ASU Student Says He Was Kicked Off Delta Flight Over Shirt Mocking the TSA

UPDATE: Delta's statement has been added below.

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An Arizona State University Ph.D. student says his tee-shirt mocking the Transportation Security Administration led to him and his wife getting kicked off his flight returning to Phoenix over the weekend.

It wasn't the TSA that kicked them off the plane, though -- Arijit Guha tells New Times it was a Delta pilot's decision to keep them off the flight from Buffalo, New York.

While waiting at the gate, Guha says, one of the airline's supervisors told him his shirt made employees and passengers "uncomfortable."

The shirt logo makes a play on the TSA's logo, with the eagle holding untied shoes and pouring out a bottle of liquid. Around the seal, it says, "Bombs ZOMG/ZOMG terrists," and "Gonna kill us all ZOMG ZOMG alert level bloodred run run take off your shoes moisture." ("ZOMG" means "Oh my God," for those curious.)

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The t-shirt logo in question.

Guha says he was told by the Delta supervisor that he'd have to deal with another security check, and he'd also have to change his shirt. Guha agreed, but after jumping through all the hoops, he says the pilot decided to make the final call -- Guha and his wife were not getting on that plane. (You can read his detailed explanation of events on his blog.)

Guha says the Delta supervisor said, "It's not you, it's the shirt" that caused the passengers to feel "uncomfortable." Since the Delta pilot allegedly prevented him from getting on the flight after he agreed to change his shirt, Guha says it went beyond the t-shirt.

"It's because I'm not white," Guha tells New Times. "I don't like to just assume racism in all cases...but the fact is that we'd taken the shirt out of play, but people still felt uncomfortable with my very presence on the flight. What else can it be?"

Guha says he's been "randomly selected" for extra security screenings at airports way too many times for his liking over the years, and he says what a transit policeman told him after he was booted from the flight confirmed his belief that this whole ordeal was race-related.

He says a Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officer questioned him, and while asking a supervisor to question him in a private room, Guha says the officer gave his boss some reasons why -- among them, he "looks foreign."

Despite the Delta supervisor's telling Guha that the whole situation was "not you, it's the shirt,"  Guha says that turned out to be a "straight up lie."

Although the TSA shirt wasn't threatening, it may seem to some people that this could've been avoided without the garment. Guha emphatically denies this, telling us he was "not willing to accept the premise of that question."

"Some people who don't have to deal with this crap forget; whatever I would've been wearing, it didn't matter," he says. "Suit and tie -- I get pulled out; 'scary ethnic garb' -- it doesn't matter. I can't win."

Guha added later, "[T]he 'he had it coming for what he was wearing' comments are also indicative of a certain sense of privilege -- it's easy to say that if you're not constantly being profiled for Flying While Brown."

Guha and his wife eventually were put on a flight back to Arizona the next morning, but not until after he had to deal with the authorities (again, thoroughly detailed in his blog) for what? A shirt? Looking foreign?

What Guha's concerned with, at least, is that he was kicked off the flight because passengers were "uncomfortable" with him being on it -- which he claims the Delta pilot must have agreed with, and kept him off the plane.

We called Delta's corporate media-relations office; a woman took down some of the details and said someone would get back to us. If that happens, we'll let you know.

UPDATE: Delta e-mailed us the following statement:

Safety and security will always be our first priority and most fundamental obligation. Delta doesn't discriminate or condone discrimination of any kind against our employees or customers.

Meanwhile, Guha's complaining to officials to hold them responsible for how he was treated and is urging others to do the same.




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24 comments
George
George

White people are racist? I'm shocked. I would have never imagined such a thing.

bgray59
bgray59

At least he was not kicked off for being a retired Military Officer.  

ellaguru
ellaguru

Who looks at other people's clothing closely enough to even see the kind of stuff that was on this shirt?  The artwork is congested and difficult to read. It's hard to believe, unless he was drawing attention to himself in other ways, that the shirt was noticed on its own.

mutunus69
mutunus69

I'm going to wear my nazi uniform for my next flight.  We'll see what happens.

mirkovich
mirkovich

Im white.  I bet I could wear it and get through security just fine.  :-)   Sometimes it feels good to be white. Its obvious to me that a lot of people are missing the point here.  Everyone is all hung up on the shirt.  Question is, would a white guy wearing that shirt be treated any different?  I would like to see an experiment performed.

jerseytorch
jerseytorch

I'm guessing there is far more to this story than what this guy is saying.

