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TSA Log Shows Passengers Say the Darndest Things 427

coondoggie writes "There is no humor in an airport. It's a fact. And while most travelers business or otherwise know that, there are a few out there who haven't gotten the message or perhaps the choose to ignore it. Either way the 'People Say the Darndest Things' or 'What Not to Say at an Airport' section has become one of the more popular destinations on the TSA Blog site." The collected wit and wisdom of airline passengers linked unfortunately does not distinguish between stupidity (claiming that you have a bomb to get through security faster) and seemingly sensible questions that get at the heart of the problems with the current and long-running engagement of Homeland Security Theater. (It's also hard to know whether some passengers might have innocently thought their tone, facial expression, body language or context would have served as notice that they weren't actually threatening murder.)
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TSA Log Shows Passengers Say the Darndest Things

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  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:13PM (#43359989) Homepage

    I was really expecting them to unleash the dogs on him for that

    Well, there's little room to interpret buying you a drink as anything threatening.

    But the people who make jokes about having bombs or firearms? Well, that's just stupidity on their behalf, because it won't be taken well. You might as well go to a women's crisis center and make rape jokes -- they're just not going to work.

    I've long since learned that at an airport, it's best to just play it cool, and be seen to be non-threatening or angry with them. Untie the shoes before you even get called, make sure you know what's in your pockets so you can remove it (a shocking amount of people don't seem to know what they're carrying), smile at them -- they may be idiots with no real training in some cases, but they respond to polite a whole lot better.

    Some people seem to think it's a good time to make a political statement or otherwise act like an ass. It's your choice to do that, but certain kinds of jokes with these kinds of people are never going to be taken nicely. Hell, even "Airplane" in 1980 was making the "Hi, Jack!" jokes, and that was long before people got ramped up to the current state.

    On the other hand, I once had a TSA agent become very interested in the my GPS for golf after he'd examined it. A friendly chat and a quick product endorsement, and I was on my way.

  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:14PM (#43360007)

    The first time I flew was in the 70's and I can remember seeing signs at the security checkpoints warning against joking about guns or bombs. It's not something distinctive to the TSA.

  • Here's the deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:14PM (#43360011)

    OK. Here's the deal. If they take it seriously and believe me when I say "I have a bomb," then why would they distrust me when I say "I don't have a bomb or gun or knife or anything dangerous" and let me skip the screening. Really, WTF? They're gonna search everyone, right? Then why the fuck do they care what they say? Because catching smartasses is easier than catching terrorists?

  • Re:Cool story bro. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:32PM (#43360253)

    ...and stupid people take them seriously.

    They have to. Because they cannot rule out that someone crazy/stupid enough to bring a bomb on a plane would not also be crazy/stupid enough to brag about it.

    And it also serves to discourage such jokes that make the other passengers uncomfortable. Because you are, literally, joking about killing them.

  • Re:Cool story bro. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:32PM (#43360257)

    Detaining the person whose bag you just searched because s/he asked if you're looking for "a bomb or something" is not "being thorough"; it is "being a thug." That the person in question is joking is not a suspicion; it is a confirmed fact -- acting on it imparts precisely zero additional security / protection because, having just completed a search, you know that there is no bomb. Inference by way of tone and body language is not necessary, and there is precisely zero risk to simply ignoring the comment.

    Acting on this does nothing but hold up one or more plane(s) of innocent, paying customers, and subject at least one of those passengers to a level of scrutiny largely reserved for murder suspects, all to satisfy a petty personal vendetta against a single individual.

    Period. End of fucking discussion. Anything further is apologist bullshit likely typed out by some jackass in a TSA uniform.

  • by Reverand Dave ( 1959652 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:42PM (#43360385)
    They've never taken kindly to joking at the airport, but it wasn't until relatively recently that you'd be dragged off, finger fucked, and arrested for doing so. That's really the difference.
  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:44PM (#43360409)

    The first time I flew was in the 70's and I can remember seeing signs at the security checkpoints warning against joking about guns or bombs. It's not something distinctive to the TSA.

