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iiandyiiii
08-28-2011, 05:23 PM
Vance Gilbert profiled? (http://boston.com/community/blogs/on_liberty/2011/08/racial_profiling_first_hand.html)

To summarize, a middle aged black musician was flying from Boston to DC. He was reading a book about WWII era airplanes. The plane was stopped before takeoff, and police came onboard, and after asking him a few questions, they continued on (delaying his trip and costing him some major inconvenience/extra expenses). He felt frightened and humiliated, and was deeply distraught.

In the comments in some of the articles reporting it, many readers don't think it's racial profiling- they think it was about the fact that he was reading a book about airplanes, and an extremely minor disagreement he had with a flight attendant.

It's hard to know for sure what was in the minds of the flight crew that decided he needed law enforcement attention, but based on the account it seems likely he was racially profiled to me. What do you think?

Der Trihs
08-28-2011, 05:44 PM
Oh, yes. He was under suspicion for reading about airplanes while having brown skin, in a nation that equates brown skin with "Muslim terrorist". Just look at all the people who are sure that Obama is a "Secret Muslim" and terrorist sympathizer.

Indygrrl
08-28-2011, 05:47 PM
It doesn't sound so much like racial profiling as it does hysteria and ignorance over his reading materials. I have no idea why a book about old planes would throw up red flags, but it seems more likely it was that rather than the fact that he's black.

I'd be interested in more details on this, because it's all crazy-sounding to me.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 06:03 PM
I don't see how it was anything but racial profiling. He's right that the white woman sitting next to him wouldn't have been harassed. The flight attendent sounds like a hysterical, racist little bitch. She should be fired, and this guy should sue the airline into bankruptcy.

FinnAgain
08-28-2011, 06:05 PM
The story is a Rorschach blot.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 06:15 PM
Maybe, but you never see this shit happening to white people - especially not white women.

Argent Towers
08-28-2011, 06:18 PM
Since when are black passengers ever racially profiled as potential risks? Isn't it painfully obvious that it's Arabs (well, Middle Easterners and people who look like them) who have come in for increased scrutiny on planes ever since 9/11? I've never even heard anyone talk about the issue of black airline passengers being racially profiled. Every time I'm at an airport, it seems like the vast majority of the security people are themselves black. It's not like airport security personnel are sheriffs from 1960s Alabama.

The idea that this incident had to do with the man's race is absurd. If he was Arab, I'd buy it. Black? No.

iiandyiiii
08-28-2011, 06:22 PM
Argent Towers-

If you look at a picture of him (on his website (http://vancegilbert.com/)) I can buy that it has to do with his race.

Stratocaster
08-28-2011, 06:22 PM
Not enough info. Don't know why we would assume that he was targeted because he's black. Maybe I'm naive--among the indignities blacks are forced to endure through racism (both overt and more subtle), is there an assumption that they are going to blow up planes?

I'm not getting why that would be the assumption, but maybe I'm missing something. My reaction based on this guy's account is that it's absolutely bizarre. A black guy reading a book on airplanes is a terrorist? I don't get it.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 06:25 PM
Since when are black passengers ever racially profiled as potential risks?If you look at his picture, he looks Middle Eastern.

Not that black men don't get profiled every fucking where they fucking go in this country. If you're unaware of that, you aren't paying attention.

Der Trihs
08-28-2011, 06:27 PM
Don't know why we would assume that he was targeted because he's black. Maybe I'm naive--among the indignities blacks are forced to endure through racism (both overt and more subtle), is there an assumption that they are going to blow up planes?Like I said, Obama gets hit with the assumption that he must be a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer.

Belowjob2.0
08-28-2011, 06:31 PM
http://gonzoshots.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/DSC_30721.JPG

Yeah, he looks to have been eyeballed as Arab.

Argent Towers
08-28-2011, 06:34 PM
All of the Muslim/Terrorist shit with Obama has much more to do with his cultural factors than his "race". I mean, his first and middle names are Arabic, his father was raised Muslim and his stepfather was from a Muslim country. It's still ridiculous, but I wouldn't say it's because he's black. If we had a Democratic president who was black, born in Baltimore or Atlanta, with a typical African-American name, I am sure there would be plenty of racist bullshit thrown at him just like there is with Obama, but it's unlikely that terrorism or Islam would be part of it.

tomndebb
08-28-2011, 06:41 PM
A question of moving his carry-on luggage, (while polite, he declined her offer that would have resulted in her handling his bag), combined with a clueless stew who saw a book on planes is more than enough to bring on this incident without any ethnic, (black or Arab), aspects.

Was the incident pretty dumb and does it reflect a lot of the stupidity that has infected the country in the last 9 3/4 years? Yep.
Is it possible that Mr. Vance's skin color played a part in the anxiety of the stew? It is possible.
Barring additional aspects of the event that have not yet come to light, there is no need to trumpet "racism" as the the cause. We really do not know that a blonde white guy would have been treated differently.

jsgoddess
08-28-2011, 07:40 PM
I saw his picture here (http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/stardem.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/5/bf/e77/5bfe77c6-7ccc-11e0-af85-001cc4c03286-revisions/4dcc321630a77.image.jpg).

I consider it very likely it has to do with his appearance.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 07:45 PM
Of course it has to do with his appearance. I don't know why so many people are so invested in trying to deny racial profiling exists.

Argent Towers
08-28-2011, 07:57 PM
After seeing his picture, yes, I agree his appearance probably played a big role. The beard doesn't do him any favors (I mean, with the kind of idiots who think that "beard" equals "terrorist.")

Indygrrl
08-28-2011, 08:10 PM
Of course it has to do with his appearance. I don't know why so many people are so invested in trying to deny racial profiling exists.

I certainly don't deny it exists, but going from the information in the man's letter, and not knowing what he looks like, it didn't seem like the most obvious explanation for what happened. Now that I've seen his picture, I'm more inclined to agree.

Regardless of the reason, it was bs that he got singled out like that, and it's evident that the TSA is out-of-control and fear and hysteria rule air travel these days.

Ají de Gallina
08-28-2011, 08:17 PM
I wouldn't say profiling simply for technicalities, i.e. there doesn't seem to be a method or set of reasons. Dumb people, dumb and scared people and flying while Arab-looking (and therefore Arabs-are-all-suspicious).

Two days on the beach and a week without shaving and I have Al-Qaeda written on my face, even being white guy.

Rand Rover
08-28-2011, 08:17 PM
A question of moving his carry-on luggage, (while polite, he declined her offer that would have resulted in her handling his bag), combined with a clueless stew who saw a book on planes is more than enough to bring on this incident without any ethnic, (black or Arab), aspects.

Was the incident pretty dumb and does it reflect a lot of the stupidity that has infected the country in the last 9 3/4 years? Yep.
Is it possible that Mr. Vance's skin color played a part in the anxiety of the stew? It is possible.
Barring additional aspects of the event that have not yet come to light, there is no need to trumpet "racism" as the the cause. We really do not know that a blonde white guy would have been treated differently.
Yep, agreed entirely. How anyone could think this incident must have been a case of racial profiling is beyond me (well, it's not really, given that I know how some people think, but you know what I mean). Some people will reach for anything to hang their "racism is everywhere" hat on.

Dio, here's a challenge: come up with an argument for why this incident must have involved racial profiling that does not exhibit the same thinking used in most arguments for the existence of god. So far you've got "it must have been, that's the only possible explanation," which is a faith-based position that fails this challenge.

iiandyiiii
08-28-2011, 08:30 PM
Yep, agreed entirely. How anyone could think this incident must have been a case of racial profiling is beyond me (well, it's not really, given that I know how some people think, but you know what I mean). Some people will reach for anything to hang their "racism is everywhere" hat on.

Dio, here's a challenge: come up with an argument for why this incident must have involved racial profiling that does not exhibit the same thinking used in most arguments for the existence of god. So far you've got "it must have been, that's the only possible explanation," which is a faith-based position that fails this challenge.

Rand, I don't think we can know for sure (since this would require mind reading), but after looking at a picture of the guy, I think it's certainly reasonable to say it's likely. Guy that is not doing ANYTHING that a reasonable person could consider as suspicious behavior, but happens to look like he might have middle eastern or north african background, is singled out and questioned? I think it's very likely that his appearance had something to do with it.

Der Trihs
08-28-2011, 08:45 PM
Dio, here's a challenge: come up with an argument for why this incident must have involved racial profiling that does not exhibit the same thinking used in most arguments for the existence of god.Considering that racial profiling actually exists, there's no comparison. In order for your comparison to work, gods would have to be a frequent and well known phenomenon and we'd only be arguing over the existence of a particular god. Not "are gods real", but "is Vurgo the Destroyer real, Zeus hired us yesterday to find out".

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 08:51 PM
Yep, agreed entirely. How anyone could think this incident must have been a case of racial profiling is beyond me (well, it's not really, given that I know how some people think, but you know what I mean). Some people will reach for anything to hang their "racism is everywhere" hat on.