 

oh and by the way, mock TSA all you wish, but it's fools like him who would be the FIRST to yell when some plane is blown out of the sky.

justinbrentwood
justinbrentwood

A bit childish for a Ph.D student. Oh, it is ASU.  

Hodor
Hodor

Whatever, he shouldn't have worn it. He did because he wanted to get into the news. Speak the word "bomb" or "terrorist" at the security check-in and you're getting hauled off. Walk around in a shirt with bomb and terrorist and other gobbledygook that people don't understand, and of course they're going to be uncomfortable. And who's the idiot that said all the passengers who weren't comfortable should have gotten off the plane. What a jackwagon you are! If I was the pilot, I'd want to make sure I get my passengers safe to where they're going, and myself back to my family. I don't some idiot, whether you're turban brown or redneck white, upsetting anyone at 30,000 feet. There is no reason to take the risk, because as soon as we let down and quit pointing out oddities, the BAM, someone ain't going home. Doctoral student, my ass! All that means is that he is smart enough to pass entrance exams and write theses. Doesn't mean he ain't a threat. Those assholes that changed our country on 9/11 were all smart enough to be doctoral students...Ppphtt. If I was a passenger with that dude strutting around all proud of "message," I would have tried to sit right behind, if I could stand the smell, and kept an eye on him, for sure. Other people are less secure, and would rather not "cool, doctoral students-only-and-text geeks, get this t-shirt, and screw the rest of you scared, white, normal people. Suck it, I'm done!

jester.jackson
jester.jackson

What if it had been a Tshirt of Pres Bush bitting the neck of the Statue of Liberty like a vampire? Or a pirate logo or a My Little Pony brony shirt?  People are so easily offended it is pathetic.

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

I suppose not everyone who is not a Ph D candidate might understand the meaning of the shirt. Two words, "bomb" and "terrorist" jump out at the casual observer and probably made a whole lot of people uncomfortable, including the entire crew. Yes, he apparently changed his shirt, but why take a chance that he's not still a wolf in sheep's clothing? Maybe he could join mid-stream mature people who simply enjoy life without having their fifteen seconds of fame wherever they walk? Probably not.

jersey
jersey

Perhaps those that didn't feel comfortable are the ones that should not have taken that flight then...

QstionEvythng
QstionEvythng

The real problem was that he was in Buffalo.

Lone-Wolf
Lone-Wolf

I believed those that still felt "uncomfortable" around him, despite the fact that he agreed to removed the shirt, were actually frightened whites.

interloper
interloper

 @George Strike the word "white" and this is an absolutely true statement.

QstionEvythng
QstionEvythng

 @mutunus69

 What will happen - everyone will think your a racist pig.  Nicely done - very effective response.

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

 @mutunus69Good idea. That is sure to make for a smooth transition through security. Hopefully you won't be needing to get anyplace quickly.

 

QstionEvythng
QstionEvythng

 @mirkovich

The article doesn't say that he had any trouble with security -  it looks like security let him right through.  He wanted to be antagonistic and instead of antognizing TSA like he hoped, he found that he antagonized his fellow passengers and made them uncomforatble.  That old idiom you reap what you sow seems to apply.

plaid
plaid

 @Hodor And I know people who fly in that shirt all the time as their "quiet" protest to the TSA. Delta's never bothered them about the shirt. I know, as I've been on multiple Delta flights with one white man wearing it. The shirt was sold in 2007 -- this isn't a new thing. I'd bet money that the same pilot and staff have flown people in that shirt before. What's different in this situation?

fairymagic13
fairymagic13

 @Lone-Wolf Or, perhaps he was overweight and him taking off his shirt and going topless REALLY made those around him uncomfortable - can you say "Man Boobs"?

Lone-Wolf
Lone-Wolf

 @fairymagic13  @Lone-Wolf That would be like half of the MCSO Deputy Dawgs, including his entire thug Posse members. Not to mention that the 80 year old octogenarian fool looks like he's pregnant himself.

 

What else "can you say"?

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