The Transporation Security Administration claims that security camera footage from the Louisville airport refutes claims made by a deaf man that he was mocked and made to give up candy in his bag while flying out of Louisville after a National Association of the Deaf conference.
The young man, who has not released his name, claimed in a Tumblr post last week that TSA agents in Louisville laughed at him and several other deaf travelers, called him "fucking deafie," and refused to allow him to go through security with candy in his bag (the young man claims that officers said he could donate the candy to the "USO," then ate it in front of him).
In a post published Friday at The TSA Blog, Blogger Bob (a public affairs officer) writes that
When TSA found out the NAD conference was coming to Louisville, TSA reached out to NAD and other members of its disability coalition while Transportation Security Officers at SDF received additional training on screening deaf passengers from local experts in the field.
SDF is a smaller airport with only one checkpoint, which is monitored by security cameras. Our officers are aware that screening operations are constantly under video surveillance.
After a review of the video, TSA found no footage that matches the information in the blog post, such as Officers removing food during any bag search and eating it, or anything to indicate that they were pointing at and ridiculing a passenger.
In general, candy is not a prohibited item, and would only warrant additional screening if it alarmed. TSA does not donate surrendered food and drink items for health and safety reasons.
The original Tumblr account on which the anecdote was posted, teaandtheatre.tumblr.com, has been deactivated. After the TSA rebutted the story, the young man sent a note to Boing Boing, which was the first major outlet to pick up the story, asking that they take their post down and respect his privacy. Boing Boing took down his picture.
A commenter on Reason claims that the young man retracted his claim on a new blog, but that alleged new blog–idontlikeattention.tumblr.com–has already been taken offline.
In the days since this story went viral, several people have pointed out that "deafie" is a term used largely, and mostly, by deaf people. UrbandDictionary (which is by no means authoritative) defines it as "acceptable slang used within the deaf community." On the one hand, it's peculiar that a TSA agent would employ this unique and obscure (to the unimpaired) word as a slur. Or maybe the TSA's prep for the NAD conference had the unintended consequence of expanding the vocabulary of a particularly nasty agent.
With the young man refusing to respond to questions, it's difficult to sort this out.