March 08, 2004


Joan Collins -- a woman of admirable views -- relates a tale of airline security madness:

A well-known woman was about to walk through the X-ray machine holding her 18-month-old infant when she was stopped by a brusque security guard. ‘Can he walk?’ he inquired of the infant.

‘He’s just learning,’ she replied.

‘If he can walk then he’s got to walk across by himself — that’s the rules,’ he stated with the authority of a Gestapo commandant. ‘Put him down.’

‘But he doesn’t like walking,’ protested the poor woman, as the baby was wrenched from her arms and stood on its feet. Bedlam ensued — the poor little chap started bawling his brave little lungs out as the frantic mother was rushed through the sensor to encourage him to follow her, which he steadfastly refused to do, unable to comprehend why he’d been so unceremoniously dumped on the floor. In protest he plonked himself down on the ground, still screaming, while a gaggle of adults, including the security guards, tried to coax him through. In spite of his mother’s continued protestations that he was not ready for this terrifying toddler trial, the officials insisted and after several minutes of cajoling the distraught infant managed to cross the barrier on his own, after which point he had to be thoroughly body-searched because the rivets in his little jeans had set the sensors off. Meanwhile, several turbaned gentlemen were allowed through without the barest flicker of the fairy wand, much less the request to remove their headgear.

Stupid airports.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 8, 2004 09:14 PM

And I'm sure the skies are a lot safer.

I would have thought political correctness would have been history after September 11 but it's far more resilient than I gave it credit for.

Bloody airports.

Posted by: gaz at March 8, 2004 at 09:29 PM

Just another instance of infant profiling. When will we learn?

Posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes at March 8, 2004 at 09:41 PM

Well, you never can be too careful, what with the upsurge of the Al Aqsa Toddler Bridgade.

Posted by: JohnO at March 8, 2004 at 10:56 PM

NOT "stupid airports" -- stupid bureaucrats. Maybe stooooooooopid bureaucrats. Of course, "profiling" is right out. It, after all, might be useful.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 8, 2004 at 11:28 PM

It is a shame one cannot find the name of the asshole that mistreated the woman and her child in this way. Okay, it may not change much but it would be good to name and shame the idiots who do this sort of thing.

Making a baby walk through a security check. Wow, what a big man that security guard must have appeared when he told his missus later.

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce at March 8, 2004 at 11:36 PM

Not just stupid airports or stupid bureaucrats, but also stupid sheeple for tolerating this when we should be demanding security measures that might actually increase security and demanding that they drop asinine policies that do nothing to increase security and everything to make traveling even more of a nightmare than it should be.


Posted by: Myria at March 9, 2004 at 12:48 AM

"Infants. Why do they hate us ?"

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at March 9, 2004 at 02:57 AM

I wanted to read where this took place, so went to the Spectator link. I still have no idea where this took place, because my eye was caught by the fact that the cover story was about how the British Attorney General "changed his mind" about the "illegality" of regime change in Iraq.

And it's written by Andrew Gilligan.

The Spectator has no shame.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at March 9, 2004 at 04:00 AM

Man ... do I feel safer flying already.......

Posted by: Crazy at March 9, 2004 at 05:25 AM

A magnetometer, not an x-ray machine. Hand-carried items are placed on the moving belt to be scoped.

Posted by: wm ralph at March 9, 2004 at 06:08 AM

What difference would it have made if the toddler was carried across anyway???The metal detectors would still have worked!!!As for the turban heads, why weren't they searched????You can stash anything in those things!!!!I bet the passengers must have felt SO much safer!

Posted by: LVbabe at March 9, 2004 at 06:49 AM

18 months, and he's just learning to walk? Is this kids developmentally delayed?
My kids were walking by the time they were a year.

Posted by: Half Canadian at March 9, 2004 at 07:03 AM

A babby is a bomb carrying device and plane high-jacking weapon. In future, for security, all babies will be loaded into steel containers loaded in the goods section of aircracft. Babies will be retured to wielders of babies after flight.

Posted by: d at March 9, 2004 at 08:53 AM

Can't argue with the general thrust of the post - but was the turban bit required? Turbans are worn by Sikh's, who have not been responsible for any hijackings/suicide bombings that i am aware of. Lumping everybody 'foreign' looking into one category gives leftie terrorist huggers the kind of ammunition (i.e. that we are all racist) that they love.

