MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Victim in United Flight Debacle Gets Smear Treatment

How dredging up his irrelevant criminal background will be used to justify censorship.

Gordon Tipeme / Dreamstime.comGordon Tipeme / Dreamstime.comYou would think that an elderly doctor (69 years old!) being filmed getting dragged by police off a United airplane in order to make room for the airline employees would be immune to the "He's no angel" defense of government violence.

You would be wrong, though, and underestimating the willingness of media outlets to publish anything that has the potential to get them attention, even negative attention. Everybody's got a past that can be used against them.

It has become a common practice that when a citizen has a very public, highly publicized encounter with law enforcement, his or her criminal background very quickly ends up in the hands of local media outlets.

Sometimes it's relevant. If a criminal suspect gets wounded or killed in a confrontation with police, a history of convictions for violent crimes helps put it in context. It doesn't inherently mean the police's behavior was justified in any particular instance, but it is important information. And the public should know.

But sometimes it's clearly an attempt to make the person subjected to police aggression look guilty in the eyes of the public and shield the authorities from criticism for bad behavior.

All of that is to say the Courier-Journal in Kentucky got its hands on the criminal and licensing background of the guy that got forcibly yanked (and injured) by Chicago police off that United flight, and it turns out this David Dao fellow did some bad things, more than a decade ago. But they've decided to dredge it up anyway:

Dao, who went to medical school in Vietnam in the 1970s before moving to the U.S., was working as a pulmonologist in Elizabethtown when he was arrested in 2003 and eventually convicted of drug-related offenses after an undercover investigation, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure last June. The documents allege that he was involved in fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances and was sexually involved with a patient who used to work for his practice and assisted police in building a case against him.

Dao was convicted of multiple felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit in November 2004 and was placed on five years of supervised probation in January 2005. He surrendered his medical license the next month.

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure permitted Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015 under certain conditions.

None of this provides any contextual information useful to understanding Dao's refusal to comply with United. It's a smear. There's no reason to believe any of it is not true, but it is not journalism that provides any actually useful context about Dao. They can't even say he was misleading the airline when he said he had patients to treat as an explanation for his refusal to disembark "voluntarily."

The newspaper is being absolutely blasted on both their website and on Twitter for running with this story. There are maybe one or two people who defend the publishing and the idea that Dao should have complied and think his criminal background is in any way related. A poll asking whether the Courier-Journal should have published this story would likely lead to a very lopsided result telling the paper they made the wrong choice here.

I did not see anywhere in these tweets or comments anybody saying the newspaper shouldn't be allowed to have published this information, which is good. This is a perfect example of using "more speech" to counter "bad speech." The media outlet arguably made a poor choice in what information to publish and is being publicly criticized for doing so. It would not surprise me if the editor there was being inundated with angry phone calls.

Nevertheless, though there is no call for formal government censorship, it's worth looking at this story about Dao's checkered past and thinking about the development of "right to be forgotten" orders and regulations in the European Union. This is a "right" used to force censorship of the internet, requiring search engines like Google to remove links to past reports, news stories, and information that is often factually true but is embarrassing and no longer relevant or that allegedly violates the privacy of the citizens involved. This information is often related to past criminal activity and convictions.

The concepts underlying the "right to be forgotten" push are rightly a concern for supporters of free speech because not only does it lead to censorship, it also puts government authorities in the position of deciding what is and isn't relevant to remain in the public eye. The potential consequence is that powerful political figures and wealthy, connected individual are able to abuse the concept to conceal relevant information about their own misconduct.

There are plenty of examples of how governments in the United States already conceal misconduct by authorities and officials. Reportedly the officers responsible for forcibly dragging Dao off the flight are on leave and being investigated. If any actual discipline comes their way (and that's a really big "if"—this conduct is probably considered justified by the government, which is itself a problem) we'll probably never know about it. Often police misconduct is protected from public disclosure by law, despite the public interest and the right to know when the people who are supposed to protect us are misbehaving.

When people try to sell the "right to be forgotten" to the American people, it's not going to be cases of police misconduct and political corruption arrests they'll be using. It will be cases like Dao's here. The decision by the Courier-Journal to publish information about Dao's past that was completely irrelevant to his behavior will be used to convince people that such information should not be kept public.

