Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On Saturday, August 18, 2012, Delta Airlines gave in to the fears of bigots and refused to let me board a flight out of Buffalo-Niagara Airport.

What follows is my 3,000-ish word reflection on what happened. A shorter version, with tweets, can be seen via Storify here.

[UPDATE (23 August 2012): Scroll to the bottom of this entry to see Delta's initial response.]

[UPDATE II (24 August 2012): Numerous folks have asked about how they can acquire the shirt I wore. In light of this controversy, Woot is reprinting the t-shirt (also available as a tote bag) for a limited time — available only until Wednesday, August 29. Please note: “By request of shirt designer Cory Doctorow, 100% of his commission will be evenly divided among three charities that work for liberty and justice: the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.”]

[UPDATE III (24 August 2012): Others have also been asking about the shirt I wore the following morning, “Keep Calm And Poop Strong.” Due to all the feedback, we've put in an order for a reprinting of those and reduced the price, with all proceeds benefiting three cancer-related charities: the University of Arizona Cancer Center's Patient Assistance Fund, The Wellness Community - Arizona, and the Colon Cancer Alliance. These three organizations provide the full spectrum of cancer care services, from treatment and financial assistance to support and survivorship to awareness, advocacy, and education.]


My wife and I had arrived at the airport to fly home to Phoenix after attending my wife’s grandfather’s funeral, via a layover in Atlanta on Delta #1176. We had cleared the security checkpoint without incident, but while waiting at the gate, a Delta supervisor informed me my shirt (this one here, designed by Cory Doctorow) had made numerous passengers and employees “very uncomfortable.”

I was then questioned by TSA about the significance and meaning of the shirt. I politely explained that it was “mocking the security theater charade and over-reactions to terrorism by the general public — both of which we're seeing right now, ironically.” The agents inquired as to the meaning of the term “ZOMG” and who it was that I thought was “gonna kill us all.” As best I could tell, they seemed to find my explanation that I didn’t think anyone would be killing us all and that I was poking fun at overwrought, irrational fears exhibited by certain members of the flying public to be satisfactory.  And moreover, they clearly deemed my shirt to be no legitimate threat.

The Delta supervisor then told me I would be able to board the plane, but only after acquiescing to an additional security check of my and my wife's belongings and changing my shirt. He went to lengths to explain that my choice of attire was inappropriate and had caused serious consternation amongst multiple individuals, and that ultimately “It's not you, it's the shirt.” We would then be the very last two people to board the plane, no doubt drawing additional ire of my fellow passengers. Despite what I saw as my right to wear a shirt that expresses my feelings about our Kabuki Security Theater, and a fairly ridiculous over-response to the matter (I had, after all, worn the same shirt at least the last five times I’d flown without any incident whatsoever), I agreed to the stipulations set forth by the Delta supervisor.

Soon afterwards, once the boarding process had commenced, the Delta supervisor pulled me aside again — this time accompanied by not only three TSA agents, but also multiple Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police. I was questioned some more and my wife was also pulled out of line for additional questioning and screening. Our bags were searched, my shirt was photographed, we were asked multiple questions about the cause of our visit, how often we make it to western NY, and our drivers’ license numbers were taken and radioed in for what seemed to be a quick background check.

At this point, the TSA agents appeared satisfied we had nothing suspicious in our luggage and that we posed no threat. However, the Delta supervisor informed us the pilot had decided, regardless of the outcome of the multiple TSA screenings and my willingness to change shirts, that due to the discomfort my shirt has caused, my wife and I would not be allowed to board the aircraft. Passengers on the plane supposedly felt uncomfortable with my very presence on the flight. And the Delta manager went out of his way to point out that he wholeheartedly agreed with the pilot’s decision.

I was stunned. “You’re f------ kidding me,” I said in response. I pushed for an explanation of why the pilot was willing to overrule/ignore the judgment of the trained security officers. “Why can’t I board? What’s the concern?,” I asked. 

His response left me even more stunned: “Just use your imagination.”

Wow. Let’s just consider that for a moment.

In short, security screenings and any other evidence-based assessment method have been deemed irrelevant. Whatever I do, I am suspicious. Why? Not because the shirt I’m wearing presents some sort of legitimate threat. Not because I have weapons or potential bomb-making tools in my luggage. And not because I’ve shown any other indication of any sort that I’m a potential terrorist.  Rather, the pilot and some Delta rep can project upon me their worst fears of what I am possibly capable of.  If that’s the case, why even bother with the bloated security apparatus — since Delta pilots have discretion to kick off passengers who've passed multiple checks, after all?

Though I suppose I see where they’re coming from: my 120 pound frame on my 6’2” body is very, very intimidating. Given the fact that I’d already exhibited a sense of sarcasm and willingness to question authority, it’s certainly no leap in logic to expect I’d combine that unacceptable uppityness of mine with my brute strength to single-handedly takeover the plane mid-flight. You know, with mind bullets. Oh yeah, seems completely reasonable to me.

And so long as we’re just coming up with completely unjustified imaginary scenarios about what other passengers might do, let me give that a hand, too. As I posted to Twitter: “Using my imagination, I'm afraid the racist dingdongs flying @Delta will attack me mid-flight. Will @Delta pilot refuse to let them fly?” Of course, using my imagination about the threat posed by white passengers just doesn't carry the same weight with Delta as irrational fear-mongering of white bigots — Delta apparently takes pride in catering to their irrationality. But why?

If racist dingdongs are made uncomfortable by my presence on flight, shouldn't Delta ask them to change flights rather than kick me off? If any passengers were still afraid of me sans my “upsetting t-shirt,” Delta should see no reason to accommodate them. These are not voices that warrant being appeased. If my presence makes them uncomfortable, they can choose to be on a different flight. But instead Delta explicitly accepted the argument based in pure irrationality, and then went one step further by justifying their own actions by appealing to the powers of the imagination. Absolutely disgusting, appalling behavior.

As I pointed out on Facebook and Twitter, this incident isn't the first time a Delta pilot has booted a passenger off of a flight because other passengers were upset. Last year, two imams in Memphis were repeatedly cleared by TSA, but denied boarding by a pilot because other passengers were made uncomfortable by their presence. (Ironically, they were traveling to a “conference on American fears of Islam.”)

Not offending the sensibilities of racist passengers who get offended by being forced to travel alongside people of color shouldn't be Delta's goal. No one wins when we tolerate and accommodate such odious behavior. Delta should be willing to recognize the civil rights of all their paying passengers over certain passengers’ “right” to be fearful of Scary Brown Men. Or rather, those who want to be afraid of me and what they fear I may do can go ahead and live and fly in fear, but the last thing Delta or any other airline should do is validate these noxious beliefs.


Now, our hellish travel experience wasn’t quite over just yet.

Having been booted from our flight, the transit police now began to aggressively question us. At one point, I was asked where my brother lives (he was the one who gifted me the shirt). A bit surprised by the irrelevant question, I paused for a moment before answering.

“You had to think about that one. How come?,” she asked. I explained he recently moved. “Where'd he move from?” “Michigan,” I respond. “Michigan, what's that?,” she says. At this point, the main TSA agent who'd questioned me earlier interjected: “He said ‘Michigan’.” Unable to withhold my snark, I responded with an eye-rolling sneer: “You've never heard of Michigan?”

This response did not please her partner, a transit cop named Mark. Mark grabbed his walkie-talkie and alerted his supervisor and proceeded to request that he be granted permission to question me further in a private room. His justification?: “First he hesitated, then he gave a stupid answer.” Michigan, my friends, is a stupid answer.

And then, he decided to drop any fa├žade of fair treatment: the veil was lifted, this was about who I was and how I looked: “And he looks foreign.”

Well, Buffalo is pretty close to Canada, so maybe he thought I looked Canadian. What does a Canadian look like anyway? Whatever it is, I’m sure that’s precisely what he was thinking. Certainly he wasn’t implying that dark-skinned people are not real Americans and that white people are the only true Americans. (I wonder what those who settled this land well before the arrival of Europeans would have to say about that.)

Fortunately, Mark’s request was denied. Apparently, someone at NFTA recognized this bigoted meathead for the bigoted meathead he was and that nationality is simply a concept that exists solely on paper and cannot be discerned from just looking at someone. But Mark wasn’t quite done harassing us. He didn’t get his way with me in a private screening room, but he had some other tricks up his sleeve. He left in a huff, declaring he be back with the dogs.

Meanwhile, the questioning from the other transit cops continued. As did the questioning on completely irrelevant topics, too.

