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Why the TSA Instagram Account Is Kind of a Brilliant Idea

Travel Safety
by Matt Hershberger Aug 5, 2013

The TSA, the government agency voted “Most Rectally Invasive” for 9 out of the last 10 years, has created an Instagram account in a last-ditch attempt to make people understand why they do what they do.

The account, which somehow manages to take hipstery sepia filters and make photos look like grainy 1980s polaroids from Soldiers of Fortune Magazine, showcases some of the many things they’ve confiscated from the clueless loons who utilize our nation’s air transport system.

To be fair to the TSA, they have one of the worst jobs in government. There is no way you are going to like them. If you’re not carrying concealed weapons, you’re going to see everything they do as heavy-handed and invasive, and if you are carrying, say, a credit card that’s actually a knife, you’re going to see everything they do as a bit of a buzzkill.

You just can’t say you could do their job any better. I mean, yes, you could maybe not include “having skin a shade darker than Elmer’s Glue” as probable cause, but it’s really hard to pat someone down against his will, and have him/her enjoy it.

The Instagram account is actually fairly convincing, even with its relatively small photoroll of 11 pictures. One of the confiscated items is an actual grenade. With the pin pulled. Which I would have thought technically classified the grenade as shrapnel, but the picture’s caption explains that the grenade was “inert.” I’m not a grenade scientist or anything, but I feel like when you call a grenade inert, you should say, “this grenade is inert, but it is also still a grenade.”

The TSA blog expands even more: From July 20-26, the TSA discovered 33 guns, 24 of which were loaded, 9 stun guns, another “inert grenade” (not the same grenade as before), a knife smuggled in a knee brace, a knife disguised as a belt buckle, 2 airsoft guns, and enough contact lens solution to moisten every eyeball in sub-Saharan Africa.

The good little leftist inside me is furious that I’m even thinking this, but I think I might be kind of okay with the TSA. Not because I like them personally or anything, but because I trust them more than the average American, such as the chill-ass bro who was carrying this gun that is actually a knife.

You might say that this is cynical, but I would kindly suggest you read the comments on the pictures posted on the TSA Instagram. There are three schools of thought that can be distilled from the tsunami of comments:

  1. This account is a waste of government resources. (Yes. An Instagram account, which costs a grand total of none cents, is a waste of government resources in a country that is willing to spend $46 billion on making the border with Mexico look like a minefield in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.)
  2. If everyone had grenades when they got on the plane, there wouldn’t be any hijackings. (And also not many planes.)
  3. Go TSA! You’re doing God’s work!

Okay, while I’m alright with the confiscation of grenades and stuff, there was one comment here that I felt deserved a little bit of attention. I’m going to quote it in full:

American have such short memories… People will complain about the terrible injustice of having to take off their shoes until the next catastrophe Col. Jessep said it best — “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.”

Ah. Okay. Some quick thoughts: Colonel Jessup is a) a fictional character played by Jack Nicholson in the 1992 Aaron Sorkin movie A Few Good Men, and b) was not one of the few good men. He was a commander at Guantanamo who ordered the murder of a whistleblower, and the movie ends with him going to jail and Tom Cruise pumping cheeks with Demi Moore. So he’s really not the best person to quote in a patriotic online rant.

So the next time you’re taking off your shoes, or removing your laptop from your bag, or begging an unsympathetic agent to not confiscate your keychain or your Visine, remember that once you get on that plane, you are surrounded by morons, but those morons are mercifully unarmed.

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