Antiwar Activism: Grounds for Removal from Airport?

A Libertarian Party convention delegate on her way home from Atlanta claims she was ejected from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for showing an antiwar poster consisting of a face of Bush made up of lots of faces of dead soldiers to fellow travelers, including some military recruits. An airport spokesman claims she left on her own. An Associated Press account as run in the Albuquerque Journal here.

[Link courtesy Rational Review.]

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  • ||

    So someone was being disruptive and was escorted out (or left) the airport. Big deal.

  • ||

    Someday I'd like to see a Libertarian do something to give us all a good name. After all, it makes it so awkward on a date - "I'm a libertarian, but I'm OK - really am, I am!"

  • ||

    Aren't most airports technically private property? Either way, you don't have full free speech protections in an airport terminal, and never have.

    And while it may earn me no favors here, if I can judge by the (capitalized) Libertarians I've met in real life, I tend to side with the other side of this story.

  • ||

    Meep's correct...Airports have the same clause on the ticket as at a sporting event, i.e., "we can at any time refuse to deliver service to you."

    Definitely an open question if that would survive legal scrutiny.

    I'm fairly sure when Hare Krishnas were populating airports in the 70's (before Robert Stack punched one out in Airplane) they were required to purchase permits.

  • ||

    Someday I'd like to see a Libertarian do something to give us all a good name.

    That's it, Todd -- dare to dream!

  • Warren||

    Ahhhhh but, airport security is now under the scope of the Feds. so all "you have no rights here" clauses are null and void. Right?

  • ||

    Ahhhhh but, airport security is now under the scope of the Feds. so all "you have no rights here" clauses are null and void. Right?

    I don't think that's right, no. Here's my chain of reasoning:

    Airlines have the right to refuse service to anyone. You're only allowed in the "secure" side of the terminal if you're there to board a flight or are one of the airline/terminal personnel. So if an airline refuses you service, you're no longer "there to board an airplane". As you are not there to board an airplane, you have no legitimate reason to be in the secure side of the terminal. As you have no legitimate reason to be in the secure side of the terminal, the government-employed security personnel can remove you.

    A parallel: you go to an Outback Steakhouse and start showing pictures of slaughtered cattle to the other guests. The owners of the steakhouse ask you to leave; you refuse. They call the police, who throw you out of the building. Has the government violated your free speech rights? No. You have a right to speak, but not a right to speak in restaurants you don't own. -- the government was just enforcing the restaurant owner's property rights when they booted your ass to the curb.

  • ||

    I reluctantly conclude, based on my knowledge of the case, that the woman was probably in the wrong. She made a nuissance of herself and was asked to leave by the airline.

    If the TSA drones had asked her to leave rather than the airline, because they believed that her poster was a threat to security, my stance would be very, very different. But if she was asked to leave because she was annoying other customers, well, any other place of business would ask her to leave too.

    That said, the airline spokesman probably should have refrained from referring to her as a security risk, which she clearly wasn't. She was just bad for business. The spokesman could have simply said that she was annoying the other passengers. But instead he tried to label an annoying person as a safety risk, which is clearly ridiculous.

    Note to corporate America: When you do a sensible thing, try not to put a ridiculous spin on it.

  • ||

    Sea-Tac International Airport is a part of the Port of Seattle which gets funding through (taken from www.portseattle.org):

    Both the Aviation and Seaport Divisions rely on Net Income and Revenue Bonds. Seaport also utilizes the Tax Levy and General Obligation Bonds, while Aviation has access to FAA Grants and Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs). Due to the size of the CIP and capital capacity constraints, opportunities for Alternative Financing are sought where appropriate.

    This is enough for me to consider the airport a free speech zone.

    And Dan, following that $15 Billion taxpayer bailout of the airlines following 9/11, airline companies should be very grateful for their customers and be willing to extend civil rights where ever they can. Now, can someone convince the TSA of this!?!

    Furthermore, when I complained to a SW Airline flight attendant about how uncomfortable I was sitting next to this heavy weight person who had the armrest between us up so she could fit in her seat, I was treated like I was an insensative asshole.

  • ||

    And Dan, following that $15 Billion taxpayer bailout of the airlines following 9/11, airline companies should be very grateful for their customers and be willing to extend civil rights where ever they can.

    I don't follow your reasoning -- because my tax money was taken from me without my permission and given to those airlines, the airline should no longer be allowed to make my flight more enjoyable by kicking this stupid bitch off the plane? I must have missed the part of the airline bailout bill that said "airline owners are hereby stripped of their property rights".

