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What is stupidity?

Immigration officers in Frankfurt asked a nursing mum to reveal her breasts and express some milk to ensure that she is indeed breastfeeding.




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When trawling the Internet to get a grip on what defines stupidity I was amazed to uncover the very startling proposition of Carlo M. Cipolla who said that a stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Some of the famous names that come to mind include former US president George W Bush who against better judgment invaded Iraq in 2003, and sitting US leader Donald Trump who ought know there ought to be a better way to beat terrorists than just by a blanket ban or build a wall on the Mexican border than can be easily breached!

So the mentioned American leaders fit the classic definition of Cipolla’s maxim that what stupid people do, hurts others who just should not be hurt.

Cipolla’s definition brings to mind the sordid ordeal of Singaporean Ms Gayathiri Bose inn Frankfurt Germany as she was making plans to board a flight to Paris alone on Jan 26. When a breast pump she was carrying went through the X-ray machine at the security screening station, officers took her aside for questioning, said the BBC in a news report which was also carried by Channel News Asia (CNA).

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The 33-year-old told the BBC that they had asked her “in an incredulous tone”: “You are breastfeeding? Then where is your baby?” Sceptical of her claim, a female officer took her to a room for further questioning and that was when she was asked to “open up (her) blouse and show (her) breast”, said Ms Bose.

“She wanted me to show her by hand-expressing a little,” Ms Bose added. Ms Bose said she did as told because she was “going through the motions”. “I was all by myself as well and wasn’t sure what would happen to me if they decided to make trouble for me,” the BBC quoted her as saying.

The German police, according to the BBC report on Tuesday, declined to comment on the specific allegations. But said such measures were “clearly” not part of routine procedure. Bose, who was travelling alone, said she was on her way to board a flight to Paris last week when she was stopped at the security screening station.

Aviation expert Ellis Taylor from aviation publication Flightglobal said asking a mother to show she was lactating was “pretty ridiculous”


Ms Bose said that after the officers tested and cleared her pump, her passport was returned to her. She also asked for the name of the female officer, who wrote it on a piece of paper.

Despite her expressing discomfort over the way she was treated, the officer was “totally nonchalant and did not seem very remorseful or empathetic”, Ms Bose said.

Ms Bose said she was humiliated by the experience and described it as “very traumatising”. She added that she is considering taking legal action, which if it does come to pass will mean a loss for Frankfurt airport officials.

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