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Tomato Juice Terrorism in the Skies
January 25, 2009 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Airlines Use Terrorism Law to Punish Unruly Passengers. Since 2003, more than 200 airline passengers have been convicted of felonies for violating terrorism laws, many for incidents only involving yelling, cursing, or behaving drunkenly. One such passenger, Tamera Jo Freeman, was arrested and convicted for "an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act," after she spanked her children for toppling tomato juice, cursed at the flight attendant who confronted her, and tossed the juice can on the floor.
posted by terranova (91 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I bet the other passengers are really upset.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on January 25, 2009


Even the Patriot Act has a good side.
posted by box at 9:41 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


The woman, box, is losing her children for being rude to someone.
posted by Malor at 9:56 AM on January 25, 2009 [13 favorites]


The costs of a conviction can be enormous. In Tamera Freeman's case, it cost her custody of her children...

Her probation required her to stay in Oklahoma City, where she grew up, and prohibited her from flying. Meanwhile, legal proceedings in Hawaii have begun to allow the children's foster parents to adopt them.

Freeman has been denied permission to attend custody hearings in Maui over the last six months, court records show.


I'm very suspicious that we're not getting the full story about Freeman here. The story sure seems to be implying that this incident is the sole reason she lost custody of her kids. Really? To the point where the foster parents are trying to adopt them? Really? No prior history of problems? She was a saint and a great mom until she snapped on a plane? Smells like bullshit to me. This is absolutely an abuse of the PATRIOT act, but I'd be incredibly surprised if this is the only reason she might lose her kids. I accuse the people covering this story of eliding the facts to give a more outrageous narrative.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:01 AM on January 25, 2009 [12 favorites]


A lesson to bad parents: don't be bad parents on planes.

Just make all public transport like airplanes. Nothing like mandating human behaviour with the threat of felony convictions.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:04 AM on January 25, 2009


"The woman, box, is losing her children for being rude to someone."

There is more to the story. It differs from state to state, but stripping parental rights is far from trivial. A cursory google of her name turns up a multitude of news reports on the woman that indicate behavior a little past "being rude to someone."

p.s.: the "tomato juice" was a bloody mary

It seems plausible to me that this bad legislation is being used badly. But this woman's custody of her children, or lack thereof, is absolutely unrelated to that.
posted by kavasa at 10:06 AM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, the punishments are grossly disproportionate. Yet these people are still assholes while even nice harmless people are convicted for possession of marijuana.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2009


I'm very suspicious that we're not getting the full story about Freeman here.

Does it matter? The woman was convicted under a terrorism law for being unruly, what the hell does her past have to do with being prosecuted as a terrorist?

She can't travel to see her kids, who are in the process of being adopted by foster parents and your attitude is "well, she deserved it" ?! Jesus would weep if hadn't grown tired of these endless streams of justifications for treating people like shit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2009 [19 favorites]


Ugh, this is the last thing we need to help overturn the worst parts of the PATRIOT act. Now not only is it "protecting" us from terrorists, it's also saving the children.

And any article that isn't a parody and includes the line, "Sept. 11, however, changed everything.", is instant fail.
posted by formless at 10:20 AM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


First google-hit for the lovely mother...

"A loaded Tamera Jo Freeman, 38, hit and cursed at her children and assaulted a Frontier Airlines flight attendant during a flight from San Francisco
to
Denver.

Passengers told the FBI that Freeman was drinking heavily before and during the flight. She spent the flight cursing, terrozing and neglecting her two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter because they wouldn’t let her watch a movie in peace.

Witnesses said Freeman hit the children on their legs, shoulders and knees, and appeared drunk and violent toward the kids before she boarded. They also said the children tried to hide on the floor to get away from their mom, and were scared and crying.

Passengers sitting near Freeman alerted the flight attendants and when one approached her, she began yelling, telling the flight attendant to mind her own business and get her some more booze. When she was told that she was cut off, Freeman threw a drink at the flight attendant.

The flight attendant asked a corrections officer who was on the plane to sit near Freeman. Then she grabbed a roll of duct tape and stood near the drunken mom to prevent her causing trouble. The captain radioed ahead to have police meet the plane.

Freeman was arrested when the plane landed in Denver, and is being held for investigation of interference with a flight crew and assault on children. She told authorities that she lost her temper and smacked her kids because they were fighting and spilling drinks.

Freeman faces up to 21 years in prison and fines up to $350,000 if convicted. Terrorizing her kids, terrorizing the flight attendants. Why wasn’t this woman on the terrorist watch lists?"


Hardly a reason to consider her a 'terrorist', but the point has been well made that this woman's loss of her children likely has very little to do with her actions on the plane.
posted by matty at 10:24 AM on January 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


For some reason it appears that objective journalism is impossible about this story. Some articles say that she was visibly drunk and abusive before getting on the plane and that her kids were "scared and crying." Obviously (parentsbehavingbadly.com?) this one is probably overblown, but I also doubt that "swatt[ing] her children on the thigh" was the extent of her abuse. I guess I assume it's somewhere in between.

Being someone who flies semi-frequently, though, the only problem I have with this is that it's being done with the patriot act. I also wish for the same penalties in libraries and theaters.
posted by cmoj at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2009


Does it matter? The woman was convicted under a terrorism law for being unruly, what the hell does her past have to do with being prosecuted as a terrorist?

My point specifically was that the story seems to be claiming that this charge is the sole reason she's losing her kids. I find that really unlikely. So for that claim, yes, her past does matter, quite a lot, and I think the journalist needs to offer a little more proof, or drop the "PATRIOT ACT DESTROYS FAMILIES" angle. There's enough meat here without it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


A different story than the Times piece. According to the police report and witness testimony, the lady was abusive towards her children.
posted by robtf3 at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really, REALLY hate the sloppy work that passes for legal reporting in most of the media. The LA Times account is substantively inaccurate in a variety of ways.

In case of TL;DR: Freeman was never labeled a "terrorist" and would have received the same sentence prior to the Patriot Act and probably deserves to lose her kids because this isn't the first time she's gotten nailed for beating them.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


The woman was convicted under a terrorism law for being unruly

It's the new normal.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on January 25, 2009


Excerpt from the Affadavit filed in the case of U.S. v. Tamera Jo Freeman (pdf):

- In the San Francisco airport prior to the departure of the flight, Katie Shanahan observed Freeman drop her son on his back and head on the ground when he did not want to go to the bathroom with her. Freeman left her son on the ground crying for several minutes;

- Carrie Storin, who was sitting in front of Freeman on the flight, heard Freeman hitting her children “the entire flight”, to the point where the children were trying to hide in a comer and on the floor;

posted by SteveInMaine at 10:27 AM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


We've been a very bad nation, and we need to be punished.
posted by namespan at 10:30 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


However... from reading the affidavit here

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/unruly-freeman-09122007.pdf

Freeman did in fact leave her seat and follow the flight attendant around the aircraft, yelling at her, and that the flight attendant had to 'take a defensive stance'.

Sorry folks, but that's beyond having a hissy about a drink. That's interfering with a flight crew.

If she ends up getting only 4 to 10 months of house arrest mentioned in one article, she's getting off easy with a well learned lesson. Don't drink and fly.
posted by matty at 10:30 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


After reading the entire affidavit, the news article is so off base to be laughable. The journalists cherry-picked one-liners from various sources to make it LOOK like the poor lady was treated badly by the mean terrorist-screaming government.

It's a VERY different story when you read the affidavit. The only people using the word 'terrorist' is the media, as she's been charged under title 49 united states code section 46504... Not sure if that's part of the Patriot Act or not, but it just charges her with interfering with a flight crew.

Crappy journalism at it's best.

Disclaimer... I am or have been at one point or another an Air Traffic Controller, and Aviator, and a consultant to the FAA and TSA.
posted by matty at 10:45 AM on January 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


Sorry folks, but that's beyond having a hissy about a drink. That's interfering with a flight crew.

I dunno. We are talking about Frontier Airlines, here, which has a history of behaving like the frigging Gestapo:

"Frontier Airlines spokesman Joe Hodas has confirmed the incident on Flight 623 which occurred Sunday, October 7, on a Denver-to-Detroit flight. The security incident involved an Arab man who locked himself in the first class lavatory (adjacent to the cockpit) and refused to come out despite orders to do so from flight crew. The FBI met the flight — along with more than a dozen law enforcement officers.

In our interview, Hodas told me, "[The Passenger] was very intently watching the flight attendants. Before he went in [to the bathroom] for so long, he was up and down in between his seat and the bathroom. We alerted the FBI. After the flight landed, the FBI took over. I was told the passenger was shaving in the bathroom. The passenger did nothing that was hampering the immediate safety of the aircraft, but our flight crew felt his behavior was suspicious and that's why took the actions we did. Our flight attendants know how to recognize behavior that might jeopardize an aircraft."

Ummm, right...
posted by sour cream at 10:52 AM on January 25, 2009


Long before 9/11 and the Patriot Act I oberved airline personnel (particularly pilots) being judge and jury over passengers they deemed "unruly." For example, on one flight (circa 1989), the kid sitting across the aisle from me (he looked to be about 12 or 13) leaned forward in his seat and barfed all over himself and the seat in front of him as we were taxing for take-off. I don't know exactly the technicalities involved, but apparently we had to pull out of the taxi line or something, and the captain came back while the FA's were cleaning things up and loudly chastised the kid's mother, saying "He's old enough to know better" and "causing unnecessary delays" and "I can legally have your whole family removed from this flight." They exchanged the seat cushions of the affected seats, sprayed the area with some sort of minty air freshener, and we continued on our way.

Another time, I was literally just standing still in line for boarding. I had my back to the general waiting area and was talking to a friend when someone bumped into me with enough force to make me stumble into her. I turned around and reflexively said "Excuse me," even though I hadn't done anything. It was a pilot (not ours), and his response was "Please, Miss, watch where you're going." My friend piped up, "She was just standing there, you bumped into her!" He held up his hand in a "stop" gesture and said "If you continue on, I can have you both removed from your flight."

