Presidential hopeful Ron Paul has a message for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): Don’t mess with my son.

On Monday morning, Sen. Rand Paul, the 49-year-old senator from Kentucky, was detained in Nashville after he allegedly set off an alarm during the TSA screening process. In order to board his flight, the TSA told Paul that he needed a pat-down to finish the process. Paul refused and was detained by the TSA, tweeted Moira Bagley, Paul’s communication manager.

News of Paul’s TSA drama inspired his father to release the following statement criticizing the agencies controversial pat-down procedure:

The police state in this country is growing out of control.  One of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs our children, our seniors, and our loved ones and neighbors with disabilities.  The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe. … We must restore the freedom and respect for liberty that once made American the greatest nation in human history.  I am deeply committed to doing that as President of the United States.

The TSA denies that Paul was ever detained and said in a statement that passengers “who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others traveling.”

Despite the TSA’s defense, it hasn’t stopped people on Twitter and Reddit from shaking their fists in anger against the agency.

“Even if it is a PR stunt, the message isn't diluted in any sort of way,” wrote  ThereAreDozensOfUs on Reddit. “The searches are unconstitutional, and I'm glad [an] elected official is deciding to stand up for us, while others seem to just stick their head in their sand or listen to their corporate bosses.”

On Twitter, the TSA has collected more than 22,000 mentions over the last three hours, according to statistics from Topsy. One TSA parody account in particular, @TSAgov, has been capitalizing on the drama all morning.

“Oh, damnit. I thought we were playing a game of ‘Capture the Senator’ with the CIA,” tweeted @TSAgov. “#TSA Advisory: Senators are now banned from all U.S. domestic and international flights.”

Photo by steuben