It’s the season for holiday traveling by train, bus and airplane — meaning that, it’s also the season for a story about an incident involving TSA. MSNBC reports that a cupcake (red velvet, packed in an 8-ounce mason jar) was confiscated by a TSA agent at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas from Rebecca Hains, a 35-year-old communications professor at Salem State University in Massachusetts, on the grounds that its frosting looked “enough like a gel to violate TSA restrictions on allowing liquids and gels onto flights to prevent them from being used as explosives.”
The cupcake and another one like it, also packed in a Mason jar, had passed through security at Logan International Airport in Boston earlier in the week. Hains informed the Las Vegas agent about the cupcake having cleared security earlier, but was told that the Boston TSA agent had not been doing her or his job and that the cupcake was a “security threat,” as she related to told NBC station WHDH.
The TSA agent “didn’t seem to believe that the pastry might actually explode, but that it fit the bureaucratic definition of a potentially dangerous item,” as Raw Story comments. Hains acknowledges that it was just a cupcake but also says that the Las Vegas agent’s logic was “terrible”:
“It’s not really about the cupcake; I can get another cupcake. It’s about an encroachment on civil liberties. We’re just building up a resistance and tolerance to all these things they’re doing in the name of security, when it’s really theater. It is not keeping us safe.”
Indeed: Are TSA agents basing their judgments on what constitutes a “security threat” based first and foremost on hypothetical criteria, rather than on an actual assessment of the actual situation, items and so forth?
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez says that “passengers are allowed to take cakes and cupcakes through checkpoints.” Based on Hains’s experience, it seems a policy about whether frosting is allowed may be needed, too.
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Photo by kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop)