TSA endangers child's life by contaminating his feeding tube despite pleas

The TSA endangered the life of child who has a surgical feeding tube in his stomach by opening up his backup tube, contaminating it. The child pleaded with the TSA officer, who said that she had to open it or refuse to allow the child to board the plane. After an Orlando television station investigated the story, the TSA agreed to look into the incident:
James Hoyne, 14, has a feeding tube in his stomach and carries a back-up in a sealed clear plastic bag. Hoyne said two weeks ago a TSA officer insisted on opening the sterile equipment, contaminating his back-up feeding up tube which he later needed.

"I said 'Please don't open it' and she said 'I have to open it whether you like it or not. If I can't open it, I can't let you on the plane,'" Hoyne said of his conversation with the TSA screener.



  1. Next week: Watch as TSA officials rip out stitches from a recent surgery patient. “We had to confirm that they didn’t have a bottle of water stashed where her appendix used to be,” officials said. “Her screaming was very upsetting to our agents, and we feel she is clearly in the wrong.”

  2. Oh give the TSA a break. Who among us has NOT seen a child with chronic health problems and feared that they might slaughter us all with their sterilized plastic tubes?

  3. oh don’t worry so much! After they kill a few children, they’ll get it right! C’mon! It’s been WEEKS since they killed a baby! Cut them some slack.

    or else

  4. did you watch the video? can you imagine the screener talking to this child? do you think they made him lift up his shirt to show the wound in his stomach? and ignored his pleas anyway?

  5. My daughter has a surgically implanted feeding tube. The answer is clear – don’t fly. Let the TSA put the airlines out of business. Make the guys with money the ones who are upset with the ridiculous bullshit you go through – they’re the ones that have the power to actually change things. If you keep passively accepting the loss of your freedoms and you never hurt their bottom line – well – what do you expect?

    Stories like this make me glad that I’m Canadian. It also makes me wonder how a nation that gained its freedom by revolution could allow itself to get this far along the path to facism. Especially where *everybody* has guns. Why the hell are your leaders not being held accountable? It’s utterly baffling to outside observers…

  6. What is so hard about understanding “sealed, sterile packaging”? We’re talking about TSA? Oh, wait…

  7. Brainspore very funny. Shit has to happen before people can get mad as hell about it. So, the TSA robot was programmed to do a job and has no ability to modify its own program. Poor, stupid machines.

  8. Hey #6 Takuan, I think it was customs, not the TSA that killed that baby a couple weeks ago. Let’s give credit where it’s due.

  9. Seriously though: is there a way the People of the U.S. can bring a class action lawsuit (or whatever the proper term is) agaisnt the TSA? I mean, they actually have killed people… Why hasn’t this happened yet? If not “the People”, can’t all the families affected so far band together and sue them, asking for an immediate halt to the practices that led to these deaths and injuries until the verdict is in? Is there a lawyer in the house???

  10. US Customs are a bunch of clowns too, no doubt there. I provide every bit of information I have for the equipment we send to the States, and the majority of our shipments still get delayed. And I mean approximately 10 to 15 pages of documentation for a small sound system. I’m pretty sure the customs folks who inspect FedEx shipments down in Memphis actually enjoy delaying shipments.

  11. I have been studying the TSA blog, “Evolution of Security” *giggles* http://www.tsa.gov/blog and I have found that the truth is, that there are many “Rogue Agent” *snickers in derision*.

    Taking feeding tubes from 14 year olds is another example of TSA agents freestyling with the rules. As they said about electronics being removed “…we learned that this exercise was set up by local TSA offices and was not part of any grand plan across the country.”

    That’s the scariest thing about TSA agents – they just get to make up the rules as they go along!


  12. I wonder, did the screener think the blister packed medical equipment was a penis pump? I mean, the picture in the article shows how anyone could get it wrong.

  13. I’m just surprised they didn’t rip the tube out of his stomach to make sure it wasn’t packed with C4.

  14. The screener was off the rocker.

    I would hope common sense would’ve ruled by paging his doctor. It’s actually disgusting to for a screen to see these feeding tubes going into a hole and insisting on opening it.

    This shows more and more you can’t travel without “papers’ Now doctors notes will be needed for wheel chairs, walkers and other medical protheses.

  15. Am I the only one who thinks that motto “The Evolution of Security” a tad ironic? Seeing as how the a-holes running the show dont even believe there is such thing as evolution to begin with?

    Anyway, again, any lawyers read this blog? Why hasn’t anyone sued them yet?

  16. @25-

    It should read: “The Intelligent Design of Security”

    I honestly think that the “terrorists” have infiltrated the DHS (Heimatsicherheit) – we would not willingly endanger/murder our own, right?

  17. That’s just a really sad story. Probably the kid was not seriously jeopardized, but the even so heartless of the TSA people, it’s untrue.

    The whole reason we employ human beings to do jobs is because they can (and should) use discretion and common sense in doing their job.

    I was listening to Stephen Fry’s potcast and he claimed he was forced to remove the plaster cast from his his broken arm before being allowed to fly to/from LAX! And your country is also harassing little kids, tampering with their surgeries and making them fear infections!

    ‘merica is going insane guys. It’s your country, FFS sort it out before it gets any worse.

  18. …and the dumb kid let him do it. Don’t get on the plane if the screening is life threatening.

    Also, it was a back-up tube, which, the article says, he later needed. Did he need it on the plane? If not, why didn’t he get a new one and throw the contaminated one away?

    TSA are goons, sure. This story, though, is about a kid who gambled his health against having to change his travel plans and lost.

  19. Good to see that the Terminal Stupidity Administration can still figure ways to outdo itself. Have they at least contacted the Guinness Book of World Records?

  20. No one should have to gamble their health against changing their travel plans–especially if they’re 14 and have a medical condition. To say otherwise is just absurd. If you were diabetic and had paid $2000 for a plane ticket and the TSA decided to dump all your insulin, would you seriously be blaming yourself?

