If you believe freedom of expression extends to mocking TSA’s paranoia, you have not flown lately. On August 18th Arijit Guha was barred from a Delta flight from Buffalo to Phoenix because of a t-shirt.
This is a new twist on a phenomenon Care2 bloggers have addressed before. The Transportation Security Administration has disabled insulin pumps, barred breast milk pumps, confiscated a cupcake because of its frosting, put a toddler and a student on a “no fly” list, and stopped blacks and Hispanics because they fit racist stereotypes.
As Arijit details on a blog, now a t-shirt can get you banned from a flight. A pilot may be the one who makes the call. He and his wife attended a family funeral.
On the way back, they flew through Atlanta without incident. Things changed in Buffalo, when a Delta supervisor told Arijit he was making passengers and employees “very uncomfortable” with his satiric t-shirt’s TSA logo and message about “ZOMG Terrorists.” (Cory Doctorow designed it and made it available via Creative Commons.)
Although initially cleared to fly, and willing to change shirts, he was ordered to wait until all other passengers boarded. He says the pilot decided he did not want him on the plane, so Arijit and his wife were refused boarding. The ordeal continued as transit police kept up the questioning until the couple missed the last flight of the day.
After a long drive to spend the night with relatives and an early morning return to the airport, they finally caught a flight home. Although Arijit says the lead TSA agent treated them with the respect, he called the transit police “thuggish brutes.”
Next: What Does It All Mean?
Graphic by Cary Doctorow via Creative Commons; photo from Thinkstock
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