When media outlets make such poor publication choices, it increases the challenge of attempting to defend a broad definition of free speech and a free press. While it's important to protect the Courier-Journal's right to have made such a bad decision, it's also very worthwhile to push back against this poorly-thought-out choice because this is the kind of behavior that causes some people to decide that maybe some government censorship isn't such a bad thing.

What should people take from this Dao hit piece? Maybe think twice and read closely the next time a suspect's criminal background is dredged up in future news reports involving confrontations with authorities.

Photo Credit: Gordon Tipeme / Dreamstime.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    Don't wanna be a thug, then don't break the law over a decade ago.

  • MarioLanza||

    No one is accusing him of being a "thug". The issue is that he is guilty of quite a salacious crime - certainly more interesting than the the kardiashian's newest butt picture. He was in his 60's and gave a 20-something year old drugs for gay-sex.

    The sad reality is that "reality TV" has conditioned the public to eat this stuff up.

  • Radioactive||

    J' accuse...

  • Quixote||

    Everybody knows that when our friendly reacommodation policies are attacked, those responsible for the attacks must face scrutiny in the press, and that is the way it should be. Clearly the public will continue to use our magnificent United service, and the little "tweet-storm" caused by this passenger will be rapidly forgotten. A little bit of mild criticism can of course be tolerated, but we are fully prepared, if necessary, to bring in the authorities to stop, eliminate, and eradicate any inappropriately deadpan "parodies" in the name of our company. Surely no one here would dare to defend the "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge in our nation's leading criminal "satire" case? See the documentation at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • Hugh Akston||

    If there's one thing I've learned from reading H&R comments, it's that someone who has done anything illegal in his past, no matter how orthogonal to the present incident, deserves whatever abuse he suffers at the hands of the state.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    And especially if he's an ILLEGUL WHO TAKUM ER JEBZ.

  • ThomasD||

    Really? Must be in the fine print somewhere between the lines.

    Is a magic decoder ring also required?

  • pan fried wylie||

    correct. the decoder ring is included with the sarcasmometer.

  • ThomasD||

    Sarcasm?

    On the internet?

    The Hell you say.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Sarcasm on the internet has obliviously been smuggled here by the illegal humans! Good upstanding-type native-born Amuricans surely wouldn't bring such evil stuff here!

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    it's that someone who has done anything illegal in his past, no matter how orthogonal to the present incident, deserves whatever abuse he suffers at the hands of the state.

    I mean race and religion need to be identified first. Oh wait... this is the criteria for every OTHER website.

  • Not a True MJG||

    Don't be hysterical.

    But it does make you ask questions about what really went down. He's definitely not a sympathetic victim, and it's sick that Reason wants to just overlook this guy's possible responsibility in all this. Do we even know if he had an appointment the next day??

  • TW||

    Apparently his license only allowed him to work one day a week which may mean (a) he was especially desperate because his income depending on being at work that one day or (b) he was desperate for money and refused the vacate his seat and tried to injure himself in the hopes of getting a large settlement.

  • Bra Ket||

    We also learned that he really was heading to Kentucky, which is a few hours from Chicago by car. If his job was so critical he could have still made it.

  • JasonPen||

    More like 6 hours, without including traffic, stops, and the time it takes to rent and return the car.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    And paying for gas, and losing the money paid for the plane ticket. He would pay through the nose to rent a car and return it 300 miles away, as well.

    That $800 voucher is Monopoly money -- driving would cost hundreds of dollars in real money. So yeah, I don't see how that's a realistic proposition.

  • Eric Bana||

    We also learned that he really was heading to Kentucky, which is a few hours from Chicago by car.

    Yeah. Who cares about blowing a bunch of money by having to get a rental car and driving five hours when you're sitting in your assigned seat with the plane ticket that you've already paid for?

  • Radioactive||

    headed to Kentucky!!! he deserved the beating on that basis alone!

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Let's assume he was lying about having an appointment. Further let's assume he was lying about being a doctor in the first place.

    How does that justify anything United or the cops did?