  21. By simply questioning their procedures you guarantee that they will proceed.
    They must maintain full control of any situation even when obviously wrong.

    Sort of like the men in blue…

    Too much power mixed with too little training and no responsibility.

  22. #28 EKPPP
    “…and the dumb kid let him do it. Don’t get on the plane if the screening is life threatening.”

    The sad thing is that I can actually imagine, if they had refused, the TSA detaining them and going through their stuff anyway because of ‘suspicious activity’. You don’t have to worry if you have nothing to hide, right?

  23. #33 BOLERO

    The sad thing is you are probably right. TSA are goons, especially in major airports. I abhor them and the culture of fear they represent.

    I think, though, that their abuse of power will never end if nobody calls their bluff. The article indicates the kid had a choice: a contaminated back-up tube, or no flight. Given that choice, I would head for the bus terminal.

    Even if the TSA goon then tried to detain the kid, chances are a supervisor gets involved, since TSA is all about escalation. You might be able to reason with the supervisor. The trick would be remaining calm, of course.

  24. I don’t mean to be calous or contrarian, but I think this is a bit over the top. I think the TSA needs to do a better job training their personnel, but “endanger a child’s life”? Is that kind of hyperbole really necessary? If the kid… actually, teenager, knows that the guys is making it dangerous for him to use, he’s not going to use it. Unless this guy is critically ill (in which case he would probably be traveling with doctors/caregivers), not having access to a BACKUP feeding tube for several hours is not going to endanger his life. Even for people who are pretty sick, going without food for a day is not going to kill them. Water, maybe, but food?

  25. That is horrifying. What goes through these people’s heads when they’re making choices like that?

    I mean, besides wind.

  26. And if this were Dune, all the House Harkonnen TSA guys would have gut-emptying tubes as well.

  27. @ 37 DVDMON, completely agree, this ‘endangers child’s life’ title is way off the mark. I agree that TSA policy is fucked-up, and many here have already made that point.

    TSA wasn’t forcing the kid to get on the plane.

  28. There are choices we can make other than snark or sob. I’d encourage people who find the callous and reckless behavior of that TSA employee outrageous to take a few minutes to write to someone who could improve the situation, such as your Congressman, your Senator, the TSA, the mayor of Orlando, Orlando’s tourism board, or similar groups. Figure out what should be done, and ask people with political clout to do it. It won’t always work, but it’s far more likely to accomplish something than just gawking at the wreckage of our society. Here’s the letter I sent to Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando:

    To the Honorable Buddy Dyer,

    I am writing to ask you to investigate the recent incident at the Orlando airport where a TSA employee contaminated sterile medical equipment that a 14-year-old child was carrying. A news story about the incident is at:

    My family and I have greatly enjoyed our vacations in Orlando, most recently in January. Reading of this incident, however, has us extremely concerned that we will not be safe flying in and out of Orlando airport in the future. A member of my family also depends on sterile medical equipment, and we are unwilling to risk our health by flying through an airport where this sort of behavior
    by TSA employees is tolerated.

    Orlando’s airport has EMTs available, and ready access to people with medical training. When there is a medical or health concern raised by a passenger, personnel at the airport must be taught to call in people with medical training. If a passenger appears unable to breathe, people with medical training should be called. If a passenger says that his health will be endangered by the
    actions of an airport worker, people with medical training should be called.

    The news story about this reckless TSA employee at the Orlando airport is spreading, as it should. While you do not have direct authority over the TSA employees at the airport, you do have the
    political power to ensure a reasonable conclusion to this news story: first, the reckless employee should be located and fired, and second, all airport workers should be taught to call in people with medical training to respond to medical and health concerns.

    These two steps would go a long way to restoring our willingness to travel to Orlando, and would protect the safety of the millions of people who travel through Orlando’s airport. If done publicly
    and assertively, these two steps would allow Orlando to serve as a model to other cities. Thank you for your time and attention to this very serious issue.

  29. God forbid anything happens to the child, but if he were to get an infection, get sick, etc. could he sue? Doesn’t TSA have exemptions for certain medical devices? This just seems like an overzealous, misinformed TSA agent.

  30. @EKPPP:

    These are prescription devices that you can’t just buy at any old pharmacy. They typically have to be ordered through the mail. So if you don’t have a backup with you, and your equipment goes bad… you say hello to our wonderful hospital system.

    @Ken Hansen:

    The article doesn’t mention parents. In fact, it says *the child* pleaded with the TSA. I hardly think the parents were there.

    That being said, do you think the kid, who is 14 years old, is so wise and experienced that he’d know not getting on the plane, going back home, and not getting to his destination was an option?

    I think you’re ascribing way too much savvy to a 14 year old.

  31. “This just seems like an overzealous, misinformed TSA agent.”

    There are a lot of those, all of them backed up by heavily armed police officers. If we held some of the worst offenders accountable, the rest of the TSA agents would get better informed and the traveling public would have better protection.

  32. I don’t know what’s more despicable, the actions of the TSA or the apologists trying to excuse them in this forum?

    Oh, I’m sorry, please forgive my “hyperbole”!

    It’s people like you that allow this sh|t to go on. Since when did America become the land of making up excuses for abusers of power? It’s amazing and sad how easy it is to use the language of “choice” to actually disempower individuals. (Of course, this is what corporate America has been doing for decades…)

    Does the status quo really treat you so well that you must defend it at all costs? Shame on you. I expect better from people on the Internet (heh).

  33. Robert
    I hardly think the parents were there.

    We just don’t know, it happened two weeks ago.

    Is that kind of hyperbole really necessary?

    It isn’t hyperbole or do you know his medical condition? The screener open a sterile backup the boy needed and contaminated it rendering it useless. So yes it was potentially life threatening.

    Ken Hansen
    Had they arranged for “medical transport” for the child, this all could have been avoided

    We’ve already seen how well that works out. The TSA would have killed him for sure in that case.

