02 January 2009
Idiots of the Week
The first award of the new year goes to unidentified passengers on an AirTran flight whose agitation led to a group of nine "suspicious" American-born Muslims being booted off their flight -- the suspicious ones including women and children. They apparently aroused suspicion by sharing everybody else's concern about airline safety, asking aloud where the safest places to sit were on jet planes. A domino effect of idiocy ensued, engulfing the air marshals, the pilot and the airline itself, which refuses to acknowledge inappropriate action. Of all people, credit is due the FBI for arranging to get those poor families on another plane. It's all well and good to talk up a "take no chances" policy in a post-"9/11" world, but cases like this one beg the question. Must we define "taking a chance" according to the lowest common denominator of ignorance and prejudice? Must irrational fears be acknowledged so that everyone feels safe? Since some people never feel safe, for reasons rational or not, catering to fear sends us on a slippery slope, and some folks have already slipped.