A Nation United Under Fear: We Are All “F-ucking Deafies”

A student returning from the National Association of the Deaf conference in Louisville had this lovely run-in with the TSA:

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

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

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

It’s disgusting but not entirely surprising: there are assholes and they walk among us. But the real question is why did no one else do anything to stop it. Why did no one say anything? I’m sure some people just didn’t notice–you would be amazed at what people can miss. And I’m sure some people thought it was funny (again, assholes among us). But there were probably some people who were scared to speak up. Maybe the TSA agents would give you grief. Maybe they would make you miss your flight. Maybe you would be detained or even put on the Kafkaesque threat lists (the government doesn’t even have to confirm that you’re on the list, let alone tell you why) and always given the third degree. Better off keeping your head down and just avoiding trouble.

And it’s not just the TSA. It’s our various systems of governance, many of which are private. Don’t contest the ridiculous surcharges, they might just accuse you of being late, or find some other fine print to nail you with. Exercise your rights in court and they come back at you twice as hard.

The only way this stops is if these animals–and that is exactly what they are–are removed from their positions of power. It’s one thing to just go through the motions and not give a damn, but to actively wreak havoc? People must be punished, because appealing to the better angels of our–actually their–nature isn’t working.

And this is how it always starts: step by step, you are convinced to surrender your freedom, your dignity. Until we are one Nation, United Under Fear.

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8 Responses to A Nation United Under Fear: We Are All “F-ucking Deafies”

  1. evilDoug says:

    I would recommend that the NAD write to the mayor and the chamber of commerce (p’tooi!) of Louisville, the airlines and the hotels used by the attendees, and the conference venue, and inform them that NAD members will not be using their services in the future. Of course none of these organizations can directly stomp on the TSA, but if they come to understand that the behavior of the TSA will cost them money, they might take some action.
    Similarly, a barrage of letters from anyone who might (p > 0.00000000) visit Louisville might also help.

    Is there a market for soylent green these days? Culling the herd, especially at TSA, about every 3 months would keep the supply going (though perhaps drive down the price due to the glut it would create).

  2. TheBrummell says:

    “Maybe they would make you miss your flight”
    This. This is why I would think twice about speaking up were I a few places back in line behind this student. It would ruin my day, because I probably wouldn’t say anything out of fear of losing my flight and with it the considerable expense (and time, and effort) of a plane ticket, and then I’d (rightfully) be down on myself for cowardice for at least the rest of the day.
    Am I brave enough, and wealthy (and unconcerned with delays) enough, to effectively ensure a missed flight to stand up for the dignity and basic rights of a stranger in an airport?
    As the band Mighty Mighty Bosstones put it in The Impression That I Get:
    I’m not a coward
    I’ve just never been tested
    I like to think that if I was I would pass

    I’m not so sure about myself, in a situation like this. It’s weird, I’m pretty confident that in a situation involving injury I’d rise to the occassion (perhaps that’s merely my ego talking) – house on fire, car accident, heart attack victim collapses in front of me – but in an situation involving a very low risk of injury or death (they’re assholes, certainly, but are they violent assholes who will beat me severely? Unlikely, I think), I am less confident of my bravery.

    Now I’m going to be pondering this all day. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  3. David Amezcua says:

    “People must be punished, because appealing to the better angels of our–actually their–nature isn’t working.”

    You are missing the damned point by a MILE. But what can one expect from a person who feels that Biology gives one power of hegemony in cerebral circles.

    It’s not people in various positions of power. It’s about numb-skulls who are predators on anyone with communication difficulties. I’m the VP of a chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. I witness mild forms of this type of hazing fairly frequently. Often in the form of some half muttered comment following my words, creating uproarious laughter, details of which are too quiet to have been understood. Recently I showed up to help at a basketball tournament and found the supervisor in conversation with four or five other helpers. After being asked my shirt size, I informed the supervisor that I didn’t hear well and the response was “do you know how much I don’t care?” And this brought down the house. SHE thought she was a stand up comedian or something. Fortunately another supervisor was there quietly clocking everyone in and weeks later I spoke up and had her fired.

    The folks that have contempt for hearing issues are everywhere. Usually they are folks who take it upon themselves to make other people look stupid for the entertainment of their fellows (as in this incident), or just tell people to their faces that they are stupid (as you seem to enjoy doing, or claim to, as per the website).

    It’s not authority figures, it’s just about everyone. I am eagerly waiting to see if the airport video cams do corroborate this young man’s claims. Because if so, it’s going to be time for some pay back. A little paranoid? Or just too close to the bone. It happens everyday in mild forms. This is just a chance someone may get to sue over it.

    And whatever your point is about “one nation under fear” is a bit beyond me. We respect people in position. If they abuse it and we can prove it they get sued or impeached. Pretty simple. What’s the ‘fear?’


  4. JohnV says:

    The fear is having the TSA agent decide its my turn to be sexually assaulted, by random chance of course.

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  6. Misaki says:

    How economic inequality harms societies (related to “The Spirit Level”)

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