Terrorism

It's a Bong, Not a Bomb! We're Indian!

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Yesterday at Reagan National Airport, Atif Irfan, a tax attorney, and his brother Kashif Irfan, an anesthesiologist, were forcibly removed from an AirTran flight to Orlando, along with their wives, children, and sister, plus a friend who happened to be on the same plane and was seen talking to them. The Irfan brothers' offense: discussing, on the way to their seats, which was the safest part of the plane. A passenger who perceived the conversation as threatening reported the Irfans to a flight attendant, and soon the pilot was ordering their removal from the flight, with the help of air marshals. Although FBI agents who interviewed the Irfans at the airport quickly determined that they posed no threat, the airline still refused to rebook them so they could continue their interrupted vacation. Now they want an apology, but AirTran seems to prefer a lawsuit. It claims it "complied with all TSA, law enforcement and Homeland Security directives and had no discretion in the matter." The TSA apparently disagrees. CNN reports that an agency spokesman "said it was the airline's decision to remove the family."

Would the decision have been the same if the Irfans and their friend had Anglo-Saxon names and fairer complexions? Would the suspicious passenger have been suspicious in the first place? The Irfans' friend, an attorney who works for the Library of Congress, thinks not. "I guess it's just a situation of guilt by association," he told CNN. "They see one Muslim talking to another Muslim, and they automatically assume something wrong is going on." 

Update: As cunnivore notes, AirTran has now apologized to the ejected passengers, refunded their airfares, and promised to reimburse them for the cost of switching to other carriers. The airline's statement says:

We apologize to all of the passengers—to the nine who had to undergo extensive interviews from the authorities and to the 95 who ultimately made the flight. Nobody on Flight 175 reached their destination on time on New Year's Day, and we regret it.

Even so, AirTran is not prepared to say it made a mistake. A.P. reports that "the airline said the incident on the flight was a misunderstanding, but the steps taken were necessary."

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  1. Although FBI agents who interviewed the Irfans at the airport quickly determined that they posed no threat, the airline still refused to rebook them so they could continue their interrupted vacation. Now they want an apology, but AirTran seems to prefer a lawsuit.

    Proof, yet again, that the retarded have taken over the business world.

    Apologies to the retards.

  2. Airtran kicking customers off of a flight?

    Sounds consistent with my personal observations of how they treat their customers.

    Airtran, putting the F in Customer Service

  3. What is Airtran? I’ve never heard of them. I’m all about Southwest.

  4. What is the word “bong” doing in the headline?

  5. Wow. Next time I board a plane I will just keep my mouth shut. No talking at all sounds like the only safe course.

  6. Perhaps the best way to combat the absurd paranoia that has taken over air travel security is to embrace it.

    Simply report something as threatening on every flight.

    After all, if every ape who refused a command was sent back for reconditioning, Ape Control would grind to a standstill.

  7. What is the word “bong” doing in the headline?

    Harold and Kumar Go To Gitmo reference.

  8. Wow. Next time I board a plane I will just keep my mouth shut. No talking at all sounds like the only safe course.

    Are you white? Because then it doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to worry.

  9. What is Airtran?

    They used to be ValueJet until that unfortunate incident when they fed all those alligators in the Everglades.

    My Airtran experiences have been fine.

  10. Airtran used to be called Valuejet, hub in Atlanta. I used to fly them frequently when I lived in Georgia. Their customer service was sub-par, but in the anti-lake wobegon that is the airline industry, so is everyone elses. The only thing that irked me is that some of the chief flight attendants think they are the second coming of Henry Youngman when they are on the intercom. And this was back in the early ought’s, when it would seem wise that a airline famous for landing planes into swamps to avoid cracking jokes that ‘we landed in the correct airport, this time’

  11. In all fairness, the TSA said that these guys are safe to fly.

    Given the TSA’s stupidity, I naturally assume that these guys probably are in fact terrorists.

  12. The one time I flew Airtran the plane was delayed because the cabin smelled of fuel. They were kind enough to bump me to business class. Free vodka is really nice when you’re 20.

  13. If the airlines and DHS were smart, they’d fear Saxon violence more than Harold and Kumar.

  14. Mr Libertate, wouldn’t some smooth jazz and classical music be just the perfect thing for our airports?

  15. I mean, think about it. What’s scarier, some Parsi dude talking about Ahura Mazda and the sacred fire or the Technoviking?

    Emily Litela,

    Sounds like you’re talking about Saxon violins.

  16. Does the airline have a right to refuse them? Yes. Should they have acted in such a stupid way if they want to keep customers? Probably not. Does government policy help create, shape, and encourage these prejudices? 100%

  17. they’d fear Saxon violence

    Taken care of.

  18. I’d fly a lot more if she were providing airport security.

  19. “Would the decision have been the same if the Irfans and their friend had Anglo-Saxon names and fairer complexions?”