  • Not a True MJG||

    This is awkward. I was imitating you.

  • Mark22||

    How does that justify anything United or the cops did?

    It doesn't.

    What does justify it is the fact that he had bought a low priced ticket which allowed the airline to bump him if necessary.

    And what justifies the actions of the cop is that he refused to comply with the terms of his contract and was trespassing.

  • Bubba Jones||

    lolwut?

  • H-daddy||

    It doesn't matter who he was, where he was going, or anything else. The guy had a ticket and was on the plane. If they wanted another seat they should have coughed up more than $800 (or whatever it was) until someone said they would get off the plane.

    This process has been carried out a million times without folks being beaten and dragged off planes. This episode was an anomaly and IMHO the real fault lies with the so-called police that took extreme measures.

  • Sevo||

    H-daddy|4.11.17 @ 7:04PM|#
    "It doesn't matter who he was, where he was going, or anything else. The guy had a ticket and was on the plane. If they wanted another seat they should have coughed up more than $800 (or whatever it was) until someone said they would get off the plane."

    Exactly.
    If he was a bum with a meth habit and a record of diddling kids, he had a contract with that airline. As you mention, the way to void that contract was to buy it out.
    Tough if it cost UAL a couple of K/seat; they have n problem charging that for immediate need.

  • Radioactive||

    ahhh Chicago PD...whata bunch of maroons!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    They couldn't even catch a one-armed man.

  • HCUA||

    That was a good movie, though.

  • HCUA||

    What is a maroon? Did you mean macaroon? Or marine? Or moron?

  • patskelley||

    PS we have all done illegal things. We all have knives in the house and break the speed limit from time to time or aren't up to code on something. We've gone from "innocent till proven guilty" to "kill him he's obviously a deviant" mentality. I thank Hollyweird witch-hunting stereotypes which cast "types" arch enemies and annoying characters so we may feel at ease when they are blown up or away with good riddance.

  • Wasteland Wanderer||

    PS we have all done illegal things. We all have knives in the house...

    Are you in Britain or something?

  • BYODB||

    Fun fact:

    A buddy of mine was busted for drunk driving when we were in college twice. (Yeah, he was pretty stupid.) The second time, he happened to have three 'ninja stars' in the floor board of his vehicle. We all know those are 'technically' illegal, but as it turns out the price for having those three ninja stars was the same as his second DWI. You better believe those cops charged him with illegal weapons, and it stuck.


    The more you know.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Damn. I bought those things at the mall when I was 16. I enjoyed throwing them at my fence.

    I have no idea where they are now.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I also have trouble believing they would do any material harm.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    You mean perpendicular?

  • Diane Merriam||

    By the newspaper in Louisville often called the Curious Urinal.

  • Not a True MJG||

    Christ, what a profession of assholes.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

  • Not a True MJG||

    Wh-what are they firing?

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    Twitter barbs.

  • Bra Ket||

    Hey everyone, look at these titillating details about a viral story that other scumbag journalists have the gall to publish!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Another cop video. Mayor and Police Chief getting ready to do presser.

    http://nbc4i.com/2017/04/11/ci.....-incident/

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Rosen was one of two officers involved in the June, 2016 shooting death of Henry Green. A grand jury recently declined to indict Rosen and Officer Jason Bare for that shooting.

    I suppose cops must have a three strike rule?

  • AlmightyJB||

    If that

  • ThomasD||

    Three strikes. That you know about. The other swings don't count.

  • albo||

    Heck, if those cops who dragged him out knew he was a felon, they would have brought their nightsticks, too. C'mon, passengers, tell the cops about your past so you can get the appropriate level of police care.

  • Juice||

    Don't worry, UAL stockholders are paying the massive price of a 2% dip in share price today. Of course that's on a market red day, but still, oh they're feeling the pain.

  • ||

    An emotional stock downswing is a good time to buy. I mean, down you really think the blowback from this will substantively impact their bottom line?

  • Bra Ket||

    One theory I've seen is that the CEO's hands are tied due to union contracts. So this event might even strengthen him against them, and help the company.

  • simplybe||

    Just proves what I have been saying for 50+ years. The government and the police work for the corporations and the news media always covers up their misdeeds. The average citizen is little more than a slave made to pay for or die in corporate wars.

