Man kicked off flight due to lapel button


July 20, 2003, 07:15 PM

This is an account of a guy who was recently booted off of a flight for wearing a lapel button that said, "Suspected Terrorist". While we've seen that possessing some books can get you ejected from a flight (the story of Hayduke Lives!:, it looks like two printed words are enough now.

So, are we supposed to start leaving the gun rags at home too? :mad:

Excerpts from the story:

My sweetheart Annie and I tried to fly to London today (Friday) on British Airways. We started at SFO, showed our passports and got through all the rigamarole, and were seated on the plane while it taxied out toward takeoff. Suddenly a flight steward, Cabin Service Director Khaleel Miyan, loomed in front of me and demanded that I remove a small 1" button pinned to my left lapel. I declined, saying that it was a political statement and that he had no right to censor passengers' political speech. The button, which was created by political activist Emi Koyama, says "Suspected Terrorist". Large images of the button and I appear in the cover story of Reason Magazine this month, and the story is entitled "Suspected Terrorist".


The steward returned with Capt. Peter Hughes. The captain requested, and then demanded, that I remove the button (they called it a "badge"). He said that I would endanger the aircraft and commit a federal crime if I did not take it off. I told him that it was a political statement and declined to remove it.


Later, after consulting with (unspecified) security people, Carol said that if we wanted to fly on the second and last flight of the day, we would be required to remove the button and put it into our checked luggage (or give it to her). And also, our hand-carried baggage would have to be searched to make sure that we didn't carry any more of these terrorist buttons onto the flight and put them on, endangering the mental states of the passengers and crew.

... refers to all of us, everyone, being suspected of being terrorists, being searched without cause, being queued in lines and pens, forced to take our shoes off, to identify ourselves, to drink our own breast milk, to submit to indignities. Everyone is a suspected terrorist in today's America, including all the innocent people, and that's wrong. That's what it means.

Whether I agree with this guy (John Gilmore) or not, it's nice to see someone actually willing to put forth the time and expense to stand up for what he believes in, versus meekly knuckling under in the name of convenience.

I'm a big fan of private property rights, and I understand that British Airways owns the aircraft. However, at least in the case of domestic airlines, when we have airlines designated as "common carriers", relying on a publically-funded airport system, propped up by public bailout dollars, and largely administered by public entities (FAA / TSA / insert acronym here), just how "private" should that property be?


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July 20, 2003, 07:31 PM
Hence why I never Fly with British Airways, they like to do things like this over various petty things.:cuss:

July 20, 2003, 08:01 PM
What if it was a tattoo?

July 20, 2003, 08:41 PM
He should have worn a rag tied around his head ... then they would have left him alone.

July 20, 2003, 09:04 PM
Ya just gotta love institutional ignorance and stupidity. I cannot believe how stupid the airlines have gotten since 9-11. I read one article where they confiscated a Glock lapel pin from an old man because it was a "gun" and another where they confiscated the toy M16 from a GI Joe doll that a grandmother was taking back to her grandson in England!!!

The airlines deserve to lose money and go under when they cannot operate with any better sense than some of them currently display.:cuss:

July 20, 2003, 09:19 PM
[Devil's Advocate]
One might argue for the airline that its not required of them that anyone with a political statement, no matter how loud or subtle, be given a soapbox by the company.
[/Devil's Advocate]

If I owned a company that provided a service, I wouldnt care if someone had a bumper sticker on their butt saying "Gay Nazi for Christ", especially if they had already paid me an exhorbatant sum of money for my service.

I want to know where I can get a lapel pin like that. I would buy in bulk and sell on campus.:D

July 20, 2003, 09:21 PM
"Bend over!"

"How far?"

Just keep flying and hand over the cash. :rolleyes:

Standing Wolf
July 20, 2003, 10:19 PM
Fire Mineta!

El Tejon
July 20, 2003, 10:39 PM
The airlines cannot go broke fast enough. Now if the filthy scum in Congress would stop giving those feckless clowns my money, they would go bankrupt faster.