Dio, here's a challenge: come up with an argument for why this incident must have involved racial profiling that does not exhibit the same thinking used in most arguments for the existence of god. So far you've got "it must have been, that's the only possible explanation," which is a faith-based position that fails this challenge.
Because there is no other element which would provoke fear. That was easy,

gonzomax
08-28-2011, 09:23 PM
Yes it was racial profiling. A white person reading that book would not have pinged the flight attendant's terrorist radar. She made an assumption based on looks. He did not look white. He had a beard. That is proof .
It is beyond me how someone can not see what is so blatant and obvious.

Rand Rover
08-28-2011, 09:39 PM
Because there is no other element which would provoke fear. That was easy,

Just like there must have been something that created the universe, right9. Without god, there wouldn't even bve a space for nothingness to exist.

I'm totally fine with you holding faith-based positions, just at least acknowledge that that is what you are doing.

Ibn Warraq
08-28-2011, 09:55 PM
I have a very difficult time believing that if he'd been white he'd have been treated this way.

As for those who ask why a black man would be affected since he wasn't Arab or Muslim, I'd merely point out that many blacks are Muslims and, also Arabs(Somalia and the Sudan).

Moreover, it's easy for people to make bad assumptions about people's ethnic background based on their physical appearance.

I've been mistaken for being Hispanic or Arab despite being Iranian and lets not forget that poor Brazilian guy shot to death by London police officers who thought he was Muslim.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 09:55 PM
Just like there must have been something that created the universe, right.
No, not like that at all. There does not have to be something that "created" the universe. There does have to be something that caused this incident. The only element in play that would cause fear was his skin color. The book alone would have not drawn any notice if Miranda Cosgrove was reading it.

Der Trihs
08-28-2011, 09:56 PM
Just like there must have been something that created the universe, right9. Without god, there wouldn't even bve a space for nothingness to exist. The comparison is still silly. Are you trying to claim that racial profiling doesn't exist, that it violates physical laws? And the religious idea itself is stupid, as has often been pointed out; pushing the problems of origin back as step solves nothing, and if the universe required a place to come into begin, so did "god".

tomndebb
08-28-2011, 10:00 PM
Of course it has to do with his appearance. I don't know why so many people are so invested in trying to deny racial profiling exists.I'm not sure why you have decided to twist my words to say something that I have not said and would not say.
I clearly noted that his skin color might have played a role in the situation. I have simply further noted that it was not a necessary component.

How anyone could think this incident must have been a case of racial profiling is beyond me. . . . This is as silly a comment as the absolute declarations of Dio and gonzo and Der Trihs. While the the "must" aspect is open to question, Mr. Vane's appearance could certainly have triggered (or contributed to) the fears of the flight attendant.

Because there is no other element which would provoke fear. That was easy,I'm sorry, but this is just nonsense.
A passenger carrying an extra bag who makes a point of preventing an attendant from handling it is easily as much a source of fear. Irrational, perhaps, but no more necessary than his appearance.

leahcim
08-28-2011, 10:18 PM
Yes it was racial profiling. A white person reading that book would not have pinged the flight attendant's terrorist radar. She made an assumption based on looks. He did not look white. He had a beard. That is proof .
It is beyond me how someone can not see what is so blatant and obvious.

That being said, it sounds like the cops they called just rolled their eyes at the flight attendant's claims (insofar as they are allowed to do so). There was stupid, but at least it didn't spread.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 10:30 PM
I agree, I think it was the flight attendent freaking out and security just needing to follow protocol.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 10:31 PM
I'm sorry, but this is just nonsense.
A passenger carrying an extra bag who makes a point of preventing an attendant from handling it is easily as much a source of fear. Irrational, perhaps, but no more necessary than his appearance.
This happens on every flight. I'm not buying that, without the man's physical appearance, it would have triggered any fear.

jsgoddess
08-28-2011, 10:34 PM
This happens on every flight. I'm not buying that, without the man's physical appearance, it would have triggered any fear.

It happens all the time. "Shall I put this in the overhead for you?" "No, I'll put it under the seat."

Jesus, it's not like he freaked out a clutched it to his chest while screaming "Don't touch my precious!"

tomndebb
08-28-2011, 10:35 PM
This happens on every flight. I'm not buying that, without the man's physical appearance, it would have triggered any fear.Really? On every flight, there is at least one passenger carrying multiple bags who makes a point to refuse to let a fight attendant touch any of them?

I don't deny the possibility of ethnic prejudice, but your whole claim eliminating any other possibility is nothing more than a feeling you have.

Little Nemo
08-28-2011, 10:37 PM
I personally have my doubts that this was a racial issue. It sounds more like a case of security hysteria ("Omigod, he's gathering information about airplanes!").

bengangmo
08-28-2011, 10:45 PM
Yes it was racial profiling. A white person reading that book would not have pinged the flight attendant's terrorist radar. She made an assumption based on looks. He did not look white. He had a beard. That is proof .
It is beyond me how someone can not see what is so blatant and obvious.

You're kinda conveniently leaving out the part about how he refused to let a flight attendent touch his bag...


FWIW, it seems that racism (rather than profiling) on the part of the flight attendant may (not definitively did) have played a role in the police being called, but the police seem to have behaved entirely appropriately

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 11:14 PM
Really? On every flight, there is at least one passenger carrying multiple bags who makes a point to refuse to let a fight attendant touch any of them?
Yeah, pretty much, though "refuse," and "make a point" are a too strong a characterization here. It wasn't like she was insisting and he was adamantly refusing.
I don't deny the possibility of ethnic prejudice, but your whole claim eliminating any other possibility is nothing more than a feeling you have.
In my opinion, the appearance alone, would not have been enough, but his appearance made the flight attendant read way too much into the other stuff.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-28-2011, 11:17 PM
You're kinda conveniently leaving out the part about how he refused to let a flight attendent touch his bag...
I disagree with this characterization. She asked him if she wanted him to stow it overhead, he said he preferred to put it under his seat. he wasn't saying "don't touch my bag."

Bryan Ekers
08-29-2011, 02:44 AM
After seeing his picture, this looks to me like a case of beardal profiling.

Acid Lamp
08-29-2011, 07:00 AM
Initially I was going to say "no" until I looked at the gentleman in question. Now I'm going to have to enter in a resounding "yes". That attendant is an idiot and should be fired.

Garfield226
08-29-2011, 08:20 AM
Initially I was going to say "no" until I looked at the gentleman in question. Now I'm going to have to enter in a resounding "yes". That attendant is an idiot and should be fired.

So based on the flight attendant's actions it wasn't racial profiling until you saw the skin color of the man singled out, and then it was. Do you realize how ridiculous that is?

If a white guy is going through security and gets pulled aside for further questioning, and then the brown guy right behind him also gets pulled aside, all other things being equal, you can't scream "racial profiling!" at the second one.

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 08:31 AM
This is as silly a comment as the absolute declarations of Dio and gonzo and Der Trihs. While the the "must" aspect is open to question, Mr. Vane's appearance could certainly have triggered (or contributed to) the fears of the flight attendant.:rolleyes: Please read for comprehension before responding. You and I are saying the same thing. I said it's stupid for Dio to believe there must have been racial profiling involved, and I of course agree that it is possible it was involved.

Also, Dio, your argument from lack of imagination still utterly fails. You are saying "it must have been racial profiling because I can't imagine any other reason." Well, out here in the real world, we are free to do things that you can't imagine. On this issue you are a bible-thumper, spreading the gospel of "racism is everywhere" with no regard to the existence of actual evidence for that position.

kayaker
08-29-2011, 08:54 AM
this guy should sue the airline into bankruptcy.

How close is United to bankruptcy prior to Mr Gill pursuing his law suit?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 09:27 AM
:rolleyes: Please read for comprehension before responding. You and I are saying the same thing. I said it's stupid for Dio to believe there must have been racial profiling involved, and I of course agree that it is possible it was involved.

Also, Dio, your argument from lack of imagination still utterly fails. You are saying "it must have been racial profiling because I can't imagine any other reason." Well, out here in the real world, we are free to do things that you can't imagine. On this issue you are a bible-thumper, spreading the gospel of "racism is everywhere" with no regard to the existence of actual evidence for that position.
You are, once again, imagining things about my attitudes and posting history.

Acid Lamp
08-29-2011, 09:46 AM
So based on the flight attendant's actions it wasn't racial profiling until you saw the skin color of the man singled out, and then it was. Do you realize how ridiculous that is?

If a white guy is going through security and gets pulled aside for further questioning, and then the brown guy right behind him also gets pulled aside, all other things being equal, you can't scream "racial profiling!" at the second one.

Reading the article gave some credence to the idea the the FA was made nervous by a guy reading about planes, which is absurd in an of itself. The question though was whether or not her disproportionate response was racially motivated. Mr. Gilbert is African American, but could also pass for North African/ Arabic/ Egyptian. He also wears a short, neat full beard. Given those circumstances I think it WAS racial profiling. Nobody freaks out over a person reading a book about bi-planes for Og's sake. He is an American citizen, traveling with proper identification and tickets, and yet this bearded, tan- skinned man was singled out for "reading a book about planes". Even the police thought it was ridiculous.

Peremensoe
08-29-2011, 10:08 AM
A passenger carrying an extra bag who makes a point of preventing an attendant from handling it is easily as much a source of fear.