    Hmmm… Well, probably not.

    But on the other hand, you have the ETA (Basque Separatists) and the IRA, not to mention home-grown nut-jobs like Timothy McVeigh. Not to mention the old Weather Underground types, the militia types, white supremacists, and various other hate groups.

    So I think it’s safe to say that profiling isn’t the answer and neither is forcing everyone who wants to fly somewhere to strip. Maybe we should just try the El-Al method?

    Despite Episiarch’s clearly mistaken belief that only non-white people are forced to strip search or drink their own breast-milk before they are allowed to board a plane, even my pregnant wife – possibly the palest human this side of a Tim Burton movie – was subject to having her abdomen poked at by an ignorant security guard who apparently thought that being pregnant (or even fat) meant you where trying to smuggle explosives.

    (In his defense, the guy was probably right since my son turned out to be the human equivalent of C-4… If C-4 had a relentlessly sunny disposition.)

  20. “A passenger pathetic, sniveling, hysterical cretin, who deserves to be thrashed into insensibility with a bamboo stick, who perceived the conversation as threatening reported the Irfans to a flight attendant”

  21. pathetic, sniveling, hysterical cretin, who deserves to be thrashed into insensibility with a bamboo stick

    For exercising his right to free expression?

  22. if airlines were publically owned transportation we would no longer have these problems.

  23. Free expression?

    Crying “terrorist” in an airplane qualifies as free expression? If Passenger X is such a weak-kneed paranoid twat, he should stay home, under his bed, where he belongs.

  24. Does the airline have a right to refuse them? Yes. Should they have acted in such a stupid way if they want to keep customers? Probably not.

    I’d have more sympathy for AirTran if they didn’t immediately claim that the TSA made them do this. Also I wonder if Denny’s could remove a black family from their restaurant because another customer said they made vague comments that may indicate they were planning on leaving without paying.

  25. Perhaps the best way to combat the absurd paranoia that has taken over air travel security is to embrace it.

    The person who reported them was obviously using it as a distraction for some larger plot. Let’s send them to Gitmo.

  26. What? One of them was a tax attorney? Meh…I don’t feel so bad now.

  27. According to this updated article, AirTran has apologized and reimbursed these people for the tickets they had to buy on another airline.

    I should say that I have some degree of sympathy for AirTran here, as there are a lot of ignorant people in the world who would have made the flight very difficult if they hadn’t kicked the passengers off. They were kind of stuck in a lose-lose-lose-lose situation, but their pusilanimous response to the criticism was pusilanimous.

  28. Silentz, tax attorneys help people AVOID paying taxes. More power to them!

  29. adam, if so many rich people were not getting away without paying taxes nthe government could afford better airport security.

  30. Thanks for reminding me just in time why I haven’t had a holiday in the States for nearly a decade.

  31. “Silentz, tax attorneys help people AVOID paying taxes. More power to them!”

    Except for the ones that help write up the tax code.

  32. I should say that I have some degree of sympathy for AirTran here, as there are a lot of ignorant people in the world who would have made the flight very difficult if they hadn’t kicked the passengers off.

    The rest of the passengers could have gotten off, or the dipshit who whined about the scary looking brown people. That guy probably had a non-refundable fare. If he chooses not to get on the plane, and if a 100 people follow him up the jetway, too bad.

  33. Technomist,

    If you’re in the UK, I seem to recall that you’re shooting your visiting tourists.

  34. Ha, I made Jacob Sullum write “cunnivore”…

  35. One AirTran spkesman in some of the articles I read said something along the lines of:

    :They said things they shoudln’t have said on an airplane.”

    To me that smacks of racism, because he’s basically saying brown people are obliged to make sure they don’t say anything about the plane, or about air travel, once they get on a plane.

  36. He’s blaming the victims

  37. The AirTran people lack integrity. It is not out of bounds at all to discuss with family members which is the safest part of the plane. Their statement that “these people should say such things are out of bounds”, is wrong, and the Airlines behavior is a clear violation of these passengers’ rights of free speech.

    This smacks of behavior in old time Communist Countries, where you can turn someone in for “counter-revolutionary” behavior.

  38. Crying “terrorist” in an airplane qualifies as free expression? If Passenger X is such a weak-kneed paranoid twat, he should stay home, under his bed, where he belongs.

    Then what constitutes the threshold above which you would condone voicing a concern? Or are you the only one who’s allowed to voice a concern about what others say?

  39. Douglas, AirTran is a private entity and as such need not respect any right to free speech. They do however have to honor contracts and comply with anti-discrimination laws.

