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Young Philadelphia man refused access to UA flight because of his reading material...
October 19, 2001 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Young Philadelphia man refused access to UA flight because of his reading material... This story just made my blood boil. Of all the stupid things... Ack! I just can't type straight! I don't have all the information... there's going to be another side to this... but if this is anywhere _near_ accurate, I hope some heads roll.

[via Evhead, via Dan Gillmor]
posted by silusGROK (65 comments total)


 
Me too. I hope some heads roll!
posted by ericost at 9:14 AM on October 19, 2001


Wow...poor guy. He wasn't even swarthy! Hopefully this is a case of temporary overzealousness, and similar incidents won't happen again once America has calmed the fuck down. Xanax and Cipro for everybody!

"This time, they took my Harry Potter book and about four people studied it for 20 minutes," Godfrey says.

*shrug*

Muggles. Whatcha gonna do...?
posted by andnbsp at 9:17 AM on October 19, 2001


This is completely ridiculous. I'm just surprised he wasn't kept from flying on the planes simply for having a copy of The Nation on him.
posted by Hammerikaner at 9:18 AM on October 19, 2001


the only possibility to "another side" is that he did make some kind of joke that wasn't considered funny.

No Farking way!! If it was me they would have locked my ass up cause I would have went BALLISTIC. I hate flying as it is and haven't since 9/11 but all the BS window dressings on security and now shit like this!!

Give me a Break!
posted by LouieCypher at 9:19 AM on October 19, 2001


Welcome to the new America... thought police and all. And no one knows how long the "war" is going to last. Yeah, no kidding. As long as it takes... to totally subjugate the non-elites.
posted by SirNovember at 9:21 AM on October 19, 2001


United announced this week that will probably go bankrupt next year unless something changes. Is this their new "attract more customers" campaign?
posted by stevis at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2001


well i don't like harry potter either, but really! they should have let the man fly to his destination. his reading habits will improve with age, and some education!
posted by billybob at 9:23 AM on October 19, 2001


You can email their customer relations department and tell them how you feel about it. I just did.
posted by badstone at 9:28 AM on October 19, 2001


"I was pretty shaken up," he says. "But I also felt guilty that I hadn’t realized bringing this book to the airport may cause a problem."

Just imagine what it's like, at 22, to have the Establishment come down on you without provocation. This is insane. There need to be laws protecting people's rights even in so-called "states of emergency" -- it can't be left to the discretion of the paranoid armed militants "guarding" our airports to choose their own criteria for detaining people....
posted by mattpfeff at 9:30 AM on October 19, 2001


Heads! Heads! Heads!
posted by ericost at 9:31 AM on October 19, 2001


Hope all of the security-before-liberty people are happy with this.

lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit, please!

I hope the kid got the names of everybody involved. It would be especially juicy if they didn't let him write those names down, or some similar restriction was imposed on him.
posted by yesster at 9:37 AM on October 19, 2001


Speaking of his choice of reading material, he made a great choice. Hayduke Lives is the sequel to The MonkeyWrench Gang, both by Edward Abbey, and both books are great accounts of a fictional band of eco-terrorists who try to get their vengeance on the growing development of the Southwest.

I was sitting in Moab, Utah, a few days after 9/11, reading the opening chapter of the Monkey Wrench Gang, and its rather startling when seen in context of 9/11. The story begins with a dedication of a bridge over Glen Canyon, linking Arizona with Utah. Cars are lined up for miles in each direction, the governors of each state blather on and on about the force of progress. And then, with the ribbon being cut, a disheveled man, in a safety hat and a jacket which reads "America: love it or leave it alone", adjusts some wires and the bridge explodes, falls into the canyon floor far below, taking a few cars with it.
posted by pandaharma at 9:39 AM on October 19, 2001


Remember, kids, always buy "Oprah Book Club" books (TM) for those long plane rides around the country. They're safe and Oprahilicious!! Big Oprah is watching you.
posted by byort at 9:40 AM on October 19, 2001


And that National Guardsman, children, grew up to be President of the United States.

The End.

posted by xiffix at 9:40 AM on October 19, 2001


possibly on topic:
it is my understanding that a copy of niaomi kline's 'no logo' on your person is enough to get anyone refused entry to any G8 meeting, but that's just heresay.
praying and reading must look like threatening behaviour to some people.
posted by asok at 9:41 AM on October 19, 2001


It's not like they dragged him out back and shot him. Some jumpy airport personnel just made a mistake.
posted by kingjeff at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2001


I know a girl who used to read "Soldier of Fortune" on airline flights just so nobody would try to hit on her... wonder what she does now :P
posted by Foosnark at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2001


I did.

Your staff at PHL participated in a gross abuse of the rights of Neil Godfrey, who attempted to board a UAL plane on October 10. He was turned away by UAL staff, security personnel, a National Guardsman, and police because he was carrying a book which they considered suspicious. The book is harmless, and the authorities involved acted at best like idiots, if not like the Gestapo.