The female transit cop found it more than a little bit suspicious that this woman claiming to be my wife didn’t share my last name. She proceeded to question me about it further. “And she’s your wife? How long have you been married? And she refused to take your name? "WHY wouldn't she?”

In the world of NFTA transit police, women are the chattel of their husbands. And to indicate such, they must take their husbands' names! My wife's unwillingness to give in to this convention is clearly a sign of my swarthy suspicious character. How dare I marry a feminist! The fact that she refuses to define herself by her relation to me is un-American!

Soon, Mark returned. And he had the dog he promised he’d be bringing. Was there any reason to suspect we were carrying drugs? Of course not. Was this anything more than some lunk who was pissed off to see his authority questioned and who chose to respond by trying to intimidate us? Of course not.

The dog turned up nothing and our good friend Mark left again. Shortly thereafter, the latest round of questioning was now complete.

When Mark returned, he conferred with his fellow transit cops. They found out that I had opted out of the body scanner at the TSA security checkpoint. Mark cited this piece of information to his fellow cops as further evidence of my suspicious nature. Now if Mark had even the slightest clue how to do his job, he could have asked me directly about why I opted out. But that would’ve been too much work. It’s a whole lot easier to make baseless accusations.

Had he asked me, this is what he would’ve learned: I’ve been undergoing treatment for stage IV colon cancer since February 2011. In addition to having little tolerance for unnecessary and ineffective security procedures like the body scanner, I’m also not particularly fond of exposing my body to additional avoidable sources or radiation and, more importantly, any scan would guarantee that I receive a follow-up full-body pat-down. Why? Because I have both an implanted port through which I receive my chemotherapy infusion and, having lost nearly a foot of my sigmoid colon, I have a colostomy.  A bag that full of some sort of foreign matter strapped to the abdomen of a passenger would raise eyebrows among those analyzing the image of me walking through a scanner. Since I’d be selected for additional screening anyway, why go through the scanner when I can just avoid that altogether and go straight to the secondary screening?

But it really shouldn’t matter what my reason for opting out. The key is in that word “opt.” It means I, like any other flyer, have an option. I can choose to avoid the scanner. And in doing so, I shouldn’t be seen as admitting any sort of guilt.


Eventually, the Delta manager returned to inform us we had been rebooked on a flight the following morning at 7 am. But Delta didn't find it necessary to give us a place to stay for the night. Instead, we had to rent a car and drive to my in-laws’ place, some one-and-a-half hours away. We arrived some time around 10 pm and we were off again by 3:45 am to ensure we'd be able to make it to our morning flight after returning the rental car. So very kind of Delta to make this experience even more miserable.

In any case, we arrived the following morning, August 19, and I was wearing a different shirt.

Was the word “poop” going to be deemed too offensive for flight, too? Perhaps those who want to preserve the status quo in which insurers can kick people off insurance for being “too expensive” and be denied coverage for having a pre-existing condition would find my shirt upsetting? Perhaps an Aetna shareholder, already upset over the fact that the company was publicly shamed into paying my $118K+ in medical bills, would see my shirt, realize who I was, and would be unwilling to fly alongside a known enemy of God’s Very Own Free Market? Would Delta acquiesce to those complaints, as well?

It turned out Delta had a different plans to screw with me. While my wife was assigned a seat when we checked in, I was instead simply given a piece of paper saying I was “confirmed” in lieu of an actual boarding pass. And being “confirmed” didn't actually mean would necessarily ever be getting on that plane. With the flight oversold, my only hope was that eight passengers would accept Delta’s offer of a voucher and take a later flight. Luckily, Delta convinced enough people to take the voucher, so I wasn't involuntarily re-booked yet again.

Given the threat I supposedly posed the previous night and the extent to which I made people uncomfortable even without my shirt, it's interesting how things ended up working out for the flights we finally took to return us to Phoenix: I ended up being assigned a bulkhead seat with extra leg room on the first flight and didn’t have to pay the extra surcharge for it and got an exit row for the second flight, likewise without paying additional for that privilege.

So, fortunately, we did make it home without too much trouble (aside from the worries regarding whether we'd actually get seats) the morning after we had intended to get home.

But the larger question remains: why'd this happen? Clearly, the problem originates with the paranoid minds of my fellow passengers who misconstrued a shirt mocking the overwrought security process as a terrorist threat. And, despite the protestations of the Delta manager, who I am was more important than what I was wearing. Once again, to quote myself from a tweet I’d posted: “Last night's lesson: mock the security charade or offend racists by being brown and @Delta won't let you fly.”


There are certainly some reasonable questions one can ask of this entire incident. As a friend asked via Twitter: where should we draw the line when it comes to what people can and can’t say in airports and what counts as “crying fire in a theater” territory?

The distinction I would make is the same one that was made by the Supreme Court in Cohen vs. California (h/t Matthew Davis for reminding me of this case in a comment on my Storify account of this incident). In that case, the majority of justices were willing to distinguish between  speech and conduct. I was doing nothing more than wearing a shirt that poked fun at our national willingness to give up our freedoms in the face of fear. A satirical t-shirt doesn’t constitute a threat, and the TSA officers who interrogated me conceded as much. My shirt was speech, not conduct.

[UPDATE, 26 August: A point of clarification regarding my reference to Cohen: I mention the case not as a precedent that suggests Delta cannot do what they did; sadly, it seems quite likely that Delta was acting within the law by preventing me from boarding. Rather, I note Cohen for the distinction of speech and conduct, which is a relevant one to make even when the actor taking objection to my speech is a private company rather than the government. In other words, just because Delta's actions do not violate the First Amendment, their willingness to acquiesce to those who found a satirical political statement (i.e., not a statement that in any reasonable manner could be construed as a threat) “very uncomfortable” is ridiculous. Moreover, their eventual willingness to acquiesce to the bigots who found my mere brown presence uncomfortable, even after I had agreed to change my shirt and repeatedly been cleared by TSA, is morally reprehensible.]

Certainly one can go too far, but my shirt was most definitely not threatening. It didn’t, for instance, read: “I Will Bomb This Plane.” There's a clear difference between mocking the charade that is our security process and its fear of dark-skinned men and shoes and liquids, and making an actual threat. My t-shirt was in no way akin to making a threat of bombing the aircraft I was hoping to board. Or as a friend commented on Twitter: “But the t-shirt didn't even say "this plane will be blown up." It was making fun of impotent bureaucracy. So more like wearing a tshirt that said "Local Volunteer Firefighter Brigade 202 Are Poopy Heads."”

It is worth noting that once TSA was involved and had to question me about the meaning of my shirt, they did treat me with the utmost respect and without any malice. Indeed, the lead TSA agent recognized the absurdity of the situation and even apologized I had to go through all this, saying that he found the entire situation to be ridiculous and that he’d let me fly. The same cannot be same about Delta or NFTA transit police. Shortly afterwards, I labeled the transit police as being “thuggish brutes” and I stand by that characterization. As for Delta, their actions could be at best described as cowardly and racist. (There’s much wrong with the TSA and the entire airport security operation — to wit — but in this case, the TSA agents I personally interacted with were courteous and professional.)


What Now?: File A Complaint

So, what now? Well, fortunately we can all complain. Loudly. And to everyone. There are multiple actors who acted wrongfully in this case, and all should be called out and officially reprimanded for doing so. There are multiple avenues through which we can air our grievances regarding this situation.

Write to Delta, their CEO, to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Transit Police, and to the feds who are in charge of ensuring that passengers do not have their civil rights violated.

Demand justice. Maintaining the safety of the flying public should not mean the abrogation of civil rights of dark-skinned passengers.

(Our flight was Delta #1176, BUF to ATL, August 18, 2012)

  • A complaint may be filed with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Transit Police by calling 716-855-7660 and asking to speak to a supervisor. You can also file a written complaint with the NFTA Transit Police by downloading their complaint form here: http://www.nfta.com/pdfs/complaint.pdf

UPDATE (23 August 2012): A number of people who have emailed Delta CEO Richard Anderson received the same response:
We value customer feedback and appreciate you taking the time to contact our Chief Executive Officer of Delta Air Lines, Richard Anderson.  We understand your feelings surrounding this issue and we are grateful you took the time to let us know how our actions have been perceived.

We are privileged to serve thousands of customers around the world every day. Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against any passenger regardless of age, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or gender. At the same time, providing a safe and secure operation is Delta's primary and most fundamental obligation to our customers and employees. Your concerns have been reported to the appropriate leadership for their internal review.

