Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest

Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest


Government photo of Aaron Tobey being held at Richmond International Airport on December 30


A Virginia man who wrote an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripped to his shorts at an airport security screening area won a trial Friday in his lawsuit seeking $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.

Aaron Tobey claimed in a civil rights lawsuit(.pdf) that in 2010 he was handcuffed and held for about 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration at the Richmond International Airport after he began removing his clothing to display on his chest a magic-marker protest of airport security measures.

“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,” his chest and gut read.

In sending the case to trial, unless there’s a settlement, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 and reversed a lower court judge and invoked Benjamin Franklin in the process. According to the opinion by Judge Roger Gregory:

Here, Mr. Tobey engaged in a silent, peaceful protest using the text of our Constitution—he was well within the ambit of First Amendment protections. And while it is tempting to hold that First Amendment rights should acquiesce to national security in this instance, our Forefather Benjamin Franklin warned against such a temptation by opining that those ‘who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ We take heed of his warning and are therefore unwilling to relinquish our First Amendment protections—even in an airport.

Tobey didn’t want to go through the advanced imaging technology X-ray machines, or so-called nude body scanners, that were cropping up at airports nationwide. Instead, when it was his turn to be screened, he was going to opt for an intrusive pat-down, and removed most of his clothing in the process.

Among other things, the federal lawsuit claimed wrongful detention and a breach of the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment. Tobey was on his way to Wisconsin for his grandmother’s funeral. Despite his detainment, he made his flight.

According to the suit, while under interrogation, the authorities wanted to know “about his affiliation with, or knowledge of, any terrorist organizations, if he had been asked to do what he did by any third party, and what his intentions and goals were.”

Two weeks later, Henrico County prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charge against him, and he sued the Transportation Security Administration and others.

In dissent, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote:

Had this protest been launched somewhere other than in the security-screening area, we would have a much different case. But Tobey’s antics diverted defendants from their passenger-screening duties for a period, a diversion that nefarious actors could have exploited to dangerous effect. Defendants responded as any passenger would hope they would, summoning local law enforcement to remove Tobey—and the distraction he was creating — from the scene.


article first appeared


Life-hacks. Brilliant and playful recycling.



Life hacks are little ways to make our lives easier. These low-budget tips and trick can help you organize and de-clutter space; prolong and preserve your products; or teach you something (e.g., tie a full Windsor) that you simply did not know before.

Most of these came from a great post on tumblr. There is also a great subreddit ‘r/lifehacks‘ with some fantastic tips as well.







life hacks how to make your life easier (16)




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20. Separate egg yolks like a boss

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“Thrift Shop”
(feat. Wanz)

Hey, Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?

What, what, what, what… [x7]

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m hunting, looking for a come-up
This is fucking awesome

[Verse 1]
Now, walk into the club like, “What up, I got a big cock!”
I’m so pumped about some shit from the thrift shop
Ice on the fringe, it’s so damn frosty
That people like, “Damn! That’s a cold ass honkey.”
Rollin’ in, hella deep, headin’ to the mezzanine,
Dressed in all pink, ‘cept my gator shoes, those are green
Draped in a leopard mink, girls standin’ next to me
Probably shoulda washed this, smells like R. Kelly’s sheets
But shit, it was ninety-nine cents! (Bag it)
Coppin’ it, washin’ it, ’bout to go and get some compliments
Passin’ up on those moccasins someone else’s been walkin’ in
Bummy and grungy, fuck it man
I am stuntin’ and flossin’ and
Savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain, bitch
I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’ma take your grandpa’s style,
No for real – ask your grandpa – can I have his hand-me-downs? (Thank you)
Velour jumpsuit and some house slippers
Dookie brown leather jacket that I found diggin’
They had a broken keyboard, I bought a broken keyboard
I bought a skeet blanket, then I bought a kneeboard
Hello, hello, my ace man, my Miller
John Wayne ain’t got nothing on my fringe game, hell no
I could take some Pro Wings, make them cool, sell those
The sneaker heads would be like “Aw, he got the Velcros”

[Hook x2]

[Verse 2]
What you know about rockin’ a wolf on your noggin?
What you knowin’ about wearin’ a fur fox skin?
I’m digging, I’m digging, I’m searching right through that luggage
One man’s trash, that’s another man’s come-up
Thank your granddad for donating that plaid button-up shirt
‘Cause right now I’m up in her skirt
I’m at the Goodwill, you can find me in the (Uptons)
I’m that, I’m that sucker searchin’ in that section (Uptons)
Your grammy, your aunty, your momma, your mammy
I’ll take those flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, I rock that motherfucker
The built-in onesie with the socks on that motherfucker
I hit the party and they stop in that motherfucker
They be like, “Oh, that Gucci – that’s hella tight.”
I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch (shit)
I call that getting swindled and pimped (shit)
I call that getting tricked by a business
That shirt’s hella dough
And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t
Peep game, come take a look through my telescope
Trying to get girls from a brand? Then you hella won’t
Then you hella won’t

(Goodwill… poppin’ tags… yeah!)


