Saturday, October 6, 2007

standing up for your imaginary rights.

How can you defend your rights effectively if you have no idea what they are?

Southwest Airlines are in the news again. Apparently, a guy was asked to take off his shirt, or be refused transportation. The flight attendant deemed the words "MASTER BAITER" too offensive for the rest of the paying customers on the plane.

Now, the interesting part is where the t-shirt wearer complained that the airline was infringing on his right to free speech.

I'm not defending the prude coffee-and-peanuts-slinger who dynamically interpreted the dress code for the airline that day, but last I checked, Southwest was a private company, federal subsidies or no. On a private airplane, access to which is granted via private contract, there are no "free speech rights". The airline can refuse transportation to anyone for any reason, as long as they don't violate the contract into which they engaged with Mr. Master Baiter when he purchased his ticket--and I'm willing to bet you dollars to donuts that it doesn't contain a "free speech" clause in favor of the passenger. If they don't want to transport you for any reason at all--as long as it doesn't violate the aforementioned contract, or federal anti-discrimination laws--they can do so. Mr. Master Baiter, in turn, has the freedom and undisputed right to take his current and future transportation business elsewhere.

That's the way the cookie crumbles. On private property, you have exactly the rights afforded to you by the host through contract or good will. Free speech does not apply in someone else's living room...or on someone else's Boeing 757. Don't like it? Buy your own plane, or give your business to someone else.

No comments:

Post a Comment