  40. Sauce, would you refrain from criticizing a passenger who complains that another passenger is wearing a headscarf? If not, where do YOU draw the line? Speaking of sauce for the gander…

  41. Maybe they smelled of curry, that’s why the white racist(redundant I guess) passenger complained. Have your fun. We’ll never forget.

  42. But…but…they’re Arabs.

  43. Mr. vore, as a libertarian, I would place no restrictions on complaints. But you took the question in the opposite direction from the direction in which I took it, which of course you’re free to do, but that moves away from the concern the passenger expressed, and that represents the concerns of many passengers, concerns that you or I might not share.

    If you overheard me speaking about planning (what you suspected or strongly believed to be) a crime, are you obliged to remain silent? Or would you remain silent just because you think it’s the right thing to do?

    I asked P Brooks for the threshold above which he thinks an airline passenger should escape violent punishment for voicing a concern. That doesn’t seem an unreasonable question; rather, it seems to be the question at hand in the present case: balancing the right to be left alone vs. the right to voice one’s suspicions.

    If I tell a cop that someone should be investigated, when should the cop act on my concern and when should he disregard it? Airplanes are bad places to be trapped. P Brooks seemed so sure he knows where everyone should draw the line that he recommended torturing a complainant who crosses it. I’d like to acquire his confidence, so I asked where that line is drawn.

  44. Can’t any private business decide who it will fucking serve?

  45. They sold him the ticket. If they didn’t want to serve him, they shouldn’t have sold him the ticket. If they want to cancel the deal they made with him, they should give him a refund and take responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.

    And, of course, we have every right to criticize them for what they did.

  46. Who gives a fuck? What a petty, petty world these humans make.

  47. As far as the plane crash that caused Valujet to rebrand themselves as Airtran, that crash was not really the airlines fault.

    If memory serves they were carrying cargo of O2 generators that another company had certified had been rendered inert. In fact several generators had not only not been rendered inert, but had been put in a condition where the vibration of flight could trigger them – which is exactly what happened on takeoff. The fire, fed by oxygen produced by the burning generators melted the control wires. The pilots were unable to control the aircraft which nosedived into the ground.

    Incidentally, this sort of thing has happened to other aircraft companies like American Airlines. The FAA shut Valujet down for maintenance problems that were unrelated to the accident.

  48. “Henry Youngman”

    That’s Henny, thank you:

    Getting on a plane, I told the ticket lady, “Send one of my bags to New York, send one to Los Angeles, and send one to Miami.” She said, “We can’t do that!” I told her, “You did it last week!”

    ———

    My doctor grabbed me by the wallet and said, “Cough!”

  49. “I have terrible luck. Last week my chauffeur ran off without my wife.”

    “I’ve been married for 34 years, and I’m still in love with the same woman. If my wife ever finds out, she’ll kill me.”

    “My best friend ran away with my wife, and let me tell you, I miss him.”

    “I miss my wife’s cooking – as often as I can.”

    “I was so ugly when I was born that the doctor slapped my mother.”

    “I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up. They have no holidays.”

    “How to drive a guy crazy: send him a telegram and on the top put ‘page 2.'”

    “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”

    “You can’t buy love, but you can pay heavily for it.”

    “I’ll tell you how to beat the gambling in Las Vegas. When you get off the airplane, walk right into the propeller.”

    My dad was the town drunk. Usually that’s not so bad, but New York City?

  50. My apologies Henny. I Just heard you just flew in from the coast.

  51. This is a list of the Henny Youngman jokes that comedian Alan King repeated at Mr. Youngman’s funeral…
    You have a ready wit. Let m know when it is ready.

    The more I think of you the less I think of you.

    It’s good to see you. It means you’re not behind my back.

    You’re one of the main reasons for twin beds.

    He’s a real pain in the neck; of course, some people have a lower opinion of him.

    He’s a real gentleman. He reminds me of Saint Paul, one of the dullest towns in America.

    Why do Jewish divorces cost so much? They’re worth it.

    Why do Jewish men die before their wives? They want to.

    Why don’t Jewish men drink? It interferes with their suffering.

    In New York’s garment district a little old man was hit by a car. While waiting for an ambulance, the policeman tucked a blanket under the guys chin and asked, “Are you comfortable?” the man said, “I make a nice living.”

    Camp Hiawatha, Camp Seneca – That’s where Jewish kids go for the summer. Camp Ginsberg is where the Indian kids go.

    When my wife asked me to start a garden, the first thing I dug up was an excuse.

    My wife will buy anything marked down. She brought home two dresses and an escalator.

    I haven’t talked to my wife in three days. I didn’t want to interrupt her.

    I took my wife to a wife-swapping party. I had to throw in some cash.

    I miss my wife’s cooking – as often as possible.

    A woman wrapped herself in Saran Wrap to take off some weight. Her husband comes home, sees her, and says, “Leftovers again.”

