Tuesday, January 09, 2007

This Seems Wrong

Boing Boing, possibly the second best blog in the world, linked to this Reuters news story about a college student who was arrested in the airport in Philadelphia when a search of her bags turned up three condoms filled with a white powder. This does not involve CBP or the customs laws, but stick with me. The student spent three weeks in jail while Philly police determined that the white powder was flour and that it was all a big funny joke.

Upon her release, the student sued the City of Brotherly Love for violating her civil rights. The City settled for $180,000.

My only thought on this is that there should be some kind of offset from the settlement for being stupid and causing your own trouble. If I stand on the corner of State and 16th Street here in Chicago (not far from Police HQ), and sell small plastic bags of white powder to passing motorists, two things should happen. First, the buyers should come back and kick my sorry tail when they find out the bags contain sugar. Second, the police should do the same. Why? Because I look like a drug dealer, AND I KNOW IT. In fact, I am trying to look like a drug dealer.

This is not like the panicky traveler who faints when he or she overhears someone in the airport use the word "hijack" in a purely innocent context. "Hi, Jack. Did you pack a suit and tie?", for example. Or who calls security upon hearing "I heard Adam Sandler has a real bomb on his hands."

Condoms filled with flour in your bags will make you look like a drug runner. The "student" from Philly knows that. TSA knows it. Any jury would have known it, too. The city probably should have gone to trial. Maybe she spent too much time in jail; but it sure sounds like she deserved it.

No comments: