A group of students leaving the annual conference of the National Association of the Deaf in Louisville had a rather awful experience courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration in that city's airport.
It was a very public week-long event downtown, make no bones about it. As such, the shirt very clearly identified me as deaf.
While I was going through the TSA, some of them started laughing in my direction. I thought it might’ve been someone behind me, but I found out otherwise.
They went through my bag (for no reason), and found a couple bags of candy I brought. I was told I wasn’t allowed to fly with that (wtf? I’ve flown with food before — these were even sealed still because I brought them right in the airport). I was then asked if I would like to donate the candy “To the USO”. Since I know the airport there has an Air National Guard base, and I figured it would go to the soldiers, I (annoyed) said sure, why not?
The guards, as I was getting scanned, started eating the candy they just told me was for the soldiers. In front of me, still laughing at me (very clearly now). One of them asked why they were laughing, and one of them came up to me, pointed at my shirt, laughed at me and said, “Fucking deafie”. The Louisville TSA called me a “fucking deafie” and laughed at me because I was deaf, and they expected wouldn’t say anything back (or wouldn’t hear them). Make no bones about it — she was facing me and I read her lips. There was no mistake. I would later find out that they had called at least 4 other individuals the same thing. (story by Mike Riggs)
UPDATE: Teaandtheatre (the Tumblr account of the above complainant) is down. A commenter at Boing Boing says that the author "is concerned for negative consequences for himself and other people with disabilities. He was venting primarily to other people with disabilities. This post has gone way past what he wants."
So if you click through, and the Tumblr page is down, that's why. We'll update as soon as TSA responds.