    I can’t find the “wonderfulness” of such postings

    Would you like your money back?

    Blog – “A shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies.”

    Is there something about that definition that has you confused?

  34. DVDMon, if you’re feeding through a tube, how do you think you get water? I’m pretty sure that comes in through the tube, too.

    I do hope that if I was in this situation, I would choose not to get on the flight. But I would be spittin’ mad and raging to the TSA. I don’t hold a chronically ill 14yo to the same standard, though. I imagine he felt pretty helpless.

  35. No one is apologizing for the TSA goons. They are a manifestation of the greatest threat to the United States, which is the use of fear against the public in the interest of expanding government power.

    I think there are two good questions so far:

    1. When did the kid use the contaminated tube?

    2. Where were the kid’s parents?

    The kid has a feeding tube. This qualifies him as special-needs in my book, such that, at fourteen, he shouldn’t be traveling alone.

    Furthermore, the kid knew the tube was contaminated with TSA Goon Germs. When the goon opened the tube, it became trash. In what situation could he have used it?

    Seriously, if your life is in danger without the backup tube, you cannot allow the tube’s packaging to be opened. If that means listening to Eminem in a holding cell while the issue is straightened out, which I don’t think would happen, so be it. If the kid cannot be relied on to make that judgement, he should not be flying alone.

  36. EKPP:

    Three hours later and you’re still talkin’ crap.

    What’s next – godwin the unsympathetic?

    EVERYTHIMG the TSA did was wrong and showed a deadly incompetence.

    The more you keep trying to pin the culpability on the kid, the stupider you come off to the forum.

    Please shut it.

  37. First they came for some loser sick 14 year old’s backup feeding tube, and I said nothing because I am not a loser 14 year old stupid enough to continue with my non-refundable travel plans despite having my backup tube contaminated.


  38. EKPPP, you’re missing the entire point. No person should have to make the choice of missing his flight and possibly having to sit in a ‘holding cell’ while the issue is “straightened out”, and going ahead with plans without a necessary medical device. The fact that the TSA has the power to stop people with medical conditions from taking plane trips on a bureaucratic whim IS the problem.

    What makes it even more ridiculous is that the device appears to have been packaged in clear plastic. Who needs to open a clear package to examine it? Look at it, run it through the machine, and let him through.

  39. Jesus, what the hell is wrong with some of you?
    This was a special needs CHILD and you want to blame the kid instead of the ADULT AUTHORITIES? Victim-blaming at it’s finest…blame the powerless child instead of the adults that make and enforce the rules. Lovely. No wonder the TSA gets away with this BS.

  40. Clearly the TSA needed to open the package. Not to inspect it, obviously, but to show a teenager who has the power. Teenagers are always needing to be shown that by adults; it’s very tiresome. /sarcasm

    Nothing less than outright abolition of the TSA will do. And between now and then, TSA people have to start going to prison when they abuse their authority. TSA keeps hiring thugs and losers; they have to be forced to stop.

    Personally, when I read shit like this I just want them all dead.

  41. Besides EKPPP, it doesn’t say he used it. It says he needed it. In other words, he would have changed out his feeding tube had it not been contaminated by the TSA thug, and instead had to go on with a tube that should have been swapped out.

    I have no idea what consequences this would have, but certainly it could endanger his safety, even if it’s safer than using a contaminated tube.

  42. Ken, clear plastic. It was in clear plastic. What security purpose was served by opening it?

    She opened it because he asked her not to, and you know it.

    Why don’t we get these people’s names? Hers, I mean? I want to vilify her across the blogosphere.

  43. #58 You are right. Where the article said “a sick teenager”, I assumed it meant he had gotten sick using the contaminated back up tube. He probably never used it.

    Also, I agree that TSA should be abolished as soon as possible. I think we should abolish the Department of Homeland Security too. Neither does us any good.

  44. @DVDMon comment #37

    You have never dealt with a feeding tube have you. What that 14 year old had was a mic-key button that is held in with a balloon. If the balloon pops (a very real possibility on an airplane where there are pressure changes) the tube needs to be replaced within an hour or else the hole closes up and surgery is required to replace it. So no, if he had an emergency it would not be just about missing a feeding, let alone we do not know anything about the missing.

  45. Bah! This useless coddling of the weak and infirm! These useless eaters! Do you fools not realize that the Reich cannot stand with less than healthy,strong specimens! Snivel while you can, traitors. Soon we will have special flights to provide a final solution!

  46. TSA groupies,

    I know that most of you have read previous posts and comments here describing how screaming infants have been separated from their parents so that the screeners could shake them down. You also have no idea where this victim was headed. He could have been going home or to a larger city for a specialist appointment. People who are that ill don’t generally travel without a good reason. Why so hateful to the victim?

  47. #4 posted by Brainspore , March 6, 2008 10:25 AM

    ‘Oh give the TSA a break. Who among us has NOT seen a child with chronic health problems and feared that they might slaughter us all with their sterilized plastic tubes?’

    That’s the greatest comment I have read on BoingBoing to this date. And I think it will be hard to beat.

  48. A few people have asked if you can sue the TSA for this kind of thing. The answer is effectively no: the TSA is part of the Executive branch of the US government, which has the “right” to decline to be prosecuted for anything it doesn’t want to be, and has frequently demonstrated the will to use it where the TSA is concerned.

    (This is a de-facto right that stems from the fact that the Executive is responsible for enforcing the rulings of the courts: the Executive can simply refuse to enforce any ruling made against it, so the courts don’t ever rule against the Executive on this because they would be made to look powerless and silly)

    The only thing you can do to the TSA, or any branch of the Executive, is to impeach the president and then try to elect one who will do things differently.

    This is a bug in your government. Please fix it.

