TSA Agent Hassles Actress For Carrying 'Knuckle Duster' Purse, Accuses Her Of Buying A Knockoff

from the awfully-insecure-for-someone-in-the-security-business dept

TSA agents hate to be made to look like fools. Many agents and officers in the security/law enforcement fields view any sort of insubordination as a threat. The only proper response to these “threats” is to escalate the situation. Swift obedience and complete deference are the only responses these sort of people “respect.” Anything else is just “asking for trouble.”

Australian actress Rebel Wilson found this out firsthand during a run-in with Los Angeles TSA agents. (h/t to Techdirt reader rorybaust)

Australian actress Rebel Wilson has narrowly escaped arrest in Los Angeles after becoming involved in a verbal altercation with airport security staff.

The Bridesmaids star claims she was almost put behind bars on Saturday after a security official accused her of carrying a fake Alexander McQueen bag.

At what point does a TSA agent switch from airport security to counterfeit patrol? Well, it occurs at the point his or her judgment is questioned. The only way to save face is to have the last word, no matter how ridiculous that “last word” is.

Wilson was stopped by LAX TSA agents because they didn’t like the looks of her purse. She was carrying one of these, described in her tweet as an “Alexander McQueen knuckle duster purse.”


As you can see, it sort of looks like a weapon. Sure, it doesn’t look like a weapon to a normal person. A normal person would realize this gaudy approximation of brass knuckles (that doubles as a purse clasp) is more likely to be a danger to the person carrying the purse than to anyone else around them. However, to a TSA agent, anything that resembles a weapon is a weapon, even if it’s an ostentatious parody of brass knuckles (or a three-inch gun carried by a monkey puppet).

When the TSA agent failed to impress upon the actress the danger she presented by carrying an obviously fake non-weapon, he/she was forced to deploy The Last Word — in this case, a cheap shot at the person who wouldn’t give him/her the deference and respect that’s somehow deserved, but never earned. The agent insinuated that Wilson couldn’t afford the genuine item — a small, shitty thing to do. But that’s the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from people in positions of power when they are challenged.

When Wilson pointed out she could easily afford the genuine item, she was further berated for arguing with TSA agents. Once again, authority must not be questioned, no matter how stupid and easily-offended it is.

Wilson was finally allowed to board with her purse intact. The TSA agents are presumably busying themselves at LAX security checkpoints, engaging in tiny hostilities with passengers who fail to recognize their proper role in the Security Theater.

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Comments on “TSA Agent Hassles Actress For Carrying 'Knuckle Duster' Purse, Accuses Her Of Buying A Knockoff”

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40 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

and what is even more of a tragedy than anything else, 99.9% of these obnoxious agents couldn’t/wouldn’t recognise a real threat if it jumped up and bit them squarely on the arse! the attitude here is no different to the attitude of any USA agent of any ‘security force’! they all seem to think that they have a God-given right to do and say whatever they feel like at any time to any passenger. what needs to happen is for people to suddenly refuse to visit the USA for any reason! after all, it seems to me as if it wants to be able to do whatever it wants to everyone but not one single person is able to even protect themselves from any sort of abuse, neither physical or verbal, let alone defend themself! if being totally stuck out by itself is really what it wants, i am sure the rest of the world would be happy to oblige. everything the USA or it’s representatives do is a complete screwing of the others involved! and it doesn’t even offer anything of use anymore either, so it wouldn’t be missed!!

anonymouse says:

Re: Re:

I have been married to an American girl for the last almost 8 year, two months for our anniversary as i am reminded frequently :).
We used to visit America every year to see her family and for her family to see our kids as they were born.

Sadly my daughter will probably not get to set foot on American soil for a few more years as both me and my wife have decided to boycott the TSA and i seriously do not want to be in a situation where my daughter has some stranger feeling her private parts, damn i have taught my sons and my daughter that under no circumstances do they ever let anyone touch them there and if someone tries to scream as loud as they can and bite the person as hard as they can.

I have explained it is different with dad and mom and doctors, but again only when we are present can a doctor check them down there.

What type of father would i be if i put them in a situation where some stranger, who might be a criminal as many TSA agents are, might take my daughter away from me to a private room to check her private parts. No way am i ever going to consider putting my child at risk of this happening, and with the powers the TSA has they believe they can do this and would do it if they wanted to, and they would accept the consequences after it had happened.

I am not prepared to accept the consequences and refuse to fly to America, that is not going to cause much of a loss for the American economy but it is $5 000 that they will not be getting from me every year, this is roughly the amount i spend when there on a holiday.

We have not been to America in 4 years and we will not be going unless the law changes to prevent them from sexually harassing my family be it my children or my wife.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think you have this just a LITTLE overblown. I have flown and even volunteered for the patdown instead of the cancer machine, and the agent did it out in front of everyone and was very professional. YMMV, but your daughter probably has a better chance of getting raped on her local subway. Are you going to keep her from that, too?