  • TW||

    That's what happens when you try cases in the media – things that aren't necessarily (legally) relevant get pushed front and center to advance the narrative. People who wanted to portray this guy as a "victim" yesterday were talking about him being 69 years old and a medical doctor and making snaky comments about "leggings" – none of which had any relevancy to the issue at hand but they advanced the narrative of him being sympathetic and airline not so much. Now it's the other side's turn to point out that the guy lost his medical license for multiple felonies (and may have added another one to the list by refusing the order of the flight crew to leave the seat and exit the plane) and may be desperate for money because he can only work one day a week and this could be a scam to get a settlement.

  • Born Again Username||

    An example of a scam is fraud, like when an airplane is overbooked. And based on the comments made on the original article by Daniel, it sounds like UA is on the border of fraud. (I say "border" because of some laws that were passed that I haven't looked into.)

  • Johnny B||

    ``and may be desperate for money because he can only work one day a week and this could be a scam to get a settlement.''

    Yea, TW, if his motive was to get a big lawsuit, explain how he was able to calculate that he would be one of the four people on a flight of a hundred or so that would be randomly picked by the airline for involuntary removal. If he is that good at picking low likelihood events, he should have made a killing in the stock market by now and not need to make money this way.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    The arguments that defend United all rely on the fact that technically the carrier contract allows the airline to kick you off any flight regardless of whether you have a "confirmed" ticket or have done anything wrong.

    I really, really don't think the airlines want to be shouting that from the rooftops.

  • Sugarsail||

    no way does their action constitute fraud, it would have to demonstrate it was deliberate and that it financially benefited the airline. Considering the price of compensation they were offering far exceeded their profits from leaving the passenger on board, this is clearly not the case. Overbooking just means they suck at logistics, not that there is fraud.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, the video looks pretty deliberate to me; no way that the cops "accidentally" got called.
    It was intended to financially benefit the airline by having the crew relocated. (lawsuit costs not considered)
    The "price" of compensation, a damn near impossible to use voucher on the same crappy airline, does not exceed their profits, because is has no real cost to them. It was not "real" money.
    Overbooking is fraud, it is just legal fraud excused by federal regulations. They sell something, take the money, and do not deliver. Meets the definition of fraud everywhere there is a constitution.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    People who wanted to portray this guy as a "victim"

    He was a victim. None of this information changes that.

  • Sugarsail||

    he was a victim of his own ego that refused to make a civil decision of getting off the plane when asked and offered ample compensation.

  • WC Varones||

    He traded drugs for sex?

    He's a libertarian hero!

  • HammerDog||

    Dredging up his past to smear him is not cricket.

    However, making fun of him for screaming like a little girl is fair play.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    that was really disturbing.

  • Richard Bennett||

    Dao said he shouldn't be bumped because he's a doctor. The Louisville paper carried the story of this five felony convictions of paying for sex with drugs at the time, so it's not exactly a secret in Kentucky.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    The bigger story, IMO, is that airlines are legally allowed to sell something they don't have (overbooking) and then when they can't deliver, they have little responsibility to those they've injured. This is akin to short selling stocks where those holding a short position are always at risk of taking a huge loss if the market moves up.

    This all means that the appropriate solution to the problem facing airlines that overbook is for them to keeping upping the price to get someone to voluntarily agree to leaving the plane. They offered $800 in this case, which seems like a lot, but it apparently wasn't the market value for anyone on the flight. As such, they should have increased the price until a market was made.

    Fuckers.

  • DaveSs||

    $800 in vouchers

    Which for people who do not take frequent personal airline trips means they offered nothing of value

  • dschwar||

    So, who wants to set up a secondary market in these vouchers and make millions playing the spread?

    Of course, if the vouchers are tied to a particular person, this scheme won't work.

    Why does there always have to be a catch?

  • DaveSs||

    They are non-transferable of course

  • Johnny B||

    The other thing about this incident that says UAL are a bunch of idiots is that they LOADED the plane before they began negotiations. Doesn't anyone know about the endowment effect? You negotiate after someone has settled into their seat and the price will always be higher. It is not like there isn't someone in Chicago -- Richard Thaler, at UChicago -- say, who couldn't have taught them some of this.

