Thursday, September 13, 2007

Plane clothes

Well, today I read this article from "Second woman says Southwest made her cover up." You'll have to read it for yourself, but basically two different women on two separate occasions reported that Southwest airlines told them their outfits were unacceptable for flying. One was wearing a sweater and a short skirt. Another was wearing a halter-top dress. The flight attendants told the women on each occasion that if they didn't cover up, they wouldn't be able to fly. The woman with the halter dress didn't have a sweater, so she was made to wear a blanket around her for the flight.


I'm baffled by this. Okay, so it's much less absurd than laws about baggy pants, because at least it's a company, not the government. But... really? REALLY?? Anyway, instead of waxing on about why I think it's ridiculous, I decided to paste in a blog entry I wrote when I still blogged on My Space about another airline attire issue. Must be something in the water. Anyway, here you go:

I'm slightly distressed over an article sent to me by the director of the sociology program here at Fordham. Here's the link:

"Arabic t-shirt sparks airport row"

It's an article from BBC news about a man, Raed Jarrar, who was traveling from NYC to California and was "apporached" at JFK airport by two men asking for his ID and boarding pass -- after he was already scanned and cleared by security. Mr. Jarrer was wearing a t-shirt that said "We will not be silent," written in both Arabic and English, and apparently the airline (JetBlue) had received complaints from passengers. They made the man remove his shirt and change into one they bought for him at the airport store.

Are you KIDDING me?! As the article explains: "'We Will Not Be Silent' is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East. It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany."

I'm sorry, I know the terrorist threats are scary and serious. I know airline travel is especially worrisome, and the heightened security after the London threats has people shaken up, especially at JFK. I know. I'm glad I'm not flying anywhere any time soon.

But I mean, really? A t-shirt? It's not like the guy was ticking or even had suspicious behavior going on. He cleared airport security! I think there's a difference between "better safe than sorry" and just blatantly disregarding people's rights. "We will not be silent" is a statement against the Iraq War. I don't know the latest numbers, but I'm pretty sure at least half the country would agree with Mr. Jarrer at this point. You could stand in Times Square, throw a stone and have at least a 50 percent chance of hitting someone who opposes the war (probably more than 50 in NYC). But I guess since his name is Raed Jarrar and his skin is brown, that makes a difference. If I was wearing the t-shirt instead of Mr. Jarrer, would they have forced me to take it off? I wonder. Do those passengers feel safe flying with other anti-war Americans? It just doesn't make sense.

As sad as it is that the passengers complained, the real egregious part of this is that Jet Blue actually made the guy take the t-shirt off, instead of telling the passengers that if they start kicking people off flights because of what their t-shirts say, the guy with the "Tickle THIS Elmo" shirt is the first to go.

Anyway, I'm overly torqued about this I guess, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me, and that's okay. The whole thing just makes me really sad. After studying media and first amendment rights for 5 years, I just can't sit around and think this kind of thing is okay.

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