Peter Mayhew, better known to nerds across the world as Chewbacca, is a large man, over seven feet tall. Unfortunately, when you’re extremely tall you can develop back and leg problems that make walking without a cane difficult. Mayhew, as a result, has tended to use a cane that looks like a lightsaber, because of his Star Wars connection. So there’s no way some idiot would assume it was a real weapon, right?
And there’s also no way, whatsoever, that the TSA would force a grown man to sit in a wheelchair as he pleads for a cane he obviously needs to walk to be returned to him, right?
Magic words to TSA are not “please” or “thank you”.. It’s “Twitter”.. cane released to go home.. twitter.com/TheWookieeRoar…
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) June 3, 2013
As you may have guessed, Mayhew had to engage in a little Twitter-shaming in order to get the TSA to return him. The TSA, for its part, claimed that:
“Because of the unusual weight of the passenger’s cane, a security officer alerted a supervisor. Less than five minutes later the passenger and cane were cleared to travel. Social media played no role in the determination.”
Sure it didn’t. Leaving aside for a moment the nerd connection, Mayhew is nearly seventy years old. If you’ve seen the man in person, and he’s a delightful and fan-friendly gentleman, it’s fairly clear it’s difficult for him to walk or stand for very long without some pain. Taking the man’s cane away comes off not as any sort of security conscious decision but as an act of “because I can” cruelty. Hopefully the TSA apologizes for the incident, and perhaps briefs its team on the difference between a necessary walking aid that happens to resemble a fantasy weapon that doesn’t exist and an actual fantasy weapon that doesn’t exist.