    Now, can someone convince the TSA of this!?!

    Hopefully not. I'm tired of the government being "convinced" to limit people's REAL rights in order to grant loudmouthed special interests brand new "rights" found nowhere in the Constitution.

  • ||

    That said, the airline spokesman probably should have refrained from referring to her as a security risk, which she clearly wasn't.

    They may have referred to her as a "security risk" because she kept hanging around the terminal even after they informed her she was no longer welcome on the flight. My understanding is that any unauthorized persons in an airport terminal are, by definition, a "security risk" these days.

    Also -- not to go out on a limb or anything, but it's entirely possible she was acting like an aggressive nut. That's not exactly a rare trait in Libertarian delegates, and it's especially not a rare trait in people who go around showing their little pictures-of-dead-soldiers art project to complete strangers in airport terminals. The term "security risk" doesn't always mean "person waving a gun around". It can just as easily mean "this person's obviously a freak -- we're afraid of what she might do".

  • ||

    The Dallas-Fort Worth Int'l Airport is public property. It is owned by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and governed by a board of directors with 11 voting members: 7 appointed by the City of Dallas and 4 appointed by the City of Fort Worth.

    For more information see:
    http://www.dfwairport.com/airport/administration.htm

  • ||

    By my rough count, the matrix is 28x36, or 1008 photos. Apparently some of our troops have died more than once.

    If the photo zealot did not accept a polite "no" from the people she accosted, it seems proper to have her ejected or detained. The nature of her possible lunacy is irrelevant. What gives people the arrogant notion that anyone cares for an unsolicited opinion on anything?

  • ||

    The gal went to a convention and couldn't get laid even with a C-note in her snatch, so she had a right to get even with the world. Cut her some slack, boys.

  • ||

    The Dallas-Fort Worth Int'l Airport is public property.

    It doesn't actually matter if it's public property or not. The government has the right to restrict access to public property so long as it has a legitimate reason for doing so, and so long as the GOVERNMENT does so in a non-discriminatory manner.

    The standard that DFW uses (or at least used to use when I was there last) is "if you're here to board a plane, or to work, you're allowed in the terminal, otherwise you're not". That's one hundred percent legal -- it's non-discriminatory, and serves the legimiate purpose of securing air travel.

    Once the airline refused the woman service, she was no longer "there to board a plane". At that point, she wasn't allowed in the terminal anymore. It's certainly true that the *airline* discriminated against the woman on the basis of her speech -- but the airline has the right to do that.

  • Gimme Back My Dog||

    A better collage can be found by following one of the links in the comments section at the end of the article:

    http://www.pmbrowser.info/hublog/archives/000778.html

  • ||

    In my community, Milwaukee, WI, the county owns the airport. One of the ways they have financed airport expansion is by issuing bonds, backed by the revenue expected from long-term leases from private companies who are renting the space. This would include terminal space for the airlines, hangar space for businesses and individuals with private aircraft, facilities for the contractors who service the planes, the long-term parking operator, etc. So, even if you are on "public property", said property, if it is not part of the common area, is probably subject to the rules of the lessee, in this case, AA.

    Digression:

    I use to regularly use Chicago O'Hare in the 1970's. The Krishnas could hang out, but only in common areas, and they couldn't sell anything, because that would violate the airport's contracts with the vendors who were paying steep rents for space in the airport. They could ask for donations, leading to the "here's a book for you, sir, would you like to make a donation, please?" scam. If I had some time between flights, it would amuse me to thank Harry Hari for the profusely illustrated tome, and confidently stride away. HH would follow, explaining how expensive the book was, and how poor their order was. I'd ask, "oh, so it isn't a gift? You are selling these?" Profuse denials would then follow. After I had my fun, I'd give the book back.

    These people weren't completely harmless. When you are parked in an lobby awaiting the bus to Wisconsin that will drive through a blinding snowstorm, and a dozen Krishnas encamp alongside you and unwrap a communal curry buffet, it is enough to make one rethink the non-aggression principle. (Are offensive odors the initiation of force...?)

    Kevin

  • ||

    Even if the airport is private property, she could make a legitimate claim that she has a First Amendment right to protest there. The Supreme Court recognizes free speech rights on quasi-private property like a mall or a company town. If a private facility is large enough and has enough traffic, the owner may not be able to control speech on that property. An airport might qualify. It's an appalling line of cases, but it's good law.

