The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-‘Legal’ trumps common sense

Illustration by Daniel Worthington
Illustration by Daniel Worthington

An Orthodox Jew was removed from a United Airlines flight after not returning to his seat during a prayer last week.

Shortly after boarding, the man made his way to the back of the plane, and as is Jewish custom, once a prayer is started, it may be interrupted only in an emergency.

Other passengers aboard the plane said the man’s friends tried to explain the religious law and told attendants the prayer would be finished in two minutes. But the plane was getting ready for take off, and all passengers were required to take their seats.

Once finished, the man apologized and said he wasn’t trying to be rude—but again reiterated his position. At that point the attendants called security and had the man removed. The flight continued as scheduled without delays.

Admittedly, the man exercised poor judgment in deciding when to commence with his faithful routine. But was it grounds for removal from the plane?

It might be a stretch of the imagination to label the actions taken by the attendants, and subsequently the airline, as religious persecution. But this incident does point to an increasing trend among corporations, and our own government, which esteems bureaucracy over individual treatment.

Was the man breaking an airline policy? Sure.

Was he being disruptive? Probably not.

Did he delay the flight? According to sources, no.

Indeed, rules and policies exist to keep corporate order, but they should not invalidate the use of reason.

Simply taking the time to explain to the man, who may not fly very often, why it is important to obey such rules would have been far more effective, and probably better for the group as a whole, than having him removed.

Still, whenever a rule exists, so does the opportunity to break it. And some of the greatest historical events are full of people doing great things … and breaking rules to do them.

Rosa Parks, mentally exhausted and physically aching from a long day of work, refused to give up her seat on a city bus. And rightly so—she was entitled to it just as much as the next person. But her actions were the catalyst that helped mobilize a long-awaited stand against racial segregation.

In Biblical times, strict adherents to Jewish law demanded that an adulteress caught in her sin be stoned to death. But Jesus stepped between the woman and the angry mob and declared that whoever was without sin was to cast the first stone. One by one, the crowd dissipated as the rocks fell from their hands.

As the population grows and more regulations are implemented to preserve order, common sense and reason should dictate the universal enforcement of those rules—as that is the root of diplomacy and, consequently, customer service.

But diplomacy is a practice that seems lost among the politically correct missteps of people who attempt to paint masterpieces in black and white.

True brilliance, and humanity itself, exists within the grey areas of a spectrum, not just the absolutes or polar opposites.

Thus, United Airlines can legally justify removal of the man from the plane, but common sense says otherwise.

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