Arijit Guha describes his experience as he was attempting to fly out from Buffalo-Niagra Airport after attending the funeral of his wife’s grandfather. Guha passed through security just fine but then a Delta employee said that his shirt made passengers nervous.
“I was then questioned by TSA about the significance and meaning of the shirt,” writes Guha. “I politely explained that it was “mocking the security theater charade and over-reactions to terrorism by the general public — both of which we’re seeing right now, ironically.” The agents inquired as to the meaning of the term “ZOMG” and who it was that I thought was “gonna kill us all.” As best I could tell, they seemed to find my explanation that I didn’t think anyone would be killing us all and that I was poking fun at overwrought, irrational fears exhibited by certain members of the flying public to be satisfactory. And moreover, they clearly deemed my shirt to be no legitimate threat.”
He was then told by Delta that he and his wife could take the flight if they submitted to another search of belongings and if he took off the shirt. This is silly. Do these people not trust their own TSA to do the job properly the first time? I guess not since TSA has shown its utter incompetence and inability to actually secure anything.
Guha agreed but then as he was boarding, he was pulled aside again only this time it was a Delta supervisor, three TSA agents and multiple Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police.
“I was questioned some more and my wife was also pulled out of line for additional questioning and screening. Our bags were searched, my shirt was photographed, we were asked multiple questions about the cause of our visit, how often we make it to western NY, and our drivers’ license numbers were taken and radioed in for what seemed to be a quick background check,” Guha wrote.
They eventually did not get on the flight because according to the pilot their presence would cause consternation amongst other passengers. “Why even bother with the bloated security apparatus — since Delta pilots have discretion to kick off passengers who’ve passed multiple checks, after all?” Guha asks.
Say what? Are they telling me that other people on the flight would not have made some people a little uncomfortable? Seriously, this is a great injustice to Guha and his wife. They were checked over and over and complied with everything they were asked to and still Delta did this. Delta should issue a public apology over the situation, but it doesn’t end there.
After they were not allowed to get on the flight, there was even more interrogation. This is clearly a problem. There is no probably cause and no warrant for any of this. It’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment! The police wanted to know where Guha’s brother purchased the T-shirt for him as a gift.
“You had to think about that one. How come?,” she asked. I explained he recently moved. “Where’d he move from?” “Michigan,” I respond. “Michigan, what’s that?,” she says. At this point, the main TSA agent who’d questioned me earlier interjected: “He said ‘Michigan’.” Unable to withhold my snark, I responded with an eye-rolling sneer: “You’ve never heard of Michigan?”
“This response did not please her partner, a transit cop named Mark. Mark grabbed his walkie-talkie and alerted his supervisor and proceeded to request that he be granted permission to question me further in a private room. His justification?: “First he hesitated, then he gave a stupid answer.” Michigan, my friends, is a stupid answer.”
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