Language Discrimination

Bad news everyone. Studying Arabic is now grounds to be detained at the airport:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former college student who was detained for several hours at an airport after he was found carrying Arabic language flashcards had his bid to sue federal agents rejected by a federal appeals court.

Nicholas George sought to sue three Transportation Security Administration agents and two FBI agents over the August 2009 stop at Philadelphia International Airport, saying they violated his free speech rights and conducted an improper search and arrest based on the flashcards and a book critical of American policy in the Middle East.

A district judge rejected the agents’ assertion of immunity, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in a decision issued Tuesday.

George was returning from his home in a Philadelphia suburb to Pomona College in California, where he was studying Arabic, when TSA agents saw the words “bomb” and “terrorist” among his flashcards and called police. George was detained for nearly five hours, two of them in handcuffs in a city police station at the airport.

Obviously Mr. George was a terrorist. After all, who else would be carrying Arabic flash cards with words like “bomb” and “terrorist” printed on them? Well, besides somebody studying to become a military translator. Or somebody who has an invested interest in reading Arabic manuals on guerrilla warfare purely for curiosity’s sake. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) went bonkers when it first started but it’s rather sickening to think that we still have that horrible agency around even though it hasn’t prevented a single terrorist wannabe from boarding an airplane.