Latest TSA horror story

Did Martin Luther King and his supporters march for freedom to have nipple rings?

A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane called Thursday for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation.

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Hamlin said she told the woman she was wearing nipple piercings. The women then called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the jewelry, Hamlin said.

Hamlin said she could not remove them and asked whether she could instead display her pierced breasts in private to the female agent. But several other male officers told her she could not board her flight until the jewelry was out, she said.

She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring.

“Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her,” said Hamlin’s attorney, Gloria Allred, reading from a letter she sent Thursday to the director of the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties.

Assuming Hamlin’s story is true, the behavior of the TSA officer was beyond absurd.

Dr. Steven Taylor at Poliblog, whose initial reaction is to believe Ms. Hamilin, ‘Indeed, TSA policy could easily lead to the scenario above.’

On its Web site, the TSA warns that passengers “may be additionally screened because of hidden items such as body piercings, which alarmed the metal detector.”

“If you are selected for additional screening, you may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to a pat-down search,” the site says.

Hamlin would have accepted a “pat-down” had it been offered, Allred said.

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TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird said he was unaware of the incident. There is no specific TSA policy on dealing with body piercings, he said, “as long as it doesn’t sound the alarms.”

If an alarm does sound, “until that is resolved, we’re not going to let them go through the checkpoint, no matter what they’re wearing or where they’re wearing it.”

Dr. Taylor and I both feel safer. Do you?

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