  • ||

    There are some interesting federal laws about things you aren't supposed to say to servicemen:

    18 USC 1381: enticing desertion

    18 USC 2387: attempting to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, including distribution of written material that advises such acts

    18 USC 2388: increased penalties for the same, or for obstructing the recruiting services, when the US is at war

  • ||

    kevrob: So how much extra are you willing to pay to clear those stinky, but equal, citizens from your path? Separation from the unwashed costs extra money, one way or another, as it is not included in the price of a ticket.

    Apparently we are still losing the war on poverty, too.

  • ||

    Some folks become far too tolerant of intolerance toward certain expression if they happen to disagree with that expression.

    We should all take to heart, the beautiful words: "I may disagree with what you say, but I'll defend with my life, your right to say it".

  • ||

    The sneaky way of declaring war by treaty, then backing off and saying mercy me if things go wrong is more the style now. It allowed politicians to have it both ways in Korea and Vietnam, among other wars. Politicians like to have it both ways.

  • ||

    I will defend your right to say it, on my terms, in my context. Otherwise, off with your head, wacko.

    If a person overloads my answering machine with polemics about the stupidity of US troops in Iraq, I no longer feel any value in defending that speech. Such people have become an unwelcome, intrusive nag, and I tend to support stupid behaviour just to spite inconsiderate protests.

    If the conversation does not begin with the zealot saying something like, "Would you care to hear my opinion," the zealot sacrifices righteousness and jeapordizes any "facts" supporting the position.

    Mona: There is a difference between identifying with a group and agreeing with that group's views. Some days I'm a Republicrat, and other days I'm just disappointed. I like to believe that following forums like H&R help prevent the echo chamber in my mind from becoming "all of reality".

    kevrob: If the curry aroma was so foul, you could drive (walk/hitch/levitate) to your destination. Scent-free terminals might merit an extra fee?

  • ||

    Crazy middle of the night theory: The article was a hit piece to discourage disgruntled Republicans from going with the protest vote in November by making Libertarians look bad.

  • ||

    18 USC 2388: increased penalties for the same, or for obstructing the recruiting services, when the US is at war

    Ar war? We are at war? Did I miss the Congress passing a Declaration of WAR?!

    Hey, Mark, that was great advice about avoiding curryfest. Tell the paying customer waiting to bus out of the airport to leave the pickup point so that the mendicants can have their indoor picnic! While we are at it, unwashed winos can take all the seats in the food court, and no one should use any of outdoor benches or stairway railings, as they are too useful as stunt platforms for skateboarders.

    Kevin

  • ||

    I do think that proper declarations of war are something we should stick to when launching attacks of the size and nature of our current sally into Iraq. They may not be necessary for Grenada-style "rescue missions" or short-term reprisals, but for extensive operations they used to be the accepted norm in international law. We certainly thought so in 1941.

    If property owners who expect return customers don't police their premises effectively, the possibility that some of their clientele will be put off by vagrants, panhandlers and loiterers, foul-smelling or freshly washed, is real.

    Note that I have not called for kicking street people out of their favorite seats at the public library, or for the arrest of those sleeping under bridges.

    Kevin

  • ||

    kevrob, did you also miss the other two cites? Did you miss the context in which I mentioned them? Take your theatrics elsewhere.

  • ||

    Since the Constitution does not specify a format for a declaration of war, any act with the effect of a declaration of war can serve. I get a bit tired of a Congress that says "But you didn't say 'Simon Sez' war."

  • Kevin Carson||

    meep,

    "Technically private" is right. Most airports are built on land condemned by the government, with large contributions of taxpayer money. Many of their ongoing costs, like maintaining an air traffic control system, are externalized on the taxpayer.

    For that matter, there wouldn't even BE large jet cargo and passenger aircraft if Truman hadn't bailed out the industry with large-scale spending on bombers in the late '40s. The machine tools needed to produce jumbo jets were too expensive to pay for themselves through purely private spending, because the production run wasn't long enough. The military-industrial complex to the rescue!

  • ||

    Todd Fletcher writes: "Someday I'd like to see a Libertarian do something to give us all a good name."

    Well, yes. I generally feel reluctant to identify as a libertarian because 80% of the LP members I gave encountered are as likely to think they have been airlifted by space aliens as to utter a perspicacious political sentiment.

    And then there is this. Reason, and this board, no longer do it for me. I participate less and less, and also read the magazine less. (I was a paid subscriber from 1980-1997, and quit then only cuz my office subscribed.)