  • granite state destroyer||

    The way saw it reported is that the UAL employees who needed seats showed up only after the place had already been loaded. Sounds like UAL has some internal communication and logistics issues.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Lol, no sht.

    I had a United flight AT A HUB that was 2 hours late while they did maintenance on a plane that arrived the night before.

    WTF.

    United's logistics is probably epic given the thousands of flights that go off without a hitch, but at the margin, their communication sucks ass.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    and probably expire as well.

    i got bumped from a hotel i was staying at and the hotel was also hosting the conference i was attending. to make matters worse, the hotel that put me in was 20 or 30 mins away. i was more than a little irritated. i never used the voucher they gave me because i wasn't traveling much at the time and they wouldn't allow me to transfer it to my friend.

    if our congressional leaders got treated like the rest of us, they'd make better laws.

  • Bubba Jones||

    They expire after a year.

    Compensation should require 1) refund of ticket and 2) balance in a voucher.

  • Praveen R.||

    Southwest has them transferable. The least United could do is have different levels of vouchers and up the ante as the need arises to entice more customers. Maybe have vouchers that are transferable to family members. And then the next level would be unrestricted vouchers.

  • Longtobefree||

    How about cash?

  • Chip Your Pets||

    And you have to use the voucher on the airline's website, meaning you pay double what you'd pay on Travelocity or whatever. So it's worth airfare equivalent to $400 on Travelocity. You don't get change, so you need to find flights that add up to exactly $800, or pay your own money (for double-priced airfare mind you) to make up the difference between $800 and the airfare you use it for.

  • Praveen R.||

    That may be specific to an airline. Prices on an airline website are usually not more expensive than expedia or travelocity. I always book on the airline website. Also, airlines like southwest let you have a running balance on vouchers and it is transferable. I do realize it is ont transferable on United. United is pure scum.

  • Agammamon||

    IME, unless you're booking several weeks out, brokers offer cheaper than direct from the airline.

  • Agammamon||

    Even for people who fly a lot that's near worthless. Unless you happen to fly *United* a lot.

    Even then, its $800 off the United price - not the discount you'd get by going through a broker.

    So, basically they've offered to comp him one free domestic flight - if he takes it on United and takes it within the next 365 days.

    I work for myself, have a flexible schedule - and I wouldn't have given up my seat for that.

  • MichaelL||

    Can't feel too much sympathy, since I was removed permanently from practice for much less than a felony, or misdemeanor conviction. I have never had one in my life! But, my career was ended by the good ole boys for unproven accusations made by a medical board. They don't have to follow the law. Judges won't second guess them! But, since I was born a pauper and returned to that standing I could not apply the adage, "Money talks, BS walks!" Poor people don't get "justice" in the 'merican "just-us" system!

  • Empress Trudy||

    I can appreciate Dao's response. After spending some time yesterday with 'customer service' for both Spectrum Cable and Amazon I can tell you that the human condition is such that when you are in a particular situation and it's going badly for you, you very quickly act irrationally because you have a not unfounded expectation that it's all going to go horribly wrong and there's nothing you can do about. It's not a rational response but it's a human one. You're late, you're jammed in like pigs on a truck, they're basically yelling at everyone and hectoring them about retarded safety rules. And then, like a stereotype of bad parents everywhere they start screaming at you that someone better lug their fat ass out of the seat and leave or we're not going anywhere, mister! Still no 'cooperation' and bored waitress up front pulls your name out of a hat, yells at you some more, humiliates you, calls the cops and the cops pull a Freddy Grey on your ass.

    BTW let's be clear here - if the 'random' selection was even one black person, the CEO of UA would be lynched and the senior executives would be in Congress today, explaining why they're not war criminals. The passenger would be on every cable channel and the usual gaggle of ambulance chasers would be suing the airline, the airport, the cops and anyone else.

  • Redcard||

    Yes, since you assert a counterfactual, this fallacy of relative privation is justified

  • Texasmotiv||

    I live in the Louisville area and there was already a group of Asians claiming on the news last night that the (random) selection process was racist.