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re: Molestation versus Security Theater

So what you’re basically saying is that the apparent humiliation here is all just show. They aren’t actually engaging in any security relevant activities because they aren’t doing a competent pat down.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be molested. On the other hand, I want actual security as opposed to mere theater carried out by petty beaurocrats that can go full dickhead on you at any moment.

The girls in Hijabs at Heathrow at least seem to be interested in doing their job properly.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

translation:
i am a compliant and complicit little authoritarian; i am only being molested a little bit, and it is done quite professionally, so i don’t know why you would think a kid would be upset by mandatory molestation by strangers in uniforms in public…

geez, they are just pretending to search us, and they are just pretending we are safe, now, we are just pretending we are free…

pretend time is over, kiddies…

FreeCultureForFreePeople says:

Wilson was finally allowed to board with her purse intact.

She was certainly luckier than this famous Polish pianist, whose Steinway grand piano was destoyed by US customs officials because it “smelled funny”:
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/apr/28/krystian-zimerman-missile-defence-poland

A bit off-topic, but I find the last paragraph of that article really awesome:
For several years [after this incident] he chose to travel with just the mechanical insides of his own piano and install them – he is a master piano repairer, as well as player – inside a Steinway shell he borrowed from the company in New York. In 2006 he tried to travel with his own piano again, only to have it held up in customs for five days and disrupt his performance schedule.

Given this treatment, I’m not surprised he vowed to never visit the US again – and Rebel Wilson should certainly do the same. Rebel – a very fitting first name indeed.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And hey we get to pay more money to support this sort of thing in the new year.

Someone should start a ‘We the People’ dodad, and force Congress to allow TSA agents to check them as they move around the capitol. Congresscritters are very out of touch with reality, and I think unleashing the full stupidity of TSA agents that you can’t do anything about upon them would be fitting.

Just imagine the puffed up orange tearful face screaming about how this is wrong and the TSA agent just getting the last word again and again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not just the TSA

The local security guards at the Court House stopped a woman who had a similarly styled purse. The “brass knuckles” might have fit a 2 year old child hands but they still considered them a weapon.

They had the same rule “if it looks like a weapon it is” so remember folks, don’t let your kids eat pop-tarts near security checkpoints!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m pretty sure watching that makes up a significant portion of their training on ‘What to do when a person is uncooperative’.

Of course, now that I think about it, that would make a hilarious TSA-bait t-shirt. Cartman on the front, with a TSA shirt/cap on, and the caption ‘TSA: RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!’ in a circle arching over his head.

Mind, the only thing more likely to get you a strip-search, pat-down, cavity search, and all your luggage trashed would be being dark skinned, wearing a turban and beard, and muttering in a foreign sounding dialect, so probably best to keep it as a theoretical clothing idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why brass knuckles?

Am I the only one who thinks that this sort of purse SHOULD be banned as carryon? Why do you need brass knuckles on a purse? Yeah, they can’t do much while on the purse, but what if they detach?

And if the TSA doesn’t want to ban it, what about the fashion police? I mean, seriously. If it indeed is useless as a weapon, why would you want anything that looks like that?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Why brass knuckles?

“Yeah, they can’t do much while on the purse, but what if they detach?”

Assuming you have fingers small enough to fit in those tiny ass things, they’d do more damage if you left them on the purse. Take them off and they’re rings. Similar to rings that millions of people wear every single day.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Why brass knuckles?

you might be a pearl-clutcher if :

you give the slightest credence to idiotic scaremongering of gummint kreeps…

you go out of your way to make excuses for authoritarians making our lives a living hell for ZERO return…

you ‘see their point’ on marginal crap that has close to ZERO chance of happening, yet proscribe your whole life based on the fears OF OTHERS…

for dog’s sake: stop cowering, sheeple, walk upright on your hind legs and pretend you’re an autonomous human bean with rights and some last vestige of pride, bare your fangs at pettifogging authorities ! ! !

stop obeying and start growling ! ! !

Yuvraj Singh Panchal says:

Introduction letter for Metal Purse

Dear Sir/Ma’am,
Greeting for the day!!
We glad to introduced our self as a Manufacturer & Exporter of handicraft item in brass, aluminum, wrought iron, wooden & ceramic along with wooden stand ,Leather goods, embroidery bags & ladies purses in different and other handicraft items bulk quantities.

But our company specialties in Metal Purse different style & different color already exporting same items in from very long time bulk quantity best quality and very competitive price in US$,F.O.B, Mumbai. We would like very much to do business with you & believe this could be of mutual benefit to both of us.

We are waiting for your positive response as soon as possible.

Thanks /Best Regards

Yuvraj Singh Panchal

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