    Was that suit made to order? The guy who ordered it didn’t pick it up, huh?

    That’s a nice suit you’re wearing. When did the clown die?

    I like the suit you’re wearing. Who shines it for you?

    He’s frank and ernest with women. In Fresno; he’s Frank and in Chicago; he’s Ernest.

    What do you get for a man who has everything? Penicillin.

    A priest is sent to Alaska. A Bishop goes up to visit a year later. the Bishop asks, “How do you like it up here?”
    The priest says. “If it wasn’t for my Rosary and two martinis a day, I’d be lost. Would youl like a Martini Bishop?”
    “Yes, I would”, says the Bishop
    The Priests says “Rosary, bring the bishop a Martini.”

    A man goes to a psychiatrist. The doctor says, “You’re crazy.”
    The man says, “I want a second opinion.”
    The doctor says, “OK, you’re ugly too.”

    A guy says to a doctor, “I’m having trouble with my love life at home.” the doctor says, “Take off 20 pounds and run 10 miles a day for two weeks.”
    Two weeks later the guy calls the doctor, “Doctor, I took of the 20 pounds and I have been running the 10 miles a day.”
    “Okay, so how is your love life now?”
    “I don’t know, I’m 140 miles from home!”

    A man can’t find a lawyer. He picks up the Yellow Pages and he sees the firm of Schwartz, Schwartz, Schwartz & Schwartz. Calls them up and says, “Is Mr. Schwartz in?”
    “No he’s out playing golf.”
    “Well, is Mr. Schwartz in?”
    “No, he left the firm.”
    “Then let me talk to Mr. Schwartz.”
    “He is in Detroit and will not be back until next week.”
    Ok, how about Mr. Schwartz, then?”
    “Speaking.”

    The convict was about to go to the electric chair. He called his lawyer for advice. the lawyer says, “Don’t sit down.”

    The food on the plane was fit for a king. “Here, King.”

    A panhandler says to me, “Mister, I haven’t tasted food for a week.”
    I said, “Don’t worry, it still tastes the same.”

    My father was never home; He was always away drinking booze. He saw a a sign saying, “Drink Canada Dry”; so he went up there.

    My mother was 88 years old, she never used glasses. Drank right out of the bottle.

    Your presence makes me long for your absence.

    Some people bring happiness wherever they go. You bring happiness whenever you go.

    I’d like to help you out. which way did you come in?

    He willed his body to science. Science is contesting the will.

  52. Sauce, I wouldn’t go so far as to say a passenger should be tortured for complaining about, well, anything, but I certainly would hold a low opinion of a person who complained to a flight attendant about the quotes mentioned in the article. The things the booted passengers say they said absolutely do not rise to the level of planning a crime, and no reasonable person would consider them to.

  53. Looking at the bright side, it’s been eight years since 9/11 and kicking a muslim dude off a plane is so infrequent that it makes headlines.

  54. “Looking at the bright side, it’s been eight years since 9/11 and kicking a muslim dude off a plane is so infrequent that it makes headlines.”

    Finally, a reasoned perspective.

  55. Abdul, shouldn’t the fact that it’s been 8 years since 9/11 and no attacks have taken place make it less likely that Muslims would be summarily kicked off planes?

  56. Why would a terrorist even discuss their plans in English to begin with?

    The person who complained should be humiliated in the worst possible way. I’m a little disappointed too at Airtrans backhanded apology.

  57. It is a simple continuance of the fact that “We own you and we can fuck with you whenever we want.”

    About every five years or so a story comes about like this and reminds me that I’ll never fucking fly again.

    .. “ever” Hobbit

  58. I don’t get it: why would terrorists be discussing the safest place to sit on a plane? I mean what could they conceivably do that it would make a difference where they sit: “Now don’t forget, we’re flying this baby into the Sears Tower, so sit in a safe place…”

  59. Jim/ron – none of this makes any sense when you think about it logically. But I wonder if Muslim-looking passengers said *nothing,* would a paranoid passenger say they’re acting suspicious – suspiciously silent? I think this is nothing more than racial profiling..

  60. Mr. vore, many are grateful that at least you, if not P Brooks, would permit freedom of expression without the consequence of being “thrashed into insensibility with a bamboo stick.”

    On an airplane you overhear one man – of any race – whispering to two others about how much more easily the wing will break off than the tail “…after the plane hits the ground.” Why was he whispering? Maybe laryngitis, or in order not to shock bystanders overhearing his discussion of the veterinary surgery or Thanksgiving meal he’s planning for later in the day.

    The nervous conversation that includes the question “Are you sure you have enough bullets?” is, of course, about a PowerPoint presentation.

    I’m sure you can think of others.

    What I’m missing from the tone of those who in hindsight confidently disapprove complaints that turn out to be unfounded is something more useful than the 1964 Potter Stewart test for obscenity (“I know it when I see it”).