You're kinda conveniently leaving out the part about how he refused to let a flight attendent touch his bag...

He did not "make a point of preventing" her from doing anything. The only thing he "refused," to a normal reading, is an inconsequential offer of assistance. She asked if she could stow his "fanny pack" for him.

I replied to her that I'd be fine just stuffing it next to my back-pack under the seat in front of me as it contained my wallet etc and that I'd rather have it near. She seemed fine with that resolution. All that was done without consternation or belligerence, and I thought nothing of it.

Notice that he has another, larger bag under the seat that she did not say anything about or attempt to handle. Presumably Gilbert and both these bags went through standard airport security to get to that point. It doesn't make any sense for the fanny pack, or his wanting to hang on to it, to be a "source of fear."

Does this attendant call the police on women passengers who want to keep their purses close at hand during a flight?

Kearsen
08-29-2011, 10:15 AM
Rand, I don't think we can know for sure (since this would require mind reading), but after looking at a picture of the guy, I think it's certainly reasonable to say it's likely. Guy that is not doing ANYTHING that a reasonable person could consider as suspicious behavior, but happens to look like he might have middle eastern or north african background, is singled out and questioned? I think it's very likely that his appearance had something to do with it.

People get singled out at airports all the time, even 6 yr old white kids.
http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/04/screening-of-6-year-old-at-msy.html

But we so want to believe that this poor bloke was discriminated against. Uh huh.

gonzomax
08-29-2011, 10:17 AM
You're kinda conveniently leaving out the part about how he refused to let a flight attendent touch his bag...


FWIW, it seems that racism (rather than profiling) on the part of the flight attendant may (not definitively did) have played a role in the police being called, but the police seem to have behaved entirely appropriately
Reread it. That did not happen. She asked if he wanted to put it in the overhead and he took option B. Push it under his seat. There was no altercation over that.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 10:20 AM
Your link is in no way analogous to the topic at hand. Planes do not get held up because a white kid is reading a book about bi-planes.

Kearsen
08-29-2011, 10:27 AM
Your link is in no way analogous to the topic at hand. Planes do not get held up because a white kid is reading a book about bi-planes.


Your woo woo is in no way analogous to this topic either. You simply do not know yet you are asserting with no proof that this particular incident was a race issue.

Chronos
08-29-2011, 10:32 AM
I'm curious to see what the airline's official response is going to be. Regardless of whether this was racial profiling or not, it's definitely something absurd. I mean, even if they try to claim that it was solely because of his reading material, that still pegs out the WTF meter.

Hey, here's an experiment: My mom (a 70-year-old white woman) is flying out to visit me next week. I'll ask her to bring a book on aviation, and see if she gets any reaction at all to it.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 10:36 AM
Your woo woo is in no way analogous to this topic either. You simply do not know yet you are asserting with no proof that this particular incident was a race issue.
There is no other plausible explanation.

Peremensoe
08-29-2011, 10:38 AM
Hey, somebody I know had a book about Afghanistan and the Taliban on a plane a while back. I wonder why she didn't get questioned.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 10:41 AM
A white woman could be reading a book called Hijacking Planes for Dummies and not get bothered.

Kearsen
08-29-2011, 10:43 AM
There is no other plausible explanation.

Diogenes, has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, there are people out there smarter than you? They may have been able to come up with a differing point of view from yours, and that even further out, they may be the correct one.

In fact, some have even been offered here. Yet you refuse to see the other side of the coin.
That is eerily similar to religious fervor.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 11:02 AM
No other plausible explanation has been offered up. The suggestion that it was the book alone, or that it was because he preferred to put his fanny pack under his seat rather than stow it overhead are laughable.

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 12:36 PM
Dio, simply repeating your argument from lack of imagination doesn't strengthen it.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 12:39 PM
It doesn't need strengthening. It's already airtight.

You also don't seem to know much about critical thinking, since you appear to be completely unaware that you don't have to keep "imagining" explanations once you've already got one that's perfectly adequate.

Little Nemo
08-29-2011, 01:10 PM
Dio, take a deep breath and stop and think for a minute about what you're saying.

If the only possible explanation why Gilbert was questioned was his race then that means there are no possible non-racial reasons for being questioned.

And if there's no non-racial reason why a person would be questioned, then that would mean no white person would ever be questioned by the police.

And are you going to claim that no white person has ever been questioned by the police?

It's one thing to say that racial profiling is the most likely explanation. But when you claim racial profiling is the only possible explanation, you've put yourself into an untenable position.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 01:13 PM
Dio, take a deep breath and stop and think for a minute about what you're saying.

If the only possible explanation why Gilbert was questioned was his race then that means there are no possible non-racial reasons for being questioned.

And if there's no non-racial reason why a person would be questioned, then that would mean no white person would ever be questioned by the police.

And are you going to claim that no white person has ever been questioned by the police?

It's one thing to say that racial profiling is the most likely explanation. But when you claim racial profiling is the only possible explanation, you've put yourself into an untenable position.
I'm not saying any of that. I'm not generalizing anything, just talking about the specifics of this one case. In this one case, no other element would have caused fear but his physical appearance. No white person reading a book on bi-planes would have caused hysterical terror in a flight attendant.

Justin_Bailey
08-29-2011, 01:20 PM
I'm not saying any of that. I'm not generalizing anything, just talking about the specifics of this one case. In this one case, no other element would have caused fear but his physical appearance. No white person reading a book on bi-planes would have caused hysterical terror in a flight attendant.

We don't know the book Gilbert was reading (though Amazon offers up a few (http://www.amazon.com/Polish-Aircraft-1893-1939-Jerzy-Cynk/dp/0370000854/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314641763&sr=1-1) possibilities (http://www.amazon.com/White-Eagles-Aircraft-Operations-1918-1939/dp/1902109732/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314641763&sr=1-5)), but if the flight attendant was stupid enough to mistake those books as terrorist wank material, I don't think Gilbert's skin color was the deciding factor.

My grandma could have been reading my little cousin "Timmy's First Airplane Ride" and the flight attendant would have freaked.

markdash
08-29-2011, 01:49 PM
We don't know the book Gilbert was reading (though Amazon offers up a few (http://www.amazon.com/Polish-Aircraft-1893-1939-Jerzy-Cynk/dp/0370000854/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314641763&sr=1-1) possibilities (http://www.amazon.com/White-Eagles-Aircraft-Operations-1918-1939/dp/1902109732/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314641763&sr=1-5)), but if the flight attendant was stupid enough to mistake those books as terrorist wank material, I don't think Gilbert's skin color was the deciding factor.

My grandma could have been reading my little cousin "Timmy's First Airplane Ride" and the flight attendant would have freaked.

Really?

It doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to think that we might just have a racist flight attendant on our hands. That's not an outrageous suggestion.

She should be fired, and this guy should sue the airline into bankruptcy.

For delaying his flight? And costing him some money? And emotional distress?

I have no problem with this guy getting a 5 figure payment for his troubles. But millions (which is what you seem to be suggesting)? Come on.

Justin_Bailey
08-29-2011, 01:52 PM
Really?

It doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to think that we might just have a racist flight attendant on our hands. That's not an outrageous suggestion.

I didn't say it was outrageous. I said that anyone who would freak out over an aviation history book (especially if it looks like the ones I found on Amazon) is likely so jumpy that his skin color was only a small part of the reasoning behind their freakout.

Chronos
08-29-2011, 02:01 PM
You're assuming a priori that the flight attendant did freak out over an aviation history book, as opposed to her freaking out because the guy looked like he might be Arabic.

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 02:02 PM
It doesn't need strengthening. It's already airtight.

You also don't seem to know much about critical thinking, since you appear to be completely unaware that you don't have to keep "imagining" explanations once you've already got one that's perfectly adequate.

Right, like the explanation that god created the universe.

You are Ţhe one with the critical thinking problem. You pick one possible explanation and believe that it can be the only explanation without any evidence that knocks out other possible explanations or makes the one you picked more likely. You have a faith-based position.

Justin_Bailey
08-29-2011, 02:05 PM
You're assuming a priori that the flight attendant did freak out over an aviation history book, as opposed to her freaking out because the guy looked like he might be Arabic.

I have to assume this flight attendant doesn't freak out over every Arab-looking guy she sees or else he/she would have been in the news for something like this before. Unless this was their first flight. At which point they definitely need to be fired for being a crazy person.

Bri2k
08-29-2011, 02:16 PM
Goodness knows if this was truly racial profiling or not, but it sure can be construed that way. I don't blame Mr. Gilbert for feeling the way he did and I hope he gets reimbursed for his losses at a bare minimum.

I'm a short white guy with a beard. Last winter, I took a flight to Vegas and bought a book on the Battle of Britain to read. No one said anything to me, but I did get pulled for the backscatter screen a couple days later while flying home. I think that had more to do with my Steelers shirt and the possibility that the TSA guy might've been a Jets fan (the Jets & Steelers were in a playoff game that night).

I totally agree that security has become a fear-filled circus that doesn't actually keep us safer. My ticket to Vegas was bought in advance and was round-trip from where I live. Any competent agency concerned with actual security could've checked all that out beforehand to see that I am zero threat.

