So by now you all have seen the United video and formed your opinions about it, what happened, what should have happened, who was right, who was wrong and this isn't a piece to make you change your mind.
But I have some questions...
As I have watched the reactions on my feed I've seen something happen over and over that doesn't seem compatible to me. It's an ideology thing. Now, I'm not saying this is everyone, I want to be clear about that, but it has been enough that it stood out to me. And I'm talking about the people who feel passionately enough about this to post about it. If you are a sideliner on this one I am obviously not talking about you, okay? So unbunch your knickers and move along. Now on to my questions...
There are the law and order people, the ones that say he should have just done what he was told and it's his fault it escalated and what did he expect was going to happen and he should have read the fine print and then there are the no fucking way was this okay how in the world is getting bashed up and drug off of a flight that he paid for, that he was allowed to board, that he had every reason to believe he was flying on that day okay?
Which is normal. There are always the divides. But the thing that I found puzzling was the people on either side of this divide tend to hold opposing views on another issue and they aren't really compatible in my head.
The law and order just do what you're told people tend to be the government can take my guns out of my cold dead hands people, while the fight authority people tend to be the you don't need a damn gun people.
And this puzzles me. Because if you are a firm believer in just do what you are told when law enforcement tells you to do it then if they come to your door and demand your guns shouldn't you just turn them over? I mean, they are telling you what to do right? If you believe that people just need to do what they are told and everything will work out then you cannot also believe that you won't turn over your guns when you are told to do it, right?
And if you believe that you shouldn't do what people in authority tell you to do but you have no way to defend yourself if they are knocking on your door what prevents them from just rolling over you?
They seem incompatible to me.
I also have other questions...
One of the first things that happened after the video was released was a dig in to the man's past to try to justify it after the fact. We're used to seeing this when an unarmed man is shot by the police for what seems like a minor infraction. Oh no! people tell us...He was a REALLY bad guy and this is why he was shot. Okay...but they didn't know that at the time. So now they use the tactic with this guy. Dig up some dirt. Get it out there, he wasn't a good guy. But the people dragging him up the aisle after knocking out his teeth (He fell down was the official Chicago Police Department release) didn't know that. You didn't know that. But some how what he has done in his past is justification for actions taken against him. Or at least a way of making him seem like a bad guy. And one of the stories I read said that the dirt they dug up wasn't him, it was someone who shares his name, so now is it not justified again? Or does it not matter because THEY HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING ANY OF THAT. I get it, if you are a just do what you are told person you think bad behavior means he's always bad. But...what would they dig up on you if something happened to you?
I thought about this last year when a few of my friends posted the picture the news would use if they were shot by police. Not the picture of them working with their kid's soccer team, or leading the praise service at church, or the one holding their newborn in the hospital, but the picture of them where they were standing in the shade but staring in to the sun so their eyes were squinted up and they looked bigger than they are and meaner and well, honestly, blacker. That would be the picture that was used. Scary black man shot by police. And then the next step would be what would they dig up about your past to justify what happened?
We all have things that we aren't proud of. That we are ashamed of. And if those things are public record somewhere? What would it be? Your DUII conviction? Your shoplifting record? That time you got fired from a what ever job it was you got fired from? Your next door neighbor telling the media how you were always violent? You know the one that let her dog shit under your porch until you told her you would be bagging and depositing said shit on her porch if she kept doing it? For me? Easy. They would pull up blogs. I've written things that would, in the right or wrong context, paint me in whatever light you wanted to paint me. Hell, they could pull lines out of my fiction pieces and show that I wrote openly about murder!
United has realized that the normal vilification and justification route did not work as well as they had hoped it would and is now in the pay off zone. They have a billion reasons to try and make this go away. But they took some giant missteps at the beginning and so it's much harder to do. One of the biggest was they missed the mood of the country. The one where most of us know that the TSA screens are security theater, but we still have to do them. The one where we have to get a background check and pay a fee to just keep our damn shoes on. The one where we are hit with stories about enhanced pat downs being allowed. The one where we are crammed in to smaller spaces with fewer basic amenities. The one where we are tired of paying A LOT of money to be treated like an inconvenience. The mood shifted and they didn't pay attention. Which is our fault too. I mean, we've put up with all of it because there weren't other choices. You have to get places. You have two or three options. None of them are any better. Every airline is cutting and squeezing. Every airport has security theater. We are all trained to just follow along.
To just get off the plane when we are told.
Until someone doesn't. And we see him "fall down" and we see the stories about his sordid past come out. And we wonder, what would I have done? What would they have said about me?
(For the record, I would have gotten off the plane. I would have pitched a fit at customer service. I would have not gotten my way. I would have been sloughed off to the land of disgruntled passengers. United would have been relegated to the area where Delta sits in the "not unless I have no other options" airline choices. And we wouldn't have had the moment where people are all discussing what is too much? When is it too far? And United wouldn't be changing their policy. So I am glad he didn't do what I would have done. He made a difference. And he gave me more questions to ask about myself.)