All Aboard the Righteous Indignation Train! Wooo-woooo!

This post will not likely engender much agreement.  But, then again, it’s not why I write.  My goal has never been to create an “echo chamber” or to “preach to the choir.”
(Edit to add:  A couple of folks have unsubscribed since this article, already!  😆  That means I’m doing it right!  😉

To be, or not to be… significant.

The recent incident on a United Airlines flight has been the next in a litany of social media firestorms.

On the pyramid that represents Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, just above Basic Needs are “Belongingness” and “Esteem.”  Those needs could be summed up as “Significance.”  We all need to feel Significant.  It’s not a character flaw.  It’s a GOOD thing.

We all achieve Significance differently.  And, it’s not just one thing that makes us feel Significant.  It’s often a combination of things.  Some of those things might include:

  • Family – influencing and raising our children, marriage, connections to extended family.
  • Work / Profession – Men, especially, feel they gain Significance through their work.
  • Charity / Volunteerism.
  • Creativity – Art, writing (hmmm?), teaching, public speaking.
  • Activism – Speaking out for a cause you believe in (or think you should believe in).

If I sat and thought for some time, I could come up with more examples.  I’m sure you could add to the list, too!  Feel free in the comment section below.

With the advent of the internet and social media, we ALL have a pedestal and a bullhorn.  Any of us can put our thoughts and opinions out the the entire world.  Any of us can gain Significance with a few taps of the keyboard and a click.  In a flash, we can become “activists.”  The aphorism about a butterfly beating its wings in Brazil having an effect around the world is all the more true with web-based social media.

When something happens, we all know about it before it hits the evening news on TV.  Certainly we all have our own opinions about what happened, why it happened, and what SHOULD happen next.  Today’s culture seems to be quick to claim “offense.”  We are very quick to judge, because we all “saw the video.”  But, we often do so without ANY basis in facts…. without knowing the ENTIRE context of the incident or situation.  Most of these videos are but a vignette of a much larger unknown scenario.  It seems that our society has adopted the phone camera as “instant justice.”  Arguably, the majority of the time, the knee-jerk conventional wisdom has been WRONG… oh, so wrong.

“I turn on the tube and what do I see. A whole lotta people cryin’ ‘Don’t blame me.’  They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else.” – The Eagles

And, hoo-boy…. The outrage and Righteous Indignation predictably boiled up on social media!  Everyone “saw the video,” but they have NO CLUE about what happened.  Many apparently think that United employees beat up a passenger (They didn’t touch him.)  Many think United “ordered” the police to drag this guy out of the plane (The police do not follow the “orders” of citizens not involved in law enforcement).  Many believe that passengers have a “Right” to their seat on the plane… “since they paid for it, and everything” (They don’t).

😆  Sorry… couldn’t resist.

I wrote a similar article about the dentist who shot the lion and the resulting mass outrage displayed on social media:  Hashtag Lions, Dentists, and Flags!  Oh, my!

I submit that United is arguably guilty of poor service.  But, the passenger is guilty of trespassing and resisting arrest.  Some have bristled at my implication.  I was accused of being “over the top.”  Hardly.  It’s simply a matter of fact.  Any owner or representative can ask anyone to leave their private property for ANY reason (or no reason).  This is legal fact.  I can ask you to leave my home or place of business for ANY reason.  And, you must leave.  If you don’t leave, it’s trespassing.  <- Hover over the link or click for definition.  This is law in pretty much every state.

I fought the law, and the law won.  DUH!

So, then the police show up to ask you to leave.  If you refuse or try to debate the point, the police will “help” you leave.  If you FIGHT them, you’re resisting arrest.  And, the dominoes begin to fall due to YOUR decisions.  In this hyper-vigilant atmosphere towards terrorism, doing so at an airport or on an aircraft will get you “extra special attention.”

This is exactly what happened on the United flight.  I’m not defending United’s decision or their protocol.  If you ask me, I think they should have done the “bumping” BEFORE they boarded the flight.  But, they didn’t.  I think it’s reasonable for passengers to assume they’re “good to go,” once they have “ass in seat.”  One would understandably not be happy being asked to leave the aircraft once that person has settled into his or her seat.  But, the law doesn’t care about your happiness.

That all said, the airline did what it did and asked four people to leave.  As the owners of the property, they had the right to do that.  That’s a fact.  Whether you agree with it, or not, is immaterial to the facts at hand.  Three of the four deplaned without incident.  One guy thought he was special and refused.

Once you are asked to leave private property and refuse, it’s trespassing.  You can be fined AND go to jail for it.  Law enforcement was called and responded.  The passenger again refused (bad move).  Then he fought them (really bad move).  In the process of being forcibly removed from the property, he got bloodied up a bit.  Such is the nature of a fight.  It was his choice to fight.  And, then after being removed from the aircraft, he ran BACK (past security) into the plane, a federally-restricted area.

Pick your battles well.

