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On the sublime insanity of the official TSA Instagram account

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TSA Instagram

Over the weekend the Internet flipped over something very Internetty: A chihuahua who had been discovered by baggage screeners at LaGuardia Airport after stowing away in its owners suitcase without her knowing. It was a story born to go viral, especially when it came, as it did, with a photo of the chihuahua in question giving a defiant look to the camera like the world’s most adorable supervillain after having its evil plan foiled. “You got me this time, coppers,” it seems to be saying, “but next time…next time.”

The photo and the story both originated on the official Instagram account of the Transportation Security Administration. That the organization best known for enforcing a vast number of nitpicky, seemingly arbitrary rules with the misanthropic surliness of a Comcast customer service representative even has an Instagram account may be surprising to some. More surprising is the fact that it’s one of the most consistently weird and entertaining accounts on the platform, a fount of random hilarity and a cornucopia of bad decision-making.

Most of what the TSA posts center around what they call a #TSAGoodCatch, a piece of contraband discovered in someone’s carry-on luggage. Often they’re loaded handguns, since apparently a lot of people still haven’t come to terms with the fact that you can’t bring loaded guns onto planes. But the #TSAGoodCatch comes in a wealth of exotic varieties: grenades, replica dynamite, stun guns disguised as cellphones, uncategorizable knife-like things that look like replicas of Klingon weapons, and lots and lots of sword canes. (Apparently more people than you’d expect buy sword canes secondhand by accident, thinking they’re just regular canes.) One outstanding photo shows a folding-blade knife shaped like a handgun, which you might think is the dumbest thing anyone ever tried to take on a plane until you see someone’s confiscated collection of shuriken.

If the parade of bizarre weaponry wasn’t enough, the TSA also mixes in the occasional portrait of one of their bomb-sniffing dogs. Invariably they’re big family-friendly breeds like Labradors and golden retrievers, looking into the camera with a visible eagerness to please the human on the other side. They all have names like “Oliver” and “Brook,” and the fact that the portraits are done up to look like trading cards is devastatingly adorable.

Essentially the TSA Instagram delivers the two things people desire most from the Internet: reminders of the breadth and depth of human stupidity and pictures of cute dogs. It’s so perfect that for a minute you may find yourself forgetting just how much of a hassle the TSA probably makes your life on a regular basis. You may find yourself even liking them. If other widely despised government agencies get onto this mind-warping level of social media perfection, we might all be in trouble.

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