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"Suspected Idiot"

[See, I was ejected from an airplane today for wearing a "Suspected Terrorist" button]

Dear John Gilmore,

You are an ass. That's why you were taken off the plane.

Thank you and good night.

UPDATE: As I clarified in the comments below, the reason I think Gilmore is an idiot is because he wore that button knowing full well the kind of reaction it would get. He was looking to cause a ruckus. What kind of idiot in this day and age wears a button like that on an airplane? Easy answer: the kind of idiot who thinks he has something to prove.

Sure, the airline overreacted, but that wasn't the point of my little letter to John. His rebel act is old. If you have a point to make, make it when it's not going to involve 300 other people being inconvenienced by your need show how big your balls are.


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If he doesn't like the rules for flying then he can find an alternate means of transportation.

And I don't understand how asking to see ID is invading your privacy. I have to show ID to get into clubs, buy lottery tickets, buy alcohol and cigarettes, and do many other things. I guess he feels that his privacy is being violated when he does those things.

I disagree with him about the ID. Yes, it doesn't really give us an additional security measures (Fake IDs are a peice of cake to come by) but its still standard procedure. Has been for quite a while unless I'm mistaken. I do agree with him over the button, thats ridiculus. To deny someone the right to fly for a 1in peice of plastic that hardly anyone notices (and no one but the captain complained about) is ridiculus. That IS free speech and is protected by government law. However, if British Airlines is completely private and recieves no government funding, then they're allowed to refuse service to anyone (though goodluck not getting sued for discrimination).

However, thats just pathetic. He might be in bad taste and sure, he could be an ass for that but British Airlines is also being "an ass." The best quote has got to be this though - "He said that I would endanger the aircraft and commit a federal crime if I did not take it off." - Pray tell what federal crime that would have been? Oh yes, freedom of speech.

I am surprised he got off that plane alive, because I know how I would have felt last month, if my plane had been turned around because some idiot could not remove a pin...especially given I had a 5 month old with me and a hubby who's petrified of flying. He made his point when the captain came over, should have stopped aggravating the other passengers and just put it away.

On the other hand, telling him it's in poor taste was stupid. If you can get kicked off a plane for poor taste, there'll never be another teenager on a plane. Well, maybe not such a bad idea, lol.

i disagree with how fanatical john is with respect to showing id for u.s. flights, but i'm with him on the button issue and applaud him for standing up for his (our) rights.

the slogan may have been tacky, but this is america after all. within reasonable bounds we are allowed to express ourselves freely. it's not like that button was being disruptive to the flight other than the crew/pilot taking issue with it.

BA's request was petty, plain and simple. while removing the button would have hardly been an imposition, john stood up for one of the core principles on which this country was founded and is doing his part in trying to keep us from sliding down a rather scarey and slippery slope.

Amen, Michele...the guy is an idiot, pure & simple. Standing up for principle - yeah, right. There are better ways to accomplish that - you know, ways that DON'T involve screwing around with your 300 fellow passengers and delaying their flight.

Analogy: I invite a new friend over to my house for a BBQ with other friends and family. He arrives, and is wearing a "Bin Laden Was Right" button. Do I have the right to ask the man to remove the pin, or else leave my house? Damn right.

So, it's ok if they start kicking you off for wearing something stupid?

What if it were a t-shirt? Maybe with a "free speech" logo or a "no war" slogan? How about "Ashcroft sucks"? Who's deciding what's appropiate? What if they don't like your comic or music selections?

I'm sorry, but I don't see anything he did that makes him an ass. He explained what he meant by "suspected terrorist" (and since I fly a lot, I can definitely see his point), and none of the passengers complained. If anyone acted like an ass, it was the captain of the plane by turning around and delaying everyone's trip over this.

And, no, airlines are NOT the same thing as private property. They do not have the right to pick-and-choose their customers without limits. They cannot, for example, decide that since you're black you can't fly or that since you're oriental you need to ride in a special section of the plane...or that you should be kicked off a plane for wearing a stupid button.

