Why the intensity of debate about the United Airlines incident?

In this thread, various posters are giving no quarter to each other in the debate, are in hot conflict over the smallest points, and there seems to be relatively little attempt to find common ground. I find my self at a loss to understand this intensity.

Is this a case where some posters committed themselves early on to a certain position, and then find themselves defending that position to the death? Then other posters join in to pile on one side or the other? And those who, like me, have the curse of being able to see points on both sides are scared off by that same intensity?

I’m used to seeing a lot of rancor in political debates, but those sides and positions are already so well-defined that much of the time they feel like folks are just going through the motions. Here there is a raw and urgent need to be right.

It may be a faint hope, but I hope this thread doesn’t devolve into re-hashing the same issues. I’m just interested in finding out, either from the participants who can testify or from observers who can theorize, why this particular debate is so very hot.

Many people are anti-The Man. Other people think that anti-The Manness is just a good way to get yourself in trouble with The Man and does nothing but take up time and resources that could have been spent on better things.

It’s unlikely that these two groups are ever going to come eye-to-eye and any issue of this form is likely to be just as vigorously fought, even if some are less life-or-death than others.

Is there an answer other than This is The Internet?

Sometimes I think it would be better if we didn’t have to know about every single shitty thing that happens anywhere because this is a big world and shitty things happen every day.

I think it speaks to the power of getting something on film. It was noticeable as well, with all the scandals that enmeshed Trump during his campaign, the one that by far had the biggest impact was the Pussygate scandal which had direct, candid video evidence. All of the dredged up old tweets and hearsay didn’t really stick and also, all of the subsequent accusations of sexual assault that were mere recountings also didn’t really stick. They simply weren’t as visceral as seeing it on film, looped back over and over.

There’s a video.

I suspect a lot of people had their first exposure to the story through video after not seeing much beyond a headline or a “OMG you have to watch this horrible thing” social media post. There’s research that shows we process video faster and have a stronger emotional responses to it than information gathered by reading. Jumping straight to the video, and the emotional reaction, with limited context aside from maybe your in-group’s reaction on social media is a great way to end up at a bitter, divisive, and less than rational discussion. It’s worse since many apparently don’t even bother to try and read for the rest of the context. Even those that do follow up to read are already starting from a worked up, emotional state, reinforcing their confirmation biases and stereotypes.

Is it really any wonder that we can arrive at highly divisive and emotionally charged arguments over every small incident in the world?

Because a lot of people simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

because this one item ticks off all the internet hot button issues:

you have the corporation who feels that the can treat their customers as cargo because the law says that they can.

you have the entitled consumer who feels that they are somehow above the treatment they are receiving and are not gonna take it.

you have the law enforcement officers who feel that, because they are on the side of truth, justice, and the american way, anyone who doesnt immediately respect their authority has brought it on themselves and deserve to be treated in whatever manner they deem necessary.

and you have all the internet posters who feel strongly on both sides of each of these issues.

and youve got the trolls and the pedants and the nitpickers.

its a perfect storm of internetness!


As one of the debaters (not the primary, but 5-6 posts worth to date), I think this is mostly between those I call the “Saxons” (from Kiping’s poem, “…And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.”) who think this is a case of “unfair dealing” and the “Legals”, who stand that United did things legally, they just FUBAR’ed the doing (or more critically, the police did in the removal).

But I don’t see it as quite the Apocalypse the Roderick does; it’s just a good old argument with both sides arguing strongly for their points; nothing like the Elvis/Scumpup dustups regarding guns in the Pit. And a good argument can be refreshing in a way.

IMHO as always. YMMV.

OK, I get how this would engender strong feelings on one side. I’m not clear that the video would do the same for the other side. I’m not meaning to argue, I think you make a good point, but it doesn’t seem to be enough by itself. I’d like to hear more ideas, especially from or about the “it’s in the contract, follow the rules” responders, at least some of whom seem just as bitter and didactic as their opponents.

eta: The SSR, I didn’t mean to paint it as an Apocalypse, but it does seem over the top for the actual subject matter.

