Saturday, October 08, 2005

No, This Is NOT A First Amendment Issue

The first person who tries to use the First Amendment to argue this situation is an idiot. The First Amendment applies to government, not to private corporations.

From the major Sacramento newspaper:

In a case that has grabbed headlines and hit the blogosphere on Thursday, Southwest Airlines earlier this week booted a Washington woman off a flight in Reno after she refused to cover up a T-shirt some considered to be in poor taste.

The cotton T in question played off the comedy film "Meet the Fockers," and featured black-and-white pictures of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice alongside the movie's title - with a strategically misplaced vowel....

Beth Harbin, a spokeswoman for the airline, said Thursday that it was not a case of stifling criticism of the president.

"It could've been a (T-shirt) of Michael Jackson - it doesn't matter," she said. It simply was, she said, that the language is not "appropriate for Southwest Airlines...."

Southwest calls it a "contract of carriage," and Page 10 of the document reads: "Carrier may refuse to transport" passengers whose "clothing is lewd, obscene or patently offensive."

Good for Southwest. I'm tired of encountering foul language in public.

Let's get something straight here, though. I've used foul language in my time. In the army (late 80's, perhaps it's changed now), if we didn't drop a few f-bombs, mention some fecal matter, or discuss sexual organs at least once a sentence, no one heard what we said. But that was within the confines of the army. Out in public we watched what we said, not wanting to offend "the locals" and make a bad name for the military. I still use foul language on the rarest of occasions, but certainly not where anyone but the intended recipient can hear.

So again, good for Southwest!


Wulf said...

My students jumped on this story the other day. They used to as an intro to complaints about the school dress code and dance policies. It bothers me that they have such a misunderstanding of the First Amendment and their own rights.

Darren said...

Wulf, you mean they couldn't see that it's not just the school system that tries to enforce some social graces within its sphere of influence? That's the lesson I'd take from it.

Oh, and Save Ferris.

ziz said...

See the Home Page for how she may have handled it .... better ?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I kinda remember someone who might be reading this "hint, hint" who wrote a satire that he might have regretted and offended some people. The fact is she didn't actually have a word that is on any list that I've ever seen as something offensive, and is actually the title of a movie. I believe it's their right to keep her off the plane, but I think maybe caring more about security or something that actually means something would be more productive, and if your arguing that people hear too many bad words, go watch tv where you hear "b***h" and "q***r".

Darren said...

Assuming you're referring to me, Ronnie, what I wrote didn't have any foul words in it. From what I read, there was a different vowel used on this woman's shirt than there was in the movie title--supposedly, it wasn't an "o" after the "f".

Additionally, there are so many differences between her situation and mine that they're almost not comparable. I would list the differences, but that might violate the gag order I agreed to when negotiating a settlement.

And I don't regret it.