  49. i know someone who worked for tsa until she failed a test, they said that capricious enforcement is the rule. they had to take a bottle of perfume from a little girl, a college girl was allowed to take her yogurt onboard, but on the same flight, a woman was not allowed to bring applesauce for her baby/toddler on the plane. they said they don’t regret failing the test.

  50. Did any of you bleeding hearts actually bother to click through and play the video? It doesn’t work in Firefox, but I opened up my trusty IE7 to get a look at this so-called 14 year old kid.

    Let me tell you he is one scary-looking mo fo.

  51. Whoa. He’s like three feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. I was bigger than him when I was seven. I wouldn’t even call him a teenager; he’s a child.

  52. I take medication for a transplant and traveled from LAX to Armenia and then back stopping in Ibiza. This was a month long trip and I had to take all my medication with me. I traveled through about five screenings and had a 12″x12″x3″ brick of all kinds of medication in my carry on. Not one single airport ever asked me to open any thing or take anything out.

  53. yep, keep it arbitrary. The peons don’t raise their heads much when they know the whip is random.

  54. Frankly, for me, the big, unanswered story is why they don’t disable the bold tag in comments. Although it has legitimate uses in structuring a comment, when used for emphasis it’s far more annoying than all caps. Exclamation points, parenthetical statements (yes, I use them too) and emphatic markup represent an unfortunate failure to use language to make one’s point. Pointedly, it diminishes the credibility of the screamer.

  55. Quote (#56): “Of course, no person would have a feeding tube put in so they could get an explosive device on a plane to blow themself up – that’s insane! No religious zealot would bring a baby along to let them get past the amount of liquid they could bring on a plane – ludicris![sic]”

    You’re absolutely correct, no one would. Those are ludicrous scenarios. Just jam the freakin’ C-4 up your ass and be done with it. Plenty of drugs move about the world that way even today, so security must be sought in other, more diplomatic ways. You know; the ones that work.

    Since these bogus security tactics don’t work, all abuses of power TSA by agents against anyone are by definition egregious because the whole context is a sham and no greater good is being served by any of it. Sure, plenty of stuff we wouldn’t want the guy sitting next to us to have in his pocket gets confiscated at the checkpoint, but that’s been going on for a long time and has never generated such outrage before. That, and it’s just the same stuff people all around us have in their pockets outside the airport, no big deal. It’s even less of a big deal now that the cockpit doors are reinforced to keep imaginary boxcutter-wielders and other assorted boogeymen out.

    And about the “where were the parents” thing, most people try to do the very best they can by their children. Sometimes that might not be good enough for you, I guess. I’m sure his parents were confident he would be fine and his trip wouldn’t turn into a national news story and hell, I’ve seen much, much younger kids flying alone.

  56. I don’t subscribe to the “blame the victim” talk I’m seeing on here, sorry. You guys are way off.

    Back when I used to travel with my violin frequently, I was pulled aside for special screening every single time so they could search the case. Some of them even cracked the same “mobsters carrying guns in violin cases” comment from airport to airport. Conclusion: I think they ARE robots.

  57. Ken Hansen said:
    “The kid never used the tube as far as I can tell(I’m at a loss as to why the kid kept it after it was opened), so if he needed it, and he used it the TSA agent put his life at risk? No. Why wouldn’t the person that chooses to use a contaminated feeding tube be responsible? Honestly, if this is the only way the kid can eat, wouldn’t you have a few spares?”

    You are kidding, right? This whole story is about his back-up feeding tube. You know, the spare, just-in-case feeding tube? How many extra spares was he supposed to bring with him, and what suggests to you that they wouldn’t have ‘needed’ to open and contaminate every single one of them?

  58. why did it take two weeks?

    mmm,lessee…. intimidation, word of a sick child against a government thugocracy that breaks grown men, threats against the family? risk to medical insurance- ah, thats a good one…..

    no, I reviewed the video again, the kid’s obviously a terrorist and the two week delay is because he’s a liar and thief as well as a Taliban loving rapist.

  59. My daughter has a surgically implanted ‘g-tube’ aka feeding tube. It doesn’t need to be sterile – only clean. In fact, it’s quite literally impossible to keep it sterile during insertion as it rubs against the abdominal skin. No one’s life was at risk.

    Having said that, however, the ‘TSA’ is out of control. Why do you yanks put up with the fascists stealing your freedom in the name of “security” and “safety”? It’s amazing to watch from outside your country. You used to be a shining light to the rest of the world representing freedom and democracy and now you just represent a bunch of mindless, frightened children. Take your country back! The fact that you’re willing to lie around waiting for your freedoms to return is baffling, when you consider your forefathers killed and died for the rights you’re losing. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Get off ur asses, yanks!

  60. All the comments here show us something any of us should be willing to admit: the situation is more complex than it at first seems. To tackle just one thread of this complexity, consider the nature of the harm, terrorism, that TSA’s policies are supposedly designed to protect us against (leaving aside for now whatever other motives individual agents or the institution as a whole might have).

    Terrorist attacks are low probability but high impact. There’s a lot of psychological research on biases in human reasoning that show that thinking about events like these is especially prone to error, because of the strong emotions invoked by the imagination of catastrophic events. This is why the issue is so contentious. It’s extremely difficult to offer an accurate assessment of what the real risks are and of what measures will be effective in decreasing those risks.

    I think the reasonable response, though, is to recognize that no terrorism-prevention strategy is fool-proof. Instead of letting someone’s wildest imaginations dictate what we do or not allow, we should use reason and scientific investigation to assess the effectiveness of policies, to the best of our ability. (That is to say, while assessing risks accurately is difficult, we can still achieve some degree of success.)

    Consistency, to ensure fairness, and flexibility, to accommodate the unforeseeable details of specific cases, must be balanced. Perhaps experimentation on a local basis is worthwhile: if a trial provision eliminates a certain risk without constituting too much of a hassle, it might be adopted on a larger scale. Similarly, certain existing regulations might be suspended temporarily and the effects assessed.