[Bridge x2]
I wear your granddad’s clothes
I look incredible
I’m in this big ass coat
From that thrift shop down the road


Is that your grandma’s coat?

late ’80s: Parenting, Politics and Sinead

Today needed a little music and this song has been fueling the fire for me for 20+ years. I actually sang this to my son as a lullaby and he sings it to my granddaughter.

Here are the lyrics with links/footnotes:

Margaret Thatcher on TV
shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing. 
It seems strange that she should be offended
The same orders are given by her.
I’ve said this before now
You said I was childish and you’ll say it now
“Remember what I told you
If they hated me they will hate you”
England’s not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It’s the home of police who kill black boys on mopeds 
And I love my boy and that’s why I’m leaving
I don’t want him to be aware that there’s
Any such thing as grieving
Young mother down at Smithfield
5 am, looking for food for her kids
In her arms she holds three cold babies
And the first word that they learned was “please”
These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave
“Remember what I told you
If you were of the world they would love you”
England’s not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It’s the home of police who kill blacks boys on mopeds
And I love my boy and that’s why I’m leaving
I don’t want him to be aware that there’s
Any such thing as grieving.


Footnotes: I wasn’t able to find what specifically about Smithfield… other than it has long held meat and markets (and at one time public hangings)… so I don’t know if there is a specific mother with 3 cold babies Ms. O’Connor is referring to. I also don’t know if this is a common place for begging or just a cultural reference that yanks are excluded from. I think there is another song that Sinead does called 3 babies on the same album but I’m not familiar with it because I spent much of 1990-1993 bouncing between tracks Black Boys on Mopeds and Nothing Compares 2 U (the second part of which launched me into a deeply Prince phase of my musical obsessing.)

biographical notes:

I was in Salt Lake City at the time of the June 4th Massacre. I was living in University Housing and teaching English idiom to a friend/neighbor who was teaching me Mandarin. When the protests happened all student visas were cancelled and Chinese students were expected to deport themselves home. The news was confused, misleading as the US government didn’t want to criticize China for murdering peaceful students in the street. Activists and anyone who might support such “counter-revolutionaries” were disappeared. Communism wasn’t what was being protested. Corruption in the conservative communist leadership was. Liberal Communist reformers and those who supported the protests were silenced and even the biographies of Communist Leaders who supported reforms or condemned the June 4th Incident are still banned. A friend, a poet from Beijing, told me a decade later that to write about it even obliquely meant both publishing it outside China (often with a pseudonym) and having alternate interpretations available if questioned.

That was the summer both my grandmothers died. The rage and grief of the year (both globally and locally) was devastating. It hollowed me and left space for some bad things… abusive women, overwork, passivity to theft and betrayal, illness. My baby was everything to me. But what was my responsibility to him, to the world?

The fear for and of raising a white male in a society that worshiped them and trained them to be sociopaths and overlords, colored everything. What was my role in that? What was women’s role in supporting the bosses, lovers, institutions which enslave them? What was my responsibility as a white, first-world, well-educated woman? I sent money illegally to Chinese dissidents (even though we were behind on our rent) and when they passed the hat in Irish bars raising money for Sinn Fein (the IRA, Irish Republican Army, or more accurately “one of the IRAs”) I paid with the same apathy or vigor as when the collection plate is passed in a church. It was tithing. I supported liberation everywhere. It seemed better to do the wrong thing than to do nothing.If the struggle was between the armed police and the unarmed populace, I would arm the public.

Ironically, I’ve never owned a weapon (although I’ve fired one once or twice) and I fought fiercely for the banning of handguns and nuclear disarmament. I wouldn’t allow military toys in the house. I, who banned nothing on principle, took an unshakeable line against G.I. Joe cartoons and what I believed/still believe is the desensitizing of violence and brainwashing through play toward an unthinking patriotism, racism and violence based on “us=good, them=bad”.

It was better to do the wrong thing than to do nothing.

The Sinn Fein is the Worker’s Party of Ireland now. My son is a parent. (A doting father: thoughtful, overprotective.) He turns 30 this year. He is a sometimes vegetarian who keeps threatening to go hunting with friends just to see what it’s like. I’m an inactive activist (benched by recent surgery and lingering disabilities) . Sinead’s music stirs my blood but that doesn’t move me far from the internet at the moment. The lyrics are true as ever. But in my life there is more loving than grieving these days.