July 21, 2003, 12:09 AM
The airlines, through captains or whomever they give dicision-making authority to, should have the right to kick someone off a plane for any reason they like. It's their airplane; they can determine who may or may not board it.

That said, I hope the slimeballs go out of business posthaste for such egregious stupidity. Sadly, Bush decided to give them piles of our money to prevent that from happening.

Mike Irwin
July 21, 2003, 12:54 AM
Brought to you by the same people who wanted to confiscate Gen. Joe Foss' Medal of Honor.

Malone LaVeigh
July 21, 2003, 01:17 AM
Fire Mineta!...and his boss...

4v50 Gary
July 21, 2003, 02:04 AM
Betcha the Supremes wouldn't say the button is illegal. Neither incites nor presents a clear and present danger to public safety. What's he going to do, start a "sing-a-long" of '60s surfer songs on board? Kumbaya! Born Free!

July 21, 2003, 02:24 AM
Sounds like all of you guys would prefer to have government owned and operated air travel. Yeah, thats the solution. its a private company they can kick a person off for whatever reason they choose as far as im concerned. If im running a buisiness and someone is causing a disruption of any kind or making me, my staff or, my customers uncomfortable then its my right to ask them to leave. Private industry works both ways.

July 21, 2003, 02:58 AM
The key words here are "British Airways". A British aircraft is sovereign territory of the country of origin just like a passenger ship is; and the captain of that aircraft is the final arbiter of what occurs on his craft.

Since the craft was British, and the Brits have limited rights compared to our own, that limitation translates to all sovereign craft as well.

If you don't want to be treated like a subject of the Crown, don't fly on the Crown's aircraft.

July 21, 2003, 03:03 AM
its a private company they can kick a person off for whatever reason they choose as far as im concerned.

Private industry works both ways.

private industry that depends on taxpayer guaranteed borrowed funds ain't exactly private.

once the sheep in this country decide they won't fly until they can carry their weapons on board for defense, this nonsense will continue to happen. i for one will never fly for any reason until i can carry on board. if that means i never step foot on a commercial jet, so be it. a private license is pretty much affordable now.

July 21, 2003, 03:06 AM
Anyone know of a non-flight alternative to get between Australia and the United States in say, under a week?

Unfortunately some of us have no alternatives but to fly - and be subjected to all this b/s and inconvenience for the sake of "security".

July 21, 2003, 03:08 AM

July 21, 2003, 03:09 AM
somebody makes a heck of a lot more money than i do.

July 21, 2003, 03:28 AM
All the security I need is my Walther Glock 29 if things are extreme. I won't fly until I can carry onboard. (I miht have to break the rule ot see my family at Christmas though:( )

July 21, 2003, 10:08 AM
I transfered to a different position at my company because of my loathing of flying. My previous job had me traveling on occasion; now I don't have to put up with being unarmed when I travel.

July 21, 2003, 12:10 PM
OK, since I've already identified myself in another thread as a captain at a major national airline, let me jump in here...

I've got lots to agree with here. The airplane is the private property of the corporation. Many bars, restaurants, etc. have dress and behavior codes. As I see it, access to the airplane isn't much different. Behave in a way that doesn't upset the other patrons, and you'll be welcome all day. Step out of line, and you'll be asked to leave.

The money the government is sending to the airlines is troublesome. Some companies are just barely treading water with a business model that is out-dated. IMO, they're using the money from the government, in the guise of refunding losses related to national security, to keep themselves afloat. A "fair" solution would include the need for some companies to dissolve. But that would force politicians to decide that workers in their communities would lose their jobs--which, of course, they are never going to support. The airlines' basic problem with the government is that we're neither regulated nor unregulated...we're semi-regulated. Which means that nearly everything the FAA/TSA/DOT does both helps and hurts us.

If it were up to me, the TSA and all the foolishness about screening would go away tomorrow. The vast majority of Americans are good people, and if we got rid of all the nanny-state approaches to our lives, we'd all be much better off. Relating this to airport security, IMO, if a citizen can legally carry a weapon (i.e. not a felon), he ought to be able to, as long as he recognizes and accepts the consequences for his actions with that weapon. However, realistically, this isn't going to happen, as much as most of us here want it to. The best you're going to see is an armed pilot. The passengers are going to have to trust the pilot with his gun, in the same way they trust him with the controls of the plane. For the best information on armed pilots see The information from the TSA and the largest pilots union, ALPA, is so corrupted with their own political agendas as to be worthless.

