United Airlines stands in the middle of a PR debacle over the forcible “re-accommodation” of a passenger this week. The poor man who refused to give up his seat was manhandled by airport police, bloodied, and dragged off the plane with all the care that the ground crew gives your suitcases down below. Social media and Wall Street crucified United Airlines, but as with so many such incidents, the anger is not only misplaced, it is highly myopic and ironic.
As more than one article has pointed out, what United did was perfectly legal and happens thousands of times every year. And while it’s understandable that when something like this happens, unknowing people will jump to blame the airline, they shouldn’t. Only one article I’ve seen so far got close to the real problems: bad laws and police willing to enforce them.
As a Fox opinion column noted, the real culprit here was the Airport cop who used excessive force. But it was much more than that. What kind of society do we live in, first, when there are so many thousands of regulations on the books that average people can be blindsided and even bloodied because of the most ridiculous of them?
Second, what kind of society do we live in when we are willing to enforce such multitudinous regulations in such an obnoxiously stupid way that government agents bludgeon and detain a doctor who has patients to see the next morning.
Third, what kind of society do when live in when we have (even just some) police officers so unthinking and so eager to escalate force to the extent of injuring a person over such ridiculous regulations? I’m absolutely sorry, “just doing his job” will not cut it here.
That is, after all, what they said at Nuremburg. When in the service of bad laws, the principle is just as wrong whether you’re killing six million Jews or just following subsection 2.3, paragraph (c) of the infinitieth regulation in FAA code.
Finally, the worst part of all of this is not only that people have misplaced outrage at the airline over this, but that they ignore it and even wink at it in a thousand areas of life in which various government agencies—federal, state, and local— threaten, steal, grope, drag, beat, rape, and kill us all every day.
Think about the regulation that is property taxation, and how the agency will file liens and confiscate your property if you don’t pay. Try to squat on the house stubbornly after that and you’ll be the next guy bloodied and dragged away.
And for what? So you neighbor can send their kids to public schools and pay a standing order of guys who will bloody you and drag you away if you resist your participation in those privileges.
What is principally different between the two cases? Nothing.
We could belabor the point with various examples, but for brevity sake (I’m on vacation right now after all!), do a thought experiment and come up with as many of your own as you can. The point is that we 1) live in a highly-overregulated society, 2) with a multitude of armed, deputized strong men willing to enforce any and all regulations blindly without question, in which 3) most people don’t even recognize the real tyranny, and 4) most people willingly participate in it and cheer it on. United we stand, and as things are right now, united we fall.
We desperately need a revival of biblical law and liberty, and pulpits willing and able to stand up boldly to preach both, and to train up a generation of Christians ready to change the laws and the mindset of the people who enforce them.