One last one: February 1992 - a friend and I were literally running through the corridors of LAX to make our flight, the last one returning to Detroit that night (our shuttle bus had gotten stuck in traffic en route to the airport). We were just approaching the Jetway to board the plane when my friend tripped and stumbled and dropped her carry-on. She yelled "Fuck!" as she hit the floor on her knees. The FA taking tickets at the base of the Jetway told us coldly, "You know, I can legally ban you from boarding because of that." "Because of what?" I asked. "Language. You are not allowed to swear like that."

Flight crews have always used their collective iron fist, it's just that now every time it happens it gets lumped under the Patriot Act umbrella.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:53 AM on January 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


Metafilter is being flaky for me so, there's just this comment and I'm off:

The case is interesting for its legal reasonings and techniques to push one view over another, as mentioned in this response to the popehat.com link that several people cited.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm really glad that there is a way to lock up assholes who disrupt plane flights. Doesn't bother me a bit that it seems like a "harsh" punishment.
posted by jayder at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regardless of what one thinks of this woman's actions, the sad fact is that airlines are free and clear to treat their customers like crap and get away with it. Tickets cost more, planes are smaller, you have to pay for your meals, headphones, blankets and pillows and on top of that, you have to fear being charged with a felony should you seem "out of line". Definitely not a customer service oriented business any longer.
posted by scarello at 11:15 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oriole: just to be clear, you posted three personal anecdotes and then declared, on that evidence, "Flight crews have always used their collective iron fist, it's just that now every time it happens it gets lumped under the Patriot Act umbrella."

This despite the fact that other sources already linked to in the thread put the lie to the incredibly shoddy LA Times article.

Awesome.
posted by kavasa at 11:15 AM on January 25, 2009


I bet the other passengers are really upset.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on January 25 [+] [!]

Even the Patriot Act has a good side.
posted by box at 9:41 AM on January 25 [1 favorite +] [!]


And this is exactly why you don't want vague, overly repressive laws hastily passed under perceived threats from without: they become catch-all pots into which any annoying members of society can be tossed. And everyone joins in the fun. As long as their own ox is not being gored, it's totally okay.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:45 AM on January 25, 2009 [13 favorites]


It sounds like she could have been guilty under the origional version of the law. From the popehat link:
2001 Amendments. Pub.L. 107-56, § 811(i), inserted “or attempts or conspires to do such an act,” before “shall be fined”.
In other words, the PATRIOT Act made it illegal to attempt to do or conspire to do the things already prohibited by the statute.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to throw a curveball in here: child abuse is a threat to national security. Our definition of terrorism is artificially limited to scenarios which disproportionately affect the privileged relative to the other repeated and persistent forms of violence that exist in society. A BART cop who shoots an unarmed black man in the back is a terrorist for he subjects an entire community to fear. When a bridge collapses because of insufficient funding, that's a threat to national security too.

National security ought to address more than the fear that foreigners might destroy office buildings. Obviously our laws aren't designed as such and that's not the intent of this prosecution.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:28 PM on January 25, 2009


In other news: Australian family caged, detained, starved and deported by US customs
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on January 25, 2009


This sounds like something I would post without researching to cause a flamewar.
posted by tehloki at 12:58 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to throw a curveball in here: child abuse is a threat to national security.

We should probably resist categorizing everything as terrorism in order to prioritize where resources go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:58 PM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


In other news: Australian family caged, detained, starved and deported by US customs

Translated into non-hysterispeak, that's "Australian family denied entry into US, not given meals of their choice."
posted by jayder at 1:02 PM on January 25, 2009


Translated into non-hysterispeak, that's "Australian family denied entry into US, not given meals of their choice."

Translated back into non-bullshit, "Australian family denied entry into the US, instead they were detained in the case. They were not given meals of their choice, instead they were given no meals, other then 'a few biscuts'"

Whenever government oversteps it's authority or treats people like Animals, Jayder will be there to defend 'em.
posted by delmoi at 1:31 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like to say that the extreme tolerance for abuse of the weak and the desire to see people who offend us even in the slightest suffer extreme punishments that I see in this thread is surprising, but after the "Kip Hawley is an idiot" thread, I'm pretty much convinced that Metafilter users would largely welcome a police state so long as it catered to their petty, middle-class prejudices and desires.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does it matter? The woman was convicted under a terrorism law for being unruly, what the hell does her past have to do with being prosecuted as a terrorist?

In terms of her losing her kids (which is what Lentrohamsanin was talking about) I'd say, yes, it would matter a lot.
posted by the other side at 1:54 PM on January 25, 2009


I'm really glad that there is a way to lock up assholes who disrupt plane flights. Doesn't bother me a bit that it seems like a "harsh" punishment.

I'm not sure you understand exactly what a felony is: loss of voting rights, an excuse not to hire you, loss of some government benefits, etc. It's not "harsh", it is actually harsh.
posted by TypographicalError at 1:55 PM on January 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whenever government oversteps it's authority or treats people like Animals, Jayder will be there to defend 'em.