July 21, 2003, 01:21 PM
I'm another airline pilot and agree with AZlibertarian. The problem with the payments to airlines is the same as payments to farmers. Both are semi regulated, and are paying for the mistakes of government regulators. When Washington bans the same of farm commodities to (previously) established customers, the cost must be mitigated or pretty soon we won't have an agricultural industry (or food) in this country. It's the same with the airlines. The ridiculous harassment we go through to get on an airplane has soured anyone who flies regularly, and those people have been the backbone of the airline industry. Many of them have found alternatives to flying, costing the airlines billions. The airlines have little or no control over the policies of TSA, most of which are fluff with little substance anyway.

Having said that, some of the airlines used and are using 9/11 as an excuse for the effects of abysmal management going back years. The money made by these airlines in the boom years was in spite of, not because of, the leadership of their management. Now that the boom is over, they're paying the price.

Allowing the airline industry to collapse, as some seem to advocate, would devastate the economy and the lives of millions of US citizens. It's going to be a tough balancing act, and I'm not sure our leadership in Washington is up for it, since they have little time for anything but sniping at each other or defending against the sniping.

July 21, 2003, 02:24 PM
Pissing off your customers is not a particularly good way to run a business ...

July 21, 2003, 03:13 PM
Many bars, restaurants, etc. have dress and behavior codes. As I see it, access to the airplane isn't much different. Behave in a way that doesn't upset the other patrons, and you'll be welcome all day.
reflect on other incidents involving airline passengers. a nursing mother forced to prove her bottled milk was truly bottled breast milk.
a WWII Veteran told his Medal of Honor was a potential 'weapon' and he would have to throw it away in order to board the plane.
a child told his toy plastic rifle that came with his gi joe figure was 'verboten' because it 'resembled a weapon'.
inert rounds on keychains refused because they 'looked like real ammo'.

doesnt this call to mind the "assault weapon" ban of '94, in which weapons were judged solely on outward appearance? who is really scared of how things look? rational sane people? how much more do we have to bend backwards in order to accomodate those who are frightened by mere objects?

July 21, 2003, 03:29 PM
i don't agree that the airlines are so vital that we have to keep funding them. if they can't run profitably, the close up shop, we'll figure out another way.

there is no industry so vital to the economy that the government is expected to pick up the tab for gross mismangement. if enough people refused to fly until they could protect themselves, this would be decided in a week.

July 21, 2003, 03:54 PM
...reflect on other incidents involving airline passengers. a nursing mother forced to prove her bottled milk was truly bottled breast milk....

Not to pick on you, Spaceman, because others have made similar complaints, however many of the complaints airline passengers have about security procedures are more correctly directed at the TSA and not the airline involved. Anything done at the security screening checkpoint has nothing at all to do with the airline you're travelling on. Believe me, the airlines would like the TSA to at least be professional and somewhat smart about the screening that's been mandated. It does nothing except p*ss off our passengers before we get to them. In a service industry, happy passengers are one of the keys to longevity.

Imagine yourself as a business owner in a town where there has been a high crime rate...let's say LA after the Rodney King riots. The cops are out in force but it seems that they pull over every other customer as the customer enters your parking lot. The cop doesn't have to even write a ticket. The city administration probably believes that they have safer streets because of the cops actions. The police chief believes his officers are doing a great job. And you have a customer base that is in a bad mood by the time they walk in your door. How's your business going to do, and are you going to be successful in getting the cops to back off?

This is the dilemma the airline industry faces. Obviously, the airline industry needed some improvements to the security procedures, but at the same time, these procedures are making our passengers unhappy.

July 21, 2003, 05:12 PM
doesnt this call to mind the "assault weapon" ban of '94, in which weapons were judged solely on outward appearance? who is really scared of how things look? rational sane people?

