May 11, 2012 at 4:14 PM ET
It’s been almost two years since “don’t touch my junk” entered the traveler lexicon but some Internet memes never go out of style.
On Friday, Fox News Host Geraldo Rivera revived the line when he claimed he was “manually raped” by a TSA screener during a recent trip.
“The last time I flew to Afghanistan I got manually raped by a guy ... This guy, it seemed to me he was getting off on it,” Rivera told viewers. “And the tighter I got and the angrier I got, and then he just wanted to be a little more intimate, and go up here and feel up here. You know ... don’t touch my, uh ...”
Junk. The word he was looking for was junk, part of the phrase made famous in November 2010 by software engineer John Tyner, who responded to a TSA enhanced pat-down with the now-immortal phrase, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”
The incident, which Tyner recorded on his cell phone, quickly went viral, leading others to create T-shirts, bumper stickers and even a Wikipedia entry dedicated to the phrase.
In Rivera’s case, the line came up in reference to recent news reports about an 18-month-old toddler who was removed from a JetBlue flight earlier this week because her name was reportedly on the government’s no-fly list.
The incident set off another round of viral commentary, at least until it was revealed that the child wasn’t removed at TSA’s behest but rather because of a glitch in the airline’s computer system.
“TSA did not flag this child as being on the No Fly list,” said TSA spokesperson Ann Davis via e-mail. “TSA was called to the gate by the airline and after talking to the parents and confirming through our vetting system, TSA determined the airline had mistakenly indicated the child was on a government watch list.”
“We are investigating this particular incident,” said JetBlue spokesperson Alison Croyle in a statement. “We believe this was a computer glitch. Our crew members followed the appropriate protocols, and we apologize to the family involved in this unfortunate circumstance.”
Nevertheless, one can only assume that the incident will continue to ricochet around the Internet for the foreseeable future because, well, it’s the Internet and that’s what such incidents usually do.
As for John Tyner, he has mixed feelings about his time in the Internet spotlight.
“If that was to be my 15 minutes of fame, I wish I had used it to say something more intelligent or at least to have made my point with more intelligent phrasing,” he told msnbc.com. “Of course, if I hadn't phrased it the way I did, maybe nothing would have come of it, and the TSA would be getting far less critical scrutiny than it is.”
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.