The company offered this response to the Phoenix New Times:
Safety and security will always be our first priority and most fundamental obligation. Delta doesn't discriminate or condone discrimination of any kind against our employees or customers.

And this, to the Daily Mail (UK):
Delta spokesperson Betsy Talton told MailOnline that the airline does not discriminate against any of its passengers.

‘We serve thousands of customers around the world,’ she said. ‘Delta does not condone discrimination against anyone, at the same time, providing a safe and secure operation is the primary obligation to its employees and customers.’


  1. You have no rights to board an airplane.

    1. No, but by that same yardstick you have no right to enter a restaurant, sports arena or any other private business that sells services to the public. That's why we have anti-discrimination law.

  2. ...but you cannot be denied nor obstructed from services (for which you have fully paid) based on perceived foreignness.

  3. That asshole Delta pilot showed you! It was Delta Airlines, right? Delta Airlines screwed you with spiteful bigotry? Delta? Delta Airlines?

  4. The two things I'm taking from this saga are:

    * I am remembering why I don't fly and now know why I shouldn't fly Delta.
    * I want one of those shirts.

  5. I'd be curious if Delta's bit here is lack of good policy, existence of bad policy, or simply following an external policy. Anyone know what TSA/FAA requires of airlines who receive complaints like this from passengers?

    I'm just not ready to demonize Delta for something that could very well be outside of their control. Not without more information.

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  7. Three quick comments.

    First, I'm so sorry to hear you and your wife had to go through this. I agree with your characterizations of the Delta and NFTA folks-- total dopes. While it's great that you're passing along the info for your readers to complain (and I will), I trust YOU are making the biggest fuss. At the VERY LEAST, you should turn this blog post into a letter and send it to Delta and the NFTA folks as well as the local and national media, as well as more niche media (the travel writers at NPR, USA Today, NY Times, Buffalo's newspapers, etc.) and the FAA.

    Second, you should demand Delta issue an apology, and make retributions for the cost of your overnight lodging (gas to/from your in-laws) and hassle (a $500 flight voucher would be a nice start). You should write directly to Delta's CEO-- don't pussyfoot around with calling their phone people (no paper trail) or with customer service. (Of course, the CEO will hand you off to customer service, but that will assure that your issue is seen and responded to.)

    Finally, PLEASE keep this blog updated with that letter, any responses you get, etc. Going public with this stuff is a powerful way to get results. And you deserve at least an apology for this ridiculousness.

  8. That certainly sounds like a bag full of crazy. I am so sorry you were treated that way and embarrassed that no one else on the flight spoke up. "made them nervous HAH"! Surely any real threat is less likely to wear such a Tshirt. It does show how much the security precautions are just theatre since you jumped through all there hoops but you were still considered a sufficient threat that they had to put you off the plane.

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  10. Flipflops are also a threat dont wear them to the airport.

    I am sorry this happened to you. Completely unexcusable.

    I hope Delta recognizes that there were some errors in their behavior and the Airport police too.

  11. Holy shit,

    A few years ago I was taking a flight from Buffalo to Atlanta and was also unnecessarily hassled by TSA and NFTA. I was 18 at the time and had long hair tied up with a bandana, ratty old clothes, sandals, and a torn ratty old backpack with no checked bags... So I looked like a little pot smoking no good hippie. The airport was a ghost town that day, I was the only one going through security, and yet I magically got selected for additional random screening. A dozen agents (including some supervisors) questioned me several times and 'discretely' tailed me to my gate when they finally cleared me. Before I boarded several of them came again and surrounded me at the gate and got out their stupid little notepads and questioned me all over again while a k-9 unit sniffed around.

    They were definitely aiming to intimidate. At the time I thought it was as disgusting as it was laughable.

    1. dress like a bum and get treated like a bum...that is part of life...deal with it...just because we are America dont mean you can look like crap and get away with that junk...i wouldnt let you board my flight either...make a ass of yourself and get treated like a ass...

    2. @Eye_on_Target - Really? How about me then? I'm a 40 YO White Male(really, I'm as white as they come. Any whiter and I'd be a loaf of white bread.) who dresses in "Business Casual" when I fly. (Nice jeans or Chinos with either good sneakers or loafers and a polo shirt.) I'm balding and slightly overweight from working at a computer all day long. I am the quintessential "Business traveler" type.

      Yet the TSA pulls me aside for the cancer machine EVERY TIME I fly, and I've been given the extra special bag searches multiple times. It's gotten so bad I won't fly anymore unless I have no choice. Thankfully I haven't had to, but as a Buffalo area resident, I can tell you that the Buffalo-Niagara airport is NOT one you want to have to go through security on.

      I look forward to the day when the TSA is disbanded. I should note that I am also very politically conservative. So it's not just Liberals that hate the TSA. In fact, I've found that the more "apolitical" people are, the more apathetic or even generally positive they are about the TSA. Political ignorance has a price, and that price is your Freedom.

  12. Can we also get Woot to put that shirt back up for sale? I'd totally buy one.

    1. It is back for a limited time. http://shirt.woot.com/plus/threat-level-doctorow-1

  13. Delta sucks ass. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I had already decided that I wasn't going to fly them again, but this has cemented my decision. Unfortunately, we live in a country where fear and stupid people make most of our decisions and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

  14. Were Delta and the NFTA bigoted, overly sensitive and just plain stupid? Yes. Should you have nonetheless anticipated not being let on? Also yes. Look, man, you had to realize this was coming. And while I agree with your point about the charade of security, if you're going to protest, understand that you are the one in the uphill battle. Being in the right doesn't mean you won't get your butt kicked by those with power.

  15. I was warned by a friend in law enforcement that it wouldn't be a good idea to wear my t-shirt in the airport. It has a 19th picture of a group of American Indians holding rifles.

    The text says, "Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism since 1492".

  16. I'm bummed that you were subjected to this crap. What pisses me off more, though, is the fact that we seem to live in a country where harassment by petty officials on power-trips is somehow seen as acceptable.

    Land of the free, home of the brave.

  17. Ugh... I feel for you and your wife. Keep us updated.

  18. Oy. My Looks Like Santa Claus husband hates the thought of flying. He lost his colon to ulcerative colitis, and so has The Bag. AND enough metal in him he set off of the alarms the few times we've flown since TSA was formed.
    He too would opt out. Between all the necessary x-tras and The Bag making people uncomfortable, all the machine would do is mark him for special screening any way.
    And he has A Mouth. Never let a smart ass who looks like Santa read Aviation Week. He reads all the TSA failure reports. And he's been known to tick off authority figures. I get so tired of all the extra screenings just because he has a mouth and that's their revenge.
    Currently, we take the train or drive everywhere. And I don't look forward to the next time we go through Security Theater.
    And we won't go into the fun my brother Richard Deutsch goes through. He was born in West LA our parents are American, two of are grandparents were American, the other two were from Russia! He gets called Ricardo, and now also triggers the occasional He's Foreign, read Muslim, line. But we're Jewish! OY!
    Good Luck in your fight. Flying while Brown is legal in the this country. And having a Smart Mouth is only supposed to tick them off, not get you booted.

  19. My letter to Richard Anderson, here:

    I'll keep this short, since I'm sure you're getting a fair amount of flak for your company's recent racist treatment of Arjit Guha. Take a look at it, here: http://arijitvsdelta.blogspot.co.uk/
    Racism starts, and is condoned, at the very highest levels. You run a racist organization that caters to bigots and the very worst in human behavior. Until you personally recognize that, and push Delta to change, nothing will happen.
    I won't fly Delta until that day comes. I wish you the best of luck in what must be a daunting and difficult task (otherwise I'm sure it would already have been taken care of).


    1. Delta's response was nothing but boilerplate. Pacifying, facile, thoughtless boilerplate:

      RE: Case Number 6922726

      Thank you for your email to our Chief Executive Officer, Richard
      Anderson. I have been asked to respond on his behalf regarding your

      We value customer feedback and appreciate you taking the time to contact
      Delta Air Lines. We understand your feelings surrounding this issue and
      we are grateful you took the time to let us know how our actions have
      been perceived.

      We are privileged to serve thousands of customers around the world every
      day. Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination
      against any passenger regardless of age, race, nationality, religion,
      sexual orientation or gender. At the same time, providing a safe and
      secure operation is Delta?s primary and most fundamental obligation to
      our customers and employees. Your concerns have been reported to the
      appropriate leadership for their internal review.

      Mr. Cantor, I want to thank you, again, for writing. We appreciate your
      interest in our company.


