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The airline behemoth did a really crappy thing to someone and should be held accountable. But isn’t this sort of treatment a larger issue than awful travel regulations and PR gaffes?
Can we maybe just admit that an outrage at and subsequent boycott of United Airlines may not be the correct move; that perhaps the real issue is one that lies not with the airline’s tactics but in our now-prevalent system of “anti-humanity”?
I mean look, airlines can stick it to us really in every which way they feel. They have every legal right to do as they please and for whatever ends they deem necessary; according to the fine print, we literally signed up for it whenever we purchase an airline ticket.
Is it right or just of the airlines? No. Does it make for really, really sh-tty business and customer experience practices? Absolutely.
But it’s nothing new.
Seeing as how – despite whatever grandiosely inflated fare you’re coughed up for that flight to Cincinnati – you are basically paying to be treated like a convict for a few hours. That in and of itself is a real problem, and on that should be addressed and changed.
But it is not the same as what happened to the now virally famous passenger aboard United Flight 3411, and why his story should matter most.
Yes, he was a paid passenger. Yes, he was entirely reasonably behaved under the circumstances. Yes, legally, he was required to give up his seat. No, he did not deserve the treatment he received, and should be dutifully exonerated from any wrongdoing and, absolutely yes, pursue legal action against any and all aggressors concerned.
But I feel – and maybe I am just playing the devil’s advocate here – that our outrage is misaligned and misdirected. Instead, we as spectators to this crime (yes, how he was treated should be seen as a crime) should be advocates against the aggressive misuse of power against people, regardless of the how and why and whether violent or not.
This incident has nothing to do with air travel’s ever-contentious passenger rights (or lack thereof), but instead has everything to do with humanity and how it is perceived in our culture.
Nevermind that it happened on a plane or at the final-call of United’s policy hawks. Nevermind that the police would have never had any reason to even show up onboard in the first place had United not insisted on its ludicrously stupid policy adherence in light of its own scheduling blunder.
Strip away the why and examine the how: people (in this case, airport police) found it entirely excusable to use force against an unarmed, non-dangerous man in order to simply follow policy. They exercised their authority to forcibly toss him like a rag doll simply because they were allowed to. They hurt, disparaged and embarrassed an otherwise harmless human being simply because they could and – more importantly – would get away with it.
It seems to me that – as a culture – we demean and devalue basic principles of humanity. We should rally against that. But instead, any and all advocates for human rights, compassion and civility are too often ushered to the fringe-laden outskirts of national discourse.
Care about stuff? Concerned about people or the planet or the “culture of cruelty” that has pervaded the American system for decades? You must be a paid, lazy, liberal agitator pothead. Beat it, rebel scum.
In this very country, we have entire political movements centered around eradicating access to healthcare and boosting deadly weapon ownership. We have political parties perpetuating the plight of the poor and working classes while exploiting valuable resources to boost bottom lines. We see lives ended and marginalized by the example set forth via “Blue Lives Matter” and its impact on discourse between civilians and authority.
We have a Congress dedicated to bolstering inequality and class segregation; one that places more value on the utilization of a woman’s womb than the human being that may or may not ever reside within.
We have a leader hell-bent on the disparagement of free speech, assembly and religion, as well as his call to further destabilize communities of largely immigrant descent. We have his hordes of dim-witted supporters championing his call to eradicate cultures and militarily drive the already hostile corners of the world into further chaos and disarray. We have his inane calls to dismiss the plight and survivability of helplessly innocent refugees yet use their deaths when politically convenient.
We have his message of fear and hatred magnified from the very highest seat of power.
A single airline’s (plainly wrong) policies and its horrendous enforcements are merely another set of symptoms of a national infection; a sickness that renders it acceptable to disrespect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This is the America we live in, and it’s not entirely United Airline’s fault.Click here for reuse options!
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