Bullshit. But I must admit that Boing-Boing's kneejerk outrage is surprisingly effective in getting me in touch with my inner police state sympathizer.
posted by jayder at 1:59 PM on January 25, 2009


I'm not sure you understand exactly what a felony is: loss of voting rights, an excuse not to hire you, loss of some government benefits, etc.

Are you expecting me to think that's inappropriate in the case of a serial child abuser whose behavior was so out of control she also disrupted a commercial flight?
posted by jayder at 2:02 PM on January 25, 2009


Bullshit. But I must admit that Boing-Boing's kneejerk outrage is surprisingly effective in getting me in touch with my inner police state sympathizer.

I'm not sure how exactly I'm supposed to respond to such a nonsensical statement. You're against government oppression or police state antics so long as people don't make hyperbolic statements about, but once they do, it's like "yeah fuck those people for having such obnoxious sympathizers, I'm glad they got locked up, tased, beaten, shot, whatever dispite the fact that they didn't do anything wrong!". That's the kind of addlebrained nonsense I would expect from someone with the right-wing authoritarian mindset, as studes show these people are very bad at reasoning.

Anyway, your comment is pretty contradictory. You claim what I said was "bullshit" then proceed to restate my comment as a fact. I mean what's the difference between "being a police state sympathizer" and "having an inner police state sympathizer" that comes out from time to time -- like whenever the topic comes up on metafilter?

It's like saying "Bullshit, I'm not an abusive husband, it's just that when my wife acts like a total bitch it brings out my inner abusive husband!"

Speaking of family abuse, I don't really have much a problem with the way this particular woman was treated.
posted by delmoi at 2:15 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, to summarize:

A) She's losing her kids because she's a violent drunk who abused them in public.
B) She wasn't convicted of terrorism.
C) The patriot act has nothing to do with this.

What a shameful story. I hope the ombudsman at the LA times sets this straight, it really needs a correction.
posted by empath at 2:18 PM on January 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I dunno. We are talking about Frontier Airlines, here, which has a history of behaving like the frigging Gestapo:

"Frontier Airlines spokesman Joe Hodas has confirmed the incident on Flight 623 which occurred Sunday, October 7, on a Denver-to-Detroit flight. The security incident involved an Arab man who locked himself in the first class lavatory (adjacent to the cockpit) and refused to come out despite orders to do so from flight crew.


Arab or not, anybody who locks himself in the bathroom next to the cockpit on an airplane and refuses to come out when the flight crew tells him to shouldn't be surprised when he's treated as a potential security threat.
posted by EarBucket at 2:19 PM on January 25, 2009


Your opinion of her performance as a mother is irrelevant, nor is it based in fact. Our conclusions about her capability as a mother based are exclusively on some really crappy reporting, so I think we can toss them all aside.

What really concerns me about this case is that she is being denied access to custody hearings by the government, so how can she possibly argue her case? How can justice be served in any way? Even if she is guilty of everything alleged, she deserves due process.
posted by mek at 2:23 PM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Arab or not, anybody who locks himself in the bathroom next to the cockpit on an airplane and refuses to come out when the flight crew tells him

Um, , Arab or not, every airplane bathroom I have been in you can only shut the door by locking it. The spokesperson phrased it in this way to make sure it was sufficiently inflammatory, and you repeated it, for exactly the reason they phrased it that way in the first place. In addition, if my pants are down around my ankles and I am in the process of cleaning up, Arab or not, I am unlikely to come out when the flight crew tells me as well.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:28 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


so long as it catered to their petty, middle-class prejudices and desires.

Yes, my petty middle-class desire not to see kids get beaten by their own mother. How classist of me.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:29 PM on January 25, 2009


Oh, and the other story is BS, too.
posted by empath at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2009


You claim what I said was "bullshit" then proceed to restate my comment as a fact. I mean what's the difference between "being a police state sympathizer" and "having an inner police state sympathizer" that comes out from time to time -- like whenever the topic comes up on metafilter?

Has it occurred to you that people may not always be completely sincere in what they say on Metafilter?

I'm kidding around. Sorry you didn't get it.

My point, basically, is that I am skeptical of this sort of "outrage porn" that frequently turns up on the front page here. "Outrage porn" is a story that is calculated to cause paroxysms of rage in super-gullible readers with a given political mindset. Rush Limbaugh offers up one kind of outrage porn, with his trumped-up, out-of-context stories about horrible things liberals do, and Boing Boing (and certain MeFites) offer up another kind of outrage porn in their stories of horrible things that airport security screeners, Homeland Security goons, and TSA officials do. It's all the same thing --- out of context stories offered with a manipulative agenda, and the intended audiences gobble it up with relish.
posted by jayder at 2:36 PM on January 25, 2009


I wish metafilter had an option for the OP to remove their post when fairly substantial evidence that the basic premise behind it is flawed.
posted by edgeways at 2:40 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post is worthless without a call to action -- an outline how to change this.

as are all outragefilter posts
posted by krautland at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2009


This post is worthless without a call to action -- an outline how to change this.

Clearly we need an online petition.
posted by found missing at 2:53 PM on January 25, 2009


My point specifically was that the story seems to be claiming that this charge is the sole reason she's losing her kids. I find that really unlikely.