There's hell to pay when you do this to people, right or not. We're now judging objects, however, by their alleged threat level, rather than the person who might wield them. Tell me if this makes any sense. :rolleyes:

July 21, 2003, 05:32 PM
So, PileDriver, you feel that any business that is hamstrung by federal regulations and whose customers are alienated by federal agents is on it's own and if it goes broke, that's just too bad? I'd have to respectfully disagree.

Some airlines ARE totally mismanaged, and deserve no help. Those that are well managed shouldn't be destroyed by government actions. The point is, more people gave up flying because of the hassle of getting through security than from fear. That's not the airline industry's fault. I travel twice a month, and I'm looking forward to retirement just so I can quit biting my tongue over the stupidity of some of the TSA procedures and criteria of search. (Being only a little facetious here:)

July 21, 2003, 06:34 PM
1. I wonder what would happen if one started chanting "baa- baa- ba-aa-aah" at an airline security checkpoint?

2. I wonder if the other people in the queue would have the gumption to join in and chant, too?

July 21, 2003, 07:49 PM
So, PileDriver, you feel that any business that is hamstrung by federal regulations and whose customers are alienated by federal agents is on it's own and if it goes broke, that's just too bad? I'd have to respectfully disagree.

yes i do. the airlines were warned way in advance of 9.11 that there was something brewing and ignored it. they didn't do anything to secure themselves or their passengers until the nitwits in government forced them. of course, begging congress for funds opened that door to further regulation and now they whine about it?? ain't gonna fly( no pun intended)

as far as the hysteria about the airlines being so vital, if a few of them were allowed to fail, just think of the opportunities for new charter companies, private licenses, etc.

when one door closes, another opens. there is no business that vital that borrowed funds on our childrens' backs have to be used to prop them up.

July 22, 2003, 09:58 AM
Private licenses? Charter companies? Sorry, a private license is useless except for private transportation, kinda like a driver's license. Chartering is too expensive for the average person, unless a package deal is made, and that eliminates travelling when you want to. I started out when deregulation happened, and while you are correct about some opportunity for new companies, of the hundreds that have tried over the last 30+ years, only a handful of companies have survived. This was in an era of lots of fairly cheap aircraft, which we don't have now.

I'm not sure what you think the airlines could have done to prevent 9/11, but I can tell you that any physical modifications of the aircraft (door for example) cannot be done without FAA approval. This involves submitting engineering to the aircraft manufacturer, who studies it. They then submit it and their findings to the FAA, who studies it. (By the way, it's hard to get the FAA to act unless it feels the need; need comes after a disaster, not before, to them) All the studies take months, sometimes years. Finally, after all the studying, if an approval is issued, somebody has to tool up and do the mod. That's the way it's done, and that's one of the reasons I say governmental regulation and mismanagement is one of the major reasons for airline failure

The airline industry, bad as it is sometimes, is still the best way to travel over long distances.

Anyway, this is getting off topic, so the last word is yours

Alan Smithiee
July 22, 2003, 07:41 PM
changes to the cockpit doors was proposed over 20 years ago during all the hijackings in ths 70's. some how I have trouble seeing even the Federal Burocrats at FAA takeing almost 30 years to approve a door change

July 23, 2003, 12:45 AM
Does it surprise anyone that this stupidity is going on. Hell, the baggage handlers reularly rip people off. What is to stop one of them from placing something in the baggage. The funniest thing is pilots needing psychological screening before carrying a firearm. Hell, screen him before he takes the controls of a plane with several hundred people! SIGH!!!
It gets curiouser and curiouser!

July 23, 2003, 01:08 AM
Maybe they thought the pin would be used to poke somebody's eye out. :confused: Did anybody see that Saturday Night Live episode (many years ago) when John Belushi hijacked an airplane with a piece of paper, threatening to give people paper cuts if his demands were not met?

July 23, 2003, 05:39 PM
Paper cuts. Great, now some FAA and Homeland Defenseless personell are going to read this and ban paper:scrutiny: . Good going...:rolleyes:


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