    Maybe you guys are really good at mentally supplying missing context and nuance, and so everyone else has to be as good at it as you are.

  61. LOL, TSA is the biggest joke of an agency in the entire world. The TSA is full of and run by complete and utter MORONS.

    Jess
    http://www.privacy-tools.at.tc

  62. privacy troll, all that will change when the right people come to power.

  63. Don’t accept the apology. Sue them for damages for public humiliation and emotional pain all your family had to suffer.

  64. Ron, Ron Ron…

    of COURSE they have to discuss it in English. Preferably with an “Arabic” accent. So it sounds more sinister to the 24 crowd.

    Just like all Germans sound like Col Klink or Frenchmen sound like Marcel Marceau…

    How else can they build up the drama?

    for all the legal eagles hier: if the airline were to say they made a mistake, would it make the lawsuit against them bigger? Is there a legal reason for not admitting a mistake?

  65. I think focusing on the passenger who complained is putting the onus in the wrong place.

    The problem isn’t that there are passengers out there with a low threshold for fear. There are millions of air travelers and at least some of them will inevitably occupy the hysterical part of the fear curve.

    The problem is that our system of airline security now empowers those hysterics to impose their neurosis on everyone else. And it also empowers low level airline staff to abuse passengers with so much impunity that they don’t even have to listen to complaints.

    To me, the most outrageous part of the incident is the part where AirTran had the police drag the family off because they were “irate”.

    Airline staff should not be entitled to declare themselves an aristocratic class who can set the police on any passenger who complains about being abused by the airline. It’s a customer service job and it should not have any privilege above and beyond any other customer service job in the world.

  66. I liked the story from the National Review writer who freaked out because the Syrian musicians brought McDonalds onto the plane better.

  67. Please please please please please for God’s sake, somebody pay attention to me!

    It’s lonely here, and I’m afraid of women.

  68. Frenchmen sound like Marcel Marceau…

    Moose, do you mean Jacques Cousteau? Because saying all Frenchmen sound like Marceau is like saying all Americans sound like Teller.

  69. Baked – tee hee. was deliberate. I like how he had the only line in “Silent Movie”.

    On Discovery Europe, whenever they did magic shows, Teller would talk up a storm. Very interesting person.

    joe – indeed!

  70. Are you white? Because then it doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to worry.

    Unless your over seventy and using a walker.

  71. Moose – That’s the bad thing about being 24″ tall – a lot of stuff goes over your head.

    I think the Simpsons had Teller talking – only time I’ve heard him.

  72. Technomist | January 2, 2009, 6:10pm | #

    Thanks for reminding me just in time why I haven’t had a holiday in the States for nearly a decade.

    Thanks for not stinking up our country with superior sneering and total lack of taste for the last decade you dumb fucking limey twat. Thank you for sending your pissing, boorish, loudmouthed vacationing chavs to places like Romania and Lithuania rather than new york or LA.

    Sorry, I mean this in the best way possible. 🙂 Cheers

  73. Aren;t the airplane laws something like the ship laws? IOW, the captain is God and has full authority to do whatever he wants to?

  74. To me, Fluffy seems right.

  75. Baked – or the joke was poorly delivered…

    /kicks pebble. misses. falls on keester. swears and throws book at cat*, **

    *no felines were harmed in executing.
    ** In fact, we don’t have a cat.

  76. Well, Gilmore, that’s all well and good but wasn’t it rioting British tourists that shut down Las Vegas for the first time?

  77. I think focusing on the passenger who complained is putting the onus in the wrong place.

    I agree Fluffy, especially because all we know about the passenger’s complaint, as far as I can tell, is that AirTran claims that a passenger made a complaint. That report deserves as much credibility as AirTran’s claim that it “complied with all TSA, law enforcement and Homeland Security directives and had no discretion in the matter.”

  78. To me that smacks of racism, because he’s basically saying brown people are obliged to make sure they don’t say anything about the plane, or about air travel, once they get on a plane.

    I’d say that just about goes for everybody. Every time we go to an airport Mrs TWC tells me I better keep my mouth shut.

    However, I’ll grant you that if your name is Mohammad and your last name isn’t Ali, you’re going to be under a little more scrutiny than I am.

    [nod to Jay Leno]

  79. The focus is entirely in the wrong place. It’s like being pissed off at the bank for screwing with you over currency transactions or tax id numbers or bullshit paperwork. It isn’t the bank, per se, it is the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and the bank, or the airline, is more afraid of getting screwed over by the feds than they are afraid of their customers being angry.

    Not sticking up for AirTran, until today, I had never heard of them and it sounds like they are assholes. But they are assholes because TSA exists.

  80. TSA had nothing to do with this.

    TSA didn’t take the complaint. TSA let the Muslim passengers through security.