Bri2k

markdash
08-29-2011, 02:22 PM
I have to assume this flight attendant doesn't freak out over every Arab-looking guy she sees or else he/she would have been in the news for something like this before. Unless this was their first flight. At which point they definitely need to be fired for being a crazy person.

Right, but all it took was a book even vaguely related to something possibly terrorist that she freaked out. Sounds like she was looking for a reason to assume someone was a terrorist.

Justin_Bailey
08-29-2011, 02:28 PM
I totally agree that security has become a fear-filled circus that doesn't actually keep us safer. My ticket to Vegas was bought in advance and was round-trip from where I live. Any competent agency concerned with actual security could've checked all that out beforehand to see that I am zero threat.

What does that prove? Maybe you're a terrorist who's heard the "one-way ticket story" over the last decade and decided to be smarter about it?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 02:36 PM
Right, like the explanation that god created the universe.
No, not like that at all. Dreaming up magic fairies as creators of the universe is a perfect example (really THE classic example) of multiplying entia beyond their necessity. "God" is not an adequate explanation for the universe. In fact, it's not an explanation at all. The universe can be explained without magic, therefore it's unnecessary to hypothesize magic.

Not that there's actually any sensible analogous connection to this discussion, but I will reiterate that physical appearance is the only characteristic which it is reasonable to believe would cause a flight attendant to freak out over the other things. It is tendentious and disingenuous to pretend that the other factors, without his racial appearance would have incurred the same response.

Having said that, your tortured attempt to somehow compare this assumption on my part (even if I'm wrong) to believing in magic fairies without evidence is strained and lame and doesn't parse logically. It isn't clever, it just shows your lack of experience in trying to argue philosphically.

jsgoddess
08-29-2011, 02:37 PM
Right, but all it took was a book even vaguely related to something possibly terrorist that she freaked out. Sounds like she was looking for a reason to assume someone was a terrorist.

Right. His being Arab-ish looking maybe was enough to turn something innocuous if done by a really white guy into something sinister. This is how profiling usually works. It isn't just "I'm going to investigate you for absolutely no reason." It's "I'm going to investigate you for doing X while I wouldn't investigate another person for doing X because you look sinister because people who look like you just are."

Middle-aged white woman gets the benefit of the doubt. Middle-aged bearded brown man doesn't. That's racial profiling.

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 03:20 PM
No, not like that at all. Dreaming up magic fairies as creators of the universe is a perfect example (really THE classic example) of multiplying entia beyond their necessity. "God" is not an adequate explanation for the universe. In fact, it's not an explanation at all. The universe can be explained without magic, therefore it's unnecessary to hypothesize magic.

Not that there's actually any sensible analogous connection to this discussion, but I will reiterate that physical appearance is the only characteristic which it is reasonable to believe would cause a flight attendant to freak out over the other things. It is tendentious and disingenuous to pretend that the other factors, without his racial appearance would have incurred the same response.

Having said that, your tortured attempt to somehow compare this assumption on my part (even if I'm wrong) to believing in magic fairies without evidence is strained and lame and doesn't parse logically. It isn't clever, it just shows your lack of experience in trying to argue philosphically.
First, I agree that there is a lack of symmetry as it relates to creation of magical beings or not. But the point you keep missing is that there is perfect symmetry as it relates to evaluating possibilities and deciding on likely causes. That is, the Christian decides that "goddidit" is the only reasonable explanation and rejects other possibilities despite the lack of evidence for their chosen explanation, and you do the same thing with "it was racial profiling."

Second, you are getting too personal for this forum. Before you rag on my ability to make philosophical arguments, you ma want to remember which of us gets paid to exercise judgement in making and evaluating arguments and which of us gets paid to cook dinner for grandma.

Marley23
08-29-2011, 03:23 PM
Second, you are getting too personal for this forum. Before you rag on my ability to make philosophical arguments, you ma want to remember which of us gets paid to exercise judgement in making and evaluating arguments and which of us gets paid to cook dinner for grandma.
This is why people shouldn't junior moderate. It's kind of obnoxious on its own, and when it's coupled with an insulting comment, it looks even worse. You're being a jerk. This is a formal warning: don't do it again.

Stratocaster
08-29-2011, 03:25 PM
Diogenes, you're assuming that the attendant would have reacted rationally (accepting the account provided) if the customer had been white. Why? Why isn't it just as reasonable that the way she processed his reaction, and the book itself--however irrational that assessment was--was reason enough, as far as she was concerned?

That's the point. How do we know she doesn't react like a scared kid to anyone reading a book on planes who avoided having her touch his carry-on bag? She's a model of logic, except when blacks are concerned? Why is that the only plausible explanation? Why can't she just be a non-racist nut?

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 03:25 PM
ETA (balcakberry style): on the first part of my post above, it doesn't matter that you don't believe magical beings exist and you don't think they are necessary to explain the universe existing. The christian does believe that. The parallel comes in how you and the christian stick to your beliefs without evidence for them simply because you believe they are the only possible explanation.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 03:39 PM
Diogenes, you're assuming that the attendant would have reacted rationally (accepting the account provided) if the customer had been white. Why?
Because nothing else was unusual or disturbing. Certainly not stuffing a fanny pack under a seat.
Why isn't it just as reasonable that the way she processed his reaction, and the book itself--however irrational that assessment was--was reason enough, as far as she was concerned?
It's not impossible, but I think the odds are so unlikely as to be easily dismissible.
That's the point. How do we know she doesn't react like a scared kid to anyone reading a book on planes who avoided having her touch his carry-on bag? She's a model of logic, except when blacks are concerned? Why is that the only plausible explanation? Why can't she just be a non-racist nut?
It's not really that he was black, but that he had a beard and looked vaguely middle eastern. That fact, in itself, made her paranoid and overattentive to other details that would have been innocuous coming from a white person (or for that matter a black person who didn't look middle eastern).

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 03:40 PM
ETA (balcakberry style): on the first part of my post above, it doesn't matter that you don't believe magical beings exist and you don't think they are necessary to explain the universe existing. The christian does believe that.
If the Christian believes it is necessary, then the Christian is simply misinformed and factually in error.

Chronos
08-29-2011, 03:49 PM
Quoth Justin Bailey:
I have to assume this flight attendant doesn't freak out over every Arab-looking guy she sees or else he/she would have been in the news for something like this before. Unless this was their first flight. At which point they definitely need to be fired for being a crazy person. And likewise, I have to assume that she doesn't freak out every time she sees someone reading something that could vaguely at a stretch be slightly suspicious, or we'd have likewise heard about it. I mean, several folks in this thread have given examples of reading material they've had on planes that would be just as "interesting" as this case; it can't be all that rare. The simplest explanation is that it was a combination of the book and his appearance: She saw someone who looked Arabic, and then due to her biases started looking extra-hard for things other than race she could pin her suspicion on. In previous cases she didn't find anything, but in this case she did.

Der Trihs
08-29-2011, 03:51 PM
Right, like the explanation that god created the universe.
No matter how many times you repeat it, that's a ridiculous comparison.

ETA (balcakberry style): on the first part of my post above, it doesn't matter that you don't believe magical beings exist and you don't think they are necessary to explain the universe existing. The christian does believe that. The parallel comes in how you and the christian stick to your beliefs without evidence for them simply because you believe they are the only possible explanation.Except that the Christian does have a total lack of evidence. Diogenes on the other hand has the evidence of similar bigotry happening on a regular basis, and the fact that this fits the profile of a racist incident perfectly. Nor unlike the Christian does his explanation violate the laws of physics. They aren't remotely comparable.

I do think that Diogenes to be exaggerating in considering it absolutely certain; but I do consider racism to be by far the most likely explanation. And I do agree that people are bending over backwards to find another explanation.

Stratocaster
08-29-2011, 03:52 PM
Because nothing else was unusual or disturbing. Certainly not stuffing a fanny pack under a seat.But we have no indication that she singles out black guys for no reason at all. To her, this was alarming.It's not impossible, but I think the odds are so unlikely as to be easily dismissible.Why? Why must irrational behavior have racism as the cause? I'm not saying it didn't, but why must this instance be so?

That's where your assessment comes off the rails. It's one thing to assess a series of similar events and say, "It's not plausible that race didn't play a part in some material number of these events." It's another to say, "This instance must have been racism."

I said at the start of this thread, the account was bizarre. It makes no sense. If some strange nut bursts into the room, shrieks, dances around on one foot, and then hits the only black guy there with a pie in the face, what do we conclude? Maybe the nut was racist. Maybe he was just a nut.

Der Trihs
08-29-2011, 03:59 PM
If some strange nut bursts into the room, shrieks, dances around on one foot, and then hits the only black guy there with a pie in the face, what do we conclude? Maybe the nut was racist. Maybe he was just a nut.
If there's a current trend of racists smacking black people with pies, then yes; he's probably a racist. This is hardly some isolated incident. This is just "brown guy must be a terrorist incident #3185".

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 04:05 PM
But we have no indication that she singles out black guys for no reason at all.
Not black guys - guys who appear to be middle eastern.

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 04:31 PM
No matter how many times you repeat it, that's a ridiculous comparison.