It "seems" like it was the deciding factor since her kids were taken back to Hawaii, while the terms of her probation say she's forced to stay in Oklahoma City.

Yes, my petty middle-class desire not to see kids get beaten by their own mother.

Their own mother is exactly the person who should be beating their ass (within reason of couse).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:59 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


For the lawyers here, is there a way to arrest or bring a civil case against flight attendants for stepping over the line? Specifically by threatening the physical and mental health of passengers with the abusive misapplication of hastily-written laws meant to handle terrorists?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:55 PM on January 25, 2009


Artw: I bet the other passengers are really upset

I was on a flight into DC once where we were instructed, politely but firmly, to remain in our seats once the plane reached the gate. This was not the usual stay-seated-while-the-light-is-on-I-mean-you-sit-DOWN kind of message. Nor was it the standard security reminder that passengers had to remain seated during the half hour after departing or before arriving at a DC airport. On this one flight, people sat patiently as the door was opened and four officers came down the aisle, handcuffed a man, and pulled him off the plane.

There had been no altercation on the flight. Was he dangerous? What did he do? Everybody was buzzing about it as we got off the plane. I guess they have to transport prisoners on commercial flights, but it was creepy thinking we'd been cooped up with someone who had to be handcuffed at the end.

On a different flight, we encountered turbulence as we descended for landing, and amid the nervous quiet of adults gripping their armrests, you could hear this one boy giggling after each swell as if the unexpected roller-coaster ending made it the best ride EVAR. I admire parents who handle children well at airports and on long flights. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my luggage, much less cranky small people.
posted by woodway at 4:00 PM on January 25, 2009


returning from germany last summer I accidentally walked through the international check-point in the the Munich airport without stopping and showing my passport. the three burly young Aryan security guards very calmly called after me and after I sheepishly gave over my US passport one of the guards said to me in bad english: "you are lucky this isn't America."

that's what this is about.
posted by geos at 4:13 PM on January 25, 2009 [11 favorites]


Minor slip-ups can turn into a federal offense.
posted by terranova at 4:28 PM on January 25, 2009


And be careful about videotaping in-the-air arguments between passengers and airline staff.
posted by terranova at 4:41 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


the three burly young Aryan security guards

uhm... those were probably feds, not security guards, so you could have gotten yourself arrested there. the only places in german airports manned by private security people are at the xray machines.

but generally you're right, they are a bit friendlier. they'll even crack a joke with you sometimes.
posted by krautland at 4:45 PM on January 25, 2009


Does the LA Times have a libertarian-heavy staff? I remember they had someone covering Ron Paul nearly every single day at one point, and I vaguely recall an article about climate change not being real that I don't think was an editorial. Anything up with the writer?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:48 PM on January 25, 2009


Bad PR might do a good job punishing the airlines if well-written stories existed that could be leveraged against them. Note how the writeup for this FPP doesn't even mention Frontier Airlines specifically. I'm not complaining specifically about this post; in fact, it's a rather common omission in airline-related news articles.
posted by crapmatic at 4:53 PM on January 25, 2009


I hate the Patriot Act. I hate the name (what, exactly, is patriotic about giving up freedoms in concession to terror?), I hate the intent, and I wish it had never been passed. There is definitely the potential for abuse..."interfering with a crewmember" is awfully vague.

Do I believe that crewmembers should reserve the right to remove passengers from the aircraft? Absolutely. It's better to resolve those situations on the ground than to have an even worse problem at 30,000+ feet, divert, and inconvenience (and possibly endanger) 100+ passengers who have done absolutely nothing wrong and are just trying to get to their destination on time.

But if yelling at one's bus driver/waiter/cashier/accountant/anyotheroccupation while on the ground wouldn't get you thrown in jail with a felony, than this shouldn't, either. That's not terrorism, it's assholery. I don't think people should go to jail for being an asshole in a free society. Just take them off the plane and maybe don't let them back on, ever.

/Flight Attendant Rant

I turned around and reflexively said "Excuse me," even though I hadn't done anything. It was a pilot (not ours), and his response was "Please, Miss, watch where you're going."

Pilots are worse than passengers, in my experience, as far as assholery goes.


posted by jnaps at 5:17 PM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


is there a way to arrest or bring a civil case against flight attendants for stepping over the line? Specifically by threatening the physical and mental health of passengers with the abusive misapplication of hastily-written laws meant to handle terrorists?

I'm not sure what you mean. Flight attendants don't administer or apply criminal laws. I mean, it's not like you can sue a kid on the playground for yelling "you cheated, I'm going to get you arrested." It's the same thing. Also, the PATRIOT act wasn't hastily written, merely hastily passed. Most of it had already been drafted before 9/11 as a wish-list of various agencies.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:56 PM on January 25, 2009


Their own mother is exactly the person who should be beating their ass (within reason of couse).

What?

Specifically by threatening the physical and mental health of passengers with the abusive misapplication of hastily-written laws meant to handle terrorists?

The patriot act just made it illegal to conspire to interfere with a flight crew. It had already been illegal to interfere directly with a flight crew, which is what she had done?
posted by delmoi at 6:20 PM on January 25, 2009


To be fair; she's from Maui, which is probably why the kids were returned there. She's also got a record of domestic abuse.