  81. Is air travel an area in which we are more or less free than 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago? How about the air travel experience? Better or worse?

    Although I generally agree that the good ole days were not necessarily always so good on the freedom scale, I can only laugh at the Reason scribes who categorically assert that we are more free today than 10 years ago or 20 years ago, etc.

  82. The Wine Commonsewer-

    Pre 9/11, I both experienced and observed others endure horrible customer service from Air-Tran.

  83. Somebody brought up El Al, the Israeli airline.

    El Al certainly does profile the crap out of Muslims and Arabs. Extra screening, extra questions, the whole deal.

    But they don’t throw people who’ve been cleared off of planes for talking about the safest part of the plane to be in if there’s a crash, or when a fat guy asks for a seatbelt extension.

  84. or when a fat guy asks for a seatbelt extension

    You know this how, Boychick? 😉

  85. The problem isn’t that there are passengers out there with a low threshold for fear.

    That’s true. Fanning the flames of fear for political gain is the root cause of the problem.

    But is “that brown man is scary” really a free speech issue? What an absurd proposition.

    Why didn’t the waitresses tell the complainer he might be more comfortable on a different flight? He (or she) was the one causing a disturbance, and preventing the flight from leaving on time.

  86. But is “that brown man is scary” really a free speech issue? What an absurd proposition.

    Why is it absurd?

  87. To me, the most outrageous part of the incident is the part where AirTran had the police drag the family off because they were “irate”.

    That was a different passenger, not a member of the family. Read the article again…it says “an irate passenger” was escorted to the detention area, while the family was questioned in the jetway. Though I’d be curious to find out what exactly the detained passenger was irate about. Was it the treatment of the Muslim family, was it the fact that they were delaying the flight over this, etc.

    As for who deserves the blame, there’s plenty to go around. The hysterical passenger who complained is deemed to be a dickwad. The folks who made the decision to remove the family from the aircraft are also dickwads, though I can understand not wanting to deal with said hysterical passenger through the entire flight. Finally the people who refused to let them board a different plane are dickwads of the highest order.

  88. Why is it absurd?

    Because we are just as free to criticize his speech as he is to engage in it.

    Just as you are free to criticize us for criticizing his speech.

    Just as I am free to criticize you..blah blah blah.

  89. The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.
    -Oliver Wendell Holmes

  90. What I’m missing from the tone of those who in hindsight confidently disapprove complaints that turn out to be unfounded is something more useful than the 1964 Potter Stewart test for obscenity (“I know it when I see it”).

    The presence of gray areas does not make the black less black nor the white less white. No reasonable person could construe the family’s comments to be threatening in the slightest. You bring up a couple of cases where I could see reasonable people disagreeing, but that’s not true here.

    No, I don’t have some ready made bright red line somewhere between “Oh my god, that woman in a headscarf is whispering in Arabic” and “Oh my god, that guy has a Glock stuffed in his sweatpants”. But I trust you agree that one of these complaints is hysterical and the other is not.

  91. AirTran is a private entity and thus not bound by the First Amendment. If they want to kick me off the flight because I’m wearing a Bob Barr T-shirt, they’re perfectly free to do so (as long as this does not violate our ticket agreement)

  92. What we need is a new, improved, passenger informatin recital.
    At check-in, each passenger should receive this advisory: “Aircraft are a public mode of travel, and as such, may have people different from, or intimidating to, some individuals; if this makes you uncomfortable, or fearful, it might be wise to take a different mode of transport.”

  93. “Air Tran is a privat entity and thus not bound by the first amendment.”

    Is it really a private entity? Did it not turn to the state to assist it in imposing its will upon the family? In my book, that is what you call state action.

  94. I am a Canadian who lives less than two kilometers from the US. I have driven through the US four times in the last eight years [twice to drop off and then pick up my daughter from the Detroit airport and twice to go back and forth from Lake Superior Provincial Park]. My experiences with the US border guards have not been pleasant. On one occasion, in August, with the temperature over 30 degrees C, the border guard was wearing a gun glove. He looked like a twenty year old [a kid from my perspective] who seemed to enjoy his position of ‘power’.
    This national paranoia that has gripped the US shows no signs of lessening. In a way it is difficult to blame the general population when their government actively encourages this cowardly and idiotic behavior.

    When will the adults take over?

  95. Libertymike, if I tell a guest to leave my house because he speaks ill of cunnilingus, and he refuses, I have the right to call the police for assistance in removing a trespasser, correct?

  96. I also note that you decapitalized the “First Amendment” in your quote of me. Freudian slip?

  97. I’ve flown AIR TRAN and unless, your upgrading to the front of the Plane, (only large seats), or the stewardest has changed your seat, or you sit, or sat in the wrong place, (I’ve done this), why would you be walking and discussing saftey, on a plane about to embark, too some people flying is a very heighten experience and could easly be concerned.