      A J Freeman
      Coordinator, Corporate Customer Care
      Delta Air Lines

    2. And, my further response to Mr. Anderson:


      This is some excellent boilerplate, but offers no response about how this will be dealt with, how it is perceived, how it will be avoided in the future, or what Delta management will be doing to educate its staff. You have, in fact, wasted my time by sending it to me. I only hope that it took longer for your team of monkeys to write than it did for me to read it. At this point, that is the only consolation that I can find, since you have offered so very little in your email.

      This response, in short, was a useless bit of PR fluff designed to pacify me, without offering anything of value. As such, I reject it. Please send me a real response, written by a human being.

      I took the time to think about what I wanted to say to you. I would expect the same courtesy from anybody who responded to me. As that is not the case, I can only imagine that my original concerns, expressed in my original email, have been confirmed.


  20. No one cared not even the pilot. You were lied to (big shocker). I submit it was the same as walking into a Mc Donalds with a shirt that says "F*** Ronald Mc Donald". A walking billboard sending anti advertizing msges to the rest of the paying customers saying. (F this place) disrepectfully. So they disrespected you back. I am not defending it, however.
    Delta is not a public institution, so they can dictate what ever nonsense they like. Situations like this should motivate people not to fly with them. Sadly if you had any choice you might not be flying them your self. One thing i have learned is NONE of the airline staff enjoy jokes verbally articulated or otherwise. Lemme just send my resume to be hired! sounds like a dream job. :)

    1. Actually, no. According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Delta is a place of public accommodation and is prohibited from discriminating based on race, religious preference, or a plethora of other options. Race is specifically a "protected class" which gets "extra scrutiny" and has a much lower bar of evidence in a lawsuit...basically, they have to prove that it wasn't racist to kick him off once he establishes any reasonable interpretation that it was based on nationality. The fact that the TSA cleared him while the other 2 parties did not will nullify the relevance of his T-shirt.

  21. Certain sections of the American populace really need to relearn that stuff you're always talking about, the "...home of the brave" stuff.

    As a Canadian, I can tell you that Canadians look like pretty much everything.

  22. "But the larger question remains: why'd this happen?"

    What's the point of having power if you can't abuse it?

  23. You keep mentioning racist in your blog. At what point did any of the characters mention that you were being detained because of your race? Where does race play a role in this at all? Could that just be your imagination?

    Do you feel that if you wore a different shirt that day they would have still stopped you because of your race? Of course not. Get over it -- not everyone is racist. Just because you were born a specific race does not mean everyone is out to discriminate against you.

    Also, flying is not a right -- it is a privilege. It is not protected by our constitution so if they want to discriminate against you for any reason at all, they have that ability

    1. At what point did any of the characters mention that you were being detained because of your race? Where does race play a role in this at all? Could that just be your imagination?

      The statement, "“And he looks foreign.” made by Mark the transit officer suggests that race did play into this. Would a white Canadian with the name John Smith be described as foreign-looking despite the fact that he is indeed foreign? I'm not sure why you would consider flying a privilege but at any rate it is a privilege that cannot be denied or abridged based on race.

      This country was founded by and continues to celebrate persons who stand up, sometimes noisily, to abuses of power. Arijit stands in good company.

    2. Looking foreign has nothing to do with race. What is the race of a typical American? Could someone from France (who is foreign) look like an American? There is no link between being foreign and race. I believe the blogger is imagining there is a race issue when one probably didn't exist.

      So you post a job opening and a particular race (person #1) applies for the job but you hire someone of a different race (person #2). It is common for person #1 to sue based on race discrimination without knowing all the facts. They don't know the qualifications of person #2 who was hired because of their education, work history, and interviewing skills -- not due to their race. Jobs are a protected right under our constitution so you cannot discriminate based on race for a job so people sue for this all the time without basis.

      So, now I own a business. I sell widgets in my store. Someone of a particular race (person #1 again) comes into my store. Do I have the right to refuse to sell those widgets to that person because of their race? Yes, I can refuse anyone I want. All I have to do is declare my business to be private and I can do whatever I want.

      Title 2 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining the term private so it's easy to get around that. Also note that this is for "interstate commerce" not "intrastate". If I do not sell anything outside of my own state, I get to discriminate however I want even if I don't declare my business as private.

      In the landmark Civil Rights Cases the United States Supreme Court had ruled that Congress did not have the power to prohibit discrimination in the private sector. The Supreme Court has struck down parts of civil rights laws on the grounds that the Fourteenth Amendment does not give Congress the power to prohibit private sector discrimination.

      One last comment. Imagine you're a movie producer and you are about to film a movie about a single mother and her struggles with life. You go through interviews with several candidates wanting that acting job. A guy applies for that job. Do you have to hire him if he's able to do a good acting job? Or, are you able to say that only women are allowed to apply because that's what the role is for?

    3. Not every one is racist, but many, many people are. To deny that race played a huge factor here is willful ignorance. You weren't there, you weren't the one hassled and made uncomfortable, so you don't get to decide if it was racist or not.
      Also, your "facts" here are over-simplified and reflect a misunderstanding of the way society works at best (not to mention totally irrelevant to what happened to Arijit). At worst, they're a justification for racism, pure and simple.

    4. Hannah, you're making a statement that my comments are a justification for racism? That sounds racist itself. Besides, you have no idea what race I am so how can you say that I have willful ignorance.

      The blogger never stated his race. He said he was dark skin. Does that mean he's Italian? Native American? Indian (from India)? Pacific Islander? Heavily sun tanned? Did you make an assumption that meant Black (a.k.a. African American, a.k.a., Negroid)?

      You also avoided the question about what a "foreigner" looks like. You probably did because you don't have an answer for that and must agree that the blogger is making up his racist charges when none happened.

      This is a one-sided blog. Did the TSA, transit police, or Delta Pilot get interviewed and blog about this incident so we can collaborate his claims? Did any of those people say they racially profiled him and that's why he was selected for questioning and not because of the shirt that he wore.

      It was clear that he wore that specific shirt while boarding a plane to get a reaction. Perhaps he didn't expect the reaction that he received but he did get one -- project accomplished. Suppose that will teach him a lesson, if he's smart, and he will not make the same mistake again. What would you like to bet that he will not have this problem again if he doesn't wear that shirt or a similar shirt while flying -- that would be proof that it's not a racist issue.

    5. You know what... no, fuck it. I can't even deal. Here's a thing: you don't have to be any particular race to get mad about racism. I don't care what race you are: if you say something racist, it's racist. If you are spouting of pseudo-intellectual racist bullshit, it's racist bullshit no matter what the color of the author. I did NOT make an assumption about Mr. Guha's race: I know for a fact that his parents are from India. I don't see how that matters. If he had been white, this probably wouldn't have happened, but (are you listening, because this is important) WE SHOULD BE JUST AS MAD ABOUT IT NO MATTER WHAT, BECAUSE FREE SPEECH IS A RIGHT, NOT SOMETHING YOU CHECK AT THE DOOR WITH YOUR BAGS. You are right that it is ridiculous to say that a "foreigner" looks a particular race; in this, we are in agreement, and I believe Mr. Guha agrees with you too. Good point, give yourself a pat on the back. Now continue spouting your racists bullshit. I'm done with you.

    6. You may need to go back to school to learn what freedom of speech is. It's not absolute in any country including the great US of A. Some limitations are libel, slander, obscenity, copyright violation, and INCITEMENT TO COMMIT A CRIME.

      Could that shirt have been construed as an incitement to commit a crime? I suppose that is left up to the authorities to make that decision. They decided it was. Obviously the blogger thought he could wear whatever shirt he wanted whenever he wanted to.

      Article 19 states that there are certain restrictions, when necessary, for respect of the rights or reputation of others, or for the protection of national security or of public order. Does this seem like he could have had a disturbance in the public order wearing that shirt. Seems to me it could have.

      Haven't you heard of cases where kids wear shirts to school and the principle makes them turn it inside out?

      Get off your soap box and quit while you're behind. You know nothing about racism versus freedom of speech versus public safety and public order.

      I'm surprised there are people as stupid as you that think this is racial profiling and that a white person would have been able to pass the same scrutiny and be allowed to board the plane with the same shirt. Get over it -- it's not due to his race.

      Here's a clear way of stating this. If I carry a gun through security and I get stopped because I have that gun, can I claim they are stopping me because of my race? That's just silly isn't it? Think about that and apply the same concepts to wearing a shirt that is worn for the sole purpose of creating excitement and pushing the limits of what he can get away with.