Kicking someone off a flight for refusing to take off a button seems just as ridiculous as someone getting arrested at a mall for refusing to take off a "world peace" t-shirt they just bought there. (See the story.)

They weren't just wearing a T-shirt they were harrassing other customers.

I disagree with this fella's viewpoints so I could care less what happens to him regardless of his so-called "AMERICAN first amendment rights" and how dare he pretend that he's a true American. So a true American wears his opinions on his shirt where anyone can see them and get offended?! He insults the safety precautions taken after those animals destroyed are beautiful icons of power and control and commercialism. they disagree and then they get booted off an aircraft in a public place that they paid money to use as a service (money for services rendered that whole capitalism thing? you know another mainstate of our Great Land?)...

I don't think there is enough security at airports, I had an open bottle of irish whiskey when I cam back from canada right inside my bag and they didnt even look at me twice- That coulda been a bomb!!! Forget it - lets not even waste time and just have them all move to another country where they can smoke their weed and listen to their rock and roll music and have sex all the time and just wish they could come back to America. Your absolutely right about the ID's too. I mean, we need all of this security what with all these nations that have existed for centuries longer than our's being simply jealous of us and frankly twisted and pagan. We can't stop these non-american speaking weirdos getting on our planes and crashing into our big giant buildings! I got a kid with bad teeth and a college fund not to mention a white Ford F-150 to take care of. My beautiful truck, the cabin space of an SUV but the power and the flatbead space of a fullsized 4×4 off-road vehicle, I tell you if I have my way it will never see a hill or even dirt cuz Im gonna park it in my climate controlled, air-conditioned 2 car garage in the tract-housing, gated community where I live, wrapped in an American flag Ford F-150 car cover made from the sweat of 30 Chinese children at the rate of .05 American dollars a day and purchased for a mere $50 bucks (plus tax of course) at my local Wal-Mart (I like to call it my home away from home- you can find EVERYTHING there - well anything a tasteful person could ever want) and I will have all of these things because our fore-fathers fought for them and continue to fight against these invading foreigners and "alternative lifestyles" and these bizarro zealots who start wars in there own countries! DUH! Start a war in someone else's country so you don't have to refinish the deck in two years... give me a break. Our national security was created to make sure that people like him couldnt leave American soil... wait, national security in airports was made so that people who disagreed with the governent couldnt travel... wait, airport security is good cause I will not have my baby blown up by a bunch of weird language speaking freaks from other countries who don't dress like me!

Now don't you worry, I have a plan for those licenses not being very trustworthy either - what we need to do is get everyone together and have them get one of these chips, they're satellite trackable and information can be scanned into them or out of them at the speed of light! No more of them Jihad crazy's busting down my front door with their ak-47's and their Weapons Of Mass Destruction hidden in the sand dunes of my favorite golf-course The US of A will pick them off in transit like a video-game my little Johny would play (he's real good at them too - he likes the one that the Army put out that splats blood everytime you get one of those middle-easterners right between the eyes - Hes only 8 years old and hes waaay better then me!!)

I don't pay my taxes so that some hippy can wear whatever he wants - he shoulda been arrested, no one has still bothered to ask if he DOES have any terrorist affiliations - just like those communist red bastard actors and actresses in that Sodom they call Hollywood out their in California.

With these markers (either implanted in the forehead or in the back of the right hand) we outta be able to keep our eyes on all these jokers - or idiots as you like to call them. Whose rights do they think they are fighting for anyway!?!?! I mean with our US population being equivalent to the population increase of a 3rd world country there is a very good chance that the government might just have to start telling all these hippies that they can't be procreating and taking up room where are good (excuse the terms - white, middle-class, well lower middle-class, well - my wife and I, we get by but it is hard on a 7 digit income - Im sure you all know that though....) genes need room to flourish!!

And I wouldnt worry about all those websites "delinking" to you - They don't matter - I tell ya, if I had my way there would be a way to burn webpages just like books!!!