    My eyes still hurt from all the eye rolling I did.

  • Empress Trudy||

    It's a tough call. They are CLEARLY going to eject your ass no matter what. That's what cops do. Fighting them is only going to get you banged up. Before they toss you out make sure they will still give you the perks of volunteering. If not, then sue them for that perk and of course for getting banged up etc. That's just the reality of flying now. If you absolutely have to be somewhere you can't rely on airlines no matter how much you spend.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    There's no evidence he fought the police. Even the police don't claim that. He merely didn't assist with his own removal.

  • Jgalt1975||

    Right, this is the thing that I'm most annoyed about in this incident -- the number of people who don't seem to realize that once armed LEOs are on the scene, your only choices are (1) comply with their demands while stating that you are complying only because of the threat of force being used against you, or (2) get subjected to state-perpetrated violence to the possible point of being killed. Because I'm pretty sure that no one has ever won an argument with a LEO once the LEO has given them an order to do something.

  • BYODB||

    Sometimes being killed by the police is winning the argument, but the person who 'wins' that argument won't be around to enjoy it. Rightfully, most individuals don't consider that winning but sometimes, for the collective, that's what it takes.


    Not that monks lighting themselves on fire did a whole lot of good, though, so I'm not sure how often this 'strategy' works.

  • Mark22||

    That's just the reality of flying now.

    It's the reality of flying on discounted tickets and airlines maximizing their efficiency. If you don't want to get bumped, pay full price for a ticket.

    The cost of flying has dropped by more than 70% over the last 40-50 years.

    http://tinyurl.com/k2c4qmp

  • Redcard||

    That is standard issue at reason.com, though.

    Asserting what XYZ would have done mitigate what Drumpf did

  • jdgalt1||

    Let's fight fire with fire. Publish those badge-thugs' names and see if you can dig up any personal dirt on them.

  • Sevo||

    DanO.|4.11.17 @ 9:25PM|#
    "Love the holier-than-thou commentary from people who have used the same tactics for years in smearing their ideological enemies."

    Yeah, you piece of shit, I'm sure pointing out that the hag treated classified material like her laundry list was using the same tactics. Or do you have a cite in mind?
    Fuck off. You lost, loser.

  • drstrangelove||

    I don't think it is a smear to state facts. This guy has a criminal record. And his actions on the plane strike me as the prelude to a scam. Will he now sue United for millions?

  • Sevo||

    drstrangelove|4.11.17 @ 11:13PM|#
    "I don't think it is a smear to state facts. This guy has a criminal record. And his actions on the plane strike me as the prelude to a scam"

    Your comment strikes me as the spewing of an idiot.
    And I hope he does sue for millions; maybe UAL will learn to honor contracts or pay to void them.

  • wareagle||

    What does his ten-year old record have to do with anything? That's not good sarcasm and it's worse trolling; unfortunately, it reads like you meant to say exactly what it written.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    And his actions on the plane strike me as the prelude to a scam.

    Yeah, he planned all along to buy a ticket on that flight, knowing it would become overbooked due to United crew suddenly needing seats, and also knowing that none of the non-crew passengers would voluntarily leave when offered a voucher, and then knowing his name would be called randomly (or maybe he has an accomplice working for United!), and then knowing airport PD would show up to beat his ass and drag him of the plan.

    Dr. Dao = Dr. Diabolical!

  • Radioactive||

    let's not forget, everyone on that plane is obligated to obey the directives of the flight attendants & crew...no special dispensation cause 1) you're old, 2) oriental or 3) a doctor...don't argue with the stewardess esp one with Chicago PD as backup

  • JuanQPublic||

    Lets not forget that police apprehend people for all sorts of things all the time, without smashing their face into a bloody mess.

    That's the issue, nanny-state reactionaries notwithstanding.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    A surprising number of people here willing to slurp UA and the cops' balls on this one.

  • pan fried wylie||

    PS we have all done illegal things. We all have knives in the house...

    Are you in Britain or something?

    I would say Australia or NYC maybe, in the "you call THAT a knife" sense.

  • BYODB||

    +1 Dundee

  • Mark22||

    None of this provides any contextual information useful to understanding Dao's refusal to comply with United.