The courts take losing parental rights very seriously. I doubt seriously that we're hearing the whole case, especially when the judge in the case said that some information would be sealed to protect her and the kids.

The LAT article is misleading, sensationalist yellow journalism and the editors should be ashame.
posted by dejah420 at 7:57 PM on January 25, 2009


What?

If a child is getting disciplined, the parents are the ones who should be doing it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 PM on January 25, 2009


I would like to say that the extreme tolerance for abuse of the weak and the desire to see people who offend us even in the slightest suffer extreme punishments that I see in this thread is surprising, but after the "Kip Hawley is an idiot" thread, I'm pretty much convinced that Metafilter users would largely welcome a police state so long as it catered to their petty, middle-class prejudices and desires.

Yeah, my prejudice for adults not throwing children to the ground headfirst and drunkenly beating them is, like, so bourgoise and middle-class. Thanks, Pope Guilty, you've made me realise I should embrace drunken child-beaters as part of the rich tapestry of society.

No, wait. I guess it made me realise that you were in such a hurry to do your best Rick-from-the-Young-Ones impression you couldn't pause to note, as empath put it:

A) She's losing her kids because she's a violent drunk who abused them in public.
B) She wasn't convicted of terrorism.
C) The patriot act has nothing to do with this.

You rebel you!

Their own mother is exactly the person who should be beating their ass (within reason of couse).

Yeah, I think I'll take a pass on your child-rearing advice then.
posted by rodgerd at 8:03 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good for her. As a subway rider I've been privy to all manner of child abuse. Send them away.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:15 PM on January 25, 2009


For the lawyers here, is there a way to arrest or bring a civil case against flight attendants for stepping over the line? Specifically by threatening the physical and mental health of passengers with the abusive misapplication of hastily-written laws meant to handle terrorists?

That's an interesting question, because it abuts different areas of the law at the same time: assault and contracts of carriage.

On the one hand, it's certainly assault if one threatens harm to another. You'd have to hop, skip and jump, though, to get a judge to agree that "I'm going to report you to the police" equals a threat of bodily harm, in the same way that "I'm going to punch you" does. If I see you jaywalking, and tell you I'm going to call the police, it doesn't exactly rise to the level of assault.

Although, like you point out, you might have a stronger case if a flight attendant were deliberately abusing the existing laws. As if they said, "If you don't do X, I'm going to LIE to the police so it's more likely than normal that you'll be sent to jail."

On the other hand, once you get on a flight, you enter into a contract of carriage, which assigns the airline various rights -- one of which, for example, is that they can refuse to transport you if you're being unruly, and they get to make that determination alone, without any appeal. Here's an example of a contract of carriage.

So, I'm sure you'd have a civil avenue to explore, but it would be tricky, and difficult to really get the ball rolling.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:20 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Although, like you point out, you might have a stronger case if a flight attendant were deliberately abusing the existing laws. As if they said, "If you don't do X, I'm going to LIE to the police so it's more likely than normal that you'll be sent to jail."

Oh, one other thing -- it would enter the realm of assault as I described it above.

But it would enter the realm of false statements and possibly perjury if it happened under slightly different circumstances. But it'd be really hard to prove deliberate and/or criminal intent here. You'd have to prove that our imaginary flight attendant lied on purpose and with malicious intent, and wasn't just wildly inaccurate.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:27 PM on January 25, 2009


Could have been worse.

She could have been shot by an air marshall.
posted by bwg at 8:43 PM on January 25, 2009


She can't travel to see her kids, who are in the process of being adopted by foster parents and your attitude is "well, she deserved it" ?! Jesus would weep if hadn't grown tired of these endless streams of justifications for treating people like shit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:18 AM on January 25 [15 favorites +] [!]

I would like to say that the extreme tolerance for abuse of the weak and the desire to see people who offend us even in the slightest suffer extreme punishments that I see in this thread is surprising, but after the "Kip Hawley is an idiot" thread, I'm pretty much convinced that Metafilter users would largely welcome a police state so long as it catered to their petty, middle-class prejudices and desires.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on January 25

The woman, box, is losing her children for being rude to someone.
posted by Malor at 9:56 AM on January 25 [11 favorites +] [!]

Their own mother is exactly the person who should be beating their ass (within reason of couse).