Except that the Christian does have a total lack of evidence. Diogenes on the other hand has the evidence of similar bigotry happening on a regular basis, and the fact that this fits the profile of a racist incident perfectly. Nor unlike the Christian does his explanation violate the laws of physics. They aren't remotely comparable.

I do think that Diogenes to be exaggerating in considering it absolutely certain; but I do consider racism to be by far the most likely explanation. And I do agree that people are bending over backwards to find another explanation.
Other incidents do not provide evidence for this incident--they don't say anything at all about what specifically motivated the actions in this specific case. And I've already explained why the laws of physics aren't implicated here.

Novelty Bobble
08-29-2011, 04:33 PM
Did I skip into the wrong board here? It appears that a single story, from the viewpoint of the aggrieved party is enough for some to cry "racism".

Nowhere has anyone offered the airline view of this, All we have is the view of one annoyed man who's motives we don't know and who's recollection we should be wary of.
And yet given that, people are making free with all sorts of wild accusations and theories. Not good enough people. I only hope I never have to rely upon you as jurors.

Is it possible that this was racial profiling? yes. Is it equally possible that the man in question is not being entirely truthful?.....yes. Might be a good idea to wait until the evidence is in.

Or perhaps there are unbiased sources who corroborate his story? That would make a difference but I've seen no-one come forward with that yet.

Der Trihs
08-29-2011, 04:34 PM
Other incidents do not provide evidence for this incident--they don't say anything at all about what specifically motivated the actions in this specific case. They provide evidence all right, by demonstrating a general pattern.

And I've already explained why the laws of physics aren't implicated here.The laws of physics are involved, because they invalidate your comparison.

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 04:47 PM
They provide evidence all right, by demonstrating a general pattern.

The laws of physics are involved, because they invalidate your comparison.

On the first part, that sounds like an argument for racial profiling--the general pattern of bombs and other shenanigans on planes is that it's done by Arab-looking people. In any event, a general pattern of behavior is not evidence for anything that happens in any specific case. To say otherwise is simply ridiculous and betrays a rather shallow intellect, as if a poor black guy on trial for robbery could have to face evidence that he likely did it because of the general pattern of robberies done by poor black guys.

On the second part, you simply don't understand the comparison. I'm comparing how Dio and christians stick to their preferred explanations without evidence for them. any other features of the christian's belief don't matter--it just matters that they like that explanation and don't see any other possibilities and stick to it without any evidence for it.

Der Trihs
08-29-2011, 04:56 PM
On the first part, that sounds like an argument for racial profiling--the general pattern of bombs and other shenanigans on planes is that it's done by Arab-looking people. No; it's more like assuming that a bunch of gun wielding men who burst into a bank are there to rob it. Maybe it's something like a training simulation scheduled wrong, but a bank robbery is the way to bet. Racial profiling fails because race is a a terrible predictor of behavior; the vast majority of people who look Middle Eastern aren't terrorists. And as here, many of them aren't even Middle Eastern in the first place.

In any event, a general pattern of behavior is not evidence for anything that happens in any specific case. To say otherwise is simply ridiculous and betrays a rather shallow intellect, as if a poor black guy on trial for robbery could have to face evidence that he likely did it because of the general pattern of robberies done by poor black guys. This isn't a trial.

On the second part, you simply don't understand the comparison. I'm comparing how Dio and christians stick to their preferred explanations without evidence for them. any other features of the christian's belief don't matter--it just matters that they like that explanation and don't see any other possibilities and stick to it without any evidence for it.Christians stick to impossible beliefs that are internally contradictory and violate the laws of physics. No matter how you spin it, claiming that this is a racist incident isn't an example of outright craziness like Christianity is.

rogerbox
08-29-2011, 05:45 PM
The part that I find amusing is that they ask him about his reading material, as if he would formulate his airplane hijacking plan en-route.

Typo Negative
08-29-2011, 07:27 PM
The part that I find amusing is that they ask him about his reading material, as if he would formulate his airplane hijacking plan en-route.

He had the plan, he was just reading up on how to execute it. Terrorists don't prepare, man!

wedgehed
08-29-2011, 08:10 PM
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Unless you ever flew Eastern Airlines, where malice sufficed.

:)


I'm pretty sure that being a stewardess doesn't automatically make someone an expert on aircraft design & history. Perhaps the sky waitress retained some dim memory of being briefed on terrorist warning signs that included a warning about passengers carrying aircraft schematics or diagrams.

Stupidity, yes. Racial profiling....eh, maybe.

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 08:15 PM
Der Trihs, you are continuing to talk at cross purposes with me. That means that you aren't disagreeing with me, you are just talking about something different.

wedgehed
08-29-2011, 08:16 PM
Christians stick to impossible beliefs that are internally contradictory and violate the laws of physics. No matter how you spin it, claiming that this is a racist incident isn't an example of outright craziness like Christianity is.

Actually, Christians have a pretty good take on things. First, we're all sinners. Second, we're all going to die. Third, nothing in this world is going to change either of the above.

:)

Stratocaster
08-29-2011, 08:45 PM
Not black guys - guys who appear to be middle eastern.Whatever, the points remains. Der Trihs is making the same mistake. A general pattern may permit us to make inferences about the overall population that defines that pattern. It does NOT make any definitive statement about any one occurrence in the population. For example, analysis might show that blacks are disproportionately turned down for loans, relative to whites with similar financial circumstances. That does NOT mean that a given instance of a black man being denied a loan is indicative of racism.

This is a classic logical fallacy. Ask your old logic prof, he'll tell you.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 08:49 PM
Actually, Christians have a pretty good take on things. First, we're all sinners. Second, we're all going to die. Third, nothing in this world is going to change either of the above.

:)
That first item is a pure religious belief. The entire concept of "sin" is a religious belief with no objective meaning.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 08:53 PM
Whatever, the points remains. Der Trihs is making the same mistake. A general pattern may permit us to make inferences about the overall population that defines that pattern. It does NOT make any definitive statement about any one occurrence in the population. For example, analysis might show that blacks are disproportionately turned down for loans, relative to whites with similar financial circumstances. That does NOT mean that a given instance of a black man being denied a loan is indicative of racism.
No, but you can evaluate situations on a case-by-case basis, which is all I'm doing here. I would not be saying this man's racial appearance was a factor if any of the other factors had even a minimal potential to cause alarm in a reasonable person. I'm also not extrapolating, that "OMG, the whole airline is racist and racism is endemic to the system." I think, in this once case, a flight attendant got way too paranoid about a bearded, swarthy man, of indeterminate ethnicity, and totally overreacted to other factors that would not have caused a second look if he'd been white.

Stratocaster
08-29-2011, 08:59 PM
No, but you can evaluate situations on a case-by-case basis, which is all I'm doing here. I would not be saying this man's racial appearance was a factor if any of the other factors had even a minimal potential to cause alarm in a reasonable person. I'm also not extrapolating, that "OMG, the whole airline is racist and racism is endemic. I think, in this once case, a flight attendant got way too paranoid about a bearded, swarthy man, of indeterminate ethnicity, and totally overreacted to other factors that would not have caused a second look if he'd been white.But if we accept the man's account, the reaction of the flight attendant was not reasonable whether race was a factor or it was not. She is not a reasonable person in this scenario. Why would we assume she's reasonable in instances where the guys racial appearance isn't a factor? That's the question. Why is that so remotely plausible when it's a given, for you as well, that she did not behave reasonably. It makes no sense to proceed from that basis and say that race must have been a factor since no other factor would have alarmed a reasonable person. She is not a reasonable person.

wedgehed
08-29-2011, 09:06 PM
That first item is a pure religious belief. The entire concept of "sin" is a religious belief with no objective meaning.

So, where do you stand on killing another human being for pleasure, profit, or shits & giggles? Depending on the time & place, it might not be a crime. Is it still wrong?

Rand Rover
08-29-2011, 09:08 PM
I don't see anyone arguing that the flight attendant acted reasonably. The argument is about why she acted unreasonably. Some people are able to entertain several different possible explanations, while others pick the one they think makes the most sense and cling to it like a christian clings to their belief about the origin of the universe.

Marley23
08-29-2011, 09:08 PM
Take the discussion of faith and religion to another thread. It was brought up in this discussion as an analogy, and it's served its purpose or at least run its course. The particulars of religion and Christianity are not relevant to this discussion.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-29-2011, 09:20 PM
Some people are able to entertain several different possible explanations
What other possible explanations? That the airline has a policy allowing you to stow bags under the seat in front of you, but that occasionally if you follow this policy they'll call the cops? That occasionally airlines like to call the cops when they see people reading books on aeronautics, just in case you're a terrorist who's finalizing the plans for blowing up the plane by reading about the history of powered flight? That this dude is lying, and that really he whispered to the flight attendant, "I'm gonna blow your ass out of the sky"? What other possible explanations are we entertaining here?

Maybe we're entertaining the "crazy people are crazy" explanation, in which rather than try to figure out what specific misconception some jackass has, we just wave our hands and act like paranoia renders a person completely inscrutable. But that's not an explanation, that's a deliberate refusal to consider explanations.