If you are ever asked to leave a property, just do it!  If you feel you’ve been wronged, there are avenues of justice and compensation, either directly with the company that “did you wrong” or through the legal system.  But, in ANY case, you do NOT have a “right” to remain on their property, EVEN if you paid to be there.  Again, if you refuse to leave, it’s trespassing.  You have actually violated the rights of the property owner.  And if the police are nice enough to ASK you to leave, you BETTER leave!  You can go the easy way or the hard way.  Your choice.  It was this man’s choice, too.

Many have expressed their hopes (and projected their own proclivities) that this man will “own the airline” or “sue the pants off them.”  My prediction is that no such thing will happen.  The airline simply asked him to leave.  They didn’t touch him.  The POLICE touched him.  You could suggest that they used unreasonable force.  I may disagree.  I may not.  I wasn’t there.  But, that may be the approach used by his advocates (and lawyers).  I believe they will lose.  We’ll see!  Or… our gnat-like attention spans will be redirected by the next “scandal.”

Edit to add:  The airline and passenger came to an undisclosed settlement.  United made a command decision to make the nuisance lawsuit go away.  It’s likely cheaper (even if they had won the case) and better for “public relations.”

Each state has its own trespass laws, though they are all nearly identical. And, aircraft (aka “conveyance”) are included in those laws. Here’s Florida’s:

810.08 Trespass in structure or conveyance.—
(1) Whoever, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, willfully enters or remains in any structure or conveyance, or, having been authorized, licensed, or invited, is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises, or by a person authorized by the owner or lessee, to depart and refuses to do so, commits the offense of trespass in a structure or conveyance.

810.011 Definitions.—As used in this chapter:

(3) “Conveyance” means any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car; and “to enter a conveyance” includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance. However, during the time of a state of emergency declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor under chapter 252 and within the area covered by such executive order or proclamation and for purposes of ss. 810.02 and 810.08 only, the term “conveyance” means a motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car or such portions thereof as exist.


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21 Responses to All Aboard the Righteous Indignation Train! Wooo-woooo!

  1. David Moffet says:

    I thought he just forgot to ask for his garment bag :p

  2. Sherran says:

    I’ve been bumped. I wasn’t bloodied, hurt or embarrassed. I wasn’t happy either.
    I was on the last flight of the night, rented a car, drove to my destination. Arrived at 3 a.m., had to be in a client’s office at 7. I did fly home the next day. Bought a new truck, now I drive, period.
    My family will tell you that they can’t believe I didn’t end up in jail from throwing a fit!

  3. Greg Strobel says:

    I do not know the facts in this case… I do not know what was going on in this man’s head… whether he was standing up for his rights or just being an A-Hole. But sometimes you must stand up for your rights. Rosa Parks did NOT give up her seat when she was asked to leave. yes, she was arrested and forcibly removed. But due to her actions, The RULES changed forever. And our country moved a step forward in how it viewed justice. Maybe, just maybe, due to this incident, United airlines and all the other airlines MIGHT consider changing their rules and procedures in how they overbook flights. They made the mistake in overbooking the flight, so they should be the ones to suffer the consequences not the passenger who paid for his ticket. The proper solution should have been to offer more money.. first $400, then $800, then more and more and more– until someone finally agreed to give up their seat. If they ended up paying >$5000, it still whould have cost them less than all the bad publicity that this viral video has caused them. United airlines made a bad mistake in not admitting their mistake and taking responsibility for it. Instead they invoked the fine print in their contract and punished a paying customer. I think it is time to change the “fine print” and have the airlines change their “overbooking” policies. JMHO

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Holy crap… comparing this to Rosa Parks???? Wow.

      Yeah… No.

      That said… I’m not defending United’s poor customer service.

      • Greg Strobel says:

        I still think that due to his defiant action that the Airlines will now be forced to change their abusive overbooking policies. And this would NOT have happened if he had meekly walked off the plane as requested. Civil Disobedience has a long history of success in changing societal norms. Social media and cell phone video is forcing many people to rethink how things have been done in the past and demanding changes.

  4. Kory says:

    I’ve had the same viewpoint, but we are in the vast minority. Poor customer service and bad policy doesn’t negate a person/company’s right to refuse service. The only thing I disagree about is the legal outcome which will undoubtedly find for the plaintiff here, or award a massive settlement.

    Thanks for speaking truth and reason in a world of irrationality Mike!

  5. Greg Strobel says:

    Here is an update of a different point of view:

  6. Ken says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It would certainly suck to have that happen but it’s their property and right and resisting law enforcement officers is downright stupid.

  7. Thad says:

    There’s a saying “You can’t fix stupid”! I love your blog! I’m still laughing!

  8. Dr. Mikc Maroon says:

    Spot on commentary. The “passenger” was NOT a victim. He made a bad decision and is responsible for his actions. I would not have been happy with the decision if it were me, but I would have gotten off the plane without requiring assistance. Good on you Mike for stating this.

