Flute virtuoso's rare instruments destroyed by US customs

When Canadian flute virtuoso Boujemaa Razgui flew to JFK en route to Boston, his 13 handmade flutes, made from rare reeds, did not arrive with him. They had been mistaken for bamboo by a US customs inspector who opened Razgui's luggage in transit, removed the instruments, and destroyed them. Razgui's been told to write a letter to the Department of Agriculture in DC if he has any further queries. (via Naked Capitalism)

Notable Replies

  1. And rather than recognize musical instruments and at least ask the owner, a tax paid moron just destroyed them. The ignorance is painful. People this stupid should be employed someplace where they can't cause harm.

  2. That is victim-blaming. No one should expect to have their stuff destroyed by an ignorant person for no reason. We pay enormous amounts of tax money, airport fees and ticket charges, and it is totally reasonable to expect that your stuff won't be destroyed for no reason. Not to say that accidents don't happen, or force majeur if there is a flood or fire, but just "crushed and destroyed by idiot" isn't something you should have to expect.

  3. dacree says:

    From the US Customs and Border Patrol website

    Is bamboo allowed to be imported to the US?

    In general, bamboo that is not thoroughly dried and is therefore still capable of propagation is prohibited entry into the United States.

    Bamboo that is thoroughly dried and split or cut lengthwise (rendering it incapable of propagation) will be inspected upon entry and released.

    Unsplit dried bamboo canes/stakes/poles also are allowed entry into the United States after inspection: however, if the bamboo canes/stakes/poles are intended for garden or nursery use, the shipment must be fumigated (T404-d treatment extended to 24 hours) upon arrival at the U.S. port of entry.

    Bamboo furniture, bamboo cloth, and other manufactured products made of bamboo do not require fumigation and will be released upon inspection.

    His flutes were cut, dried, and incapable of propagation. The border patrol agent was clearly in the wrong.

  4. dacree says:

    There are something like 1,400 species of bamboo. Some of it is horribly invasive and will take over. Once you have it established, it can be almost impossible to get rid of. What we have in the US is very aggressive and difficult to manage but there are species out there that makes our bamboo look wimpy.

  5. The War on the Unusual has brought us all the way to a society of absolute conformity. Even in this forum, posters leap to blame the victim when an incident such as this occurs. He should have expected it, they say, because what he was doing was out of the ordinary - beyond the comprehension of a former schoolyard bully with an eighth-grade education. After all, we can't be too careful. If your stuff can't immediately be recognized as innocuous, it must be presumed harmful. Moreover, the very act of being unusual is the equivalent of turning in a false alarm: it endangers us all by diverting the authorities' attention from the "real bad guys."

    This attitude is nothing less than an utter rejection of personal autonomy. That which makes you you - whatever sets you apart as a distinct individual from your neighbours - must be rooted out and destroyed. It's a war on an essential aspect of humanity - the ability to self-identify as a unique individual. And over half of our society shows by their votes that they're in favour of it.

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