Since September 11, your customers, including myself, have been very patient with slipshod "increased" security measures, armed troops in airports, the demands of airlines for taxpayer dollars while they announce thousands of layoffs. We have even been willing to cede a little of our right to privacy and freedom from police harrassment.

Since UAL has benefitted somewhat from the public's compliance, you, as an organization, should stand up for us. I call on your company to publicly criticize the actions of the Guard and Philadelphia Police. I ask that you review the terminal security firm's contract and ensure that it meets the minimum federal standards in place. Finally, I ask you to guarantee that the employees of UAL and UAL as a company will no longer engage in profiling, harrassment, and suspicion of your passangers, be they white, black, Muslim, Sikh, or anyone.

posted by rschram at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2001


and i just bought a new copy of the man who was thursday to re-read on my next trip to NYC. let's look at the copy on the back:

"G. K. Chesterton's surreal masterpiece is a psychological thriller that centers on seven anarchists in turn-of-the-century London who call themselves by the names of the days of the week."

hmm. anarchists. there's bombing in there. much conspiracy.
wonder if they'll let me on the plane?
posted by grabbingsand at 9:53 AM on October 19, 2001


Just ask anyone who has the misfortune of living in a United hub city, like Denver, just how terrible that airline's customer relations truly are. [Example]

I mostly blame UA for what happened to this guy, especially for not even giving him a clear reason why he couldn't fly the second time. However, the Guardsman who pulled him aside for his book the first time needs to get a fucking clue. The next terrorist that comes along is not going to advertise his/her presence by carrying books about terrorism. Talk about the death of common sense, not to mention the right to read what you want, where you want.
posted by thewittyname at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2001


I agree, completely outrageous. Unless he really did say something that could be construed as threatening, this goes beyond the line of "enhanced security".

Once the guy was denied access the first time, the CYA factor prevented anyone else from allowing him on a later flight.

However, consider that all the negative publicity does send a message to everyone (including terrorists) that "big brother is watching EVERYBODY". Maybe this was the intent?
posted by groundhog at 10:00 AM on October 19, 2001


The corporate world lays off thousands of people who need stability now more than ever at the drop of a hat, they certainly won't think twice giving the kid a hard time.

There's more civilian casualty here than in Afghanistan.

My half of the glass has never been more empty.
posted by slipperytoast at 10:02 AM on October 19, 2001


Um, are the people who bumped this guy off his flight for having unsuitable reading material the same people who will have access to the data on my "National ID Card?"
posted by yesster at 10:10 AM on October 19, 2001


Big Oprah is watching you.

Surely the most frightening thing I have read
in MetaFilter thus far...
posted by y2karl at 10:10 AM on October 19, 2001


I wonder what excuse they will use to stop him from flying next time...

'I'm sorry, sir, but the newspaper you are reading has references to terrorists. You can't board the plane.'
posted by thekorruptor at 10:15 AM on October 19, 2001


I wonder what Miguel would say....
posted by thekorruptor at 10:16 AM on October 19, 2001


wow, and to consider he didnt even remotely look like us muslims. Man !!!
posted by adnanbwp at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2001


Man, fuck these lay-off mongering anti-labor bastards, anyhow.

Fly Southwest. They refuse to layoff their people for the shortsighted appeasance of their investors. And they have a spotless safety record.
posted by preguicoso at 10:22 AM on October 19, 2001


And he didn't even have a crew cut like Timothy McVeigh!
posted by silusGROK at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2001


Heads!
posted by ericost at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2001


Some jumpy airport personnel just made a mistake.

Some jumpy airport personnel AND members of the US Military. That's a big deal.
posted by jpoulos at 10:40 AM on October 19, 2001


You're not supposed to be reading (and/or thinking) dammit! There's a war on. You're supposed to be either saluting or on bended knee.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2001


I think taking a book on ecoterrorism with a bomb on the front cover into an airport is a damn stupid thing to do right now.
posted by revbrian at 11:24 AM on October 19, 2001


Sure, this incident was overkill paranoia.

but....

Am I the only one who thinks that Edward Abbey (who wrote the book) was a misanthropic jerk who promoted a form of terrorism against the kind of life most of us lead?
posted by spudsilo at 11:31 AM on October 19, 2001


Hmm: book on ecoterrorism makes him interesting. Book on Muggles makes him juvenile. Either one might be overlooked, but the two combined? C'mon! He was totally asking for it.