    I'm not sure it should have been published, but it certainly does provide highly relevant "contextual information" about Dao's personality and attitude towards the law.

    What should people take from this Dao hit piece?

    To stay away from Dao as a physician, because the man obviously has bad judgment and is unable to make a reasonable risk/benefit analysis.

  • Texasmotiv||

    The character of the persons involved have no bearing on the facts of the case in question. Whether he is a priest or a drug dealer, that doesn't mean he should be dragged out of his chair.

    The same way that a someone who has a record shouldn't be killed for selling loosies or a neo-nazi should be punched for answering questions in an interview.

  • JuanQPublic||

    But you're describing something of principle, consistency and decency. Today, that'll get you a deer-in-headlights look.

  • Mark22||

    Whether he is a priest or a drug dealer, that doesn't mean he should be dragged out of his chair.

    No, what gave United the right to have him dragged out of his chair was the terms of his ticket.

    His background is relevant to the question of whether it was the passenger or police that behaved unreasonably. Of course, ultimately, that's for a court of law to decide, but based on his background we can try to guess.

  • Texasmotiv||

    If he was a single mother of eight and got pulled out it doesn't make it any different, it just makes her more sympathetic.

  • ToCa81||

    As others have said, it doesn't matter if he was the second coming of Mother Theresa or a heroin addicted pedophile. Nothing in his past is relevant to the situation at hand. The law is supposed to apply evenly to all (hahaha), regardless of previous transgressions. Unless those transgressions have a current bearing on the present situation, and they don't in this case, they should be completely disregarded. I'm not saying he handled the situation well, but the way United and the officers escalated the situation was ridiculous. I live near Sacramento, and a Sac PD officer was just suspended for beating the crap out of a black guy over a jaywalking incident. Even did it in front of his patrol car so the whole thing was recorded. The civilian was not being overly cooperative, but the level the officer took it to rather quickly was just insane. People in positions of authority need to show calm restraint. If I tell my son to sweep the floor and he refuses, I might smack him upside the head, but I'm not going to choke slam him through the coffee table. I'd be a pretty shitty parent if that was the case.

  • Mark22||

    The law is supposed to apply evenly to all

    It does. The airline asks a passenger to leave the plane, the law says the passenger has to leave the plane. Doesn't matter whether he is "he second coming of Mother Theresa or a heroin addicted pedophile". Doesn't matter what ticket they have or how much they paid.

  • ToCa81||

    I was alluding to the practice of smearing in general with regards to legal equality. Yes he was legally required to give up his seat, though I'm curious as to why he specifically was chosen and why they didn't try harder to incentivize another passenger. But as I said previously, his past record really has no bearing on this incident. There is a sensible way of enforcing these things. There was nothing sensible about the approach they took here, and it will end up being quite costly for United.

  • Sugarsail||

    Oh come on Reason....don't succumb to the "everyone's an innocent victim of statist oppression" nonsense. This doctor was a self-absorbed douche who thought his time and social status was more important than everyone else on the plane and thought he'd be a big thorn in everyone's side. Not that I agree with the way United handled it but he had the power to resolve the situation amiably but he chose deliberate confrontation to serve his own self-interest. He is no victim or hero, he's a self absorbed bastard just like 99% of people in this country. The compensation the airline was offering was ample and he should have been a gentleman and just took it.

  • DaveSs||

    Given that out of dozens of people on the plane, not a single one of them took it voluntarily, the compensation they offered was by no means ample.

    Speaking for myself, a voucher for $800 or even $8000 in airfare is worth about $0. I rarely fly for personal travel. Last time was in 2010 and since then I can't recall ever even considering a flight anywhere.

  • Longtobefree||

    So where are all the liberals pointing out that he did the time for the crime, and is now a rehabilitated valuable member of society?
    Not to mention that his license has been restored, with provisions.
    As my old friend Perry Mason would say "Objection, your honor. Irrelevant, immaterial, and not germane to the subject at hand.".

  • Hank Phillips||

    Surely OUR fascist puppet media would never resort to outright fabrication and smear tactics to deflect criticism from an "artificial person," right?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online