The recent news of another dispute, over what can or cannot be worn while flying on Southwest Airlines, has sparked debate on the Internet. Who was right: the customers or Southwest Airlines? Does Southwest Airlines or Jet Blue have the right to tell its customers what they can or cannot wear when they fly on their planes? Do the customers have a constitutional right to wear whatever meets their standards?
First, five recent stories:
1-From CNN,Oct. 5:
Southwest Airlines said it will apologize to a passenger who was told he would be removed from a flight if he didn't change clothes, the second time in recent months the budget carrier has been forced to do so.
Joe Winiecki, of Largo, Florida, boarded a Southwest flight in Columbus, Ohio, wearing a fictional fishing shop T-shirt which featured the words, "Master Baiter.
2-From USA Today, Sept. 13:
A second young woman has come forward to claim that Southwest Airlines employees made her cover up on a recent flight.
Setara Qassim told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles that a flight attendant confronted her during the trip from Tucson, to Burbank, Calif., and asked if she had a sweater to go over her green halter-style dress.
Qassim, 21, said she was forced to wrap a blanket around herself for the rest of the flight. She complained that if Southwest wants passengers to dress a certain way, it should publish a dress code.
3-From Today, MSNBC, Sept. 11:
It doesn’t take much to get thrown off an airplane these days, as Kyla Ebbert found out when a Southwest Airlines employee told her she was too bare for the air. Two months later, she’s still trying to figure out what was wrong with her outfit.
In an exclusive appearance Friday on TODAY, Ebbert modeled the outfit she says she wore on the flight in question. It consisted of a snug-fitting white top with a scoop neck that stopped just short of showing cleavage.
Southwest Airlines kicked a woman off one of its flights over a political message on her T-shirt, the airline confirmed Thursday, and published reports say the passenger will sue.
Lorrie Heasley, of Woodland, Wash., was asked to leave her flight from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore., Tuesday for wearing a T-shirt with pictures of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a phrase similar to the popular film title "Meet the Fockers."
5-From Blue BayouOkay, that's the stories, now the prosecution (the airlines) and the defense (the customers).
That the tale of a man barred from a JetBlue flight because he was wearing a t-shirt with Arabic script on it (until he changed into a shirt provided by the airline) is unfortunate, but not surprising.
Raed Jarrar had already cleared security last Aug. 12 when a Transportation Security Administration officer told him his shirt - which read, "We Will Not Be Silent" in Arabic and English - made fellow passengers uncomfortable.
For the customers:
All the above passengers, with defenses that included the 1st Amendment and the above-mentioned Joe Wieniecki's "Who's to say what's offensive? (Southwest Airlines, apparently.)
Jarrar was more vocal. "I asked them very directly to let me go to the airplane, because it's my constitutional right as a U.S. taxpayer and resident to wear a T-shirt with Arabic script," Jarrar told the radio show "Democracy Now" after the incident.
Also, Blue Bayou:For the airline:
Note to officials: it is better to be silent and risk being thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.
The idea that Arabic script makes you appear to be a terrorist makes sense only if you assume that all Arabic-speaking people, include American architects, are terrorists. And if you assume that terrorists are really, really stupid and will wear clothing that draws attention to themselves while engaging in their missions of destruction.
From Jacob G. Hornberger at Future of Freedom Foundation and Lew Rockwell.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Bill of Rights does not operate as a control over private actions. Instead, its restrictions are limited to conduct by officials of the federal government. Read the First Amendment carefully. You’ll notice that it expressly prohibits Congress, not private individuals and corporations, from depriving people of such fundamental rights as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
GU Wonder at Flyer Talk:The winner? The airline, of course. There is no "constitutional right" to fly on someone else's privately owned airplane. It's easy to see how passengers could be fooled into thinking they had this "right". Americans are bombarded daily by the Mainstream Media, trial lawyers and the Democrat Party about their various "rights": the "right" to health care, the "right" to a certain wage, the "right" to do--well, just about anything the Left can name, as long as someone else is paying for it.
Flying is no more a privilege than walking is. Movement is instrumental to freedom; whether that movement be by land, air or water does not alter the fundamental right of free persons to move through the public space in one's own country, through all those countries willing to permit it, or through international space (including international waters, airspace, etc.). The means of doing so or not doing so is another matter. That is, growing wings (or not) neither enhances nor diminishes the fundamental right to movement through public spaces.
Southwest Airlines is running a business and has to take all it's customers into account, not just the vulgar, outspoken few. And if the customers don't like it, they can fly U.S. Air.
And that would be their legitimate right.
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