If you've got a plausible alternate explanation, go ahead: I'm all agog.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 09:48 PM
nm. Posted before I saw the mod note.

FinnAgain
08-29-2011, 10:56 PM
If you've got a plausible alternate explanation, go ahead: I'm all agog.

1. The flight attended is a racist, she saw someone with dark skin and figured that he must be a terrorist (this doesn't explain, however, why she hasn't called the cops on anybody else, but maybe this guy just represented a 'perfect storm').

2. The flight attendant is a racist and an idiot, and it wasn't so much the dark skin that threw her as it was the dark skin coupled with the beard. All terrorists have beards, after all.

3. The flight attendant is simply an idiot. She saw a guy reading some sort of book about airplanes and got some sort of vibe from him when she asked him to move his luggage. Her "if you see something, say something!" sensors got tripped and out came the law enforcement officers.

4. The flight attendant is both an idiot and a paranoid nut. Ever since 9/11 she's been terrified of getting blown up and that day was particularly stressful on her lizard-brain, and so some guy reading a book on planes and even politely refusing to let her handle his luggage set her into Panic Mode.

5. The flight attendant is an idiot, a paranoid, and a bigot and thinks that men in general, regardless of their skin color, are untrustworthy and disreputable if they have beards. Especially if they have slightly (or majorly) scraggly beards.

I stand by my first post in this thread. The incident is a Rorschach Blot. It may very well have been a case of simple racism, in which case the flight attendant should be fired. It may simply be that she's an idiot, which makes it a bit more difficult to fire her because, let's face it, the median intelligence level isn't exactly a genius one and half the folks out there are even dumber than that. If we started firing people for stupidity we'd quickly find that most industries ground to a halt. Still, stick her in sensitivity training, or remedial classes, or whatever.
~shrugs~

Diogenes the Cynic
08-29-2011, 11:33 PM
It's not a Rorschach test. Only one explanation is credible.

brickbacon
08-30-2011, 12:39 AM
To all you of you who think there is a more likely explanation besides profiling, I ask you this. When the flight attendant was recounting her interaction with the man to whomever called the TSA, do you think she mentioned the guy's appearance or assumed race/religion?

Justin_Bailey
08-30-2011, 01:52 AM
It's not a Rorschach test. Only one explanation is credible.

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

The flight attendant is most likely a racist on top of being a weapons-grade idiot, but the idiocy of calling the cops on a guy reading a history on World War II aircraft is the more telling part of this story.

FinnAgain
08-30-2011, 02:14 AM
It's not a Rorschach test. Only one explanation is credible.

Your response illustrates exactly why and how it's a Rorschach Blot.

Der Trihs
08-30-2011, 02:16 AM
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."I think that there's a lot more malice in the world than that saying acknowledges.

Rand Rover
08-30-2011, 07:49 AM
LHOD, I doubt I or anyone can present to you alternate plausible theories because "plausible" is in the eye of the beholder. In aný event, now that I see FA's post, I'll sign on to that--seems to cover it.

Also, I suspect that there was something else to the whole fanny pack incident than our faithful reporter is telling us--why else would he (1) mention twice in the letter that there was "no belligerence" and (2) recount the facts so clearly and in detail to the security guy. It could have been something as simple as the flight attendant absent-mindedly reaching for the fanny pack and the guy shoving it under the seat quickly, which somehow seemed to the stew like he was being all defensive and putting his precious in his hidey-hole.

orcenio
08-30-2011, 09:23 AM
It could have been something as simple as the flight attendant absent-mindedly reaching for the fanny pack and the guy shoving it under the seat quickly, which somehow seemed to the stew like he was being all defensive and putting his precious in his hidey-hole.The officer clearly asked for Gilbert to retrieve his book, he didn't even ask to see his bag.

tomndebb
08-30-2011, 09:36 AM
The officer clearly asked for Gilbert to retrieve his book, he didn't even ask to see his bag.In Gilbert's recounting of the events.

So far, we have exactly one description of the incident. All the information is filtered through the views of one person who was recalling the incident some time after it happened in a manner that played up his own hurt feelings.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that a bit of ethnic profiling affected part of the attendant's behavior, (although that has not actually been demonstrated), but all the calls that his interpretation of events is the only plausible explanation and all the insistence that we have all the necessary facts are just puffery on the part of people who have already made up their minds and who seem to be incapable of examining the situation without employing their own preconceived notions.
If someone were to post that the situation could not possibly have involved ethnic profiling, I would note that they, too, were relying on their own prejudices while disregarding the facts. So far, however, only one side has taken a position in which they are willing to make judgments while relying on incomplete information.

Rand Rover
08-30-2011, 11:41 AM
Ah, tom, you are back. Care to explain your mischaracterization/misunderstanding of my post above?

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-30-2011, 03:22 PM
3. The flight attendant is simply an idiot. She saw a guy reading some sort of book about airplanes and got some sort of vibe from him when she asked him to move his luggage. Her "if you see something, say something!" sensors got tripped and out came the law enforcement officers.

4. The flight attendant is both an idiot and a paranoid nut. Ever since 9/11 she's been terrified of getting blown up and that day was particularly stressful on her lizard-brain, and so some guy reading a book on planes and even politely refusing to let her handle his luggage set her into Panic Mode.

5. The flight attendant is an idiot, a paranoid, and a bigot and thinks that men in general, regardless of their skin color, are untrustworthy and disreputable if they have beards. Especially if they have slightly (or majorly) scraggly beards.
These three are alternate explanations (#1 and #2 were the explanation others were offering). But I don't think the're plausible.

#3: The level of idiocy required for a flight attendant to see the book and decide, with nothing else, that it was a potential terrorist is so profound that I have trouble believing it. Would this guy (http://www.nola.com/treme-hbo/index.ssf/2010/06/missouri_native-turned-new_orl.html)--another heavyset, middle-aged guy with glasses--have been pulled from the plane, even if he'd been reading a book about aeronautics instead of a book about nihilism?

#4 is the same way: surely if you've been on an airplane before, you've seen passengers stuffing luggage under their seats, and surely you've seen passengers treating flight attendants with rudeness. It's very, very difficult for me to believe that this occurrence is less than everyday for flight attendants.

As for #5, setting aside the fact that such an explanation still involves unacceptable profiling, it requires a world in which either she's made such calls before, or a world in which she just doesn't encounter dudes with beards in the course of her work. I'm not buying it.

The key thing, of course, is the pattern. Since 9/11, we've had instance after instance (cites available if folks really need them) of folks who are, or look, Middle-Eastern being called out on airplanes for things that their non-Middle-Eastern-looking co-fliers never get called out for. Perhaps this is confirmation bias; perhaps white people get called out for reading aeronautics books, or for talking in a foreign language, or for wearing religious shirts, or whatever, but they don't make a stink about it. I see no evidence that that's the case.

I do appreciate the effort you made to offer some alternative explanations, Finn: I just don't think any of them pass the sniff test.

Edit: and here's the last piece. I could be wrong, but surely this isn't the judgment call of a single flight attendant. From the story, it sounds as though several employees consulted before the police were called. Were all of them paranoid nuts who hate beards? Or is it likelier that all of them have Arab Panic Syndrome?

All of this supposes the veracity of the OP story. If we're going to question that story, the alternate explanations are infinite: perhaps, for example, instead of holding a book about aeronautics, he was holding a gun.

FinnAgain
08-30-2011, 03:40 PM
It's very, very difficult for me to believe that this occurrence is less than everyday for flight attendants.
[...]
it requires a world in which either she's made such calls before, or a world in which she just doesn't encounter dudes with beards in the course of her work. I'm not buying it.

Those same objections apply to 1) dark skinned men 2) with beards 3) who don't want their luggage fussed with. If it was simply a matter of racism, why is this the first time this woman's been in the news? It may very well be the case, but you're effectively hoisted by your own petard when you discard certain glosses out of hand.


Edit: and here's the last piece. I could be wrong, but surely this isn't the judgment call of a single flight attendant. From the story, it sounds as though several employees consulted before the police were called. Were all of them paranoid nuts who hate beards? Or is it likelier that all of them have Arab Panic Syndrome?

Or, did the conversation go something like

"The guy in 3F is a terrorist!!!"
"Suzie... are you serious?"
"He's reading a book on planes, he wouldn't let us touch his bag, he's going to blow us all up!"
"Suzie, did you forget to take your meds today?"
"A terrorist!"
"You realize, Suzie, that company policy/regulations/my conscience/whatever-the-fuck states that if one of my flight crew makes that sort of accusation, that we need to get it checked out, and it may waste many people's time and attention?
"A terrorist!!!"
"I hate you."

straight man
08-30-2011, 04:46 PM
I'm not sure I "get" this issue. Obviously the stewardess thought something idiotic. No issue. Is there any particular reason that it should matter whether the idiotic thought in question was racist, or just generally stupid? Further, given that there will always be stupid stewards and stewardesses in this world, what would we hope would happen? That the security authorities come, realize the steward/ess is being stupid, apologize and let people go about their business.

In short, the only thing that went wrong in this situation was one person being stupid, and now we're having a heated debate about what precisely went wrong in the aforementioned person's head, as if it mattered. I'm not trying to threadshit, but I really think the best response to this is "meh".

