On Wisconsin: On, Wisconsin!
Having grown up in the Badger state, I feel well qualified to write sniggeringly about the place. I was there. I know what I’m talkin’ about, all right? It’s a great state beside a Great Lake, populated by generally nice folks.
It also has more taverns per square mile than just about anywhere, including Bavaria. Wisconsin is a state full of drinkers — who tend to be bullying and aggressive when they’re drunk. Which sort of explains (but doesn’t excuse) the behavior of a heretofore unamed Wisconsin employee of the TSA who, while protecting our collective security, detained and fined ($448) a passenger who was carrying a pipe that the overzealous TSA screener determined was “drug paraphenelia.”
The screener made this decision while sober (one presumes). But the bullying impulse was still there.
The screener was right about the pipe. It was for illegal drugs! The passenger used the pipe to smoke medically recommended marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of his advancing multiple sclerosis. He didn’t have any weed on him at the airport. Just his pipe. But that didn’t stop another earnest Wisconsinite from doing his job, and darn well. Marijuana is a class one narcotic — like heroin — and possessing it is a federal crime. Marijuana is BAD, because it’s…well, no one is really sure any more why this is so. But it is. So those are the rules, which TSA screeners will hastily remind you they do not make, only enforce. That’s the way it is, sir.
That the aggrieved patient involved was a minor celebrity only makes the incident sadder. Folks growing up in Wisconsin don’t come in contact with minor celbrities that much, and it was a shame that the TSA screener couldn’t have met Montel Williams under nicer circumstances, like over a cold beer at one of the drinking establishments that ring the airport.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Badgers lost in the Rose Bowl, a place that is surrounded by thousands of residents who enjoy marijuana in their homes. Some of them even grow it.
Strange how carrying a pipe can make you a patient in one state and a criminal in another.