    7. You don't know the difference between a gun and a shirt.
      Congrats, you're a fucking idiot.

    8. Cengland(), you're A fucking idiot. First off,his shirt was not an incitement to violence. The "authorities" already said his was ok. Second off, free speech does not end just because you are in an airport. Despite what you might think, and clearly want, this is not Nazi Germany. You wanna-be fascist douchebag.

  24. england...keeping the fading remnants of The Great Chain of Being alive. yeah....it was the shirt that they were after...jeez dude just cos you're white own the injustice you're nation created. it's spilled over here and i'm picking up the pieces to clean up your mess.

  25. Replies
    1. Right 1st time.
      You're= you are :)

    2. I believe he was correcting "you're nation created" to "your nation created".

  26. wow, reading through the comments it's no wonder the police state fascist union is coming quickly. "you had to expect getting in troube..." REALLY? ITS A SHIRT.
    oh wait, you're right though, every outburst of violence has always returned to the nature of the clothes the perpetrator was wearing. c'mon.

  27. Ari, more than 25 years ago I flew regularly from Canada to the UK and was advised by my parents that ANY hint of terrorism, such as a joke about bombs or guns, would be taken very seriously by security and could cause a lot of trouble for me. I am a white male. I never fool around with this stuff in airports. I'm guessing the roots of the issue are terrorist attacks back in the '70s and '80s (not necessarily by Mideasterners, maybe groups like Baader-Meinhof).

    I think you're a great guy but you wear a T-shirt like that and you are asking for it. I've read your account, and I grant you that bigotry and color played roles here, but you're stirring the shit.

  28. Here's an idea for a shirt. An adaption based on the following:

    "As many critics have pointed, out, terrorism is not an enemy. It is a tactic. Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today's war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world."
    - Lieutenant General William Eldridge Odom, Director, National Security Agency 1985-1988

    On the front of the shirt, have the above quote, with a small photo of Gen. Odom. On the back, a larger photo of Odom with Reagan, with the caption: "...terrorism is not an enemy. It is a tactic." One cannot declare and wage war on a -- TACTIC...

    Let's see how well that would go down, in a public transportation venue of your choice...

  29. Come to think of it, there is a remedy for your t-shirt. I would recast the wording in Latin. Have a small supply of pocket Latin dictionaries with you, to pass out to those upon request. By the time they all figure it out, you are in the air. What are they then going to do, force land to kick you off? Worse thing, is you sitting next the Air Marshall, and you can both have some fun with Latin...

  30. ...once you missed the flight and the transit police began to 'aggressively question' you, I'm hoping you asked two important questions: "Am I being detained?" If the answer is yes, "What crime am I suspected of committing?); if the answer is no, "Am I free to go?"

    Police have no grounds to detain you even momentarily without reasonable, objective grounds to do so (United States v. Mendenhall).

  31. Exactly WHY did you choose to wear this particular shirt on your flight?

  32. So the lesson here is?
    Dont wear stupid tshirts and dont try and be an ass.

    Its just a phase you are going through and it will pass with age and maturity.
    We have all been through it.

    1. Suggest you look in the mirror if you want to find the real ass here. I bet you think you'd look spiffy in one of those brown Hitler Youth tunics.

    2. Dayquil you have mental issues

    3. A lot of people think that your wrong for wearing the tshirt but it's just a tshirt- if you felt like wearing it then why was it such an issue? I think the way you were treated was wrong...no excuses.

    4. Soooo, the notion of having some sort of right to free speech is just some phase??? I hope to God that you don't consider yourself to be an American, because you are a traitor to the most basic core values of America.

  33. This is a story about rights in conflict. The pilot's right to operate the aircraft safely -- and it is the pilot's sole opinion as to what "safe" is -- trumps virtually all of a passenger's rights. I am thinking in particular of the Secret Service agent, authorized to fly while armed, who was refused carriage on American Airlines Flight 363 from Baltimore on Christmas Day 2001. If the pilot wants to refuse carriage, no one can make the pilot fly with anyone they do not want to.

    Delta can also refuse to employ pilots who abuse their discretion.

    I will say this though -- I would not want to fly with a pilot who did not have the right to refuse carriage to anyone. I have much more confidence in the flight crew than I do in any ground-based security apparatus, for the simple reason that Mark the transit cop is not going to have his butt in the cup at 30,000 feet.

    1. You are essentially correct. I think the problem here is not that the pilot in question wouldn't carry him. My issue would be that delta didn't bend over backwards to find him another way to travel. That's good customer service and a way to deal with the rights in conflict.

  34. What I find deliciously ironic is that having the balls to wear that T-shirt was more in keeping with the Spirit of '76 than all those TSA goons and about half of the We're Number One! crowd here put together.

    America used to be about the freedom to say and be what you believe in. Now, it's the land of the intimidated and fearful, who somehow think a guy in a tee shirt that passed massive screening is too "uncomfortable" to share a flight with.

    Makes me sick to think about how far we've fallen...

  35. I've not only stopped flying the bigoted Delta, but have stopped flying altogether except for emergencies or when no other alternative is available. If more Americans would make the airlines pay a cost for their complicity with the TSA, and the fear and bigotry they engender, we could put a stop to this.

    1. What exactly are the airlines supposed to do? Their "complicity" consists of flying into airports where either the airport itself or the US government has decided to have the TSA. Believe it or not, big airplanes need bog long patches of paved areas to land and lots of other mechanical and logistical support that airports supply

  36. What Spanish Key said. I support your right to free speech in public, but once you enter a security zone in an airport, all bets are off. Don't be a jerk, don't draw attention to yourself, don't joke about bombs or terrorism, be courteous to TSA, and everything will go smoothly. You don't want to be courteous to TSA? No problem. Don't fly. No problem.

  37. Well you've accomplished a few things with your stupid tshirt.
    1)You got attention to your blog via your news story.
    2)You learned the hard way that Pilots have the last say on who gets to fly on their planes.
    3)You confirmed what you already knew to be true, TSA are a bunch of dumbasses.
    4)You got exactly what you have been hoping for every time you decided to board a plane wearing that shirt.
    5)You have proven only that you are an immature brat that tempted authority and when authority got in your face you cry about it.
    Welcome to the age of government control and political correctness. Now grow up and find something meaningful to do with your life besides trying to get attention.

    1. We need thumbs up icons for comments like this. He's a whiney ass crybaby who got exactly what he was hoping for.

    2. I find this to be a very meaningful use of his life. Enjoy the future gas chambers you uncritical thinking sheep. After all, it's the age we live it and you just need to "grow up" and comply.

  38. Dear Tango, you deserve everything you get...if you do not wanna suffer...then "do not" bring undo attention to yourself Mr dip-pi-ty do da...what are you crying for??? You wore that tee shirt to bring attention to yourself on purpose. We all know it, and lol and you got all you obviously could not handle...deal with it...suck it up butter cup...

  39. My boyfriend owns this shirt as well, and has toyed with the idea of wearing it to the airport - but conceded that it would be more trouble than it's worth. It's sad to know that it could be a legitimate issue. Absolutely ridiculous!

  40. US Citizen. Was NOT scheduled for the World Trade Center on
    that big day, so I am presently alive. I understand a bit of Kabuki
    and even www.schneier.com, but maybe it is like Kafka??

    according to my memory, the sequence of events is:
    1.)easy training for anyone in the USA for pilot skills.
    2.)orders from on high say not to resist; bad guys are only interested
    in the publicity.
    3.)other world airlines have a strong cockpit door; USA has
    a not so strong door?
    4.)pilots are specifically prohibited from carrying firearms.
    Some have a long military background. Can they really be trusted?
    5.)Security responsibility is 'delegated to the pilot.' The pilot
    has many years and CENTURIES of security expertise??
    The pilot relies entirely upon hunches and anonymous rumors.
    6.)The Sikhs are our friends, maybe. The Sikhs have fought
    AS A RELIGION against the Muslims (as have the Christians during
    the Crusades). The long pattern of killings of Sikhs because of
    their TURBANS seems to be continuing in the USA.

    7.)Constitution and 'the rule of law' may be repealed in future in the

    8.)American Airlines broke the musician's guitar, which is
    his main tool for making a living. It's a very personal item.
    Has the infection of sadism spread through the 'public servants'?

    9.)maybe a middle ground? The airlines supply FREE T shirts
    or coverings. The blank T shirt is worn ONLY WHILE IN THE PLANE. After all, don't want some BORDERLINE 'mental cases'
    to go completely nuts; although it is unlikely they would be
    fixating on your t shirt.

