Commentary: TSA half-wits are keeping abreast of latest threats

Pliers new tool for tackling terrorism?
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
One agency that ought to be disbanded or given the luggage-handling job at the airport? How about that Transportation Security Administration?

Mandi Hamlin, 37, was having a hard time removing a nipple ring as she was going through airport security up in Lubbock. So a TSA agent handed her a pair of pliers to help her get the job done.

If you had an uncle crazy enough to do something like that, would you let him in your house? I know I wouldn't. I'd try to have him committed.

While Hamlin was behind a screen removing the nipple ring, she says, she could hear the male agents tittering. Now there's a Beavis and Butt-Head moment for you. Can't you hear them back there going, "Heh heh. Heh heh heh."

Hamlin should have told the TSA to go suck an egg. Yes, I know she wouldn't be allowed on the plane unless she lost the nipple ring. And I can understand wanting to get out of Lubbock. Boy, can I. But not quite that badly. On the other hand, I could see somebody removing a nipple ring with a pair of pliers to get out of Midland.

When you've got federal officials handing garage tools to passengers to mutilate themselves to get on an airplane, it's pretty obvious that we've lost our minds in this country when it comes to safety. And a nipple ring, for gosh sakes. Did the agent think Hamlin's nipple ring would explode?

On Friday, the TSA admitted that it needed to change its procedures on body piercings. On the other hand, it did not apologize to Hamlin. No brains AND no manners. I think the obvious piece of justice here is to require all the officials at the TSA to have nipple rings installed and then make them remove them with a pair of pliers. Ouch. After going through that drill, they wouldn't make that mistake again.

Here's the way the story went down, according to Hamlin. She was scanned by a female TSA agent. The hand-held device beeped. Hamlin told the female agent she had nipple rings. The female agent called over the guy agents. Hamlin asked if she could show the female agent her nipple rings, but one of the male agents told her she couldn't get on the plane without removing them. She went behind a curtain and tried to remove them. She was crying. One wouldn't come out. She said she couldn't remove it without a pair of pliers.

And one of these boneheads gave her the pliers.

I'm wondering if Aunt Girdie's fillings made the metal detector go off, would the TSA extract her teeth before letting her on the airplane.

So here's my advice to you: If you've got a nipple ring, instead of getting on an airplane, drive.

And if you can, stay the heck out of Lubbock.

John Kelso's column appears

on Sundays, Tuesdays and

Fridays. Contact him at 445-3606

or [email protected]

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