let slide if it's true. And if it's not - well hopefully we'll find out in the court of law. I get that we all don't like the TSA but at the end of the day they're all humans too. Eye for an eye isn't justice in my book - especially when you're just firing wildly into crowds of potentially innocent people.

      TSA or not - why should this person allow someone to make such statements if they were blatantly false?

    • It might be because a lot of us travel and have experienced something similar from the TSA ourselves, but are too scared to do anything about it. When somebody finally does stand up for themselves, it's hard not to cheer for them and vent a little at the TSA's expense.

    • by wbav (223901)

      I'm going to be modded into hell for this, but oh well, my excellent karma can take it.

      Wow, so this is it? This is the point where Slashdot isn't afraid to show its radical bias in blatant bold-faced type on the front page?

      You pepper the TSA agent with derogatory remarks ("Checkpoint smurf", "Groper") based on allegations filed in a lawsuit? Do any of you ever look at a murder trial and immediately go "Oh, hey, look at that MURDERER on trial. They're on trial, so they must have killed someone." This crowd froths at the mouth when anyone in government is accused of doing something wrong, but they're the first to stand up and yell "innocent until proven guilty" when someone they can relate to is in the spotlight for something. You're all pathetic. Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt pathetic.

      Now I understand why CmdrTaco left. I'd abandon my life's work, too, if this is what it turned in to.

      The issue is as I see it, the agent doesn't deny what happened, they are suing because the rapist label was applied.

      Maybe I read it wrong, but based on the accusation, that label appears to be fitting.

      • by mtmra70 (964928)

        At least they weren't labeled a file sharer...then they would be facing serious jail time ;)

    • I agree. I would understand those remarks if they were in an over-the-top parody, but they are really out of place here.

      Also, don't worry about your karma. It's proven that saying you'll be modded down actually causes people to mod you up.

    • by tgd (2822)

      Do an article search with "Patent", "Microsoft", "Linux", or basically just scroll down the page.

      Every single article on Slashdot shows its radical bias. Its just most of the time the radical bias is the one the readers are here to see. Slashdot hasn't been a discussion forum for people with nerd tendencies since the whole VA Linux thing happened. Most of the readers on here weren't around back then, but the whole site went to shit when that happened. Ad revenue, driven by extremely biased coverage became t

  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:39PM (#37331498) Homepage Journal
    So suing the TSA over this is a "non-starter" and even writing about it gets you sued by the molesting thugs... Why do the people in the USA put up with something like this? I thought you were scared witless by terrorists, not authorities, but I guess I was wrong.
    • by Kenja (541830)
      Terrorist, authorities, what's the difference in the end? Both operate under the "do what we say or bad things will happen to you" rule book.
    • We ARE scared witless of terrorists. I'm personally morbidly terrified of them. I think the problem is that, if you're not in the USA, the confusion is because our media would have you believe we think they're hiding in a desert cave somewhere and not in Washington.
    • We have no choice, it's forced on us by neocons and liberals alike. There are very few of us who believe in individual liberty, an important part of which is freedom of travel within our own country and not allowing arbitrary warrantless searches, much less arbitrary warrantless cavity searches. Personally I vote for those who oppose violation of my rights, and I refuse to fly anymore, driving is just fine.

  • If an UFIA is rape, then an UFIV is rape as well. Plus, it's not like she only got UFIV'd once.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:40PM (#37331522) Homepage

    We're all in agreement that the TSA security measures are stupid, inefficient, unlikely to actually stop any actual threats, and invasive to our privacy. TSA policy resembles a large scale version of the Milgram experiments. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [wikipedia.org]/

    This doesn't mean that TSA employees are not people to. They have lives, they have names. They have friends and families. Sure, TSA employees are often incompetent and stupid. The TSA could try to hire retired police and retired MPs but they seem to out of their way not to. But, the low level employees are not deciding policy. They have the same rights as everyone else not be defamed and libeled if they didn't actually do something. So when one of them exercises their legal rights mocking and insulting them is uncalled for. They are just doing their jobs. In the current economy there aren't many jobs out there and the TSA employees want to get paid and not starve like everyone else. You might be smart and well-educated and have a steady job. Good for you. Now meet everyone else.

    And since someone is going to probably twist "they are just doing their jobs" into some ridiculous example of Godwin's Law, let's be clear: this is not the same thing as the Nuremberg defense. "I was just doing my job and following orders" has a very different meaning when one is being told to murder people than when someone is being told to do something to someone who knew what they were getting into and elected to go flying anyways.

    Instead of insulting and labeling individual TSA people, try to fix the actual issues, a general culture of fear and a succession of US Presidents who have minimal respect for the Constitution.

    Of course if the TSA person did do what the blogger claimed (which wouldn't be that surprising) then the TSA person should be fired and does deserve to have their name plastered everywhere. But let's not rush to judgment ok?

    • by Stargoat (658863) *

      Yes, it is necessary. The world decided some time ago that "I was only following orders" does not comprise a valid defense. Your attempt to derail by Godwinning this argument does not mean that the argument is not valid. People who support a corrupt government by doing bad things are bad because they did bad things, not because they supported a corrupt government. All TSA employees that have gate raped people should be charged with harassment and other crimes. They knew what they were doing was wrong a

    • by LanMan04 (790429) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:55PM (#37331756)

      "I was just doing my job and following orders" has a very different meaning when one is being told to murder people than when someone is being told to do something to someone who knew what they were getting into and elected to go flying anyways.

      Oh really? The woman who was groped knew a TSA agent would insert part of her hand into the woman's vagina multiple times? Somehow I doubt that.