    10.)private business rights are above CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
    it appears. Speaking a FOREIGN LANGUAGE in the restaurant?
    Restaurant is private - NO FOOD FOR YOU. However,
    airplanes are important infrastructure.

  41. I sent mail to Delta about this, telling them that I'm watching. Add me to the list of voices in support. Please continue to write here as things progress.

  42. I Have a friend that was pulled from a Frontier flight last year by T.S.A. Because of the shirt & hat he was wearing, they questioned him,made him change shirts & made him check his hat to his checked luggage. I Do think you could have made a better choice on what shirt you were going to wear to the airport given tighter security & passenger awareness these days.

  43. I think you need to assess your own behavior more honestly. The t-shirt clearly made passengers and staff very uncomfortable. Isn't it a bit selfish to make others feel anxious solely so that you can make your "message" with that t-shirt? Its completely inappropriate to be wearing that shirt on a flight; its not even a debatable issue. Then when questioned by staff you were quite rude and snarky from the get-go. You basically told them that they were over-reacting and questioned the very nature of their jobs. So, to summarize, you made a lot of staff and passengers feel very uncomfortable with your tshirt and then insulted the security staff. You went on to say "are you f____ kidding me". Thats perfect. You pretty much did your own version of Ben Stiller's mental breakdown in the airplane in Meet the Parents (you can't say bomb on an airplane!). I'm not surprised that they didn't want you on the plane. I'd be more shocked if they had let you on.

    1. Not that long ago negroes made people uncomfortable and so had to sit at the back of the bus. I think u need to ask yourself how far someone needs to go to make his/ her presence comfortable for others.

    2. @oldsoul
      You're going to compare institutional racism to a fashion statement?

    3. "Its completely inappropriate to be wearing that shirt on a flight; its not even a debatable issue."

      You have got to be kidding me, it's completely debatable, if anything, it is absolutely the single perfect place to wear the shirt. Anywhere else, and it lacks the context for people to even care.

      They were over-reacting. Obviously. It was an effing shirt. And the very nature of their jobs *should* be questioned.

      Uncomfortable? Have you flown in coach lately? There are infinitely more problems that make me feel "uncomfortable" while flying coach, than some guy's satirical t-shirt.

      Moreover, the over-reaction to the shirt, proves the message of the shirt itself.

      I really admire his courage for standing up against the absurdity of it all.

  44. Yet another article/blog which shocks me about the state of air travel security. I am a European and a frequent flyer, I go to fair lengths to ensure that I pass as quickly as possible through the pageant of security that exists and fortunately I have avoided coming to the US since about 2002(?). I say fortunately because I just don't like what the security at US borders now represents. I travel pretty freely to some interesting countries and I have no trouble what so ever, but I fear that, as a frequent flyer, I am probably going to get probed (digitally and *digitally*) the moment I land.

    I understand that of many of the border security mechanisms there have been few positive results and little financial justification for the vast quantities spent. I know that the UK eBorders scheme is a financial and political disaster as well.

    I would complain, but a part of me worries what that would do for my flight status in future!

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. It's pleasingly ironic that you learned this lesson. Despite all the bureaucracy that you ridicule, the Captain can still override it all and throw someone off the flight just for being a jackass. That's exactly what he did. Isn't it funny that now you're looking to the same bureacracy for protection? And you call for MORE bureacracy (lawsuits, charges of racism) to solve the problem. You weren't thrown off because you're dark or whatever you are - I haven't seen a picture - and you know it. You were tossed because you're a schmuck!

    Just because you can pay for the ticket doesn't mean the company wants your business, or the other customers want your company. Take your poopie shirt over to Greyhound.

  47. Prior to this I always thought DELTA was an acronym for Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive. Now I see that it really means Don't Expect Logic To Apply.

    (After clicking multiple times on the CAPTCHA garbage - the words are always munged to the point that I can't discern an 'r' from an 'f' - among others - I had managed to mangle my original reply. I hate CAPTCHA...)

  48. It wasn't your shirt the freaked out the other passengers.

    It was all the cops questioning you ... about the shirt.

    Anybody getting that many questions from the cops must be a terrorist, right?

  49. Oh, please, you wore that shirt to stir things up, and when you got the attention you were seeking, you got snarky and then immediately played the race card, which you continue to play, thus diminishing the experiences of people who actually DO suffer racism.

    The REAL problem here is not the TSA, or the pilot, or Delta personnel, or the other passengers with their alleged paranoia, or the transit police. It's your attitude of entitlement and childishness and your claims that everyone is at fault except you.

    Grow up.

    1. How dare someone be entitled to their God-given rights!! Pshhh... what idiot would dare think they have such rights!

  50. To everyone in the "this was wrong, but..." or the straight-up "you asked for it" camps:
    Let's set aside the fact that much of what happened to Mr. Guha was racist. It may not have happened if he had been white, but we should be just as mad and upset about it regardless. The racism here is obvious, the trampling of a fundamental right protected by our constitution is apparently less so, but just as scary. In this country, what you wear on a shirt is, in the vast majority of cases, a form of speech (go ahead, look it up). Freedom of speech is the very first amendment in the goddamn Bill of Rights. Hear that? IT'S A RIGHT. I don't care if you're in your bathroom alone, in a crowded room full of people of all ages, or on line at the busiest airport in the States, a right is a right. Expressing your rights doesn't mean you "ask for" anything. Being at an airport has nothing to do with it. Checking your rights along with your bags at an airport is A.) Not something anyone should have to do and B.) Not a security measure. Being stripped of your right to free speech doesn't make ANYONE safer and should scare the hell out of all of us. The amazing deference to authority being supported in many of these comments, just because this occurred in an airport, is both terrifying and disheartening.

    1. Just because you have the right to be a jackass doesn't mean it's *wise* to be a jackass around bigoted, ignorant thugs WITH GUNS!!!

    2. Hannah, I previously commented regarding these "issues" and you obviously ignored them.

      1. It's not racist. Mr. Guha blogged about his experience but nobody has stated he was questioned because of his race. Mr. Guha is making an assumption based on the word "foreign". You still haven't answered what race an American is and that's obviously because there isn't a specific American race.

      2. He was stopped because of the shirt he was wearing -- not because of his race. Had he worn a different shirt that day, this problem wouldn't have existed right? So it has nothing to do with his race. Quit trying to make an issue out of something that is not an issue.

      3. We do have Freedom of speech but there are constitutional exceptions and excitement to commit a crime is one of them.

      4. Any private company is able to select who they want as customers. Flying is not a right, it's a privilege. If you think otherwise, why is there a "no fly list"? The only companies that cannot discriminate are hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining the term private.

      5. He was not stripped of his free speech rights. Imagine you go into your local Best Buy and stand in the middle of the store with a megaphone and start saying how much you hate Best Buy. Do you think that company has to allow you to stay in the store? No. They can ask you to leave and you must abide by their decision. If you do not leave on your own, you can be forced to leave. You do not understand what free speech rights you have in the country you live so you should do some more research on that.

  51. The first amendment protects your freedom of speech to be an A-hole, but a private company is also free to sell their goods and services OR NOT. If you want to wear a provocative, conflict-instigating, confrontational message on your chest while transiting a high-threat, high-security environment, like an IDIOT looking for attention, get it, and then whine about racism, you're in for a long and frustrating life, which is I'm sure what yours is. Weren't you traveling for your wife's family member's funeral? But it wasn't about her was it? It was about YOU and your need for attention and political theater. I wonder how much she appreciated you turning a serious family matter into a charade and opportunity to blog about your being a victim of racism. Then again, if she married you, maybe she's just as selfish, entitled, and starving for attention.

    1. Yup. Many years ago my husband and I went to Disneyland. He wore a shirt that said "Butthead" on it (Beavis and Butthead were all the rage). Security came up to us and informed him that he had to replace the shirt or turn it inside out because it was offensive to the other patrons. We got upset because there were plenty of more offensive shirts around but we got targeted. Like the kids we were, we ditched security and ran...he turned the shirt inside out later so we wouldn't get harassed again. We realized that while very much a public place Disneyland is a private business and they can set the rules. Dang it, too bad we are lily white, we could scream racism too!

  52. Rule #1 - Ask if you're being detained or arrested. If the answer is no, walk away. Never, ever, ever answer police questions without an attorney present, and assert your 4th, 5th and 6th amendment rights immediately. Then shut up... and if you're free to walk away, do so. Do not consent to a search (but don't actively resist), and do not consent to questioning. Period.

