because reading is fundamental(ist)

The blogosphere is (justifiably) all a-twitter because Ross Mayfield was told that “air passengers are only allowed a maximum of two books on flights”: starting April 14.

The problem isn’t a matter of 2 (or 4) books, of course. That’s just one silly example. The real issue is this note on the “Transportation Security Administration”: site:

_To ensure everyone’s security the screener may determine that an item not on this chart is prohibited._

Note that there’s no mention of how to challenge (or even report) a mistaken declaration, either at the time or after the fact. So, if the _ahem_ well-trained and capable TSA staff decide that your knitting needles or eyeglass screwdriver are _verboten_ (which they “aren’t”:, then you have no recourse but to give them up. (Chant with me, everyone: “unreasonable… searches… and seizures…”:

4 thoughts on “because reading is fundamental(ist)

  1. I like whatsinhisbag!

    ~d who loves the bill of rights and remembers when “probably cause” became “reasonable doubt”

  2. Absolutely. I expected them to declare the femur a “potential weapon”.

    I’m just glad that we know (for sure!) that knitting needles are officially on the allowed list. Now K can knit with confidence!

  3. Sounds from the rest of the comments on the site that it was books of matches, not books. The screener guy was confused.

  4. That’s my point, though. The TSA authorizes that same screener guy to make a decision like that at any time, and offers no course of action if he’s wrong. That’s like saying that a traffic cop can decide at any point to stop and search your vehicle, then confiscate items because he decided your activity (say, talking on a cell phone) was dangerous. Not because you’re actually breaking a written law, but because _the officer decided_.

    As we’ve seen both from history and from recent events at the borders, giving officers this kind of leeway often leads to harrassment. It’s too much power, and that’s why the Bill of Rights specifically prohibits it.

Comments are closed.