As Long As the Rules Make Sense

You want me to put my what where?
You want me to put my what where?
I’m not a big fan of traveling commercially, whether by train or plane (never a bus). I don’t like being treated like one of the cattle, I dislike the intrusions into my privacy and I don’t enjoy having to explain, even though I have a medical card, that the steel rods holding my left leg together are not a bomb. However, I tolerate all that because I do enjoy arriving some place new. I think the same could be said of most travelers. We’re happy enough once we get where we’re going. But anyone who’s traveled over the last ten years has to have noticed a disturbing trend. If you have any sort of natural tan you’re going to draw the attention of the TSA and/or “airline authorities.” We’re talking about a group of people who, no matter their color, aren’t very well trained, are not paid very well and are given absolute authority over all they survey.

Gosh, what could possibly go wrong?

My ex-wife is Mexican. She finally refused to travel with me, no matter how much she wanted to see a place, simply due to the TSA. There could be a line longer than a football field and they would find the time to empty her purse, pat her down, make snide remarks and, usually, confiscate something dangerous like her lipstick.

“We don’t make the rules, mam, take it up with your congress person.”

Uh huh. Meanwhile I once transported a disassembled Glock 9mm from Vegas to Chicago without incident. In the grand scheme of things which would you rather face while locked in a plane at 30,000 feet? Her lipstick or my Glock?

It is with this in mind that I bring you two stories today. First, one you’ve probably already heard. University of New Mexico football player, Deshon Marman was kicked off a plane and detained by police for wearing baggy pants.

Yes, Deshon is African-American and not one of the East Hampton Marman’s.

A passenger has been removed from a plane at San Francisco International Airport and arrested after refusing to pull up his pants.

Deshon Marman, 20, who was in San Francisco to attend a former high school teammate’s funeral, was asked to pull up his sagging pants before boarding a US Airways flight to Albuquerque yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Marman’s pants were reportedly below his waist, exposing much of his boxer shorts, the newspaper quoted a police spokesman as saying.

An airline employee asked Marman to pull up his pants at the boarding gate, and the request was repeated aboard the plane, but he refused.

“At that point he was asked to leave the plane,” Sgt. Michael Rodriguez told the Chronicle. “It took 15 to 20 minutes of talking to get him to leave the plane, and he was arrested for trespassing.”

Marman, who plays football for the University of New Mexico, allegedly resisted officers as he was removed from the plane.

Marman’s mother, Donna Doyle, said her son was singled out “because of the way he looks – young black man with dreads and baggy pants”.

“But he’s a good kid trying to make it, and he’s going through a lot,” she added.

A spokeswoman for US Airways told the Chronicle the airline’s dress code forbids “indecent exposure or inappropriate” attire.

Marman was being held on $11,000 bail.

Really? $11,000 bail? My guess is that Mr. Marman couldn’t believe he was being subjected to this kind of treatment and reacted more out of shock than anything else. You’ll also be relived to know that the District Attorney is still vigorously pursuing punishment of this kid who got into college on scholastic and athletic scholarships.

Yep, he’s a true threat to national security.

“But, Uncle Big Bad,” you whine, “those rules apply to everybody. Really they do.”

Okay. Let’s look at the rule again.

The airline’s dress code forbids indecent exposure or inappropriate attire.

Same airport, same TSA.

Days before a college football player was arrested on a US Airways flight at San Francisco airport following a dispute over his saggy pants, the airline allowed another man wearing skimpy women’s panties and mid-thigh stockings to fly, according to a passenger and airline spokeswoman.

Jill Tarlow, a passenger on a June 9 flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Phoenix, took a photo of the scantily clad man, which she provided to the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper published the photo in its Wednesday edition.

The man flew six days before University of New Mexico football player DeShon Marman was arrested on a US Airways flight at San Francisco airport following allegations he refused to pull up his pants.

Tarlow told the Chronicle she and other passengers complained before boarding the plane, but US Airways employees did not prevent the unidentified man from flying.

“No one would believe me if I didn’t take his picture,” Tarlow, 40, of Phoenix said. “It was unbelievable.”

US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder defended the airline’s decision to let the man fly, saying employees acted correctly.

“We don’t have a dress code policy,” Wunder said. “Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that’s not appropriate…So if they’re not exposing their private parts, they’re allowed to fly.”

The airline has said Marman was exposing a body part on June 15 when he was repeatedly asked to pull up his pants.

His attorney, Joe O’Sullivan, said surveillance video would show his client’s skin was not showing. He accused the airline of racial discrimination. Marman is African American.

“It just shows the hypocrisy involved,” O’Sullivan told the Chronicle. “A white man is allowed to fly in underwear without question, but my client was asked to pull up his pajama pants because they hung below his waist.”

Wunder said Marman was asked to leave the flight not because of his clothing, but because he refused an employee’s request.

Marman was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, battery of a police officer and obstruction after refusing to leave the plane on the captain’s orders, according to police. Police have also said he injured an officer while being taken into custody.

Prosecutors have until July 18 to file any charges against him.

Wait? What? They DON’T have a dress code policy? What’s that silly thing I quoted above then? Random words spit out by a deranged Speak and Spell? If they hadn’t badgered Mr. Marmon about his pants, tacky though they may be, then nothing would have happened to him except he would be back playing safety for his team and going to classes so he could have a better life.

The one thing that should scare the bejeezus out of any traveler is Wunder’s comment that the young man ran afoul with the law “because he refused an employee’s request.”

Those “requests” need not have any basis in reality or logic. People have been tossed off of planes for breast feeding and having autistic children.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that if you want to fly, dressing like Dame Edna on a bender is okay, dressing like Twista on his way to work isn’t.

You know, in retrospect, my ex may have gotten this right. If you can’t drive there you don’t need to go there.

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!

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