    While Delta can make a *business* decision, anything else is a *criminal* decision on the part of the police, whose job is not to find people innocent.

  53. I feel your pain. I've been opting out for a few years now and my conversations with the TSA agents at the gate have been more than enlightening. I was told by a Chinese TSA agent (yes he confirmed he was Chinese) that Government should have whatever rights it needs over us to secure our safety. I asked him, "Aren't you from China, a communist tyranny...why did you even bother coming here?"

    Another older TSA agent admitted to me that he felt bad for the younger TSA workers who had to stand next to the radiation emitting full-body scanner all day.

    When I explained how a full-body scan is a violation of my resonable expectation to privacy rights, I was told by one TSA agent that, "This is the world we live in now." Nice. Defeatism at its finest.

    One TSA agent (who was not groping me) came over because he could hear me "educating" the TSA agent that was in fact groping me, and started to call me names, make fun of me, and got really loud. Then walked back to the line of passengers...err sheep....behind me waiting to get irradiated and pointing me out to them and started making fun of me and how I was some crazy fanatic.

    These are the people in charge of our safety. They are nothing more than Federation Stormtroopers, tasked with following orders and not asking questions and putting their fingers in their ears when confronted with what they are doing while screaming..."LA LA LA LA LA LA."

    The entire thing is a joke. From the Chertoff kickback, to the abuse of our 4th Amendement rights, to the false security of the full body scanners, to the poor training and professionalism of the TSA, to the radiation exposure, to the private airports that did what they were told and lined up to be on the "right" side of the HSD and the TSA, to the sheeple that continue to shuffle through the machine and be needlessly exposed to God knows what for reasons they don't understand just so they can exercise their right to move among the states unimpeded - well, not anymore. Fully impeded.

    If a man 200 years ago before planes, before scanners, before groping, can warn us that sacrificing freedom for safety will be the end of us as a free people, why can't we look around us, at the actual sacrificing of actual freedom for perceived "safety" we are currently engaged in and say hey....forget everyone else....forget Fox News, forget Bloggers....somebody 200 years ago, a very important man, warned us...predicted this...and its happening...and we do nothing about it.

  54. You have yet to learn not to beard the lion in his den even when you're morally and legally right and he's a racist ass hat.

  55. Thank you for your protest of our absurd security theater. Every American should be outraged.

    If security personnel perceive a cotton t-shirt as a threat worth their time and attention, what actual security threats are these "trained professionals" missing?

    The reality is this. On 9/11, terrorists used the planes as bombs by penetrating the cockpits. This is no longer an issue after changes to cockpit doors. And leaves only bombs they can carry. If a terrorist arrives at at airport carrying a bomb, we've already lost. Even if they never go through security. There are plenty of people they can kill in the airport, or any other public place. 90% of transportation security should be focused on intelligence, to stop the terrorist before they are even in a position to carry out an attack. The other 10% should be focused on El Al style behavior analysis from actual professionals, instead of otherwise burger flippers, and then metal detectors to keep guns off planes.

    But more importantly, hundreds of thousands of Americans, soldiers and civilians, have fought and died, giving their lives, to provide our country and its citizens, one thing. Freedom. Freedom to protest, freedom from fear, freedom to life and liberty. The disregard that some have for our freedoms, that are not enjoyed by many around the world, shows great disrespect to those who died to provide it. And the oppressive over-reaction by our government that created the TSA, diminishes these freedoms, and cultivates an imaginary atmosphere of perceived threats, providing the terrorists the very accomplishment they set out to achieve. Fear.

    I choose not to live in fear. Bring a knife on a plane? Bring it on, I'll take you down. What I will not stand for, is living in fear. Statistically, I am much more likely to die in a car on the way to the airport, then ever be terrorized. Therefore, everything created in response to terrorists, is simply an erosion of freedom, that should be rejected by real Americans.


  56. "I had, after all, worn the same shirt at least the last five times I’d flown without any incident whatsoever "

    I find this admission kind of telling, regarding your behavior and mindset.

    I'd say that shirt CAN BE taken as essentially satirizing not merely the overall paranoid U.S. atmosphere, but also the people that work for the TSA.

    Was it possible for you to foresee this? I'd suggest yes, it was. The fact that you wore it each time on five occasions suggests strongly that you recognized it had provocative value.

    It can also be taken as provocative by a passenger with a paranoaic bent, or by someone that merely wants to make your life miserable by essentially trolling you in the same way you're trolling the Airlines and TSA (by wearing that particular shirt every time you fly, hoping for a reaction).

    I can easily see someone saying, fuck that guy, with his smartass attitude, I'm going to point him out to an airline rep just for the lulz of it, as the kids say nowadays.

    Then you get to tell your tale of woe and shed crocodile tears because your shirt had an effect. Congratulations. You made a political statement and stood up for your concepts. You also learned that the TSA and Delta doesn't have to abide by your views of what is ethically right.

    Let me put it this way: I'm a liberal, I grew up in a very ugly gang area of Los Angeles. I've done time (in Folsom) and I've also graduated from Berkeley. I know my rights and I'm fairly adamant about them. However, even though I know I really do have the right to mock a cop on the street, I tend not to do that, and I certainly wouldn't do it 5 times in a row without expecting that sometime or another, I'm going to run into a cop that views that as reason to make my life miserable.

    Congratulations, you ran into the reaction you were hoping to find by wearing that shirt each time. Hope it was worth it, because you're sure as fuck not going to get them to apologize to you.

  57. Great post Joseph. All the free speechists keep missing the point, over and over. Free speech WON. The guy wore his silly shirt for the 5th time. TSA spent a little time assessing whether an idiot wearing a shirt like that is just a self-promoting attention seeker (deemed likely) or a legitimate threat (deemed unlikely). It you haven't noticed lately, most security incidents as of late have been mentally ill or unstable people. Even a pilot recently had a little moment which became a serious security threat.

    TSA eventually considered him NOT a threat, just a man with poor judgment. They let him through. The PILOT, who has final authority, exercised HIS FREE SPEECH and tossed the guy off. By the way, this guy wasn't just instigating a confrontation with TSA, he was also thumbing his nose at the airline and the entire traveling public. This very well may have led to a real security conflict from something as simple as a debate-turned argument-turned physical confrontation. Pilots throw people off the flights for being drunk and disorderly all the time - they don't have to be wearing bombs.

    You entitlement babies think you can say whatever you want and that then everyone has to serve you. Well, an airline isn't a national park, its a private company. They don't have to do business with you. Free speech prevailed. Yeah for you! Yeah for Delta! Thanks for demonstrating that free speech is alive and well.

  58. You acted like an asshole. You scared people with a confusing T-shirt (not everyone knows what ZOMG stands for!) and you think there should be no consequences for you.

    The pilot deemed you were not worth the trouble you caused and booted you off HIS airplane. Too bad. Maybe you should have handled things differently.

  59. You can't protest a system and be surprised when they fight back, and Arijit's t-shirt was a protest, albeit a passive-aggressive and "silent" form it. Protest is healthy and necessary, of course, and it should be done, but Arijit could've looked into any chapter of history and seen that protesters often have to deal with consequences of their actions (and it's not always fair). Arijit wasn't pulled off a plane for "flying while brown" -- dark-skinned people of all nationalities fly unobstructed and unbothered every day in the US -- he was pulled off a plane for wearing a shirt that had the b-word and the t-word on it. Let's not make this into anything more than it is. Wearing that shirt was foolish.

  60. Wait... you wore a t-shirt to the airport that said:
    You expect everyone to put aside their concerns for your scary t-shirt and if they don't they're "racist". They're too white-stupid to get the joke, is that it?

    I, sir, care deeply for freedom - including freedom of speech. I'm 59 and white and if I wore that t-shirt I'd expect to be thrown off the airplane as you were. No company - not Delta, not Six Flags, or Exxon or Walmart or your local restaurant, NOBODY - is required to provide you with service if you are disruptive and scary no matter your race, religion or creed. You were deliberately disruptive and scary and you know it. It's not racism... it's "BOMBS" "ZOMG" "TERRISTS" and "GONNA KILL US ALL".

    You, sir, are an ass. I hope that you beat your cancer and, in the process, grow up and become an effective advocate for freedom and liberty instead of an embarrassment.