Norman Mailer on the subject of the Nation after Desert Storm 2:
"The dire prospect that opens, therefore, is that America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more and more importance in Americans' lives. It will be an ever greater and greater overlay on the American system. And before it is all over, democracy, noble and delicate as it is, may give way. My long experience with human nature - I'm 80 years old now - suggests that it is possible that fascism, not democracy, is the natural state.
Indeed, democracy is the special condition - a condition we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America already."

(That last part of that quote should be read by the creator of this site over again just to make sure they understand)

..."the combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America already."

My point, which I should have expanded on, was this:

He knew he would stir up shit by wearing that button on the plane. That's what makes him an ass. His little "Oh, look at me, I'm a rebel!" act is tiresome.


it "stirs up shit" to have an opinion that differs from yours or your pilot's?

Who is the "stir-er" of the shit when dude won't fly the plane till dude takes off his button? A BUTTON!!!!

wait let me re-phrase that, ITS A BUTTON!!!!

Sounds to me like Mr.Flyboy has a bad case of the self-righteous indignance to me - sounds to me like that button is the catalyst playing on a very important lesson in all of this:

There is something very marketable and functional about fear. Say you live in an economically failing nation, or maybe that same nation originally trained and funded guerillas in foreign countries offering training and weapons to the same people who are now terrorizing them, maybe a little boost in nationalistic fervor is just what the doctor ordered for a country becoming very disallusioned with their government and apathetic about its belief systems. What better answer then to start a war that divides the nation itself? Hell it worked for Germany in the 1930's why not use that same tactic here!

Whipping you into a blind nationalism so that you will allow yourself to be talked into, herded into, stampeded into whatever best suits Their (thats right, THEM the big THEM the people that dont care about your religion or your morals or your dreams or anything but their own pocketbooks, THEM, their) designs, and as long as they wrap it in red, white and blue colors (or better yet if they just happen to pick this week's scapegoat out of your list of personal enemies) then you'll follow them around like a puppy (maybe even to your own death?) so well trained that even a button will set you off. Thats brilliant. Now you sound like the same religious zealots used by the fatcats of these (other) "terrorist nations" -

Next thing you know you'll be hosting the "2 minutes hate"

Required Reading: 1984 George Orwell

I agree with John's position on this. I will readily admit that I would hate to be inconvenienced by an incident like this. I will also admit that I would never have the guts to try something like this...

...but, it's people like me who get pissed at the inconvenience of the plane being turned around, instead of getting more pissed that a public transportation carrier (operating under public regulation) is trying to dictate what a person can or cannot wear... it's people like me, who have let this country get so far away from the true freedom of live and let live that I believe our founding fathers intended.

Now, on the other hand, if this guy had been wearing a t-shirt with the source code to DeCSS, I can see why he should be kicked off the flight! :)

If this were a PRIVATE airline (as if such a thing were legal anymore), I would have no problem with them kicking him off...

Oh... and, Michele, I agree that he was being an ass. But he should have the right to be an ass. He didn't ask them to turn the plane around and delay all the other passengers.

I definitely want to have the right to be the ass that I am...

Um -- I'm sorry, I'm a bit confused here, but are airlines really "public" transportation? I know they have federal regulations and all, but I was under the impression that the airlines were owned by companies, not by federal or state governments.

Then again, this could be a gray area.

As for the guy's right to free speech... Yeah, the button was stupid, and the airline probably overreacted -- which I am sure was what he wanted them to do. Certainly a real terrorist wouldn't advertize himself. (Or would he? Quite frankly I don't think that terrorists are into that kind of subtle irony stuff, being as they tend to focus on their hatred of their perceived enemies and the need to blow people up.) ANYway... Sure this guy had a perfect right to be an asshole. But -- he had to know that he would get some sort of reaction; it wasn't like he was simply reading a book in the airport lounge (like the guy who got in trouble not long after September 11th, I forget what the book was, but it had some sort of terrorist reference). People tend to wear buttons to make a statement, and to provoke a reaction. I don't see that this fellow shouldn't at least be called on the carpet for treating his fellow passengers and the crew of the plain like a captive audience for his "important" statement.

