TSA Agent Mocks Deaf Man, Steals His Candy, Eats It

A TSA agent in Louisville gave the following experience to a deaf man returning from a National Association for the Deaf conference.

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.

As they say, a few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. That is just heartless…but totally TSA. Did anyone post this story on their social media site? This is the first I have heard of it.

  2. Immature, unprofessional and just plain disgusting. The individuals concerned and their managers should be disiplined maybe even fired. The TSA need higher to exhibit standards than this.

  3. Is it a bad sign that I no longer find these reports about the TSA surprising? It’s like reading about a politician involved in a sex scandal. At some point it just ceases to be news.

  4. Simple solution might have been to have them arrested for petty larceny. Who’d be laughing then? Geez, take a stand and uphold your rights and dignity!

  5. When you pay $8/hr, you get $4/hr worth of employee. None of this should be a shock to anyone.

  6. Makes me very sad (and MAD) that people behave this way with impunity, TSA or not. Wish someone kicked the guy in the teeth. Grrr.

  7. Not a big tsa fan, but what’s the source of this? A blog posting that links to a random blog post that has been taken down?

    I know bloggers aren’t journalists and don’t hold themselves to that threshold, but this seems a bit weak considering the oringal source (which no longer exists) was a lip reader

  8. Agree with James. This is (or, rather, purports to be) a first-person account by someone I don’t know published on a blog I never heard of.

    Not a big TSA fan, either. But my gut says the story is fabricated or exaggerated.

  9. The original post is now gone. I’m in favor of keeping an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.

    Judging from the disappearance of the original post, the veracity of this story is in serious question (although that probably won’t matter to people who value “truthiness” over truth). I’m perfectly capable of creating a Tumblr account and posting calumnious accusations — I hope responsible people are more discerning in reporting them.

    If it does turn out to be true, I’m not sure why it says more about TSA agents than people from Kentucky, or people of whatever ethnic background the agents were, or whatever.

    In addition, there are references to a follow up post (now also gone, along with the entire Tumblr account) in which the writer states that this incident rated a 3 or 4 out of 10 on the scale of poor and abusive treatment he’s received. Why not feature some of the other, worse, cases as well?

  10. Jayson,

    you’re whats wrong with this country. Who told you to take the job for $8/hr then? Ever heard of the saying “any job worth doing is a job worth doing well”? Its people like you who put in 50% that’s dragging the country down.

  11. Gary, Are you really that gullable to republish something so obviously contrived or just desperate for hits? TSA stealing a deaf man’s candy, eating it in front of him, and laughing b/c he’s deaf? There’s plenty wrong with TSA without reposting total BS.

  12. I’m glad to see I’m not the only skeptic. You can’t believe everything you see on the Internet (or anywhere else for that matter)…

  13. are you really THAT much of an anti-TSA kool aid drinker where you’ll reprint as news something you heard from a guy who heard it from a guy who maybe read someones lips (or something like that, but who knows because the source doesn’t even link THAT far).

    it cheapens any argument you make against the TSA when you print stuff like this as if it was the unquestioned truth. confirmation bias much?

  14. That a fairly dubious story has any credibility says more than enough about the TSA.

  15. @For Real? @NotaTotalMoron @Skeptical So which TSA checkpoint/airport do you guys work at?

  16. Not like this is anything new for TSA. There are two or three stories like this every week and usually a video showing them harassing some innocent passenger. Last week it was spilling cremation ashes and laughing at the victim, now mocking and robbing a deaf man.

    They seem to have a penchant for harassing the elderly and handicapped.

    This what we get when they hire high school dropouts with rap sheet, give them a mall cop badge and allow them to harass innocent people with impunity.

    This is the same agency that CNN revealed kept a jeopardy style score board in Orlando where screeners earned points for searching handicapped passengers, gays, blacks and other groups.

    Yet TSA still allows pedophile TSA Supervisor Thomas Harkins to stay on the job at Philadelphia Airport even after his past was exposed by CBS last month.

    This agency is completely indifferent to the public and arrogantly defies Congress’ demands for reform.

    It’s time to end these assaults on travelers and replace TSA.

  17. @Not a TSA

    sorry, none. i’m an accountant actually. crazy as it sounds, it is ok to be skeptical of some things that you read, especially when they really aren’t sourced at all… even if it means that EVERYTHING you read about the TSA may not be entirely true.

    no worries though, drinking the kool aid is fun too. thats why Foxnews and MSNBC are so popular.

  18. @For Real? Nice try, can’t say this surprises anyone at all though, no one seems to need any convincing here except you. Can’t blame you for thinking your employer is the greatest thing since sliced bread though….

  19. Is it acceptable to openly film any tsa interaction with my camera or smartphone? I have not flown in awhile but will this Nov with the wife and young kids. I want to capture any inappropriate tsa activity so I can use as evidence if needed.

  20. The TSA now states that they have reviewed 120 hours of footage from the single TSA checkpoint at SDF and not seen any incident of food being removed from a carry-on bag and being, nor any other incident that matches the description in the now-removed original posting.

    Furthermore, they state that they pro-actively provided additional training to their agents in SDF after learning that the NAD convention was going to be held there.

    Of course, we can’t independently verify the accuracy of the statements in the TSA’s posting (as we could not verify the original accusations). But we’re now comparing a signed and publicly posted statement from the TSA with a deleted, pseudonymous Tumblr posting.

    The odds favor the case that this was a hoax, or at the very least of significant exaggeration of a less noxious event.

  21. PLEASE do contact Louisville, KY airport to report this. Blogging about it is well and good, but it’s not going to create potential changes.

    So please do forward your blog or WRITE direction to them (and copy/paste your letter here.)

  22. @Bob No offense, but anyone smart enough to be reading Gary’s blog is going to take anything you post with a huge grain of salt and don’t need to read the TSA’s block to be able to come to their own conclusion. While you’re reviewing TSA incidents and alleged misconduct though, how about a review of the video footage from the incident involving human remains in Orlando and a blog post on that? And how about a review of the footage and incident of a passenger being sexually assaulted during a “routine” patdown in Feb. this year? TIA

  23. If this were true, this would be a lotto payday for the person. this is discrimination plain and simple..if it were true…

  24. Those of you who question lip reading have no idea what your talking about. I would accept a lip readers account over someone listening any day. Your lack of faith in lip reading only underscores your disdain for the hard of hearing. The fact that this incident is even considered possible and that the TSA isa lying, is an indictment of the policies and behavior of the agency. A 16 yo girl who was weirded out by the pat down had her head smashed into a table and given a concussion. The thug TSA agents we defended by management by saying “the agents acted according to policy and procedure.” If they did, they something is very wrong.

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