    It’s difficult to think reasonably about these things because of how great the potential costs are, but it is the best chance we have for making things tolerable, both for would-be victims of terrorists and of TSA agents. No one wants to live in a police state, but neither do we want to have to fear for our lives due to inadequate security measures.

    To give just one concrete example, let’s take the ban on liquids. First, we might ask what are the specific liquids which pose risks, and what are those risks? From what I recall hearing, the supposed liquid explosive which prompted this policy was one that was all but impossible to mix undetected on a plane (it required mixing chemicals which had to be controlled at certain temperatures, which would be next to impossible without the right equipment, equipment which would be easily detected in carry-on baggage).

    Now, maybe there are other risks that liquids pose, but if investigation reveals no significant ones, the liquid ban should be eliminated. (Perhaps some new threat will emerge in the future that would justify a ban, but this could be said about just about anything; we should deal with such threats if and when they are discovered; again, you can’t prevent everything potentially disastrous.)

    We desire certainty when our lives are at stake, but this is never achievable. We need to learn to live with a degree of risk that is reasonably mitigated by soundly-established regulations. I think this is the only way to reach a compromise that will actually address the concerns of everyone involved.

  61. EKPP.

    First you blame the kid for not being responsible. Then, when someone points out that it was a kid, you’re jumping on the parents. Where were they?

    Sometimes kids fly without their parents. It happens. Sometimes they are visiting family or there is split custody or who knows, they could be going someplace for some kind of medical treatment and the family can only afford a ticket for one.

    But you’re talking the talk of someone who is pretty convinced the system as it stands will protect them over other troublemakers (poor people, people with accents, people with health issues, people who resent the way the USA is rolling over on its back and letting a police state come in to being…).

    You side with the guys in the jackboots. I side with this kid and all the other folks.

    Just don’t be too terribly surprised when someday the TSA or some other arm of the new Amerika takes a dislikin’ to the way you look and marches you off to the body-cavity search cubical, despite your protests and your being a white Christian male.

    Just don’t holler too loud and disturb the law-abiding folks waiting on line. Maybe if you remember to bring clearly-labeled lube in a 2 oz container in a sealed transparent plastic bag, they’ll let you use it.

  62. I too have had run-ins with retarded TSA personnel.

    On my way BACK from New Mexico to Louisiana, the TSA tard questioned my unopened 3oz bottle of Benadryl.

    I have a deadly allergy to nuts (sometimes served on planes), and an epi-pen is useless because my allergic reaction lasts for 10 hours when exposed.

    Anyway, he told me I could not take the Benadryl with me because it was not in a baggie.

    I couldn’t believe my ears. HOW ON EARTH could placing the bottle in a baggie make it safer?

    So I did what any non-tard would do. I started making fun of him LOUDLY.

    One of his co-workers let me through with the Benadryl and snickered at his tard co-worker.

    Some TSA personnel are not worth the air they breathe and probably will never make any meaningful contribution to society.

  63. Okay, I can see their draconic reasoning for restricting how much baby food you can carry on, making you put everything in easy-to-search plastic baggies, even taking off your effing shoes every single time to be checked for explosives, but this is an abhorrence.

    Isolated incident or not, that TSA guy needs his ass kicked for doing that to a sick kid.

  64. If we could just install the TSA at Disneyland, we’d have one of these posts every day!

  65. To those of you recommending asking questions or just saying no:

    Try it. No really. Next time you’re being illegally searched by an ex-Wal-Mart employee in a fake policeman’s uniform, just ask to speak to a supervisor or ask why you have to do this.

    It’s fun, as long as you’re cool with possibly missing your flight and losing all that money. Because you’re going to be there awhile.

    My wife doesn’t allow me to do it anymore, but I used to. Basically, asking any questions, even if you are as polite as you possibly can be and assure them you’re fine with taking a seat and waiting to hear the answer, your bag will be opened and everything pulled out and re-scanned; you will be wanded; you will go through the air-puff machine; you will be approached by huge middle-aged woman and asked loudly ‘are you male or female;’ you will be publicly humiliated.

    Me, I don’t mind, because it really just makes these thugs look worse. But it can really eat up a lot of time.

    No, the only way to solve these –and many other– problems is armed revolt. But those always just end up getting you killed, either by losing, or by winning and running afoul of the military government you’ve accidentally ushered into power.

    So the best bet is to just get used to it. We’re heading into a new Dark Age.

  66. I can’t believe some of the opinions in this thread. My son doesn’t have a feeding tube… he does have a colostomy, and has been in hospital with a lot of children who do have feeding tubes. According to some posters here that makes him “special needs” and in need of a carer. Forget that the parents of children needing such interventions work hard to ensure that it doesn’t turn them into needy people, that they work hard to make life seem “normal” to teenagers who require such things. If you have a feeding tube, or any other assistance with your life, you have special needs and should have a babysitter.

    Fourteen, for some children, is old enough to take responsibility for yourself… but even adults have a hard time standing up to the sort of jobsworth than the TSA appears to recruit and employ. Many people, and not only a 14 year old would have trouble balancing up the choice between allowing someone to mess with their required medical equipment and getting on the place. You do not know if he had a hospital appointment or some important event to reach.

    It’s hard from outside the USA to understand how these things happen. Then people post to the comments and you start to understand.

  67. today is March 6th,2008

    The Second World War,for most Americans lasted about five years.

    The attack on the World Trade Center buildings
    took place on September 11th, 2001

    The “emergency” has now lasted two years longer than the Second World War.

    No end is in sight.

    Do you really want to live this way forever?

  68. Takuan, you’re absolutely correct.

    Orwell and others saw this coming; the easiest way to keep everyone under firm control is to ensure that there is a constant, imaginary enemy who can never be defeated.

    Sadly, Orwell offers no clue as to how this sorry state may be averted.

    I think you may be in for a generation or two of paranoia.

    (And it’s not just Eusa.)