I mean, of course, the crew of the plane.

What people keep forgetting...

The First Amendment protects your freedom of speech from the government, not within the private sector. We do have laws that protect your speech so that you won't lose your job or get beaten for it.

The captain of the flight asked him nicely to remove the button. He refused, then he was ordered to remove it. When he refused to follow the orders of the captain of the plane (something which is VERY clear in aviation law), he got booted. The captain of a passenger airplane has a large amount of power when it comes to who gets on and off of a plane. Was he a threat? No. But he was (IMHO) a possible unruly passenger who could have caused a problem on an International flight. And if he decides to pick a fight with someone at FL360, then the captain has to divert, land, go through the regular crap and move on from there.

This guy is a 100% ass. He's trying to draw attention to himself like the class clown did in third grade. Apparently, he never left...

According to FAA regulations, ( FAR 91.3, if we want to get technical) the pilot in command is responsible for determining if the plane is airworthy. The pilot is also responsible for determining if the passengers are airworthy. If the pilot suspects that any passenger, for any reason (being very drunk, high, or being dangerously stupid) will endanger the lives of the other passengers, he doesn't have to let that person on the plane.

The pilot takes full responsibility for condition of the plane and the lives of the passengers. He gets to make the rules. If anyone has a problem with this, they should talk to the FAA.

I'm not up on British free-speech laws, but since it was a British Airways flight, you'd have to follow them, right, being it is a British-owned corp?

And I agree that the guy was an ass for wearing the button in the first place. Just because none of the other passengers had noticed it before the attendant did does not mean that they wouldn't have before the flight was over. It's a 10-hour flight--nobody stays in their seat that long! Who knows who could have been on that flight...maybe someone whose English is not so good and misinterprets the statement, or a kid who knows that the word 'terrorist' is associated with horrible things and gets really scared.

And someone's personal right to be an ass stops with another person's right to have a safe, asshole-free flight.

Mmmm, all of this makes me want to buy a ticket to "Bad Boys II," walk into the theatre, and shout "FIRE!"

It would be ORWELLIAN to do any less!

An airline is a common carrier. As far as I know (don't have time to look this stuff up right now), a common carrier can refuse service to someone as long as it could refuse service to anyone exhibiting that behavior. For example, it could not kick someone off for being black. However, it could kick someone off for refusing to put a shirt on.

And BA is partially government owned. But the Brits don't have a First Amendment. Their free speech law is quite different.

Whether anyone complained to the captain or not, interfering with flight crew by not obeying their requests is a federal crime.

I don't know what rules the UK uses, but in the US it is a crime to even make jokes about hijacking, bombs, etc. at the airport or on an airplane. How is his "Suspected Terrorist" button any different than that?

He's probably fortunate it was a British airplane -- on a post-Flight 93 US airliner, he would have potentially been taking his life in his hands.

I know its illegal Troy and that is the sad sad truth of a government, a people and a thought process that takes itself waaay to serious.

And Jeff, Mary - we are not arguing the rights or better yet POWERS of the flight crew and captain but simply enough the button referred to the backlash by the American Governent after the bombing of the Twin Towers this is not only a debate ongoing (ongoing including on this very website -and others - ) regarding the statement made on a button. The pilot never suspected the guy of being a REAL terrorist, the pilot simply didn't liuke what the guy's button hads to say regarding the aforementioned topic that spans all aspects of our society whether they be religious, political, moral, spiritual, whatever...

The issue is not the situation but why the situation occurred - remeber the Father of our President currently dealing with this issue was the director of the CIA during the time that the people accused of causing the Twin Towers to collapse were being trained and funded by the CIA to become the type of people who could commit such crimes. Same Father of the Governor of the state that almost caused a recount on this last Presidency in Florida. Something everyone has decided is either not a pertinent issue or have conveniently forgotten about.

a short memory or double-think ?

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