In this post 9/11 world where heightened sensitivities exist around planes and terrorist activities, a flippant remark about a bomb can land you in hot water – even if you are saying that you do NOT have a bomb on your person!
This was the lesson learnt last week by a fifty two year old engineer from Ankenesstrand in Norway. Kjell Bjoennes became obstructive when he was asked to remove his belt, when passing through security at Edinburgh airport. Security staff decided to make the request because the belt had a heavy buckle but Mr Bjoennes became abusive, shouting at staff that he had a belt, not a bomb. Having removed his belt to have it put through the metal detector, he was picked out for a random search, adding to his displeasure. He continued to insult security personnel, belittling their job and made further remarks about bombs.
The police were called and Bjoennes apologised. He was arrested, nevertheless, and appeared last week at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where he was fined £650 after pleading guilty to a breach of the peace. The judge, Sheriff John Horsburgh QC, indicated that the father of two had got off lightly. Had he not pleaded guilty early on, the fine would have been £1000. Regard was given to the fact that the Norwegian engineer earns £120,000 a year net of tax, with the judge saying that, in the light of his high earning power, a substantial fine was justified. The court heard that alcohol had played no part in the incident, with Mr Bjoennes being teetotal.
In 2004 a British student found out how seriously so-called jokes about bombs are taken by the American authorities. After she joked about having three bombs in her luggage at Miami airport she was arrested and could have been jailed for 15 years. Instead she was ordered to pay a thousand dollars to a charity for the families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks and to write a letter of apology.