I'm kidding - they probably singled him out because he was, you know, the tenth guy in line or something. Orders from Ashcroft: every tenth guy WITHOUT EXCEPTION gets his rights violated. Or it's your ass, chester! :)
posted by UncleFes at 11:38 AM on October 19, 2001


And your excuse for the follow up Harry Potter incident, then? Yeah, that J.K. Rowling- what an anarchic misanthropist she is! Besides, if they really thought he was a terrorist, why not strip search him? If all he had was the book, then what's the worry- that he's going to papercut the flight attendants and hijack the plane?

Y'know, fuck it- now I'm rooting for the terrorists, any terrorists. Here's hoping that there's another attack and it's by train or bus or truck or something- anything but plane- and thermonuclear if possible, please. Why? Because fuck them and fuck us, that's why... bastards like us don't deserve the diminishing freedoms we still have.
posted by hincandenza at 11:40 AM on October 19, 2001



Yeah revbrain, because ya know if you read about something, you're just gonna have to run out there and try it. You just know it! I'm down with banning every book with even the slightest controversial elements in it, not just from airports, but from this country, period.

I think we need some sort of goverment agency the pour through our reading meterials, telvision programs, et all, in order to protect us from ourselves.

Anyone else down with this? Hmmm?
posted by SweetJesus at 11:42 AM on October 19, 2001


Let's all calm down a bit here. I'm a libertarian, I'm halfway through Fahrenheit 451 for about the sixth time, and I hate being frisked. Somebody f&*%ed up at the airport, but let's face it--when people are turning airplanes into flying bombs, you're going to have to be careful.

He's probably lucky he didn't get onto the plane--no doubt the flight attendants would have seen the book, freaked, and started a process that could have ended with him dead. Morbid and hard to believe? Yes. Plausible? Yes again. A plane was diverted the other day due to Hebrew praying and a guy was killed pre-September 11 for flipping his lid on an airplane (other passengers sat on him, eventually suffocating him).

Here's a thought--don't be stupid when getting on a plane. Even the "victim" admits he felt stupid. We need to keep an eye on civil liberties, but let's pick the right time and place.
posted by Rubicon1 at 11:44 AM on October 19, 2001


ericost: Remember, a rolling head gathers no moss.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:02 PM on October 19, 2001


"We need to keep an eye on civil liberties, but let's pick the right time and place."

Uh, how about "here" and "now."

I was very serious in my earlier post. I sure as hell don't want people like this to have access to information on my "National ID Card." Better to not let them have it at all.
posted by yesster at 12:02 PM on October 19, 2001


Y'know, fuck it- now I'm rooting for the terrorists, any terrorists. Here's hoping that there's another attack and it's by train or bus or truck or something- anything but plane- and thermonuclear if possible, please. Why? Because fuck them and fuck us, that's why... bastards like us don't deserve the diminishing freedoms we still have.

Yeah! Heads! Rolling heads!
posted by ericost at 12:07 PM on October 19, 2001


Rubicon, the guy never said he felt stupid...

"I was pretty shaken up," he says. "But I also felt guilty that I hadn’t realized bringing this book to the airport may cause a problem."

The kid doesn't even say he feels guilty for bringing the book, just that his bringing it caused a problem. I have to cut him some slack because he's still young and still overestimating the intelligence of the general population, but he's so wrong about feeling guilty at all.

Nobody should have to feel guilty for not being perfectly pink, or for having a difficult-to-pronounce last name, or for reading books with crappy cover art. Stupidity and caution are not the same things and I am so sick and tired of people acting as though they are.
posted by stefanie at 12:15 PM on October 19, 2001


Oh, I almost forgot --

this means we have to score another one for the terrorists
posted by yesster at 12:24 PM on October 19, 2001


I keep hitting the refresh button, hoping that there will be more posts by some of the 10,000 + members of metafilter who are pissed off about this . . . .

but it isn't happening

when did we become so fucking apathetic about the important things?

or do some of you just not care about silly little things like liberty and justice and equal treatment and so on, as long as you get your stupid fucking games and stupid fucking celebrity fan sites and get to bitch about microsoft and riaa hwile you go on inanely throwing away our noblest virtues

"WE the people, of the United States of America, no longer deserve our freedom, and are willing to cede all rights to USA, incorporated. Ooh, boobies . . ."
posted by yesster at 12:44 PM on October 19, 2001


I keep hitting the refresh button, hoping that there will be more posts by some of the 10,000 + members of metafilter who are pissed off about this . . . . but it isn't happening

Yeah! Come on everybody, say it! Heads! We want heads to roll!
posted by ericost at 12:48 PM on October 19, 2001


OK, I wasn't going to say anything, but secretly I want to see some heads rolling too.

And your excuse for the follow up Harry Potter incident, then?

I think it was about the guy at that point, not about the book. But overall, this looks less like an overt attack on this kids civil liberties than simple bureaucratic fuckery.