    I was not around in the 70s, but I am guessing that the worst you were looking at was a stern talking by a security agent

    TSA could probably have you put away for 10-20 years. Or, at the very least, put you on a no-fly list as a lesson for joking (no review or appeal against being on no-fly list)

  • Re:Cool story bro. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:44PM (#43360419)

    Has anyone EVER been caught with a bomb after saying the word "bomb"? People have attempted to carry bombs on board (both successfully and unsuccessfully), but I've never heard of single terrorist plot that was deterred because of a Freudian slip.

  • Re:Cool story bro. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 04, 2013 @02:46PM (#43360447)

    Anything further is apologist bullshit likely typed out by some jackass in a TSA uniform.

    Not everyone who disagrees with you is a shill for the group you disagree with. Please stop saying things like this: you're making anyone who tries tries to have a discussion like an adult look bad.

  • Re:Cool story bro. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 04, 2013 @03:11PM (#43360811)

    The alternative position is untenable absent personal bias or other, similar motivation. Disagreement over this point is simply not honest, as any objective person with an IQ above room temperature could tell you. As such, I am not insulting "everyone who disagrees with [me]"; I am insulting apologist, bullshit, jackasses, and rightfully so.

    That some other Anon may have an issue with that will, I assure you, cause no lack of sleep for this Anon. You're welcome to ignore these posts if you find the prose offensive.

  • by cervesaebraciator ( 2352888 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @03:28PM (#43361079)

    You know, I gotta say that as somebody who travels all over the country for work, the people who get the hassle from the TSA are the people like you who think they're being cute, funny, or "proving a point" by being a smart-ass to the TSA agent, and cracking jokes about weapons, or sexual assault.

    This is very likely true. Given my temperament, I try to be polite and get on my way in situations like this and I am rarely if ever hassled. Even so, we've a real problem if being a smart-ass is grounds for suspicion. Talk of bombs and weapons aside, if TSA agents are groping someone and he chooses to crack wise about being molested, that is no excuse for getting hassled by said agents. To be detained or delayed for such is an attempt on the part of the agent or the agency to chill free speech.

    You might get aggravated by such smart-ass grandstanding--I probably would a bit myself were I waiting in line--but the real people responsible for the delay aren't the smart-asses but the policy-makers and those they choose to execute their policies. Nothing is so clear a sign of the loss of civil liberty and the rule of law as people in authority who can treat heckling as suspect.

  • Re:Cool story bro. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by RougeFemme ( 2871421 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @03:53PM (#43361455)
    Just because we haven't heard about it doesn't mean it hasn't happened. If it has happened, revealing it would justify the TSA's actions, but it would scare the hell out of the public, especially the flying public, and put a real dent in airline traffic and profits - at least for a while. Fear of great economic harm would be a reason to keep it quiet. The government AND airlines would have a reason to keep it quiet.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @04:13PM (#43361769)

    So, I'm walking through security, and I've got a plastic 500ml bottle of CocaCola about 75% empty.

    Security person watches me take another sip, then confiscates it, and tosses it in a basket at her feet.

    I was annoyed, and she provoked me with something like "You didn't think you were bringing that on the plane did you?"

    I replied almost without thinking...

    "If its so dangerous you can't risk allowing it on a plane I'm surprised you are comfortable leaving it in a bin next to you."

    Fortunately all i got back was a dirty look, but it really crystallized for me just how stupid the rules were. That so many people here are advising to just "follow the rules and keep your head down" is truly pathetic.

  • Re:Cool story bro. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crakbone ( 860662 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @04:17PM (#43361829)
    The problem with zero tolerance is the world is not black and white. true the large number of people saying they have a bomb as a joke should get the full treatment. But just asking if your searching for a bomb, or do you think I have a bomb is not a threat or should even be treated as one. The comment "I hope the residue doesn't show up on the test." is just as innocent. The could be a miner, a farmer, special effects expert, fireworks technician, or just gone shooting. That is not a threat. Asking questions or non-threatening statements should not cause an airport to be shutdown or criminal prosecution.
  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @04:41PM (#43362213)

    The policy makers aren't at fault because they policies aren't being followed. There is no policy that says to hassle passengers who aren't properly subservient, but the employees do that because they're given a position of power with no supervision or adequate training. You think you hate standing in line, they do that all day long and are bored enough that they'll make a scene just to have something to do.

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