Because it was on Facebook. That now defines news and controversy and dialog.

I’m not in general automatically ‘Saxon’ (‘fair dealing’) or ‘legalistic’ (‘them’s the rules’), but the legalists are pretty much by definition more didactic about stuff like this, and certainly are here.

Plus IMO some of the legalistics do actually seem driven by emotion (bitterness among others) to pretend the legal situation is crystal clear when I’m not sure it is. That’s not to say no ‘Saxons’ are. Sometimes meta-discussions here about the conduct of debates are actually factoring in what people are saying other places on the internet/social media. Some people definitely go apesh8t at any opportunity to blame ‘the man’, others knee jerk to that. But as far as what’s actually on the other thread, IMO as above.

Initially, when I saw the videos and read the news coverage, I was mostly on the side of the passenger, assuming that United had over-reacted.

Only after reading the thread on here did I find out that in fact the man had been asked to leave multiple times and he had refused, and only at that point did United call the police, who removed him by force.

After having reached that understanding, I was enraged by the posters claiming that it was somehow United’s fault that they ended up with an unstable self-centered lunatic on their airplane and had to call the cops to have him removed. So it wasn’t really the issue itself that got me riled up, it was the usual communist anti-corporate bullshit that pissed me off - the idea that a business has absolutely no ability to enforce their own rules or property rights, simply because they’re a business and thus automatically morally inferior.

and that illustrates my point; that this news item had more than its share of points for people to bring their long held convictions to the table and hash it out once again.


I expect to see less of this in the future.

Fuck, I’m a communist, but I harbor no illusions about capitalism.

I’d like to see private property in the means of production ended, but you can’t just go doing that willy-nilly, in a piecemeal fashion, or the shit will hit the fan in a disastrous fashion. We’ve got to keep capitalism functional in the meantime, and that means respecting capitalist legality so that the contracts and agreements peoples’ lives depend on function.

Because Monty Python’s “I’d Like to Buy an Argument” was actually a documentary on human behavior.

It seems to me any thread over 2 pages devolves into a few punch-drunk fighters slugging it out over their pet beliefs. I saw that one at >5 pages and skipped over it.

This, pretty much. Some posters decried the use of “violence,” or wondered why UA couldn’t negotiate with the fellow before resorting to said violence. The implication from these posters is that UA marched onto the plane and immediately ordered their goons to deliberately beat the man senseless for the express purpose of causing him pain, and then remove him from the plane before giving him any opportunity to leave voluntarily. Such mischaracterization is really irritating.

Otherwise known as “a normal day” in the SDMB.

I suspect that it’s because it’s an issue that pushes all the right emotional buttons as others have said, although I’m not sure I agree about what those buttons are. The main thing is probably that it hits close to home – we’ve all flown, and possibly some of us have been bumped, so there’s the sense that “this could have been me”.

One would hope that few of us would be jerks if asked to deplane, but it’s easy to imagine someone with a confirmed reservation and an urgent need to be somewhere becoming politely assertive about staying put. The final hot button is probably the fact that I doubt there is a frequent flyer in existence who has not at some point – and probably many points – felt abused by an airline. Air travel is such an ordeal these days that this is no one’s favorite industry. But this is now going to raise the ire of the knee-jerk corporate defenders who are always around to remind us that business works best when it’s left alone to do what it pleases.

I could be wrong but I think those are most of the magic ingredients for an Internet tirade.

I think that is a good description of the different camps.

I think one reason neither side is giving any quarter is that they are arguing past each other. The Legals aren’t saying United acted well, just that they were within their rights. The Saxons aren’t saying that United acted unlawfully (other than the possible use of excessive force which security may have acknowledged), but argue that they should have sought different solutions. Since they are not even disagreeing about anything in particular, they are just restating their positions, as tho increased volume and repetition will carry the day.

Yet another interesting example of the impact of social media on doing business these days.

I too was stricken by the vehemence and intransigence on both sides.