We’ve all heard about the disgraceful behavior of United Airlines and the Chicago police. I’m getting disgusted by the excuses made in the aftermath.
A few weeks ago, United made the news for kicking two girls off one of their flights because they were wearing leggings. United justified this because there were rules written down for United employees traveling on a pass, so a lot of people said that was OK, then — they were rules, after all, and rules must be obeyed.
Wait, why? Who made this rule, and for what reason? Presumably it’s because they have this corporate image that they want to enforce, so they’ve got this damn stupid rule written down by some prudish busybody — it’s certainly not for an objectively good reason, like safety — and now they insist on enforcing it, pointlessly, even if it is problematic for customers. And yet I saw people just accept the injustice because it was a rule.
Now likewise they have a rule that they can throw paying customers off the plane at the convenience of their employees and at the whim of a random number generator. People are doing the same thing! It’s a rule, therefore United has a right to abuse passengers who aren’t sufficiently obedient. Again, this is not a safety rule (if a passenger is endangering others, then yes, there should be an expectation of obedience and penalties for defying the airline), but one for the convenience of the corporation. They are permitted to act inhumanely in the service of purely capitalist gains.
And people accept that! Some, like Bill O’Reilly, even laugh at the video of the man being bloodied.
I don’t give a flying fuck if somewhere in United’s fine print they have written down that they get to club you senseless if they need your seat — it is an unjust rule because it prioritizes the convenience of an employee over the safety and health and rights of another human being. Having it written down does not make it right, it means that an immoral behavior is formally sanctioned in the corporate culture of United. That makes it worse.
Of course, there is even more heinous justifications. Would you believe journalists have rummaged in the victim’s past to find evidence of misbehavior? He was convicted of using his medical license to abuse prescription drugs in 2004. That’s bad, but not relevant — his punishment was to have his license to practice medicine suspended for ten years, a debt that has been paid. It does not mean that United, or anyone, is justified to punch him in the head any time they feel like it.
I find the callousness of big business disturbing, but find the willingness of too many Americans to condone it even more distressing.