  69. I like how so many TSA apologists make the comment “Well, if he didn’t like how he was being treated, why couldn’t he just not fly?”

    Maybe it’s because y’all are new media professionals with mad bank, but let me tell you: plane tickets are tres cher if you’re low on funds. With the burdens the United States healthcare system places upon families I’m willing to bet that this is the case here, too.

  70. Ken Hansen is completely infused with fail, or an entirely brilliant troll.

    I suspect the former.

    Straw man arguments, missing the point entirely, quarrellous speculation, ignorance and fear-mongering references to terror babies – what else could you ask for!?

    How about plenty of formatting! Nice italics, bold, and proper use of quotes.

    Still full of fail.

  71. You know that scene in 12 Monkeys, where the baggage check guy sees a bag with a series of clear and apparently empty tubes that are in fact full of plague? He looks at them, then opens one and sniffs it, to see what it might contain, thus sparking the release of a pandemic.

    I used to think that was really stupid. It just seems kind of likely now.

  72. The problem is, the TSA workers might actually believe they are important, that they are the First Line of Defense in the War on Terror. So, a bunch of duds with a high school education are being given possitions of power that they shouldn’t have. They are just another layer of parasitic government employees that are feeding on Tax Payer dollars because we LET our government do so. Time to make the TSA a big issue. But I bet Clinton or Obama won’t talk about it.

  73. Bill O’reilly hates the TSA too, and when I see O’reilly and BoingBoing agreeing on something, it just makes my brain implode.

  74. Ken wrote: “I have to ask how a post like this jibes with the subtitle of this site: “A Directory of Wonderful Things” No matter which side of this issue you fall on (TSA or Parents were at fault) I can’t find the “wonderfulness” of such postings – of course, your site, your policies (no argument from me), but have you considered that this may be outside the scope of this blog?”

    To which I answer, shutting down the TSA would be a wonderful thing.

    And I have to ask, where do you get off deciding what is outside the scope of this blog?

  75. #95 Ken wrote:
    You raise an interesting point – what happened with his non-backup feeding tube? Was it not sterile and could be checked without opening the protective plastic wrap? So if that is the case, why would the backup need to be more sterile than the non-backup feeding tube? And if the the non-backup feeding tube is also sterile and wrapped in a similar fashion, then the TSA agent only “ruined” one (assuming that the tube *needs* to be sterile, based on comment #84 by justdisguy), leaving one tube sterile.

    Now I know you are truly ignorant and did not watch the video. The backup was to possibly replace the tube that was already in his stomach if it failed. The tubes need to be regularly replaced every 6-10 weeks, and can fail sooner due to random events. So let me repeat: THE NON-BACKUP TUBE WAS IN HIS STOMACH! You do not pull these out until you need them, they stay in your stomach indefinitely.

  76. And by the way, while the tube does not necessarily need to be sterile, I am quite sure it is preferable that it be clean. The kid does not know where that TSA officers hands had been and whether she was sick when touching his medical equipment that goes directly in his body. Or do the apologist think the TSA officer should be allowed to touch each individual pill in their medicine box as well, because it is pretty much the same thing.

  77. “And I have to ask, where do you get off asking Cory whether he might have considered that a post was outside the scope of this blog?”


  78. The “that doesn’t belong in a Directory of Wonderful Things!” people crack me up. I always picture the comic book guy from the Simpsons sitting in front of his computer monitor, no pants, halfway through a powdered sugar donut, screaming incoherantly.

  79. Ken Hansen, I am amazed and repulsed by the sheer number of fake rules and nonexistent circumstances you have had to invent in order to go on insisting that the TSA was right and everyone else was wrong. You’ve done this even though the story clearly said that

    “TSA officials apologized to James and said they’re looking into the incident to see what corrective steps need to be taken.”

    The TSA isn’t big on apologies, or on admitting that it needs to change its procedures. In this case, they did. That should have told you something.

    Where were the child’s parents? Possibly just a few feet away, being puffed and wanded and patted down by another security guard. You don’t know. Perhaps he had one parent at his departure gate, and another at his destination. Perhaps the trip was a major medical necessity. Perhaps it was a big adventure he’d been looking forward to for a long time.

    Again, you don’t know. Neither do I. That information isn’t in the story. But you made up your own version of it, and yelled at everyone here when they disagreed. This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. It isn’t even the dozenth. You always come down on the side of authority, no matter how much you have to distort the original story. You have a constant habit of inventing laws, facts, and circumstances that aren’t in the story as written, and in some cases have never been heard of before by anyone, in any context. Then you get loud and rude and offensive at everyone who doesn’t agree with you.

    If you’ve ever wondered whether anyone pays attention to your writing, you’re about to find out. Let’s see, now …

    Back in September you were insisting that Logan Airport Security had done right in going into total security freakout mode and grabbing a little MIT student who had a blinkylight name badge pinned to her sweatshirt, and who had gone into the terminal just far enough to ask a question at an information desk, and was headed out again. You also asserted that some clay on her little circuitboard pin was there for the purpose of looking like plastic explosives.

    Then there was this story in October:

    The BBC today details how Shahid Malik – a Muslim Member of Parliament and the UK’s current International Development Minister – was detained at Dulles Airport (Washington DC) hours after taking part in talks on tackling terrorism. He said the same thing happened to him at JFK airport in New York last year. On that occasion he had been a keynote speaker at an event organised by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), alongside the FBI and Muslim organisations, to talk about tackling extremism and defeating terrorism.

    “I am deeply disappointed,” he said.

    You came up with all kinds of explanations for why the TSA had done this, but completely skipped the obvious one. Then you got way up on your high horse about how unreasonable it was for an MP and Cabinet Minister to expect he wouldn’t be held for questioning every time he uses a U.S. airport.