    What with all the hyper sensitivety, of travel today, I garantee, if any one is talking about saftey, no matter their color or age or gender, I’d be concerned. Come on, nine people talking about saftey, would be suspect.

    And unless you’re a Official Saftey Inspector, please… you’ve got to be kidding me, they knew exactly what they were doing.

  98. I don’t think all nine of them were talking about safety. Also keep in mind that three of the nine were under the age of 10.

    I don’t know about AirTran, but on some airlines you don’t have a set seat to sit in.

  99. cunnivore-

    No intenitonal lower case treatment of the First Amendment. I suppose that still leaves room for a freudian slip explanation-

    As for your guest who speaks ill of cunnilingus, some observations:

    1. cunnivore’s home is not Air Tran. You have not held yourself out as an outfit that, for a fee, will take folks from point A to point B.

    2. cunnivore, by inviting a guest to your home, you are not thereby doing business with the state, i.e., collecting taxes/fees in behalf of the state, implementing state policy as to anti-terror propaganda, racial profiling, impairing upon the rights of association and travel, interfering with the efficient movement of commerce, wilfully aiding and abetting the nanny-state’s non-sense of requring seatbelts, prohibiting water one day and permitting it the next, etc.

    3. you, presumably, have not been the beneficiary of a coerced wealth transfer like the airlines have been.

    4. I just don’t buy that the airlines have a “right” to keep any prospective passenger off of a flight just because the passenger is wearing a Bob Barr t-shirt or any other item of clothing that the airline does not like. The passenger’s right to travel trumps whatever right the airline has to forbid passengers wearing habadashery offensive to its rent seeking management.

  100. I don’t know if there is a transcript available of the conversation, but don’t forget: a few days ago, a plane went off the runway on takeoff from Denver. And broke in half, and caught fire.

    Some people (even teh MOOOZLIMZ!!) might have a heightened awareness of, or interest in, aircraft structural integrity and safety procedures.

  101. cunnivore-

    Your guest, upon failing to accord props to the joys of cunnilingus, became a trespasser. IMO, the guy wearing the Barr t-shirt is not.

  102. Thank you again, P Brooks, for not thrashing me into insensibility with a bamboo stick.

    Mr. vore, how do you feel about certain jokes, namely those that would alarm listeners who don’t realize that they’re jokes, being prohibited at airports and on aircraft? Okay if the (barely) private company does the banning?

  103. cunnivore’s home is not Air Tran. You have not held yourself out as an outfit that, for a fee, will take folks from point A to point B.

    With a name like that, the hell he’s not. Though the fee may consist entirely in compliance.

  104. If the muslim family had already passed security inspection then they have every right to continue their journey as rightfully as the other passengers. If anyone still feels threatened then it is they who should remove themselves and take another flight.

  105. With a name like that, the hell he’s not.

    For some reason, the passengers enjoy the takeoff more than the landing. And we still serve peanuts in-flight…

  106. For some reason, the passengers enjoy the takeoff more than the landing.

    = Something else you don’t want to be overheard saying at the airport. Of course, cognoscenti are hep to “takeoff” meaning spoof, and landing, well, the spoof must be one of many about Chappaquiddick.

  107. Your guest, upon failing to accord props to the joys of cunnilingus, became a trespasser. IMO, the guy wearing the Barr t-shirt is not.

    Of course he is. A person who refuses to leave private property when instructed to do so by the owner or owner’s agent is trespassing (unless there is some contractual obligation on the part of the owner).

  108. cunnivore-

    Your guest is not on the same footing as the passengers who are wearing Barr t-shirts. The passengers have PAID the airline to get them from point A to point B-they did not bargain away their inalienable right to dress as they see fit. It is not a question of trespass-the passengers have a right to be on the plane as they have paid for that right. That right is not subject to the airline’s idiosyncratic demands that they refrain from wearing a Barr t-shirt.

    Again, we are talking about an entity that it is really not private. It has accepted subsidies-that there is the deaht kiss. Second, it is in a joint venture with the state. It collects taxes and fees in behalf of the state. Third, it assists and augments the state’s propaganda efforts.

    I think that you are not addressing the differences between your home and Air Tran-particularly the rent seeking component.

    Sure, I will admit that personally, I just detest rent seeking multinational entities crying for uncle’s help.

  109. And unless you’re a Official Saftey Inspector, please… you’ve got to be kidding me, they knew exactly what they were doing.

    am I reading this correctly?

    if so: FALLS OFF CHAIR LAUGHING. PITIES AUTHOR
    if not: whoops! sorry!

  110. if there was not this irrational american fear of brown people then this would not be happening. in spite of the bush regime the government people acted well and will only do better under president obama.