If a child is getting disciplined, the parents are the ones who should be doing it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 PM on January 25


From the Affadavit:

-Amy Grant observed Freeman hitting her children repeatedly and yelling profanities at her children and at the flight attendants. She observed Freeman swing with an opened hand down at the children and heard the children crying after being struck;

-Carolyn DeRyder observed Freeman slapping her daughter on the legs 4 to 5 times, as well as yelling profanities at the children and the flight attendants. Deryder also observed Freeman drinking alcohol and throwing a drink on the floor at the flight attendants's feet;

-In the San Francisco airport prior to the departure of the flight, Katie Shanahan observed Freeman drop her son on his back and head on the ground when he did not want to go to the bathroom with her. Freeman left her son on the ground crying for several minutes;

-Dianne Delverstoni was the passenger who first approached the flight attendants regarding Freeman's assaultive behavior toward the children. She observed Freeman hitting her son several times "over and over", using profanity to the flight attendant, and throwing a drink;

-Maria Aldeguer observed Freeman drinking alcohol on the flight, cursing and screaming at her children, and hitting the children with open fists on their shoulders and knees;

-Carrie Storm, who was sitting in front of Freeman on the flight, heard Freeman hitting her children "the entire flight", to the point where the children were trying to hide in a corner and on the floor;

-David Shipman stated that he observed Freeman hit her children with a closed fist during the flight


Does any of the above observations by multiple people qualify as "treating people like shit"? "Abuse of the weak", indeed. Quick, someone give her the children back so she can continue to drunkenly abuse them. Jesus Christ...
posted by the other side at 9:01 PM on January 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


This thread seemed to get derailed to judging whether this woman deserved to be prosecuted for her misbehavior, when I thought the subject was the misapplication of the PATRIOT act to handle unruly passengers.

Now, if one were to argue that none of the 200 instances mentioned, including the centerpiece example everyone is so keen on critiquing, were examples of this behavior, then it would be interesting. But it seems to me that arguing that this particular woman was bad and needed to be put away and have her children placed with foster parents is beside the point of the article. To say, "You're main example is bad, so the whole thesis is wrong" is a bit weak, in my opinion.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:35 PM on January 25, 2009


Well, it's not that much of a derail if it's the centerpiece example of both posted links, and if it is a derail then it's one that is contributed to just as much by those arguing in the woman's defense. In any case, I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to set the record straight on an inaccurate story that is apparently making the rounds.

I'd say the writer of this piece sums it up nicely:

As I have often argued on this blog, citizens should remain vigilant about how our government uses the convenient excuse of the War on Terror to expand police powers and trammel rights in a manner unrelated to legitimate anti-terrorist efforts. The media does it job when it reports on genuine abuses and expansions of power. However, like the boy who cried wolf, the media does more harm than good when it does not do its homework before asserting that pre-existing norms and practices are actually new developments. And the media certainly doesn’t do its job when it attempts to sanitize someone like Tamera Freeman.

Also, perhaps other people are arguing for what you wrote in your last sentence - I can't speak for them - but I'm certainly not, and, in any case, you're free to discuss other examples or the general topic at your leisure.
posted by the other side at 10:00 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, it's not that much of a derail if it's the centerpiece example of both posted links, and if it is a derail then it's one that is contributed to just as much by those arguing in the woman's defense.

And if the best example of PATRIOT Act overreaching they could find was a child abuser who wasn't even convicted under the PATRIOT Act, well, it makes you wonder.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:37 PM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm going to point this out again, but she wasn't convicted of 'terrorism', and she wasn't convicted under the PATRIOT Act. What she did was a crime before the Patriot Act existed.
posted by empath at 10:39 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I should also point out, that just because a law hasn't been abused yet, that doesn't mean it's not a bad law.
posted by empath at 10:41 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does any of the above observations by multiple people qualify as "treating people like shit"? "Abuse of the weak", indeed. Quick, someone give her the children back so she can continue to drunkenly abuse them. Jesus Christ...

Just wait ten years and I'm sure those kids will do something awful enough to justify to her abusive treatment.
posted by peeedro at 10:50 PM on January 25, 2009


Unruly passengers may deserve some punishment. But felonies for "terrorism" are a bit extreme.
posted by Maztec at 12:24 AM on January 26, 2009


You can point out that she's a piece of shit all you want, and I'll agree with you; people who hit their kids deserve to be in jail, full stop. But that's not the point. Many peoples' first reaction to this, before the story changed to her being a piece of shit, when the story was about a woman being victimized, was to put on their best smug internet face and inform us all that The Bitch Had It Coming. That's an unbelievably dangerous attitude that I've seen time and again, here and elsewhere.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:06 AM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, I'm sure you'd have a civil avenue to explore, but it would be tricky, and difficult to really get the ball rolling.

Threatening passengers with violation of federal offenses and felony charges (and lying about passenger behavior) must constitute some kind of criminal violation, since flight attendants are not officers of the law. Does a contract of carriage really allow any and all abusive and perjurious behaviors? I can't believe people are arguing rationally that flight attendants should be allowed that much power over the freedom of other human beings.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:28 AM on January 26, 2009


Threatening passengers with violation of federal offenses and felony charges (and lying about passenger behavior) must constitute some kind of criminal violation, since flight attendants are not officers of the law.

Lying to the police can of course be a crime. I'm not sure why you think it's a crime to tell someone that what they're doing or contemplating doing is a crime, and that if they continue, you'll report them to the police, though.

Do you think it's a crime to tell someone to get off your property, or you'll call the police?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:23 AM on January 26, 2009


well, it makes you wonder.

What does it make you wonder?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:26 AM on January 26, 2009


Most contracts of carriage stipulate that carriers can refuse to transport or can remove passengers for refusing to obey instructions from the flight crew. In some cases, those who disobey and are perceived to have "intimidated" a flight crew member can be charged with Interference with Flight Crew Members and Attendants, which carries penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment (or life imprisonment if a dangerous weapon is used).