Posted by: Paul Dub at March 9, 2004 at 09:07 AM

To be fair, we never hear about the times security personnel behave in a reasonable fashion, which they do 99.999% of the time. When my 10-month old daughter got her boarding pass selected for a random check at Newark, they just waved us through in a perfectly reasonable manner, no wand, no shoe removal, nothing.

Then again, it only takes one stupid incident to make that 99.999% record look pretty meaningless.

Posted by: Matt in Denver at March 9, 2004 at 09:22 AM

I have a theory, if parents made sure that something really vile happened when stuff like this happened (like say a diaper with particularly vile contents is found when baby's bags are searched) stuff like this would stop happening. Anybody wanna give it a try?

Posted by: Samantha at March 9, 2004 at 09:36 AM

Put down that intifada!

Posted by: ilibcc at March 9, 2004 at 10:09 AM

I wonder if the venerable Ms. Collins is aware of Godwin's law.

I'll bet those turban-headed men were swarthy too.

Posted by: LD at March 9, 2004 at 10:56 AM

Arms are for hugging...and legs are for walking...

Posted by: Jerry at March 9, 2004 at 11:12 AM

Wouldn't it have been easier to lash him to a briefcase and send him through the X-ray machine?

Posted by: arlo at March 9, 2004 at 11:25 AM

... or simply check him in as baggage. All problems solved, including the one-hour screaming fit during the flight.

Plus he'd enjoy the ride on the luggage carousel at the other end.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 9, 2004 at 01:04 PM

I wonder at the level of authority given to people who main job skill is standing up. Same with Bouncers.

Posted by: JakeD at March 9, 2004 at 01:59 PM

Turbans are worn by Sikh's, who have not been responsible for any hijackings/suicide bombings that i am aware of.

Ever heard of the bombing of Air India, in which 329 passengers were killed over the coast of Ireland? Sikhs are not generally prone to terrorism outside of India, but anyone can dress up with a turban. The benefit of wearing a turban is that you can hide say, a kevlar knife in there.

Posted by: Zhang Fei at March 9, 2004 at 04:27 PM

"The benefit of wearing a turban is that you can hide, say, a kevlar knife in there."

This "argument" gives a perfect reason for why babies should NOT be exempted from normal search procedures, as kevlar knives and the like could easily be hidden on them, too. As soon as it's established practice that little old ladies or tiny children are never searched, then little old ladies and tiny children become ideal people to plant bombs or other hidden items on.

In this particular incident it sounds like the security man acted rudely, possibly even unprofessionally, which of course should be condemned. However I'm EXTREMELY tired of hearing this tired, patently false griping about how "wrong" it is to search people who are "obviously" not terrorists. Grow up already, people. Either you want security, or you don't, which is it?

Posted by: Nate at March 10, 2004 at 01:25 AM

Er. Nate. No one "searched" the baby, they forcibly separated him from his mother to make him "walk" through the security gate on his own -- which served no purpose since the results would have been the same if his mother had carried him through. You know, maybe your reading comprehension would improve if you came down off your high horse; it can't be easy reading from all the way up there.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 10, 2004 at 11:39 AM

Well said, Andrea.

Posted by: d at March 10, 2004 at 11:54 AM

The original incident was certainly about the fact that the child was forced to walk rather than be carried, but I wasn't responding to the incident, I was responding to people's reactions to it in the thread. If you didn't notice all the claims that searching babies while not searching 'turban-wearers' is foolish and wrong, or the jokes that made it clear people thought that ever searching infants was silly and a waste of time, it's hardly my fault.

Any time an incident like this occurs, it's not just seen as a case of one overzealous worker or a minor glitch in procedures. Instead, it's portrayed as some sort of sign that the system itself is horribly awry, and that the TSA in America and its international equivalents are nasty harrassers of babies, nursing mothers and the elderly. It's an excuse for everyone to trot out every tired joke they can think of "humorously" exaggerating the threat that babies or old ladies pose. All I did was express my own frustration with that completely nonsensical (and overplayed) type of thinking. If you see that as me being "up on a high horse", oh well, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

Posted by: Nate at March 11, 2004 at 02:53 AM