  111. I just wonder why the person who made the original complaint wasn’t also removed from the plane. I would think “the officials” would want a witness or take a statement or check his credentials at least. I mean if there is no repercussion I think the next time I get on a plane and see a politician I’ll be first to complain that I overheard the pol say, “with this perfect disguise these ignorant sheep shall all regret this day and those who do not follow shall pay very greatly.”

  112. Would the decision have been the same if the Irfans and their friend had Anglo-Saxon names and fairer complexions.

    The answer is, as always, treat everyone like criminals and that will settle any questions about racism.

  113. if you advocate jailing the criminal bush/cheney regime, then i might believe you

  114. Paul | January 3, 2009, 4:47pm | #

    The answer is, as always, treat everyone like criminals and that will settle any questions about racism.

    At last, a response based on an actual concept anchored in the history and myths of this country “… all men (and nowadays please include women) are created equal.”

  115. nobody u no and a big fan of joe p boyle | January 3, 2009, 5:03pm | #
    if you advocate jailing the criminal bush/cheney regime, then i might believe you

    Is there a an equivalent to Godwin’s Law that covers Bush/Cheney, or Bush/Rumsfeld, or just plain ol’ George W. Bush (also known as Dubya)?

    If not I claim it as KD’s Law!

  116. i prefer joez law

  117. nobody u no and a big fan of joe p boyle | January 3, 2009, 5:39pm | #
    i prefer joez law

  118. My IQ is 64.

  119. I forgot to actually respond at 6:31.. d’oh… here’s my response to nobody @5:39

    Don’t matter what you prefer, I claim it. joe might use it more, but there’s no evidence he claimed it before me.. It’s mine I tells ya, it’s mine!

  120. Mister Scroggins, I like the cut of your jib.

    We always have room for individuals with your keen understanding of transporatation security issues.

    Call me.

  121. I feel cheated. My wife and I flew American from LAX to Las Vegas a couple of days after the London Underground bombings. I noticed a lone guy acting weird who was waiting for our flight. (He wasn’t swarthy, but he had dark hair. We picked up on what we call “behavioral cues.”) When we boarded, I pointed him out to the lead flight attendant, who told the captain, and then I kept an eye on him from a few rows behind him. During the flight, the attendant let me know that he had connected from London.

    When we landed, did the FBI meet us? TSA? The Girl Scouts? Negative. But then, he didn’t try to light his shoe, so there’s that.

  122. “He wasn’t swarthy…”

    OK, let’s compare like with like here. You overreacted. Your situation was in no way comparable to a situation involving a bunch of self-avowed Muslims. Hate to say it, but swarthy matters here people.

  123. yes…they did act too quickly…they should have waited until they were at 30,000 feet before they threw the stone age cultists out!

  124. the koran is like a mechanical “chokepear”*.

    once you swallow it, you’re stuck with it.
    Robbers in the Renaissance era used a vicious little number to induce their victims to cough up ‘ransom’ money. A pear-sized, key-opening torture tool, that had spikes which came out when a key was turned, changing the smooth metal ‘pear’ into a little ‘mace’-like object. The extortionists would grab a well-to-do ‘customer’ off the street, stuff the device into his mouth and ‘open’ the spikes with a turn of the key. The sufferer would then have to ‘buy’ back the key in order to ‘close’/withdraw the spikes into the ‘chokepear’, -or starve to death.]

  125. Christopher Hitchens, is that you?

  126. Hmm. Haven’t I read some articles here criticizing the TSA for fucking with little old white ladies? Because.. obviously little old white ladies are innocent….

  127. “Christopher Hitchens, is that you?”
    oh Hi…Barney Frank!…how are ya…?you big fat slobbering cock munching liberal!

  128. Hey, guyz, joe thinks Bush and Cheney are bad! He wants them in jail!

    Hello?

    Oh, and uh, the way these people were treated indicates that minorities are treated with unwarranted suspicion. Isn’t that crazy?

    Do any of you know why my cat won’t let me hug her?

  129. In the era between the Oklahoma city bombing and 9/11, I wonder if I, a short-haired white male, would have been refused the right to rent a Ryder truck if I inadvertantly mentioned the words fertilizer or diesel in the rental office?

  130. “Would the decision have been the same if the Irfans and their friend had Anglo-Saxon names and fairer complexions? Would the suspicious passenger have been suspicious in the first place?”

    This is the stupidest question I have ever read in my entire lifetime. Racial profiling is logical and necessary in some circumstances. Just ask the Israelis about how they run El Al.
    Get back to me when they unearth evidence that the 9/11 hijackers were from Ireland or Sweden.

  131. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

  132. “had no discretion in the matter”

    my fucking ass they hadnt…. fucking racist bitches!!!!!!!!!!

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