07 January 2009

A Victory for Common Sense?

A victory for common sense is a rare thing in these days of heightened terror and loathing of all things. However, when one does come along it is worth writing about and discussing. Raed Jarrar has just one a sizable payout from two US transportation officials and JetBlue Airways for being forced to cover-up a T-shirt that had Arabic script printed on it. The case stems from a 2006 flight on JetBlue airways from JFK Airport in New York to Oakland in California.

The Arabic script on the offending T-Shirt said something along the lines of "we will not be silent". I am guessing that the majority of people flying on that day and on that flight probably could not read Arabic and had no idea what the t-shirt said. Nevertheless, in their infinite wisdom the transportation officials and the airline required Jarrar to cover up his t-shirt before allowing him to fly.

Presumably, the necessity to cover up the writing was so as not to scare other passengers. The stupidity here was that the officials and JetBlue suggested to Jarrar that wearing a t-shirt with an Arabic script was like "wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, 'I am a robber'". Stupid is as stupid does! I wonder if the t-shirt had been in French or Russian or Cambodian or Vietnamese or even Indonesian would there have been a need to cover it up? My guess is, No.

Adding insult to injury Jarrar was moved from a seat at the front of the plane to a seat at the back. I guess out of sight out of mind.

It seems that people never learn the error of their ways. This kind of profiling continues through to 2009. On 1 January 2009 a family of Muslims was removed from a flight as a security threat because 2 members of a party of 9 were discussing how safe it was to be seated next to the engines. This caught the interest of other passengers who reported the discussion and the whole family was removed from the AirTran flight. Eventually, they were cleared of any wrongdoing but were still not allowed to board the flight and were not permitted to fly with the airline. For more details check out Spruiked: Djak Style and here.

Stupid is as stupid does.


pj said...

Hi Rob

Funny you should post about this...I was just reading about it here http://www.sandmonkey.org/2006/08/31/on-raeds-airport-incident/ There was quite a spirited discussion between being provocative and freedom of speech. Pesonally I think he should have been allowed to wear whatevever he wanted to but I find it more than a little ironic that raed jarrar is collecting on a civil liberties case.

Only in America

Thanks for the link btw

Rob Baiton said...


I think I saw that you posted a sandmonkey link over at Rima's so I have been there before, but I will check out the discussion on this one.

It was undoubtedly a provocative choice of tee, but isn't that partly what free speech is about?

Ironic? Perhaps.

You're welcome on the link front!

Brett said...

I vaguely remember a guy being refused boarding a Qantas flight because he was wearing that BUSH = TERRORIST tshirt...

Thanks for the link ;-)

Rob Baiton said...


You're welcome on the link front.

I wonder if he would have been prevented from boarding if he was wearing the shirt that has emblazoned on the front "Bush is just another name for a c......" argh doesn't matter :D

Enjoy the weekend.