  9. Mr Smug Arse says:

    I would be very interested to see how the “Dental Warrior” would have reacted if he/she had known they would lose a day’s work and several thousand dollars of income due to the incompetence of UA (or the airline they have leased the services of) by not having their air crew in the correct place. They weren’t police, they were airport security, bouncers employed by the airlines.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      First… I would have left under my own power. I know better. I know better than to disobey the orders of flight crew, because I also know what comes after that. IF it had gotten to the point of LE showing up… I would absolutely comply…. Because I know what happens if you don’t. Once the police show up, you ARE going with them. You can go the easy way or the hard way, but you ARE GOING.

      You don’t get to debate the matter on the spot. Take them to court. Tell the judge. But, when you’re on THEIR aircraft, you don’t get to argue with them. In this day of terrorism, you’ll get extra special attention on an airplane… and not the kind you want.

      I’d rather lose a day’s work than have my ass kicked and end up in the hospital and/or jail for even longer than that. I wouldn’t be happy. But, I know better than to smart off to a flight crew or law enforcement. What did you expect me to say? Was that a rhetorical question? Do you really think, having read this article, that I would resist an order to leave an aircraft???

      They are NOT “bouncers” employed by the airlines.

      Then the moron RAN back on to the plane… a secure area. That’s a federal offense. Try to run past a security checkpoint at the airport and see if they don’t tackle your ass. 🙂

  10. Susan says:

    I was hesitant to reply (for obvious reasons to some that know me). However I was thinking about it.

    First of all, I agree that it was very poor customer service on the part of United. Although as the contract between customer and airline maintains the airline’s right to “bump” any passenger for any reason, it could have been handled without using physical force.

    I am pretty sure the airlines explained that they would book another flight with their own or another airlines to make sure he got home within hours of his expected arrival (at no charge, of course). This has been my experience anyway. Secondly when the good doctor refused to leave, then they could have said, fine, your plane ticket just increased by $500 (or some such penalty fee). He could contest that later, but if they had written this into the terms of purchase, he would not have had a leg stand on.

    The airline of course could opt to pick another random passenger to approach with the same deal…. and so on and so on.

    It sounds like a crappy deal, but the incentive deal is now off the table since nobody jumped on that one.

    Just how it goes, man.

  11. Helen Smith says:

    I would just like to disagree on the point of trespassing. He bought the ticket, which means he was authorized, licensed and invited to board the plane. Plane companies overbook flights to gain more profit, which they deem more important than whatever a passenger has in mind when he needs to travel. They think their profit is more important, he thinks his reason is more important.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      You can disagree all you want. Read the actual trespass laws (an example is quoted in the article). Having a ticket means nothing. Being asked to leave and refusing means everything (and is the very definition of trespassing). Read the laws.

      PS… this is my 1,000th comment! 😀

  12. Helen Smith says:

    I would just like to add that 1.4 billion drop in United Airlines Stock is clear response from the public and investors about the incident.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      We’ll see where the stock is 1 year from now… 5 years from now…. 10 years from now. A momentary drop, even a big one, means little in the larger picture. When it comes down to it, a family planning a trip to Hawaii is going to buy tickets from whichever airline services that destination, has the best prices, and the most convenient scheduling. They will quickly forget the social “transgressions.” Americans are fickle and have short attention spans. 🙂

  13. Dear Mike,

    Just to play the role of antagonist (LOL!), “A momentary drop (in stock price), even a big one, means little in the larger picture…”. While that may be true for a small business owner like you or I, that’s not the way it’s generally played on Wall Street. If you’re the CEO you better be bringing in serious positive numbers every fiscal quarter. The board of directors & shareholders are a pretty demanding lot. The “long term” may only reflect last quarter’s numbers.

    Okay, let’s take this to examples we know pretty well. Hypothetically, let’s assume a toothache patient came to a corporate dental clinic. They were given a scheduled appointment time of 2 pm. They waited an hour, to simply get an x-ray. After another 60 minutes, they were moved to another dental treatment room (doctor’s schedule is quadruple booked w/ patients). Again, the patient waited… in pain. Eventually 5 pm came around, & patient was informed they couldn’t see the doctor today (corporate policy has a no-overtime rule for auxiliaries). Patient would need to reschedule. The patient is seriously POed!

    “I’m in PAIN! I need to be seen & treated by the doctor. I haven’t slept in 48 hours. I’m NOT leaving until I get some relief.”

    Yes, law enforcement authorities could be called into play. It’s unlawful trespass. The authorities might actually employ force to remove the patient. Mike, you are correct about the statutes. However, it’s simply bad business (for the long-run, as we define the “long-run” Yet, it makes great logic for a private equity investor, who ONLY cares about numbers for this given fiscal quarter) .

    Michael W Davis, DDS
    Santa Fe, NM

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      No doubt it can be bad for business. That wasn’t my point, of course. I’m just addressing whether the police or security are legal in removing someone from private property.

      That said… I will bet that the airline will not see ANY long term effect. Americans are fickle and have short memories. In the end, they want the cheapest or most convenient fare to their destination.

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