      Also, to totally Godwin this discussion: Should Jews have publicly renounced/defamed their faith because they "knew what they were getting into" by continuing to be Jewish in the face of the Nazi takeover of Germany?

    • This doesn't mean that TSA employees are not people to. They have lives, they have names. They have friends and families

      Friends and families who ought to know what they do in their day job. Social blackballing is about the only effective method (short of summary execution) of deterring someone from doing something which is morally reprehensible but legal. If UK landlords can bar traffic wardens from drinking in their pubs, then people who feel they've been mis-treated by TSA agents can publicise who they are & what they did.

      If you would find it awkward for your friends & family to know what you actually do at work, y

  • "checkpoint smurf?" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chispito (1870390) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:41PM (#37331530)
    I hate the TSA, and body scanners, and taking my shoes off as much as the next guy. But if the blogger was lying, then that is some pretty serious defamation of character that took place.
    • by jfengel (409917)

      From reading TFA (yeah, I know), it's not so much that she was lying so much as that she used some very loaded language to describe it. The woman was fully dressed, but the full-on crotch prod caught her "between the labia", several times.

      It's hard to imagine that the finger got so far as to be "in the vagina", though clearly that's drawing some very fine distinctions. She certainly felt violated.

      I don't know precisely how TSA agents prod women, but I could see it getting into the camel toe. That would b

    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      The question isn't about whether she was lying. Nobody is contesting what the blogger has claimed to have happened. The question is about whether or not it's justifiable to call what happened "rape", and whether or not the right to call it that (even if it's hyperbole) is protected under the First Amendment.

  • While rape is probably too strong a word to use here from an objective standpoint, someone describing it that way in a blog is fully justified. This lawsuit is ridiculous, and will only accomplish a Streisand effect against Thedala Magee and the TSA as a whole.

    • by anyGould (1295481)

      While rape is probably too strong a word to use here from an objective standpoint

      Easy test - go up to the next woman you see, and try to do what's alleged.

      If it's assault on the street, it's assault in the checkpoint.

  • I understand that what this woman experienced was, if described accurately, very unpleasant and physically similar to a moderately traumatic and invasive sexual assault.

    Nevertheless, I wish people would stop demeaning the experiences of actual rape victims by throwing out the word for every possible unpleasant physical experience involving the groin or breasts. It only makes the kind of people who dismiss the seriousness of sexual assault in the first place that much more insulated from the gravity of rea
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:58PM (#37331814) Journal

      Sticking a finger inside a woman's vagina multiple times doesn't sound like simply an unpleasant search. It sounds like a sexual assault. If there was suspicion that she was carrying banned implements inside her vagina, then an appropriate cavity search should have been done.

      Is it rape? No, I wouldn't say. But I would say it was a sexual assault and if the TSA officer did it, she should be fired. Nowhere have I heard that sticking fingers inside vaginas is permitted under security search rules, have you?

      • by DeadboltX (751907) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:58PM (#37333542)
        If you read the blog post you would realize that there was no claim of sticking fingers inside vaginas.

        Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left. In my vagina. Between my labia. I was shocked -- utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there. It was government-sanctioned sexual assault.

        Right before that paragraph was this

        Basically, I felt it important to make a spectacle of what they are doing to us, to make it uncomfortable for them to violate us and our rights, so I let the tears come. In fact, I sobbed my guts out. Loudly. Very loudly. The entire time the woman was searching me.

        Sounds like a sensationalist blogger to me. I'm not saying she wasn't violated. But I don't give her much credibility for her over-dramatic scene

    • Well, if you RTFA, you'll see that their reply argued that the TSA agent was most certainly acting with intent (as a retaliation for opting-out of the full body scan). They argue that the TSA agent's finger penetrated the traveller four times. Their defense is that this does fit the legal definition of rape and truth is an absolute defense against libel.

      Additionally, they argue that even if it were not rape, the first amendment provides protection against hyperbole.

  • Is it any coincidence that the victim in this case happens to be a columnist and a blogger? I call BS on this, but she'll win no matter what because she'll get the ad revenue, book sales and speaking engagements.

  • We need a new level of meta responses to this sort of post. Around 2007 the last person online became a cynic and mastered sarcasm. We need a third declension of retort that is new and beautiful. I've gotten so tired of our homotextual replies.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:48PM (#37331638)

    By filing suit Theldala Magee made exactly the right move, for me to poop on.

    Theldala Magee meet Barbara Streisand.

  • All the Slashdot complainers who want to whine about people's "rights" being violated for REFUSING a body scan in 3...2...1....
    • by mikelieman (35628)

      Well, yeah. See the Government only gets to do things which demonstrably secure the aircraft from dangerous weapons.

      This mandate is fulfilled by the magnetometers and x-raying of handheld luggage. The body scanners and strip-searches have not been shown to provide any more security than that, and therefore are unconstitutional.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Most of us refuse the body scanner by not flying. And ultimately, most people don't have the money to pay the ridiculous fines for refusing.

      Then there's the fact that they force people to get sexually assaulted if they decline the body scanners. It's been well documented that the TSA will threaten criminal charges and refuse to let you leave if you turn down the blatantly unconstitutional searches.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:55PM (#37331772)

    FTA:...stuck the side of her gloved hand INTO my vagina

    In the trial, will TSA smurf have to try "it" on for size like OJ?

  • A few observations:

    The only animal life presented in the few photos returned from a Google image search [google.com] for TSA employee "Theldala Magee" is captioned "Slug on Cabbage [google.com]."

    Is being a rapist a disability? Will the EEOC protect Ms. Magee's right to rape airline passengers as it protects the rights [eeoc.gov] of alcoholic commercial truck drivers to drive trucks?

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