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United Airlines found that they had oversold a flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Louisville, Kentucky, on April 9, 2017, so they went through the usual series of incentive offerings, in hopes of enticing 4 passengers to voluntarily re-book a later flight, thus freeing up some seats for United Airlines employees who were needed in Louisville. The incentives started out as $400 vouchers, then $800, then the pot was sweetened to $1000, at which point they got a couple of takers, but they still needed two more seats. One man, who had been selected by the airline, grudgingly agreed to leave. That left only one stalwart, Dr. David Dao, who had been “selected” by the airline for removal. Dr. Dao insisted that he would not give up his seat because he had to be in Louisville the next morning to treat some patients.
After determining that Dr. Dao would not leave voluntarily, airline employees called the Chicago Department of Aviation police, and they proceeded to drag the good doctor down the aisle and off the plane. Dr. Dao hit his mouth on an armrest at one point, and the image of his bloody face was plastered all over newspapers and the internet for the next couple of days.
Now, legally, the airline was well within the law to remove the passenger, even violently like they did, and further, it has been publicized that Dr. Dao had been in serious trouble more than a decade ago, for over-prescribing painkillers, and had lost his license to practice medicine for a while, (he has since been reinstated and is in good standing), but that really has nothing to do with his treatment on that certain Sunday evening.
In fact, ever since the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 was passed, the airlines have had nearly absolute power to declare anyone a “threat to air safety” and forcibly restrain and/or remove anyone from an airplane that they decide to, and even go so far as to have them charged with a federal crime, if they so choose. Policies put into effect after 9/11 have also given the airlines almost complete immunity to do whatsoever they see fit, to passengers, in the name of “air safety”.
This is another example of Americans allowing the police state to burgeon at the expense of their civil liberties. Now, it is true that nobody is forced to fly commercial airlines, nor are they forced to drive our heavily over-regulated highways, but really, how can you travel otherwise, if you must?
You can’t ride a bicycle on the interstate, you can’t walk on the interstate. Theoretically, you can walk along a U.S. highway, but in practice, you are subjecting yourself to danger from fast-moving vehicles speeding by you, mere inches away, not to mention the very likely harassment from local law-enforcement officials that you are almost sure to encounter. We just weathered several years of police violence against citizens walking along the streets doing very little, if nothing out of the ordinary, seemingly singled out for no reason other than their ethnicity.
At what point does enough become enough? Have we reached the point in our society that this is okay? Normal? Acceptable? Are we already in the world that George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) wrote about in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, where the state watches your every move and monitors your every word, (think: Facebook), waiting to catch you in the act of thoughtcrime? What can we do to stem the tide of the erosion of our freedoms?
In the case of United Airlines, the most effective form of protest is to not book flights on their planes, if at all possible. Do not “fly the friendly skies.” They hurt every American when they mistreated Dr. Dao. They hurt all of our freedom when they invoked the power of the police state to force their will on an American citizen. This aggression will not stand, if our citizenship is to have any meaning or worth. They need to feel our indignation in a tangible, pecuniary way. They need to see that WE are united, as Americans, in our outrage.