(And as I write this, I see FinnAgain's latest post —fair enough, three people's defective heads.)

Peremensoe
08-30-2011, 04:56 PM
How will we know whether to watch for racism, terrorist paranoia, or plain moronitude? In what proportions?

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-30-2011, 05:44 PM
Those same objections apply to 1) dark skinned men 2) with beards 3) who don't want their luggage fussed with. If it was simply a matter of racism, why is this the first time this woman's been in the news? It may very well be the case, but you're effectively hoisted by your own petard when you discard certain glosses out of hand.
No, that's not true. The objections don't apply. It's quite possible that she's never dealt with a man who appears Arabic who's reading a book on airplanes and who keeps a bag away from her before. It could require the trifecta.

Race is so weird. When I was younger, I had long hair and no beard, and sometimes when I was washing my hands in a public restroom, guys would come in, stare at me, duck back out of the bathroom, look at the door's sign, and come back in. Even though we can't read minds, of course we can conclude that they mistakenly thought I was a woman, based on that information. But when confronted with situations in which someone just as obviously made a mistaken racial impression, people contort themselves in bizarre fashions to avoid the likeliest conclusion. I really don't understand why.

Yes, yes: the dude coming in the bathroom might have mistaken me for an employee of the establishment and been checking to see if there was an "employees only" sign on the door. Anything's possible. But why waste our time on such unlikely scenarios, when there's one scenario that's backed up by historical events and is so much more likely?

FinnAgain
08-30-2011, 05:50 PM
Yes, yes: the dude coming in the bathroom might have mistaken me for an employee of the establishment and been checking to see if there was an "employees only" sign on the door. Anything's possible. But why waste our time on such unlikely scenarios, when there's one scenario that's backed up by historical events and is so much more likely?

Because in this situation it seems that idiocy and paranoia are also likely explanations and I personally do not find your requirement for a 'trifecta' to be persuasive. A true racist would have had a problem with Arab-looking passengers long before one just happened to have a book-about-planes and a bag he didn't want to hand over, IMO.

I assume that neither of us will convince the other on this issue. I'm happy to admit that racism is a possible factor, even a probable one. But I reject the assertion that it is the only probable analysis of the situation.

Rand Rover
08-30-2011, 07:52 PM
LHOD, your exact attitude is the reason this country will never get over racism. There will always and forever have been racism in the past. And that is the only criteria you use to determine whether an incident today involves racism. So, it could be the case that not a single person alive at some point in the future thinks anyone is inherently and irredeemably inferior because of their race, but because of your attitude you will still see racism everywhere.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-30-2011, 08:15 PM
LHOD, your exact attitude is the reason this country will never get over racism.
Indeed. My attitude--and not the attitude of the people pulling Arab-appearing men off planes for looking Arab--is what's wrong with our country. You're very astute.

Rand Rover
08-30-2011, 08:25 PM
Indeed. My attitude--and not the attitude of the people pulling Arab-appearing men off planes for looking Arab--is what's wrong with our country. You're very astute.
Yes, I must agree--you are being much more astute here. The way you zero in on your favorite boogey man, armed only with the evidence of the history of this country, is quite astute indeed.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-30-2011, 08:29 PM
America's current favorite boogeymen are Muslims. That's not history, that's right now.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-30-2011, 09:13 PM
must...not...reply...to...low...hanging...fruit....

Rand Rover
08-30-2011, 09:22 PM
must...not...reply...to...low...hanging...fruit....
Even more astuteness on display! I tip my hat to you, sir.

FinnAgain
08-30-2011, 09:44 PM
LHOD: to bring this thread back from the trajectory it's on to Snarktopia, would you and I be able to agree that while racism is possible, likely, and perhaps even most likely, that we can not totally discard the potential that the stewardess was having a pants-on-head retarded moment and any number of factors unrelated to race might have potentially caused her to wig out?

Simply as a datapoint, the DHS has now released a video of dastardly white terrorists. (http://blog.dhs.gov/2011/08/launching-if-you-see-something-say.html)Can we perhaps agree that the climate of fear since 9/11, especially wrt airlines in particular, and especially as we're coming up on the 10th anniversary, can in and of itself induce Security Panic in otherwise semi-rational people, let alone people full of the milk of human stupidity?

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-31-2011, 05:52 AM
LHOD: to bring this thread back from the trajectory it's on to Snarktopia, would you and I be able to agree that while racism is possible, likely, and perhaps even most likely, that we can not totally discard the potential that the stewardess was having a pants-on-head retarded moment and any number of factors unrelated to race might have potentially caused her to wig out?
We can no more discard that possibility than we can discard the possibility that the dude exiting the restroom mistook me for an employee. We can, however, say that absent more information, the likelihood that she was racially profiling the musician as a Middle-Easterner, just as have dozens of airline employees before her to other dark-skinned passengers, is far likelier, to the extent that it seems silly to spend a lot of time seeking alternate and bizarre explanations.
Simply as a datapoint, the DHS has now released a video of dastardly white terrorists. (http://blog.dhs.gov/2011/08/launching-if-you-see-something-say.html)Can we perhaps agree that the climate of fear since 9/11, especially wrt airlines in particular, and especially as we're coming up on the 10th anniversary, can in and of itself induce Security Panic in otherwise semi-rational people, let alone people full of the milk of human stupidity?
The DHS is commendable for releasing that video. They know just as you and I do that terrorists aren't always Arabs, and by posting that video, they'll go some small way toward getting folks to grok that. I'm certainly not saying that all people are racist against perceived Arabs. Rather, I'm saying that such racism is pretty common, and that in this situation, it's overwhelmingly the likeliest cause of the event.

kayaker
08-31-2011, 07:18 AM
Does everyone at least agree that the airline owes this guy an explanation, and possibly some comped flight?

drewtwo99
08-31-2011, 09:38 AM
I'm not sure if this case meets the strict criteria of "racial profiling," but I believe there is little doubt the man's race played a role in the decision of the stewardess to report him to authorities. She had legitimate concerns about safety brought on by the book and the extra bag, but I'm fairly certain, as others have suggested, that if the man were a white woman, she wouldn't have gone to the authorities to have him checked out. According to Wikipedia: Racial profiling refers to the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement (e.g. make a traffic stop or arrest). Since law enforcement let the man go on his way without too much trouble, I don't think this counts as racial profiling, since it was really just the flight attendant overreacting.

FinnAgain
08-31-2011, 10:00 AM
Using wikipedia as a source is a bit like using cheesecloth as a condom.

Novelty Bobble
08-31-2011, 10:32 AM
Does everyone at least agree that the airline owes this guy an explanation, and possibly some comped flight?

Off the back of a single self-penned letter of questionable veracity?

No, not enough evidence by a long shot, how can it possibly be otherwise?

Unless you have other evidence to bring to the tablet that is............

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-31-2011, 11:01 AM
Off the back of a single self-penned letter of questionable veracity?

No, not enough evidence by a long shot, how can it possibly be otherwise?

Unless you have other evidence to bring to the tablet that is............
Again, if we're to have any discussion at all on this case, we kind of have to assume the facts as given. If we start questioning them, there's no much we can have in the way of a productive discussion.

It wasn't actually racial profiling, you see, because the guy in question wasn't black, he was albino. And a midget. Airplane? Lies: he was on a kayak. There was no flight attendant, it was only a muskrat. He wasn't holding a book on airplanes, he was juggling bottles of Jack Daniels. The police didn't pull him off, it was a shark that attacked the kayak and flipped it over.

Or we could preface the entire discussion with "ASSUMING THESE FACTS ARE ACCURATE..." and move on from there.

strugglingChristian
08-31-2011, 11:50 AM
Again, if we're to have any discussion at all on this case, we kind of have to assume the facts as given. If we start questioning them, there's no much we can have in the way of a productive discussion.

It wasn't actually racial profiling, you see, because the guy in question wasn't black, he was albino. And a midget. Airplane? Lies: he was on a kayak. There was no flight attendant, it was only a muskrat. He wasn't holding a book on airplanes, he was juggling bottles of Jack Daniels. The police didn't pull him off, it was a shark that attacked the kayak and flipped it over.

Or we could preface the entire discussion with "ASSUMING THESE FACTS ARE ACCURATE..." and move on from there.

why is it so often with stories from minorities about discrimination that members of the majority resort to this tactic of disputing the accuracy of the information? IMHO it's a revealing of the attitude that "if a black person says it, it can't be true." I was thinking alike to you when I read the comment. So he wasn't on an airplane, he is not a musician, this is complete fiction, people write to the civil liberties union with trumped up complaints, this guy is pretty good story teller with all these details.

Rand Rover
08-31-2011, 12:20 PM
LHOD, that's fairly ridiculous. You seem to be saying that we have to either accept this account of the facts as 100% true in all particulars or not discuss this incident at all. But there's a very obvious middle ground--we can discuss other possible facts based on the facts we have (as I did above with my speculation about the exact nature of the fanny pack part of the incident). Doing Ţhat isn't the same thing as coming up with the ridiculousness you spout above.