"Instructions" in these contracts of carriage is not further defined. Instructions can range from "Stop talking loudly" and "Remove your hat" to much more serious demands.

Further, "[i]nterference with a flight crew member or attendant is a general intent crime, and does not require a specific intent either to intimidate the flight crew member or attendant or to interfere with t he performance of his or her duties."
posted by terranova at 10:56 AM on January 26, 2009


I can't believe people are arguing rationally that flight attendants should be allowed that much power over the freedom of other human beings.

This law is nothing new. It's been in place since 1958.
posted by empath at 11:00 AM on January 26, 2009


Do you think it's a crime to tell someone to get off your property, or you'll call the police?

Not at all, but then that question has nothing to do with this topic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:06 AM on January 26, 2009


I have to agree it's a major abuse of authority. I mean, if I've had a few drinks, and I want to throw stuff, and maybe go up into the cockpit and give the pilot a piece of my mind and a punch or two, who the hell are these air servants to tell me I can't?
posted by happyroach at 11:37 AM on January 26, 2009


Not at all, but then that question has nothing to do with this topic.

I'm not following you. Your question was "... is there a way to arrest or bring a civil case against flight attendants for ... threatening the physical and mental health of passengers with the abusive misapplication of hastily-written laws..."

Setting aside questions of what precisely constitutes "abuse," it does not seem to be assault if Person A tells Person B that he intends to report Person B to authorities for perceived violations of the law.

In other words...
"Sir, if you don't take your seat, we're going to land this plane..." <-- rights under contract of carriage

"...and call the FBI." <-- a right that anyone has.

If the act is malicious (e.g. "If you don't sit down, I'm going to LIE to the FBI and tell them you threatened to attack me"), or if the report made after the fact is deliberately false, then those are other matters.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:39 AM on January 26, 2009


"...and call the FBI." <>

I think the difference is pretty obvious, in that we have flight attendants being given undue authority to abuse their "call" to the authorities — colluding in dishonesty, in some cases — which leads to passengers receiving felony convictions, being put on terrorist watch lists, etc. for behavior wildly incommensurate with the offense — and in some cases, there is no offense on the passengers part to begin with. It is the starkly disproportionate and abusive response that seems criminally excessive.

The only way this would be similar to a "get off my lawn" statement is if that includes a "get off my lawn, or I'll use my position and influence to ensure that you become a registered sex offender wherever you live." That would be roughly equivalent, insofar as such a metaphor is even reasonable to make.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 PM on January 26, 2009


The only way this would be similar to a "get off my lawn" statement is if that includes a "get off my lawn, or I'll use my position and influence to ensure that you become a registered sex offender wherever you live."

Well, unless I'm missing something, in our hypothetical case involving Satan's flight attendant, there would still be an arraignment and a trial, in which witnesses (e.g. other passengers) could be called. And if you could prove that criminal malfeasance was involved (e.g. "I'll use my position and influence to ensure that you become a registered sex offender wherever you live."), you'd still have a civil case to explore.

You seem to be hinting, though, that you feel that, short of a literal take-this-plane-to-Cuba terrorist threat, there are no circumstances under which a flight crew could act to deal with an unruly passenger.

Look, I'm a big guy. I know that if your average Joe or Jane Schmoe gets out of hand on a plane, I'd have a good chance of dealing with him before anything real happens. It's not a concern to me.

But my elderly grandma gets all out of sorts whenever someone starts an argument near her. Now put my grandma inside a metal tube 30,000 feet in the air, and there's a not-insignificant chance she'd have a conniption if something really weird were to happen.

The one time somebody had a freak out near me on an airplane (dude had an epileptic seizure), my heart started going.

So, yeah, I kinda like the idea that a flight attendant could say, "Hey, sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up or we'll radio ahead to our destination," and actually have that be meaningful.

won't somebody think of my grandma?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:54 PM on January 26, 2009


You seem to be hinting, though, that you feel that, short of a literal take-this-plane-to-Cuba terrorist threat, there are no circumstances under which a flight crew could act to deal with an unruly passenger.

Not at all.

The one time somebody had a freak out near me on an airplane (dude had an epileptic seizure), my heart started going.

Would it be reasonable to threaten to put him on a terrorist list? Is that a reasonable response on the part of a flight attendant?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:23 PM on January 26, 2009


They were convicted of "interfering with a flight crew" which has been a felony since 1958. No one in the article was convicted of terrorism or put on a terrorist list.
posted by empath at 3:43 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Quote from one of the articles referenced:
In one case, a couple was arrested after an argument with a flight attendant, who claimed the couple was engaged in "overt sexual activity" -- an FBI affidavit said the two were "embracing, kissing and acting in a manner that made other passengers uncomfortable."
So wait, does this mean I get to call the boner police and have some guy declared a terrorist the next time I'm sitting next to some inappropriate asshat on the plane?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:35 PM on January 27, 2009


Or, that this woman can sue the masturbating guy for being a terrorist?)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:38 PM on January 27, 2009


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