And let's put this into context, too. There exists a substantial amount of purported evidence that the other shoe has either not yet fallen or is in the process of falling. I'm a proponent of civil liberties, none more so, BUT I am willing to temporarily allow the government to make minor incursions on them for the safety of my fellow citizens in times of crisis, because not doing so may put those same fellow citizens at risk. I am also willing to temporarily retain my patience with bureaucrats who, in more comfortable times, I might get a bit sweaty with, on the realization that they are working twice as hard and the results of their failure could be a thousand times worse than before.
posted by UncleFes at 1:15 PM on October 19, 2001


or do some of you just not care about silly little things like liberty and justice and equal treatment and so on, as long as you get your stupid fucking games and stupid fucking celebrity fan sites and get to bitch about microsoft and riaa hwile you go on inanely throwing away our noblest virtues

Good god. Let's hear it for righteous indignation! I just see this as a case of the powers-that-be being dumbasses in a climate of fear (not to mention atrocious customer service). Hopefully this paranoia will die down. If stories like this become the rule rather than the exception, then we've got something to be *very* concerned about. As it is now, people are just being jittery idiots, not pissing on our civil liberties and fucking our nobelest virtues up the ass.

Yeah, this really sucks. Yeah, I hope some heads roll (particularly the bitchy flight attendant who tried to trip the dude up on his ID). But this isn't anything to get our knickers into *too* tight of a twist over.

So I'm an idealist, and maybe even an optimist. Big deal. It gets me up in the morning.
posted by andnbsp at 1:18 PM on October 19, 2001


UncleFes: very well said.
posted by andnbsp at 1:24 PM on October 19, 2001


yeah! we want head!
posted by tolkhan at 1:30 PM on October 19, 2001


yesster: the reason that the other 10,000 mefi folks aren't on this thread (I was thinking the same thing) is because they're too busy arguing about the more important things in life, like double posts.

Here's my favorite quote from the article and my response:

"Then he took my book and asked me why I was reading it."

Because this is America? Because I can't destroy a plane with a book?
posted by eyeballkid at 1:43 PM on October 19, 2001


eyeballkid, did you know that asking why someone is reading a book is not the same as questioning their right to read it? I didn't either, but then I figured it out.
posted by ericost at 1:53 PM on October 19, 2001


ericost: In this context, I don't think so. I can see what your saying, but we are talking about an agent of the government asking a citizen why he was reading a book and then later it was used against him (If not by the National Guard, then by UA). I think that directly conflicts with his right to read a book.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:07 PM on October 19, 2001


damn, I can see what you're saying is what I meant. Gotta stop scanning through previews.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:08 PM on October 19, 2001


Well, sending an e-mail to UAL was fun and all, but they'll be out of business in a week anyways, and 9/11 only gave them a mild push in that direction.

I'd rather send a letter to Lynne Abraham, John Timoney, and John Street, the DA, Police Commissioner, and mayor of PHL respectively. What're their e-mail addresses?

I would but they're assholes, and don't give a shit about shit.
posted by rschram at 2:16 PM on October 19, 2001


Rschram... your wish is my command.
posted by silusGROK at 2:29 PM on October 19, 2001


well at least it was just a case of jumpy nerves and ignorance rather than a specific book being flagged by a someone-in-charge-some-where as something to Watch for in luggage. hopefully.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:36 PM on October 19, 2001


"We have met the enemy, and he is us."
posted by swift at 3:49 PM on October 19, 2001


Man you guys are always good for a laugh............oh wait, you're being serious?....oh......
posted by nwduffer at 4:43 PM on October 19, 2001


this is your future. atrocious acts robbing you of your liberty with consequences dodged by invoking the Holy Matter of Security. a blockheaded illiterate president railing against 'The Evil One'. armed cops in the hallway at my workplace, looking at me like i'm the one who doesn't belong. i always suspected most of my countrymen were morons. apparently, islamic terrorists intend to confirm that for me. 'scuse me while i puke. really.
posted by quonsar at 5:35 PM on October 19, 2001


12 hours later and I'm still crazy mad, or helluv-mad as they say 'round here. This is apparently not the first time.

And, yes, I'm late to the party of condemning Driving While Black as an arrestable offense, but I'm here to object to Flying While Semitic-looking, and it's about damn time.
posted by rschram at 8:17 PM on October 19, 2001


I said it before, and I'll say it again: If you want to throw people off the airplane (before it takes off), develop serious "concerns" about the people in First Class.

Then take their seat as your patriotic duty to make sure those cocktails don't go unused.

Heads!
posted by ethmar at 9:25 PM on October 19, 2001


in the first week of september i was reading this book while flying.
posted by johnboy at 12:08 AM on October 20, 2001


Play pong with heads!
posted by the biscuit man at 1:23 AM on October 20, 2001


Link's dead. Any other sources for this story?
posted by elvissinatra at 10:26 AM on December 5, 2001


Try this, or do a search at Google.
posted by silusGROK at 9:04 AM on December 6, 2001


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