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Airport security no laughing matter

American airports have recently become the brunt of bomb jokes. Twenty-one-year old British student Samantha Marson, who was released Wednesday on a $5,000 bond after a visit by British consular officials, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that she made a “foolish mistake.”

According to The Associated Press, Marson placed her bag on the belt at a security check. She subsequently told a Transportation Security Administration screener to “be careful, I have three bombs in here.”

Marson then repeated the joke twice more when confronted by officials.

Joking has been a somewhat reccurring theme for college students both in the United States and abroad. Tuesday, the AP reported that a student attending a university in Florida was suspected of leaving a written bomb threat on a Delta Airlines flight. Police Inspector Tom Kennedy, who is leading the investigation, said detailed forensic examination of the written threat must be completed before authorities can press any charges.

In a similar incident in October, 20-year-old student Nathaniel Heatwole e-mailed the Transportation Security Administration with his precise contact information as well as details of where he had stowed bleach, box-cutters and other banned materials that he had smuggled through security checkpoints and put on two planes.

This rash of bomb jokes has only seemed to heighten the awareness of security officials in the performance of their duties. Therefore, Marson’s “foolish mistake” has guaranteed her a return to court on the Feb 6. for an arraignment hearing. She then will be formally charged with making a false bomb report. That’s an offense which according to the BBC could get her a 15-year jail sentence.

Jim Marson, 75, and father to Samantha, said to BBC Radio 4’s PM program that when he talked to his daughter she seemed to be in a daze. He agreed with the radio show that what his daughter said was stupid, but he said that a slap on the wrist or a night in prison and $100-fine would have been enough.

Sgt. Joe Wyche from Miami Airport Police told BBC Midlands Today that officers had been left with no choice but to arrest Marson.

“First of all, it’s a violation of our state law. Before 9/11 we took it seriously — after 9/11 there’s no room for kidding or joking, if that’s the person’s intention,” Wyche said.

Security personnel at airports take their job seriously and rightly so. It would seem that Samantha’s bid to become a career comedian blew up in her own face and will hopefully serve as a warning to others not to kid around. Threatening the TSA would not be the highlight of your day.