    (Other issues: October, defended bill to tie university financial aid funding to use of DRM’d systems plus stiff penalties for filesharing. November, got upset over report that ten most-viewed pages at Conservapedia were about gay sex; later, defended size and style of Bush and Cheney travel entourages. In December, extensively defended the firing of a Texas state science education officer who was forced to resign by a Bush appointee who was upset because the officer had forwarded an email advertising a speech by a Creationism critic to a couple of small mailing lists. Argued against the theory of evolution itself. Displayed a fair amount of familiarity with Creationist arguments. Lied about it: “I’ve not supported Intelligent Design or Creationisim, I simply rasied some questions about Evolution.” Elsewhere, defended Fox News’s appropriation of a copyrighted image, and the arrest of a California teenager for shining his laser pointer at a jetliner.)

    In December, you defended the TSA when they arrested an Icelandic woman for having overstayed a visa ten years earlier, put her in handcuffs and shackles, and held her without charging her or letting her make a phone call. You defended the times they denied her food and water on the grounds that she wasn’t an invited guest, which was such complete BS that I still can’t believe you weren’t struck by lightning as soon as you typed it.

    Also in December (it was a busy month for you), you defended a Texas plan to subject citizens to criminal background checks before evacuating them during an emergency, on the grounds that children and other vulnerable parties on a crowded bus might be sitting within a few feet of a sex offender.

    In January, you defended the treatment given the two girls in this story:

    The Guardian has a hard-to-believe story about a mother and her two daughters who traveled from the UK to New York for a vacation. The mother caught pneumonia and the teenaged girls were taken to a municipal orphanage, “where they were separated, strip-searched and questioned before being kept under lock and key for the next 30 hours.

    “The two sisters were made to shower in front of security staff and told to fill out a two-page form with questions including: ‘Have you ever been the victim of rape?’ and ‘Do you have homicidal tendencies?’

    “One question asked ‘are you in a street gang?’ to which Gemma replied: ‘I’m a member of Appledore library.'”

    (Katie, 13, and Gemma, 15, with their mother Yvonne.)

    This is especially pertinent because the story has several points of resemblance to the current one.

    I think your best line was, “Were I in this situation I wouldn’t want to have Pnemonia.” No kidding. Were I a person reading that story, I wouldn’t want to have a major case of denial about the possibility that something like that could happen to me. But since you are in denial, and therefore feel entitled to treat others with a complete lack of charity, you blamed the children’s sick mother:

    “IMHO, if the mother was able to speak/express an opinion/thought to the doctors/hospital administrator, she should have asked for her consulate or arranged for another adult to come from the UK to stay with the children (if she was going to be in the hospital for an extended period), if her expected hospital stay was to be brief (overnight), there is no reason the kids couldn’t stay with her in the hospital room/waiting room (IMHO). It’s fun to second-guess everything after the fact with one side of the story, but you have assumed that the mother did everything right and the state did everything wrong, … but since we only have the mother’s side – she probably left out a few details.

    (Emphasis yours.)

    Let’s talk about leaving out the details. I got in touch with my favorite Class II EMT and said, “What kind of condition do you have to be in to get admitted to a hospital with pneumonia when you don’t want to be there?” His immediate answer: altered level of consciousness, most likely as the result of a high fever.

    If you’d checked out the link to the story as reported in This Is London — it was posted just four comments before your own — you’d have known that the mother was dehydrated, rigged up with IVs, and literally too sick to wave goodbye to her daughters as the authorities took them away. However, I doubt that knowledge would have changed your reaction, since you were arguing that:

    “…we can’t give anyone a free pass when they enter “the system” (Child Protective Services) since no one knows their history. Should we assume because they are girls they couldn’t be dangerous? Their cute accent eliminates the possibility they are dangerous? Their age?”

    You were arguing that it was right to treat them like potentially dangerous criminals, when the only reason they were in the hands of Child Protective Services was that their mother had become gravely ill while they were on vacation. You immediately followed this by posting another comment which read, in its entirety:

    #40 posted by Ken Hansen , January 25, 2008 6:36 AM

    Follow-up to my earlier post (#39):

    Link to proof that teenagers are dangerous and stupid (in case anyone doubted either)

    Here’s the story you linked to for that “proof”:

    Authorities believe a teen accused of plotting to hijack a plane was suicidal, and a judge was scheduled to decide Friday whether to keep him in custody.

    The 16-year-old, who has not been identified by authorities, was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight Tuesday night at Nashville International Airport. He was being held at a juvenile detention facility.

    FBI spokesman George Bolds told The Associated Press the teen had handcuffs, rope and duct tape in his bag, and was believed to be traveling alone.

    “His plan had a low probability of success,” Bolds said.

    The teen was calm during the flight from Los Angeles and made no apparent attempt to commandeer the plane, Bolds said. He could not comment further on the teen’s mental condition because he is a minor.

    That is: suicidal kid, no real threat, didn’t even try to commandeer the plane. Was arrested on a tip that probably came from his worried parents. And yet you’re sure that he was dangerous, just like you’re sure that little MIT student with the blinky nametag, the teenagers from Devon, and now this wizened, seriously ill fourteen-year-old are dangerous.

    Man, you’re just scared of everything, aren’t you? I expect that’s why you’re so heavily bought into the idea that all these incidents were the victims’ faults — you think it means that nothing of the sort could ever possibly happen to you. It’s the wrong approach. What you need isn’t tough talk about fake security. You need a realistic sense of the actual dangers you face, and their relative likelihood.

    Back to the chronology:

    In February, we had the story about the TSA confiscating extra baby food a couple had packed (long flight, snowstorms, record delays, not unreasonable), telling them they couldn’t carry that much “without a letter from a doctor,” then turning down their offer to write said letter (both parents were doctors). It could hardly be more obvious that the TSA was making up the rules as they went along. In defense of this, you trotted out the story about how malefactors could hide out in the lavatory and combine two liquids to make an explosive.

    As I said in that discussion, that’s a thoroughly discredited notion, and it’s been discredited for a long time now. But I didn’t just say it. I also gave you a bunch of links where you could check out the subject yourself.