    The twenty- and early-thirty-somethings may be on target in pandering so extremely to pop cultural sensibilities and in courting the hip left. But that isn't me, or what resonates with me. So, carry on Reason, under the new dispensation; I shall read NRO (often choking and spitting) Cato, and Tech Central Station. I no longer am comfortable here.

    --Mona--

  • ||

    Mona-

    It's too bad you don't enjoy this board anymore, because I've enjoyed your posts.

  • ||

    Mmmm, curry buffet. Well, it *sounds* good, anyway.

    I've never met any big-L Libertarians in person, that I know of. IME they're just too rare to form any generalized opinions about. But they can't possibly be any weirder and nerdier than the self-described "small-L libertarian" Objectivists I met in college.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Walter Wallis says, "Since the Constitution does not specify a format for a declaration of war, any act with the effect of a declaration of war can serve. I get a bit tired of a Congress that says 'But you didn't say 'Simon Sez' war.'"

    So what are you saying, that the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs were actually properly delcared wars?

    Seriously, in law, both lawyers and judges take a dim view of new forms of language for well-established purposes. We had perfectly fine declarations of war up to WWII; for modern warmongers to deviate from previously established patterns may not technically violate a Constitution that doesn't specify the necessary format for a declaration of war, but as we are a government that is supposedly of, by, and for the people, it is respectful of the people to continue to use forms that the understand and have rallied around in the past. To do otherwise might lead the thoughtful citizen think that, perhaps, our government might be trying to overstep its proper bounds, or get away with something tricky or underhanded.

  • ||

    And that goes double for me, Mona... just waiting for that subscription to expire.

  • ||

    Ar war? We are at war? Did I miss the Congress passing a Declaration of WAR?!

    Congress passed a declaration of war with Iraq back in 2002 (and don't start with that "it doesn't use the words 'declaration of war' bullshit -- legally, it doesn't have to). However, it's doubtful that we're officially considered to be at war anymore, since we're now *running* the country we declared war on.

  • garym||

    R C Dean: After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Congress went to the trouble of declaring war. Does that mean they had "only the loosest grasp" of self-defense and national security?

  • ||

    R C Dean: After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Congress went to the trouble of declaring war. Does that mean they had "only the loosest grasp" of self-defense and national security?

    After Al Qaeda attacked us, Congress declared war on them, too.

    And, prior to us attacking Iraq, Congress declared war on Iraq.

    So what, exactly, is your problem, again?

  • ||

    Dan - "After Al Qaeda attacked us, Congress declared war on them, too." They did? Can you cite a date or a bill number or anything? I've seen no reference to this anywhere. If you mean "authorization of force", fine, but then say that, not "declared war".

  • ||

    We can be "at war" without having declared war - as when our enemy attacks us. Either side can start a war, after all, a fact that often evades people who also, curiously, have only the loosest grasp of what self-defense and national security may require in this third millenium.

  • ||

    If you mean "authorization of force", fine, but then say that, not "declared war".

    An "authorization of force" IS a declaration of war, JD. You may not accept that, but that's not my problem; it is accepted as such under both domestic and international law.

  • ||

    There's also the problem of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. It's traditionally considered low-down, underhanded, dirty, and mean specifically because they didn't "officially" declare war first.

  • ||

    hey,
    anybody notice that the image of the collage doherty linked to was brought to you by china's xinhua news agency, that hotbed of freedom of expression that's been responsible for--oh, f'rinstance--the total non-coverage of the tianenmen square massacre and every other wrongdoing perpetrated by my favorite totalitarian regime?

    just asking.

  • ||

    Chasing down the al Qaeda criminals does not require a "declaration of war." They are pirates, terrorists, and worse, and it is the normal business of states to hunt down and capture such, and to destroy their strongholds.

    An "authorization of force" may satisfy international norms, but no "domestic law" trumps the Constitution. Reasonable people can disagree about whether any particular use of force by the U.S. is extensive enough to be considered a "war", but the Iraq expedition, by any calculation, undoubtedly qualified. Perhaps, if we had declared war, we would now be about negotiating a treaty of peace, and a status of forces agreement with the new provisional government. As it is, "Iraqi sovereignty" is a term of art, delimited by American military power.

    As usual, I would agree that invading Iraq could be justified if it is shown that Saddam and al Qaeda were seriously in cahoots. I don't believe that such action is never proper.

    Kevin

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