  61. Free speech is provided by the 1st amendment, and most of our constitution is to provide a safe environment for us to be able to do so. It seems this person while having the right to wear shirts as he sees appropriate, perhaps could have picked a more suitable place to wear it. Poking fun at TSA whose primary job is to protect him seems pretty stupid. But while he has the right to express himself, so do others have the same right to reject and question his right to be an idiot. Over the years, I have read of too many bombings, too many people killed by terrorists at home and abroad, when tighter security may have pervented it. When I travel, I would not want to see this type of expression at an airport, bus terminal, train station, or movie theater. It is pretty scary out their with security in place, I would hate to think of what it would be without any. This person can keep his T shirts and others he chooses to wear as is his right, just try to be a bit smarter where he chooses to wear it. As for a police state, try living without one. You don't like this country, try living in Russia, China, North Korea, where you have no rights, and would probably see the inside of a prison for some time.

  62. I was going to buy a t-shirt until I found out part of the proceeds fund the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those guys are fanatical wing-nuts who jump at the chance to label anyone who does not do exactly as the government says, a domestic terrorist without a second thought. They REALLY scare me.

  63. You already know so well that the US Authorities have been on high alert since the terrorist attacks.

    You know so well that, as an aftermath, stringent inspections at US and even European countries have become commonplace.

    You know so well that there already has been one highly publicized incident where an Arab guy wore a shirt with printed words that offended the sensibilities of a nation that had been traumatized. Therefore, you already knew so well that by wearing that shirt, you were essentially provoking the Airport Authorities and challenging security measures.

    You knew so well that all passengers undergo stringent inspections at US Airports, and you were not being singled out for whatever ethnicity you have (many Arabs and South Asians pass through checkpoints peacefully). You know so well that it was your vehemence to wear that shirt and your arrogant behavior and resistance towards the Authorities are what made the situation worse.

    You knew so well that your sarcastic/retaliatory verbal exchanges with the Authorities and your vehemence were a cause to not let you on board. WHY?? Because with such behavior of yours (which is clearly reflected in your blog!), you could potentially further antagonize the flight personnel which could lead to a security situation prior to or after take-off.

    You rebuke and despise the US system of security as if you never had to be thankful for living here.

    You post this blog on the internet desperately trying to rationalize your deviant intent, behavior and mentality, even trying to attract the sentiments of native Americans in vain.

    You know oh so well that you are merely desperate for some kind of publicity in the hopes of making some money and the hallucination that you might have a chance at being a "hero" some day who had resisted the system.

    Now get out of this country and scram the hell back to where you came from. There is where you could proably impress irrational, radical- and remote-minded creatures as you are.

    1. Yes, he knew that authorities were on "high alert". Which doesn't mean there's a valid reason for any alert, which is what the T-Shirt mocks.

      Yes, he knew full well that these "security measures" are now common place. That doesn't mean they don't have to be resisted because they make no sense, are useless waste of taxpayer money and aren't effective at all in the first place. Which is what his T-Shirt mocks.

      Yes, he knew these things happened. This doesn't mean what has happened was right and authorities shouldn't be questioned and challenged. Which is what he did wearing his T-shirt and questioning authorities' reasoning for his intimidation.

      Yes, he knew that all people go through these "security measures" and that hardly any of them questions their nature. This is why they're there - because people don't question it but instead silently bow down and obey. He didn't, and i applaud him for that.

      Yes, it is very well possible that the way he conducted himself (within the confines of the law) is what made Delta make the decision. Doesn't mean it should have happened. Everyone has a potential to start an argument and get into fight, why single him out? Because he looks like a guy who can actually stand up for himself? This is what got you in trouble, fellow americans. "Potentially". You're cheering cowardice and denouncing bravery.

      Yes, he rebukes and despises the US system of security. Why should he not be rebuking and despise the US "security" system that has absolutely no merit whatsoever? Moreover, why should he be thankful for living in USA? If there are places like China, does that give USA a green light to do whatever they want, just because there are places far worse than USA? USA can be a far better place it is now. But it isn't because of people who are "thankful" and don't ever question the state of things.

      Yes, he posted this on the Internet. What is so deviant about standing up for his rights and refusing to be intimidated by authorities for no reason? And no, discriminating people on the basis of t-shirts they wear is still discrimination.

      The passage about "making money" i will leave without comment because you clearly don't know who you're talking about.

      As for getting out of the country and scram the hell back where he came from, well, i applaud your "get off my lawn" mentality, but this man actually tries to make USA a better place. You clearly don't.

      P.S. bonus points for saying "radical". You're a spineless coward. Crawl back into your safe hole.


  64. "Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY."
        --  Benjamin Franklin, 1775

  65. You are a fool. How dare you mock 911 and all that transpired here? The USA is a constant target, but if we object then WE are called the one who are "intolerant."

    Please go live in another country.

    1. This almost looks like a sarcastic comment.

      USA is a constant target of what?

  66. Why is it that people who scream "First Amendment!" never seem to know what it actually says or means?

    "Congress shall make no law..."

    Get it? CONGRESS cannot make laws abridging freedom of speech, but Delta Air Lines can do whatever they damn well please when it comes to telling you to STFU if you expect to do business with them. Capisce?

    So don't for a moment think you can holler "FREEDOM OF SPEECH!" and it'll cover you for acting like an asshat when dealing with a business; it doesn't. They were perfectly within their rights to tell Mr. Guha, Amateur Attention-Whore, to take his business elsewhere.

    And I applaud them for doing so.

  67. God did you think you were cool to wear an ironic shirt like that? Hipsters don't know where the limit is

  68. Freedom of speech does not mean that you get to make other people uncomfortable or fear for their life. Give me your address and I'll come over for dinner and wear my T-shit that says "Colon cancer is God's gift to the world to help kill off the fags". Would you be cool with that?

    Yes, your t-shirt is protected under free speech and you can stand in the middle of times square all you want and nobody can do anything about it. But companies have an obligation to ALL of their customers, not just you and your stupid attention getting antics.

    You need to grow up.

    1. Freedom of speech most definitely means that I get to make other people uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is not the same as fearing for your life.

      It's a sad state of affairs when people are afraid of a t-shirt. Score another win for the terrorists.

    2. Dude, the terrorists won a long time ago...

    3. @Vincent Clement:

      Your freedom of speech doesn't apply on private property; for example, in my home, I can tell you to get out if I don't like what you have to say and you have no choice but to abide by it. Guess what? Delta Air Lines' aircraft are private property as well, and they CAN tell you to take your business elsewhere if you feel like making other people (their customers) uncomfortable on their aircraft.

      Consider yourself a little more educated than you were 60 seconds ago...

  69. Wow...you really are not very smart are you. In fact....the word 'moran' comes to mind. I bet you are offended by that, but I don't care. You offend me too.

    1. From the Urban Dictionary:
      The preferred method of spelling "moron" by morons.

  70. Bravo to Delta!! You were trying to pick a fight and you lost. Deal with it!

  71. What an immature, asinine, 15 minute of fame whore you are.

  72. Feel free to test our freedom of speech when I'm not on your same flight. No one wants to fly with a clown like you, we just want to get where we're going without having to worry about been blown up, hijacked, or worse. It's just not funny, and If you don't get that, you're an a-hole.

    1. How many planes have been blown up or hijacked for the last 10 years? Exactly. You should worry far more about the big pile of steel you're driving, since it kills orders of magnitude more people every day than any terrorists (domestic or otherwise) ever do in a few year.

      You, sir, are an irrational idiot and a spineless coward.

    2. Actually, I do wish to fly with people just like this. I wish I had an entire plane full of intelligent, understanding people who don't pander to fear and crazy theater under the guise of "safety". Ironically, the real "a-hole" here is you and all like-minded weaklings.

  73. Hi Arijit,

    I feel your pain .. I am regularly sent to secondary checks when I arrive "there". For me its now routine procedure . they even know what's in your birth certificate - an officer was once cross-checking the info, so beware!!

    I came to the conclusion that if you're not called "Smith" and you're not white, you're suspicious , let alone wearing a T-Shirt that says something about security or airplanes .. imho , most TSA agents have very basic education, do not travel and feel strong with the extra added power and uniform .

    Here is a link that might help many frustrated people for "situations where travelers believe they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed, denied boarding or identified for additional screening at our nation’s transportation hubs" : http://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip

  74. You got what you went after...something interesting to write in your blog. I try to understand people like you. I simply can't. WHY would ANYONE wear such a shirt to board an airplane?

    1. Why would anyone wear such a shirt? Because the Bill of Rights, The Constitution, and no other reason is needed. Thanks.

    2. Oh, spare me. My father gave his life protecting and depending those rights. Sadly some in this country forget about common sense when they exercise their freedoms. Thanks.