    And what do I find this time around? You, trotting out that same dumb story about terrorists bringing liquids aboard planes. Not only is it a story you have good reason to know is false, but it’s not even relevant this time.

    It occurs as part of a longer passage from comment #56:

    “So let me get this straight – since the folks that want to bring down planes”

    No. Bringing down planes is not their objective. It’s just a means they’ve used several times. Their objective is to throw the U.S. into a state of terror and uncertainty, and cause us to waste resources trying to combat an enemy that can’t be pinned down. In your case, they’ve been very successful, and you’re cooperating with them for all you’re worth.

    and cause terror in the general public would never send a sick person on a plane to bring it down, we should let all go through?”

    Nope. At no point has anyone suggested that all sickly people should be allowed to go through security without being checked.

    “Of course, no person would have a feeding tube put in so they could get an explosive device on a plane to blow themself up – that’s insane!”

    (Hint: when what you’re saying already verges on the ridiculous, sarcasm is not your friend.)

    The reply here is nope again. No one has ever said that the kid’s feeding tube was a risk to security, or that anyone with a feeding tube should be let through security unchecked. That’s a completely fraudulent argument. The point was that his backup tube — simple, plastic, packaged in clear plastic — did not need to be opened, and that by doing so the TSA agent recklessly endangered his health.

    By the way, there’s been a lot of fuss about the degree of contamination, and whether the tube proved necessary later. In the process, we’ve seen some very strained readings of the original story. Here’s the actual description: “a TSA officer insisted on opening the sterile equipment, contaminating his back-up feeding tube which he later needed.”

    The default reading of that sentence is not that he might have needed it later; it’s that later on, he did need to use the tube. What’s the likeliest way for the kid and his family to know that the equipment was contaminated? By having him get an infection from it. You were mocking the delay between the event and the report. That gap there may represent the kid being seriously ill as a result of the agent’s stupid high-handedness.

    Now you’re suggesting that it was reasonable to suspect that the kid had been fitted with a feeding tube so he could (in some unspecified way even you can’t imagine) participate in a bogus terrorist act involving fluids. I conclude from this that there are no values you won’t sacrifice in order to defend your belief that the TSA is protecting you from scary people.

    They aren’t, you know.

    “No religious zealot would bring a baby along to let them get past the amount of liquid they could bring on a plane -“

    Bogus, bogus, bogus. The combined-liquids story is one with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Bogus also, in that the story was never about bringing liquids on board. It was about a TSA official insisting on breaking the seal on the clear plastic packaging of the kid’s backup feeding tube.


    No, that’s the common misspelling of the rap star’s name. I do like it, though. If you’re going to play the bully, it’s best that you be inadvertently ridiculous while doing it.

    Now: do you have anything to say for yourself in reply?

  80. hee heh! Oh Teresa! I read a few of them too, but old Ken must have REALLY got up your nose! Cut him a break, I think he wants to be convinced by us rather than converting us.

    You’d make a good prosecutor if you could only lose that soppy streak of over-mercifulness.

  81. Takuan, it takes more than Ken Hansen to get up my nose, and when it happens, my comments tend to run shorter.

    Give mercy as you would be given it. I like close readings myself, if the author gets them right.

  82. Teresa, I’d just like to take a moment to say how much I’m enjoying the return of comments to BoingBoing, and having you as moderator.


  83. (watching Teresa execute 200d6 RKA, +200 to hit, multiple laser guided 2klb munitions back at #111)

    Holy quacamole. The mushroom cloud looks beautiful from over here.

    ::do you have anything to say for yourself in reply?

    Wait, hold on. Lemme get some popcorn…

  84. So we know there is a group of people who have used airliners as weapons, killing civilians. And in response we’ve created a TSA system where everyone – including kids with plastic tubes in their chests – is treated equally. And we see the results of a system where human common sense is ignored. Maybe it’s time to start using common sense and put the resources toward heavier screening of individuals who statistically are a greater threat. Is ridiculous for this kid or the grandma from Toledo to go through the exact same process as – not to pick on anyone but let’s look at logic – Middle Eastern males.

  85. Teresa – That may have been the greatest post I’ve ever seen on a blog.

    I think Ken Hansen may be a pseudonym for one of the bloggers on the TSA’s blog. Only way it makes sense.

  86. Brava Teresa!

    Of course, many people pointed various things out to Ken, and his next post asked the same questions, and otherwise behaved as if no one had said anything to answer his points. He appears to be an output-only device.

    But any rate, now we rare commenters know who he is and what he’s about. Where’s the Ignore This User button on his profile page?

  87. Teresa @ #111: Wow, a six-month fisking!

    Greg London @ #115 But it was your “summary” that still has me laughing!

    Between you two, you finally got me to make an account here.

  88. Ken Hansen (@ 95): A theoretical risk? Sometime let me point a rifle at you. So long as I never pull the trigger, it was only a theoretical risk, not a real risk.

    Nothing happened so you weren’t in any real danger, right… after all, I didn’t shoot you, and you weren’t hurt, right. No harm, no foul.

    But heck, maybe I’m all wet, let’s look it up.

    Risk n.

    1. The possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger.
    2. A factor, thing, element, or course involving uncertain danger; a hazard: “the usual risks of the desert: rattlesnakes, the heat, and lack of water” (Frank Clancy).


    Nope, seems risk (as opposed to your, interesting, contruction of the word) means the possibility of harm, not the actuality of it.

    But hey, anytime you want to run the experiment, let me know.

  89. Holy cow, I thought Ken just didn’t understand how medical supplies or air travel for children worked. Now I realize he’s just plain malicious. Or a TSA employee. Probably both.

    Thanks, Teresa!

  90. He hasn’t been back here to defend himself. He is defending his “whatever the authorities choose to do must be right” position on another thread, however. That said, he does appear to be being a bit more measured.

Comments are closed.