Delayed Reflex
08-31-2011, 12:36 PM
While I think it's very possible, even likely, that race played a factor, I don't think that it's the only explanation. Basically, it could have just been because the flight attended thought that he is scary looking. Who's to say if the guy looked like Steve Buscemi or Brian Peppers (http://www.google.ca/search?q=brian%20peppers&hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi) and was in the same circumstances the flight attendant would have acted differently? She certainly acted wrongly and stupidly, but it's not for certain a racial thing.

Justin_Bailey
08-31-2011, 12:38 PM
why is it so often with stories from minorities about discrimination that members of the majority resort to this tactic of disputing the accuracy of the information? IMHO it's a revealing of the attitude that "if a black person says it, it can't be true." I was thinking alike to you when I read the comment. So he wasn't on an airplane, he is not a musician, this is complete fiction, people write to the civil liberties union with trumped up complaints, this guy is pretty good story teller with all these details.

This isn't minority vs majority. This is basic "wronged party" stuff. A person who perceives themselves as the wronged party will naturally play up the parts that make them look good and make the other guy look like Satan. It's human nature and applies whether the story is about two white guys, a black guy and a white guy, a black guy who looks kind of middle eastern and a white guy, etc.

United's response to this controversy is pretty standard stuff from the other side:

“The service Mr. Gilbert described does not reflect the experience we aim to deliver our customers. We are reaching out to Mr. Gilbert and to Shuttle America, the United Express carrier that operated the flight, to better understand what occurred and to ensure Mr. Gilbert knows we value his business.’’

http://www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/articles/2011/08/25/vance_gilbert_recounts_trouble_before_flight/

Personally, I think FinnAgain's one-act play in post 113 (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=14201094&postcount=113) is the most likely explanation for how it played out.

foolsguinea
08-31-2011, 01:13 PM
No, not like that at all. There does not have to be something that "created" the universe. There does have to be something that caused this incident. The only element in play that would cause fear was his skin color. The book alone would have not drawn any notice if Miranda Cosgrove was reading it.I dunno, she looks pretty 'Mediterranean' to me. That could be Middle Eastern, right?

Don't underestimate the ability of paranoids to misread racial identities.

Novelty Bobble
08-31-2011, 01:28 PM
why is it so often with stories from minorities about discrimination that members of the majority resort to this tactic of disputing the accuracy of the information? IMHO it's a revealing of the attitude that "if a black person says it, it can't be true." I was thinking alike to you when I read the comment. So he wasn't on an airplane, he is not a musician, this is complete fiction, people write to the civil liberties union with trumped up complaints, this guy is pretty good story teller with all these details.

nonsense, utter nonsense and seeing as it was my comment that sparked your post I think you are way out of line with your subsequent inventions.
That is NOT my attitude. I'm an equal opportunities sceptic and you know why? Because people are people and human nature is human nature.

No-one has come close to saying or even implying that everything he said was "complete fiction".

What some of us have done is question how accurate his story is, nothing to do with his race, everything to do with a wronged human being's tendency to exaggerate to their own benefit.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-31-2011, 03:02 PM
Or, did the conversation go something like

"The guy in 3F is a terrorist!!!"
"Suzie... are you serious?"
"He's reading a book on planes, he wouldn't let us touch his bag, he's going to blow us all up!"
"Suzie, did you forget to take your meds today?"
"A terrorist!"
"You realize, Suzie, that company policy/regulations/my conscience/whatever-the-fuck states that if one of my flight crew makes that sort of accusation, that we need to get it checked out, and it may waste many people's time and attention?
"A terrorist!!!"
"I hate you."
Justin pointed to this, and I meant to address it before. Sure, that could be the case, in which case it'd be slightly more likely that Suzie has a really uncommon reason to finger this guy as a terrorist, instead of the much-more-common reason of being afraid of people who look Arabic.

But in order for this to be the case, we must assume not only that Suzie is afraid of beards or whatever, but ALSO that there's some policy/whatever-the-fuck dictating that a single insane crew-member's accusation can derail (to mix metaphors) a flight. That's assumption on top of assumption, making it even more remote a possibility.

The most obvious explanation is that Arab-Looking-Guy gets accused of being a terrorist, by someone who thinks that Arab-Looking-Guys are likelier to be terrorists, because he's an Arab-Looking-Guy. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that such people are not only existent, but fairly common. While it's remotely possible that Arab-Looking-Guy got accused of being a terrorist by someone who thinks that beard-guys are likelier to be terrorists, Occam's Razor ought to shave that off pretty quickly.

Obviously my argument isn't one for a court of law where there's a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard. Fortunately that's not where we are.

As for the accuracy of his story, while I exaggerated for effect in my description of what else the truth could be, the point stands. None of us have any effect on the outcome of this case anyway. All we can do is use it as a case study in social dynamics. If we're free to question even one small part of the story, we end up having no case study. An example: the guy left out the fact that the flight attendant spent the weekend at a White Power rally, because he didn't know that. Suddenly the case swings incontrovertibly in my favor, with this tiny addition to this story. Why play this game? Discuss the story as given, with the proviso that a change in facts can change the conclusions.

Edit: this is not to say you have to trust him completely. You can say, "Personally his story sounds like bullshit, but if it's true, then...."

Justin_Bailey
08-31-2011, 06:34 PM
Justin pointed to this, and I meant to address it before. Sure, that could be the case, in which case it'd be slightly more likely that Suzie has a really uncommon reason to finger this guy as a terrorist, instead of the much-more-common reason of being afraid of people who look Arabic.

Let me clarify. I back this interpretation of events (a single flight attendant invoking some kind of reporter rule) but I don't think it removes the possibility of a racist twit being behind it all.

Basically, it wasn't "profiling" per se, it was a single moron who put 2 (Arab looking) + 2 (book about planes) + 2 (doesn't want me touching his stuff) together and got 666.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-31-2011, 06:41 PM
Basically, it wasn't "profiling" per se, it was a single moron who put 2 (Arab looking) + 2 (book about planes) + 2 (doesn't want me touching his stuff) together and got 666.
This may be a semantic difference, then. When I read about profiling in instances such as these, I mean someone with authority (or ability to invoke authority) making decisions about people's possible violation of rules based in part on their race. I don't necessarily mean that the profiling is an official policy. If profiling necessitates an official policy, I'm happy to substitute some other term.

Peremensoe
08-31-2011, 06:51 PM
She had legitimate concerns about safety brought on by the book and the extra bag...

No, she did not. Those are not legitimate concerns. People read books about all kinds of things. Keeping a small bag close at hand while traveling is normal.

Racial profiling refers to the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement (e.g. make a traffic stop or arrest). Since law enforcement let the man go on his way without too much trouble, I don't think this counts as racial profiling, since it was really just the flight attendant overreacting.

The flight attendant was effectively "making the stop" here, acting as the eyes of law enforcement.

Requiring official law enforcement participation is too narrow an understanding of the concept anyway. Any authority action against an individual on the basis of a race-based group "profile" is racial profiling.

FinnAgain
08-31-2011, 10:17 PM
But in order for this to be the case, we must assume not only that Suzie is afraid of beards or whatever, but ALSO that there's some policy/whatever-the-fuck dictating that a single insane crew-member's accusation can derail (to mix metaphors) a flight. That's assumption on top of assumption, making it even more remote a possibility.


To begin with I still disagree that the possibility that the stewardess was simply stupid/paranoid is significantly less likely than the racial angle. I maintain my disagreement that if we should discard those possibilities because one would quickly meet a 'trifecta' situation where a bearded man didn't want his luggage touched and was reading a book having some to do with airplanes, that we could also expect a dark-skinned man to be reading a book having something to do with airplanes who didn't want his luggage touched.

I maintain that some people have decided that this is a racist event, and are arguing backwards from that point in an attempt to justify their conclusions.

That being said, I think that your claim that an alternate gloss is even less likely now if we assume that the airline has some sort of policy in place about receiving reports of terrorism is an instance of that backwards-driven rationalization designed to support a pre-chosen conclusion. For liability purposes alone, I'd find it truly shocking if airlines did not have a policy in place that they have to investigate all allegations of terrorists on their planes. Can you imagine the legal fallout if a plane was blown out of the sky and on the black box the victims families found a recording of a stewardess reporting someone she thought was a terrorist and the pilot going "Naw, let's just get into the air. What's the worst that could happen?"

Bri2k
09-02-2011, 03:59 AM
What does that prove? Maybe you're a terrorist who's heard the "one-way ticket story" over the last decade and decided to be smarter about it?

Have there been any terrorists flying round-trip out of their hometowns where they lived their entire lives?

What I'm saying is a little basic investigation is a better way to sort out threats than our current system. The information is there, they just have to use it. Do you think it's more effective to be feeling up children and old people?

Bri2k

Justin_Bailey
09-02-2011, 05:55 AM
Have there been any terrorists flying round-trip out of their hometowns where they lived their entire lives?

What I'm saying is a little basic investigation is a better way to sort out threats than our current system. The information is there, they just have to use it. Do you think it's more effective to be feeling up children and old people?

Of course not. But the system you're asking for doesn't prove much of anything. Establishing a "civilian" identity is trivially easy. You quite literally don't have to do anything after moving some place.