TSA's War on Candy-Eating Deaf People

I've had a number of pleasant experiences with Transportation Security Administration officers recently, including a very sensible discussion about prioritizing security threats with one officer in Denver, which we held while he felt me up in front of my wife. (I still resist going through the naked porno machines, preferring the mutual humiliation of the feel-up pat-down -- the solo humiliation of having the federal government look at me naked with my hands in the air is not for me.) This particular officer was very thorough in his search, but also seemed to understand that prioritizing risk would save both of us a lot of trouble. And it is true that the TSA is moving in the direction of defining just exactly which travelers pose no risk (frequent flyers, the elderly, military personnel, and so on) and treating them accordingly. It is also true, however, that some TSA officers act like dipshits. To wit, this story, banging around the Internet over the past day, from a deaf man trying to fly out of Louisville:

While I was going through the TSA, some of them started laughing in my direction. I thought it might've been someone behind me, but I found out otherwise.

They went through my bag (for no reason), and found a couple bags of candy I brought. I was told I wasn't allowed to fly with that (wtf? I've flown with food before -- these were even sealed still because I brought them right in the airport). I was then asked if I would like to donate the candy "To the USO". Since I know the airport there has an Air National Guard base, and I figured it would go to the soldiers, I (annoyed) said sure, why not? 

The guards, as I was getting scanned, started eating the candy they just told me was for the soldiers. In front of me, still laughing at me (very clearly now). One of them asked why they were laughing, and one of them came up to me, pointed at my shirt, laughed at me and said, "Fucking deafie". The Louisville TSA called me a "fucking deafie" and laughed at me because I was deaf, and they expected wouldn't say anything back (or wouldn't hear them). Make no bones about it -- she was facing me and I read her lips. There was no mistake. I would later find out that they had called at least 4 other individuals the same thing.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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